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servomechanism refers to a device or combination of devices that automatically

controls a mechanism or a source of power or energy. Servomechanisms

automatically compare the controlled output of a mechanism to the controlling
input. The difference between the settings or positions of the output and the input
is called the error signal, which regulates the output to a desired value.
Servomechanisms may be mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, or optical. The process
of sending the error signal back for comparison with the input is called feedback,
and the whole process of the input, output, error signal, and feedback is called a
closed loop. The closed-loop system, also known as a servomechanism, has some
means of incorporating mechanical feedback from the output to the input. A sensor
at the output end generates a signal that is sent back to the input to regulate the
machine behavior. The term servomechanism correctly applies only to systems
where feedback or error-correction signals help control mechanical position or
other parameters. For example, an automotive power window control is not a
servomechanism, because there is no automatic feedback which controls position
the operator does this by observation. By contrast the cars cruise control uses
closed loop feedback, which classifies it as a servomechanism.
Purpose Of Servomechanism:
1. Accurate control of motion without the need for human attendants (automatic
2. Maintenance of accuracy with mechanical load variations, changes in the
environment, power supply fluctuations, and aging and
of components (regulation and self- calibration),


3. Control of a high-power load from a low-power command signal (power

amplification) and,
4. Control of an output from a remotely located input, without the use of
mechanical linkages.
A servomechanism is unique from other control systems because it controls a
parameter by commanding the time-based derivative of that parameter. For
example a servomechanism controlling position must be capable of changing the
velocity of the system because the time-based derivative (rate change) of position
is velocity. A hydraulic actuator controlled by a spool valve and a position sensor is
a good example because the velocity of the actuator is proportional to the error
signal of the position sensor. A simple example is the driver of a car. His eyes tell
him where he is on the road, and compare it to where he should be, and this
information makes its way to his brain. The brain decides what action should be
taken in order to move the car from where it is to where it should be, and sends a
signal to the muscles in the arm, turning the steering wheel to realign the car.
All servomechanisms have the following parts:
1. A way to measure what is desired and what is being accomplished,
2. A way to transport this information,
3. A way to determine the difference between the actual condition and the desired
4. A means to amplify this difference (which is often small) and use it to move the
actual condition towards the desired condition

In the example of the car, (1) are eyes, (2) is the optic nerve and pathways to the
brain,(3) is the brain, and (4) are the arms and steering wheel. A small turn of the
wheel translates into a major turn for the car.

Servo loop elements and their interconnections. Cause-and-effect action takes

place in the directions of arrows. (After American National Standards Institute,
Terminology for Automatic Control, ANSI C85.1)
The illustration shows the basic elements of a servomechanism and their
interconnections; in this type of block diagram the connection between elements is
such that only a unidirectional cause-and-effect action takes place in the direction
shown by the arrows. The arrows form a closed path or loop; hence this is a singleloop servomechanism or, simply, a servo loop. More complex servomechanisms
may have two or more loops (multiloop servo), and a complete control system may
contain many servomechanisms.
All servomechanisms have at least these basic components: a controlled device, a
command device, an error detector, an error-signal amplifier, and a device to
perform any necessary error corrections (the servomotor). In the controlled device,
that which is being regulated is usually position. This device must, therefore, have
some means of generating a signal (such as a voltage), called the feedback signal,
that represents its current position. This signal is sent to an error-detecting device.
The command device receives information, usually from outside the system, that
represents the desired position of the controlled device. This information is
converted to a form usable by the system (such as a voltage) and is fed to the same

error detector as is the signal from the controlled device. The error detector
compares the feedback signal (representing actual position) with the command
signal (representing desired position). Any discrepancy results in an error signal
that represents the correction necessary to bring the controlled device to its desired
position. The error-correction signal is sent to an amplifier, and the amplified
voltage is used to drive the servomotor, which repositions the controlled device.
(Servomechanism may or may not use a servomotor. For example a household
furnace controlled by thermostat is a servomechanism, yet there is no motor being
controlled directly by the servomechanism).
In many applications, servomechanisms allow high-powered devices to be
controlled by signals from devices of much lower power. The operation of the
high-powered device results from a signal (called the error, or difference, signal)
generated from a comparison of the desired position of the high-powered device
with its actual position. The ratio between the power of the control signal and that
of the device controlled can be on the order of billions to one.
James Watts steam engine governor is generally considered the first powered
feedback system. The windmill fantail is an earlier example of automatic control,
but since it does not have an amplifier or gain, it is not usually considered a
The first feedback position control device was the ship steering engine, used to
position the rudder of large ships based on the position of ships wheel. This
technology was first used on the SS Great Eastern in 1866. Steam steering engines
had the characteristics of a modern servomechanism: an input, an output, an error
signal, and a means for amplifying the error signal used for negative feedback to






Electrical servomechanisms require a power amplifier. World War II saw the

development of electrical fire-control servomechanisms, using an amplidyne as the
power amplifier. Vacuum tube amplifiers were used in the UNISERVO tape drive
for the UNIVAC I computer. Modern servomechanisms make use of solid state
power amplifiers, usually built from MOSFET or thyristor devices. Small servos




