There are many ways to make a linear actuator, a device for moving something is a straight line. Most of the easier to make ones use a conventional motor and a mechanical linkage such as a rack and pinion or a lead screw, but [Ben Wang] has gone for something far more elegant. His linear actuator uses a linear motor, a linear array of coils for the motor phases, working against a line of magnets. Even better than that, he’s managed to make the whole motor out of a single PCB. And it’s fast!
This represents something of an engineering challenge, because achieving the required magnetic field from the relatively few turns possible on a PCB is no easy task. He’s done it by using a four-layer board to gather enough turns for the required magnetic field, and a simple view of the board doesn’t quite convey what lies beneath.
PCB motors are perhaps one of those areas where the state of the art is still evolving, and the exciting part is that their limits are being pushed right there in our community. And this isn’t the only linear motor we’ve seen recently either, here’s one used in a model train.