Not sure where this thread is best placed, but I am confident Administrators or Moderators will determine that.............I didn't want to stick it where few visit (while some might suggest I do just that.....)
I have a couple of projects where I need to use linear actuators, or at least that's what I think would work best. I don't know anything about these and I want to use them correctly. If based upon what I am describing, something other than a linear actuator should be used, please let me know.
First, I need to install one to simply open and close the material flow gate valve on my Frontier 3 point PTO driven Poly spreader. Long story short, the handle which controls the material gate opens and closes on its own with bumps when used. Also, I can't reach it from the tractor and with the way the broadcast spreader throws material, I want to keep the rear cab window closed. Plus, I may end up using this same spreader in the winter to apply snow melt material, so the actuator needs to be weather resistant and designed to use in an environment which isn't ideal.
But the process to even open and close the control is slow and cumbersome. First, I Climb out of the cab to open the valve, getting back in the cab turning off the brake, shifting into gear, turning on the PTO and the entire time, material is flowing out of the spreader which is NOT good. I need to be able to open and close the material flow from the operators seat on demand. So here are my questions to try and understand the proper use of actuators. I numbered the questions to make answering easier.....
1. Are linear actuators like a switch and either fully opened or fully closed if just hooked directly to a switch? On the fertilizer spreader, I would like it Push once to fully open gate, push once to fully close gate. The movement is horizontal to control the material flow gate.
2. For the new implement I am designing, the need is just the opposite. I need to be able to use the actuator to control the liquid material gate valve so I can increase the flow by opening the valve and reduce the flow to restrict material flow and then stop it all together. From what I can tell, it looks like i am going to need "position controllers", is that correct?. But will the actuator solidly hold the position and not bounce open or close when its stopped part of the way?
The style of the valve I think I am going to use is like this one.............I would like the actual sliding part of the valve which opens and closes to be stainless, but the concept is the same........the force required to open and close should be minimal, much like the opening and closing of the spreader material gate.
3. Some of the directions talk about waiting before reversing the actuator direction so as to not overheat it. How do you select an actuator which you can keep adjusting, open and closed as needed without having to wait? It's not like there are going to be constant adjustments, but occasional adjustments between fully open and fully closed. Also, since this isn't lifting a heavy load, I would think the heat build up would be minimal in the actuator when used, is that a safe assumption?
4. How do you size the actuators for the project? For example the fertilizer spreader, do I just determine the mounting position and then the maximum distance to open the valve and close it and then provide some margin for position adjustment? What about shaft size when not lifting something, but rather opening and closing valves where there is not a direct lifting of a weight load? Probably the smallest suitable shaft diameter to keep it simple?
4(a). Is the position of the actuator controlled by the stops in the way its mounted (fully open / fully closed) when not using a "position controller"? I want to be perfectly clear so I understand this. In other words, if its wired to a open / closed switch, does one push of the button open it and one push close it, or does the actuator require you hold the switch to make it move?
Keep in mind that on a snow blower chute use, you can sit there and watch it so its easy to know when its reached its fully open or closed positions, but for the uses I have in mind, the actuator will be behind and underneath the implement so the operator won't be able to see it. So it needs to be consistent in function or the implement won't work right, which is why I am so focused on this issue......Plus I don't want to push the switch when the actuator has reached it's maximum open or closed position as I would think that's harmful to the electric motor....
5. Is there a specific brand to buy or to avoid? There are 53 pages of linear actuators with 6 to 8 per page for sale, just on Amazon......
6. I see a variety of controllers, some which open and close and even some wireless controllers. I will want wireless for both uses. Any suggestions on the controllers and wireless devices?
7. I see some mention ratings (IP62, etc.) which I think are the "water resistance" of the unit. It appears some actuators are strictly for interior use while others are "weather rated". Are they categorized by application such as "interior use only", etc. to avoid getting the wrong unit?
8. Any recommended places where to buy them such as Northern Tool, Grainger, etc.? I am not a big "Ebay buyer" for a variety of reasons but will buy there is that's the best choice for quality product which will work and be reliable.
Prefer American Made with American written English instructions and technical support
I noticed a few reviews where buyers mentioned they bought either the actuator or controllers for their snow blower chute controls but when it came to the wireless products, several commented how they were shipped from China, took 6 weeks to get and had horrible directions, which I want to avoid......I will pay double for an American made product with real American technical support and not Raji on the overseas phone saying "Hail low, my names is BOB, how cans I helps you?"
This is why I am posing these questions to help me understand this to the GTT advisory board, as I don't have to muddle through the terrible instructions for many electronics which are written in English by those for whom English is not their primary language or it often appears a 2nd or 3rd language. Granted, my Chinese isn't worth a damn, but I don't write instructions for users in China either......
Thanks for help and input on this issue. I want to get this right the first time and with the implement I am designing,the actuator is very critical in its success or failure.
The GTT Advisory Board is the best......thanks to all who help and provide constructive input. I really appreciate it.............