The origin of the word is believed to come from the French Le Servomoteur or
the slavemotor, first used by J. J. L. Farcot in 1868 to describe hydraulic and steam
engines for use in ship steering.
Servomechanisms are useful to control motion without human attendants, or to
maintain the accuracy of an environment like a power plant, and to control action
from a remote isolated station. The controller typically uses (and has) much less
power than that of what is being controlled. Almost always it is the position or
velocity which is being controlled.
Servomechanisms are used to control mechanical things such as motors, steering
mechanisms, and robots. Servomechanisms are used extensively in robotics. A
robot controller can tell a servomechanism to move in certain ways that depend on
the inputs from sensors. Multiple servomechanisms, when interconnected and
controlled by a sophisticated computer, can do complex tasks such as cook a meal.
A set of servomechanisms, including associated circuits and hardware, and
intended for a specific task, constitutes a servo system.Servo systems do precise,
often repetitive, mechanical chores. A computer can control a servo system made
up of many servomechanisms. For example, an unmanned robotic warplane (also

known as a drone) can be programmed to take off, fly a mission, return, and land.
Servo systems can be programmed to do assembly-line work and other tasks that
involve repetitive movement, precision, and endurance.
A servo robot is a robot whose movement is programmed into a computer. The
robot follows the instructions given by the program, and carries out precise
motions on that basis. Servo robots can be categorized according to the way they
move. In continuous-path motion, the robot mechanism can stop anywhere along
its path. In point-to-point motion, it can stop only at specific points in its path.
Servo robots can be easily programmed and reprogrammed. This might be done by
exchanging diskettes, by manual data entry, or by more exotic methods such as a
teach box. When a robot arm must perform repetitive, precise, complex motions,
the movements can be entered into the robot controllers memory. Then,when the
memory is accessed, the robot arm goes through all the appropriate movements. A
teach box is a device that detects and memorizes motions or processes for later
The constant speed control system of a DC motor is a servomechanism that
monitors any variations in the motors speed so that it can quickly and
automatically return the speed to its correct value. Servomechanisms are also used
for the control systems of guided missiles, aircraft, and manufacturing.
The power steering system in an automobile is an example of a servomechanism.
The direction of the front wheels is controlled by the angle of the steering wheel.
Should the motion of the car turn the front wheels away from the desired direction,
the servomechanism, consisting of a mechanical and hydraulic system,
automatically brings the wheels back to the desired direction. Another example of a
servomechanism is the automatic control system by which a THERMOSTAT, (q.v.)

in one of the rooms of a house controls the heat output of the heating furnace.
Other examples include automatic pilots used on ships, aircraft, and space vehicles,
in which the direction of motion of the vehicle is controlled by a compass setting.
Unmanned spacecraft are automatically turned to point their cameras, radio
antennae, and solar panels in the desired directions by servomechanisms. The input
in that case is the sensing of the direction of the sun and stars, and the output is the










A common type of servo provides position control. Servos are commonly electrical
or partially electronic in nature, using an electric motor as the primary means of
creating mechanical force. Other types of servos use hydraulics, pneumatics, or
magnetic principles. Usually, servos operate on the principle of negative feedback,
where the control input is compared to the actual position of the mechanical system
as measured by some sort of transducer at the output. Any difference between the
actual and wanted values (an error signal) is amplified and used to drive the
system in the direction necessary to reduce or eliminate the error. An entire science
known as control theory has been developed on this type of system.
Servomechanisms were first used in military fire-control and marine navigation
equipment. They were also used in military applications, such as an antiaircraft gun
that tracks a plane via radar. As the plane moves the radar gives the planes
position information to the gun, which computes the new position of the plane and
realigns. This process can go indefinitely. Some other applications are satellite
tracking and satellite antenna alignment systems, automatic machine tools, startracking systems on telescopes (since the stars position changes as the earth
rotates), and navigation systems.

RC servos are hobbyist remote control devices servos typically employed in radiocontrolled models, where they are used to provide actuation for various mechanical
systems such as the steering of a car, the flaps on a plane, or the rudder of a
boat.Typical servos give a rotary (angular) output. Linear types are common as
well, using a screw thread or a linear motor to give linear motion. RC servos are
composed of an electric motor mechanically linked to a potentiometer. Pulse-width
modulation (PWM) signals sent to the servo are translated into position commands
by electronics inside the servo. When the servo is commanded to rotate, the motor
is powered until the potentiometer reaches the value corresponding to the
commanded position. Due to their affordability, reliability, and simplicity of
control by microprocessors, RC servos are often used in small-scale
robotics applications.The servo is controlled by three wires: ground (usually
black/orange), power (red) and control (brown/other colour). This wiring sequence
is not true for all servos, for example the S03NXF Std. Servo is wired as
brown(negative), red (positive) and orange (signal). The servo will move based on
the pulses sent over the control wire, which set the angle of the actuator arm. The
servo expects a pulse every 20 ms in order to gain correct information about the
angle. The width of the servo pulse dictates the range of the servos angular
motion. A servo pulse of 1.5 ms width will set the servo to its neutral position, or
90. For example a servo pulse of 1.25 ms could set the servo to 0 and a pulse of
1.75 ms could set the servo to 180. The physical limits and timings of the servo
hardware varies between brands and models, but a general servos angular motion
will travel somewhere in the range of 180 210 and the neutral position is
almost always at 1.5 ms.RC Servos are usually powered from either NiCd or
NiMH packs common to most RC devices. More recently these systems are
powered by Lithium Polymer (LiPo) packs. Voltage ratings vary from product to

product, but most servos are operated at 4.8 V or 6 V DC from a 4 or 5 cell NiCd
or NiMH battery, or a regulated LiPo pack.
Another device commonly referred to as a servo is used in automobiles to amplify
the steering or braking force applied by the driver. However, these devices are not
true servos, but rather mechanical amplifiers.
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 aircrafts 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, and
thus adjust the focus. A modern hard disk drive has a magnetic servo system with
sub-micrometre positioning accuracy.
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