Provided you have the tools and the servo you can built this for under a couple of dollars. The actuator extends with a rate of about 50mm/min.
It is rather slow but very powerful. Watch the video where the small actuator lifts 10kg vertically. Materials List
- hobby servo
- standard hobby brass tubing
-OD: 4.0mm, ID: 3.4mm
-OD: 5.8mm, ID: 4.5mm
- standard hobby styrene tubing
-OD: 4.8mm, ID: 3.5mm
- M4 studding
- 2 x M5 washers
- 2 x M4 nuts
- 5 minute epoxy
- multi-strand cables
- heat-shrink tubing Tools list
- standard tools – screwdrivers, scalpel, files etc.
- dremmel multi-tool with ceramic abrasive disk, or similar
- hand-drill + 4.9mm + 2.5mm drill-bits
- M3 tap
- M4 tap
- soldering iron
- glue gun
- small vice
- small saw
- sanding paper (relatively fine)
- small flame torch
- I will be giving instructions based on the dimensional parameters of the Hitec HS-300. The procedure remains the same for any type servo. I
strongly recommend you read the whole post before you start. So lets make a start, shall we?
- Open your hobby servo, remove control electronics, feedback potentiometer and mechanical stop on the servo’s output gear.
- Solder new cables on the servo motor’s leads.
- Drill two 4.9mm holes on the servo case bottom cover. These should be located longitudinally along the centre line and 9.5 mm from each end
(this applies on the Hitec HS-300 and is also true for many standard servos but depending on your servo type there might be differences). The M4
thread will come out from the servo body using one of these two so this hole must be located directly below the centre of rotation of the servo’s
output gear. Be very careful since this alignment is very important! If you don’t get it right you might have to use a new servo! The more
accurate you are, the longer your servo will endure.
- Measure the dimensions of the rotating shaft of the potentiometer on the servo’s original electronics – note the geometry in general. The
shaft should be flattened right at the tip in order to prevent it from freely-rotating once inserted into the servo’s output gear.
- Take the M4 studding (M4 thread) pick one end and by using the dremmel and the abrasive wheel tool, replicate the tip of the servo’s
potentiometer on that end. Start by decreasing the diameter of the thread, rotating it steadily by hand against the abrasive disk (normally to
3.5mm in diameter and at least 6mm in length). Try to think of your fingers as the chuck of a slow-turning lathe. Once the diameter of the thread
is down to the pot’s shaft diameter, flatten the tip according to the potentiometer’s tip. The idea is that the thread must be inserted in the
servo’s output gear in the same way the potentiometer did before. The better the fit the longer your servo will endure.
- On the flat tip of the M4 thread, screw the two M4 nuts approximately 20mm down its length. Following that, insert the two M5 washers.
- Insert the thread inside the servo and adjust the distance of the nuts and washers down the thread such that the servo case bottom cover closes
properly and the motor rotates efficiently. Basically, you have to make sure that once the thread and the servo are assembled there is no
pressure between the servo case bottom cover and the nut-washer assembly. Similarly, you have to make sure that once the thread and the servo are
assembled there is no gap between the servo case bottom cover and the nut-washer assembly. Once again, the better the fit the more your linear
actuator will endure.
- Once you find the optimum position carefully disassemble the servo, remove the washers from the thread and use a drop of cyanoacrylate on
the side of the nut that was in contact with the washers in the assembly
. Let the glue to settle for 5 minutes. Unscrew the second nut by
10mm towards the flat end of the thread, and prepare a small epoxy mix.
- Put the mix between the two nuts and screw the second nut back in place. Once in place also use some epoxy on the back of the second nut as
well. Ideally you should sand all contacting areas before you apply the epoxy glue. Leave to settle for at least 6 hours (even if you use a 5
- Secure tightly the 4mm diameter brass tube onto a vice by flattening the mounting end and use the M4 tap VERY carefully tapping as deep as
possible (at least 15mm). Using the dremmel cut 10mm out of the threaded part of the tube and then verify that the created thread runs along the
whole length of the small threaded tube by screwing it onto an M4 screw. Keep the 4mm threaded tube on the screw for handling purposes. Apply a
layer of solder on the outside surface. Make a powerful linear actuator using a standard hobby servo...continued on Pt.2 - - - - >