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Servos?Motors?Actuators?Wad exactly are the differences?

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I've been wondering...
wad exactly are are the difference between servos, motors and actuators....
the only thinkg i'm sure of is that servos and motors are different in that the power and direction of a servo can be controlled but that of a motor(DC) cannot. and that servos can be set to turn to certain angles more accurately than a stepper motor...
as for actauators, wad exactly are they?
they seem to be used inter-changably with "sevos" or "motors.
wad exactly are thay?
wad's the difference between servos, motors and acutators???

anyone care to explain???

Steve Joblin:
I don't profess to be an expert, but usually the term "actuator" typically refers to a device that provides linear motion... like a piston, a rod is pushed in a linear manner when voltage is applied.

A motor is a device that provides rotational movement (like in a toy car, the motor spins a wheel (usually through gears to reduce the speed and increase the tourque).

A servo is a motor along with electronics that provides a feedback loop to the motor. A Servo is a small device that has an output shaft. This shaft can be positioned to specific angular positions by sending the servo a coded signal. As long as the coded signal exists on the input line, the servo will maintain the angular position of the shaft. As the coded signal changes, the angular position of the shaft changes. In practice, servos are used in radio controlled airplanes to position control surfaces like the elevators and rudders. They are also used in radio controlled cars, puppets, and of course, robots.

I'm not an expert either, but I think an actuator ( is any device that turns an input signal into a physical action (i.e. the dc motor is an actuator). Not quite sure what separates motors from actuators though.

Steve Joblin:
I think that technically Zeol is correct... I was taking it more from the practical aspect in how we refer to things (at least in the US) :)

I think I'd describe motors and servos as different kinds of actuators. Like you could say "the robot has an actuator on its arm" when it really has a servo doing the work.


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