Live demo showing you how to setup and get the most out of the Compact Series Linear Actuator/Slides.
Compact Series Linear Slide Quick Build In this video we’ll quickly build this X-Y positioning apparatus and outline out some of the features of the Compact Linear Slide Actuators. The main advantage of these Compact linear slides is they are narrower than traditional slides because the support rail runs right down the center as opposed to traditional slides that uses support rails on either side. Which makes these compact linear slides a great choice when you have limited real estate for mounting and when you need to mount things to the side of the linear slide’s carriage. You can get the instructions for this build by going to the AutomationDirect Webstore, click on Motion, Linear motion, click on the Manuals tab and this link will take you to documents that show how to repair the slides and this document which shows you\ how to build several common configurations for both the Values series and Compact series slides. We’re doing this configuration in this video. Here we go. I’m going to use this 24 inch slide for the base. To attach any AutomationDirect NEMA 17 stepper motor you just remove the adapter plate, attach the stepper motor to the adapter plate using some M3 by 12 screws. Then put the plate back. I’m using a 170 60D Stepper motor for our example. A good set of ball driver Allen wrenches really helps when trying to reach in here. The Wera Allen wrenches from AutomationDirect are perfect for this. We do the same thing for the vertical slide which is a 12 inch compact linear actuator with a 170 48 stepper motor. I didn’t have any reason for choosing these particular stepper motors, they are just what I happened to have laying around. You would want to choose the motors hat are sized correctly for your application. Now we’ll use this mounting plate to attach the two slides together first by attaching it to the base slide and then attaching the top slide to the plate using all the screws that come with the mounting plate. Which is really great because you don’t have to fumble around the hardware store trying to find the special screws that will fit in these tight spaces. Next we grab a rail to support the other end of the top slide. We have two choices. This one which is supported on the ends or this one which is fully supported the entire length. The fully supported one ensures there is zero deflection of the rail under load which can be really important in some applications. Most of the time though, the unsupported rail will be just fine even if it does deflect a thousandth of an inch or so. One other difference between the two is you get a little more slide range with the fully supported rail because it doesn’t have these ends limiting the pillow block’s travel. I’m going ot use the fully supported one in this demo just because it’s easier to get the pillow block off that we don’t need. We’ll set that aside and keep it as a spare. This adapter plate is specifically for attaching compact slides to these kinds of rails and again it comes with all the screws you need to attach it to the rail and then to the top slide. You would normally screw all of this to your table using these mounting holes and then mount whatever you want to move here. Now just connect that to your favorite stepper drive system and you are good to go. For the record, I’m using two of these stepper drives for this demo – one for each slide - because they have an analog input. I then took a joy stick out of a toy at home and wired it like this. And we’re using this power supply to drive it all. These stepper drives get configured using the free SureStep software. The serial cable comes with the drive and I used this USB to serial cable from AutomationDirect since my computer doesn’t have a serial port. We cover how to use the SureStep configuration software in detail in a separate video, but the main thing to note for this demo is we put the drive in this velocity mode to get it to respond to the analog input, selected this check box so it is always running, and put the speed in here. I want the joystick center to be zero velocity so I click on the Advanced button and then click on Auto Offset. It tells me to make sure the joystick is centered, and then it uses the voltage it reads as the zero velocity reference. Looks like it’s just under two and a half volts – perfect. I’m using this motor, this drive, I’ve already selected the com port and hit download. I’m not worried about inertia for this demo – again we cover how to do that in the other video I already programmed the other drive so now I just play with the joy stick and watch the system respond. It’s very responsive to the analog input from the joystick and these Compact series slides feel super solid and smooth. Now I need to point out that these stepper motor cables are not intended for continuous flex. You don’t want this joint continuously flexing in the end application. Now normally you would nail this connector down so the cable doesn’t move and attach an extension cable that is rated for continuous flex usage. It’s also important to understand the24 inch Compact linear slide is longer than 24 inches to accommodate the width of the carriage so you actually get the full 24 inches of motion. The rail on the other hand is exactly 24 inches, so if you need the full 24 inches of motion you need to get the rail that is the next size up so the pillow block doesn’t fall off one end. The pillow blocks have a port for lubricating the recirculating bearings – you can leave that red stopper in or take it out. The lubrication schedule depends on your application, of course, but as a rough guideline, the manufacturer recommends every 6-12 months or 100 to 1000km of usage with a turbine type oil of viscosity of 32 to 68. Or, lithium number 2 grease is also acceptable and probably easier to find. You can either inject the lubricant into the provided hole or just apply it to the shaft The pillow blocks also have an adjustment screw if you want to change how the pillow block slides along the rail. The set screw is preset at the factory so you really shouldn’t have to fool with it, but it is there if you want to tweak it. If you do tweak it, do it in very small amounts – getting that too tight will prematurely wear out the bearings. These Compact Series Linear Slides are very capable – they can carry up to 125 pounds in the normal and transverse directions. The upward direction for the normal load is about half of that since it is no longer supported by the base. The roll, pitch and yaw loads are shown here. The reason roll is a little light is because these slides just have the one center support for the carriage. That also means it is going to have a little more play in the roll direction. So If you need more or tighter roll capability, then consider a slide where the carriage rests on two outer rails. Compact linear slides have mounting holes built in so you can quickly add a proximity sensor for detecting limits. Mount the sensor here and then move this bar under the carriage to adjust when the sensor gets tripped. How do you know which prox sensor to use? Easy. Scroll to the bottom of the linear slides web page - the proximity sensor shown here is the one that is recommended for this slide. And finally, Linear slides have moving parts which are going to wear out over time, so there is a repair kit for replacing all the moving parts in these slides and a video that shows you step by step exactly how to do it. The design allows them to move a little quicker than comparable slides and they are well suited for wet and harsh environments with their stainless steel lead screw and hard coated aluminum parts. If you need any help, please contact AutomationDirect’s free award winning tech support during regular business hours. They will be happy to help. And don’t forget the forums. There are lots of folks there that love to share their years of experience. Just don’t post any quests directed at AutomationDirect’s support team there – they don’t monitor the forums on a regular basis.