• Compact rotary encoders fit inside standard motor mounts • Three grades of linear encoders for resolutions down to 20 nanometers • Encoder displays with RS-232 interface

Encoder Basics
Optical encoders are the most widely used feedback device. Compact, inexpensive, and reliable, they provide high resolution while maintaining a simple (usually digital) electronic interface. Encoders are valuable when used with stepping motor driven systems, where they can correct a variety of positioning table errors, as well as warn of stalling in systems with dynamic loads. Servo motors, in comparison, must have a feedback device to operate. To a first order, the command current (and hence, torque/force) applied to a servo motor is proportional to the error between its desired and actual position; the latter is obtained via an optical encoder.

Figure 1a illustrates encoder operation: a stationary light source (usually an LED) illuminates the rotating code disk, which has a number of light transmitting slits. Light passing through the code disk then falls upon the phase plate, which consists of a similar but stationary set of slits. Finally, the detector (typically a solar cell or photodiode) converts the transmitted light to an electronic signal. This analog signal is then amplified and “squared up” to provide a standard +5 volt digital signal, which can be input to a counter circuit. Each “count” records one light-dark cycle of the code disk relative to the phase plate. A serious limitation to the above technique is that the counter cannot tell which direction the encoder moved: a movement of 100 counts clockwise followed by 100 counts counterclockwise is recorded as 200 counts, while an accurate position feedback system should display 0 (no net change in position).

This drawback is solved by using a modified phase plate and two detector/amplifier sets (Figure 1b). The phase plate consists of two sets of slits, with the second set offset by 1/4 of the interslit spacing. This generates two electrical signals, called Channel A and Channel B, which are 90 degrees out of phase (also referred to as being “in quadrature”). Logic circuits can now easily determine direction, since channel A will switch before channel B for one rotation direction, and afterwards when rotating in the opposite direction. An added bonus is a four-fold increase in resolution if the counting circuit records both rising and falling edges of both channels A and B (as do all of our encoder interface products). We offer rotary and linear encoders that conveniently mount to most of our standard motorized products. The main decisions that need to be made are whether an encoder is necessary, and if so, whether to use a rotary encoder, a linear encoder, or both.

Figure 1a

Figure 1b

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NEAT. Rotary encoders are typically mounted to the leadscrew or ballscrew shaft in our stages. telling you actual position (regardless of the drive mechanism accuracy). The 1700 and 1500 Series controls support dual-loop encoder feedback. low cost feedback devices that can confirm motor shaft position (or provide feedback to a servo motor). Linear Rotary encoders are effective. Please see our Motion Control Handbook for details. They are an ideal feedback mechanism for use with a rotary servo motor. The accuracy of rotary encoded systems is dependent on other system components. Rotary Encoders • Provide position feedback of a rotary motor • Cost-effective • Allow a tight servo loop (when used with a rotary servo motor) Linear encoders cost more than rotary encoders.COM 800. a linear encoder is required as the feedback source. If queried. but can provide better position feedback and increase system accuracy. there is the possibility of stalling (due to external events). thermal expansion. laser interferometers should be considered. Linear encoders tell you a stage’s position.1066 • 603. whereas linear encoders can increase the system accuracy. This feature can combine the advantages of rotary and linear encoders. but their position feedback still depends on the accuracy of the leadscrew or ballscrew.Rotary vs. In linear servo motor driven systems. For example. a rotary encoder can be used to provide damping (velocity feedback) to the position controller.227. Although stepping motors operated within their allowable torque/speed ranges will operate repeatably without a step error. for example. which eliminates errors due to coupling wind-up and backlash. it can be mounted nearby. and a linear encoder can be used to close the position loop and improve system accuracy. Linear Encoders • Provide actual location feedback of a positioner • Can increase system accuracy • Allow a tight servo loop (when used with a linear servo motor) WWW. ENCODERS & DISPLAYS Rotary encoders provide a low cost way to confirm rotary motor position. and nut backlash. a rotary encoder will tell you of such an event. regardless of how you got there (leadscrew errors.893. Although it is physically impossible to mount a linear encoder’s read head in the same exact place as the user’s load. This allows correction of position in stepping motor systems. are measured by a linear encoder). For applications with particularly demanding accuracy requirements.0588 .