Deodorant-stick linear actuator


MAKE Magazine subscriber Jeremie Boulianne of Calgary, Alberta, came with a unique way to build a linear actuator:

Linear actuation is an elusive and expensive field to get into but I always seem to find a need for it with robots I build. Whether it being to raise a turret or dispense a marker a linear actuator would be so handy.

My proof-of-concept solution (hack) was to create a linear actuator design that is accessible to even electronics enthusiasts on the tightest budget. Using a common item, that I hope everyone uses :), you can build one yourself after the product has been used up. I recommend leaving the dispenser under hot water for a few minutes and then use an old toothbrush to clean off the remaining residue before you hack it. The amount of travel for this plastic worm gear assembly is a tad over 3 inches. Right now I don’t have an installed solution for detecting end of travel but I would assume it’d be easy enough to add a Freeduino with some limit switches or current sensing chips. The Freeduino could also drive your servo signal at the same time…BONUS!

7 thoughts on “Deodorant-stick linear actuator

  1. rmd6502 says:

    How about a rare earth magnet and a hall effect sensor?

    1. Jeremie Boulianne says:

      I like the magnet with reed switch idea! I have both so I think I’ll have to try it. The chapstick/lipstick idea below is pretty cool too but a person would probably have to use a mini servo for that.

      I thought of the nut + threaded rod idea as well but I live in Canada and I don’t want to run to the hardware store when I want to make something in the winter….it’s waaaaayyy too cold, besides who wants to have to fabricate a linear system when there’s plenty already built for you and free to recycle (once your armpits are done with it)!

  2. JCO says:

    What a great idea! I’d love to see this on a robot.

    Probably encourages good higene too.

  3. Steve Hoefer says:

    If space is a concern, a lipstick or chapstick container works just as well, though has a shorter travel. (And smells less.)

  4. theophrastus says:

    Very resourceful use of otherwise tossed stuff, yet is there a reason that a trip to the hardware store for a bit of threaded rod (or just a long bolt) and a nut for a traveler wouldn’t be a more stable solution? Perhaps that would be too fine a “lead”?

  5. Jeremie Boulianne says:

    I came up with a name for the Project-> The Axe Effector

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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