Servomotors are used for both high-end and low-end applications. On the high end are precision industrial components that use a rotary encoder. On the low end are inexpensive radio control servos (RC servos) used in radio-controlled models which use a free-running motor and a simple potentiometer position sensor with an embedded controller. The term servomotor generally refers to a high-end industrial component while the term servo is most often used to describe the inexpensive devices that employ a potentiometer. Stepper motors are not considered to be servomotors, although they too are used to construct larger servomechanisms. Stepper motors have inherent angular positioning, owing to their construction, and this is generally used in an open-loop manner without feedback. They are generally used for medium-precision applications.
Positioning servomechanisms were first used in military fire-control and marine navigation equipment. Today servomechanisms are used in automatic machine tools, satellite-tracking antennas, remote control airplanes, automatic navigation systems on boats and planes, and antiaircraft-gun control systems. Other examples are fly-by-wire systems in aircraft which use servos to actuate the aircraft control surfaces, and radio-controlled models which use RC servos for the same purpose. Many autofocus cameras also use a servomechanism to accurately move the lens. A hard disk drive has a magnetic servo system with sub-micrometre positioning accuracy. In industrial machines, servos are used to perform complex motion, in many applications.
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