Servo Motor Encoders 101

 encodersAn Encoder is an electromechanical device that provides an electrical signal that is used for speed and/or position control.

  • Incremental encoders are the most commonly used and the simplest. The encoder provides information about the instantaneous position of a rotating shaft by producing one square wave of cycle per increment of shaft movement. This increment, which is referred to as the resolution, is built directly into the devices internal hardware.
  • Absolute encoders have a more complicated signal structure. They provide a “whole word” output with a unique code pattern that is derived from independent tracks on the encoder disc which correspond to individual photo-detectors and represent each position. The output from these detectors is HI or LO depending on the code disc pattern for that particular position.
  • For incremental encoder testing, a low voltage power supply and oscilloscope are a good way to check encoder output signals.
  • Many encoders can be repaired but occasionally certain components of manufacturer specific encoders are proprietary and unable to be purchased.
  • When connecting or disconnecting an encoder it is important to turn  the power off, but typically power will need to be applied to test electronics.

Check out the Repair Zone Learning Center for more tips and information.

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