Linear actuators are motors that work in a straight line. They’re very useful for controlling valves and levers, building robots, and retrofitting old mechanisms for digital control. The simplest form of linear actuator has only 2 positions, while more complicated actuators can be positioned just like stepper motors and servos.
I needed 32 linear actuators for my latest project, and I was shocked to discover how much they would cost. After a little thought, I decided that I only needed simple on/off actuators, and I would try to make them myself using off-the-shelf parts.
Make a robot friend with Adafruit’s CRICKIT – A Creative Robotics & Interactive Construction Kit. It’s an add-on to our popular Circuit Playground Express, FEATHER and other platforms to make and program robots with CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. Start controlling motors, servos, solenoids. You also get signal pins, capacitive touch sensors, a NeoPixel driver and amplified speaker output. It complements & extends your boards so you can still use all the goodies on the microcontroller, now you have a robotics playground as well.
Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !
There is a “large volume of literature” on DIY magnetic actuators, which are widely used in small scale remote control airplanes and etc. Most of that is focused on somewhat rotational movement, and “small to ridiculously tiny”, so this article provides a nice starting point for an “easier” alternate build.