How to Build a DIY Linear Actuator with a Can Stack Stepper Motor



How to Build a DIY Linear Actuator with a Can Stack Stepper Motor


Linear actuators are versatile mechanisms used in various applications, such as robotics, automation, and manufacturing. They convert rotational motion into linear motion with precision and control. While there are many commercially available linear actuators on the market, building your own DIY linear actuator can be a rewarding and cost-effective project. In this article, we will guide you through the process of building a DIY linear actuator using a can stack stepper motor. We will cover everything from selecting the right components to assembling and testing the actuator. So, let's dive in and get started!

Understanding Linear Actuators and Can Stack Stepper Motors

Linear actuators are devices capable of producing linear motion by converting rotational motion. They consist of a motor, a lead screw or rotor, and various mechanical components. Can stack stepper motors are widely used in linear actuators due to their precise control and compact size. These motors are often chosen for their high torque and step-by-step control, making them ideal for applications that require accurate positioning.

Selecting the Right Components

Building a linear actuator requires selecting the right components to ensure optimal performance. Here are the essential components you will need:

1. Can Stack Stepper Motor: Choose a can stack stepper motor suitable for your application's torque and speed requirements. Consider factors such as holding torque, stepping angle, and size.

2. Lead Screw or Rotor: The lead screw or rotor determines the linear travel distance of the actuator. Select a lead screw or rotor of appropriate length and pitch to achieve the desired linear motion.

3. Mounting Base: The mounting base provides stability and support. Choose a sturdy and durable material, such as aluminum, for the base to ensure the actuator's stability during operation.

4. Motor Driver: A motor driver is essential to control the can stack stepper motor. Select a driver compatible with your motor and capable of providing the required current and voltage.

5. Power Supply: Choose a power supply that meets the voltage and current requirements of the motor and motor driver. Ensure the power supply is reliable and provides a stable output.

Assembling the DIY Linear Actuator

Once you have gathered all the necessary components, follow these steps to assemble your DIY linear actuator:

Step 1: Prepare the Mounting Base

- Measure and mark the desired location for attaching the motor on the mounting base.

- Use appropriate tools to drill holes for mounting the can stack stepper motor securely.

Step 2: Attach the Can Stack Stepper Motor

- Place the can stack stepper motor on the mounting base, aligning it with the pre-drilled holes.

- Securely fasten the motor to the base using screws or bolts.

Step 3: Install the Lead Screw or Rotor

- If using a lead screw, attach it to the motor shaft by matching the threading.

- For a rotor-based actuator, align the rotor with the motor shaft and secure it in place using a coupling or set screws.

Step 4: Connect the Motor Driver

- Refer to the motor driver's datasheet for wiring instructions.

- Connect the motor driver to the can stack stepper motor according to the specified wiring diagram.

- Ensure all connections are secure and insulated to prevent electrical shorts.

Step 5: Connect the Power Supply

- Connect the power supply to the motor driver, adhering to the specified voltage and polarity.

- Double-check all connections to ensure they are correctly wired and secure.

Testing and Troubleshooting

Before putting your DIY linear actuator into full operation, it is crucial to thoroughly test and troubleshoot any potential issues. Follow these steps to ensure optimal functionality:

Step 1: Power On and Calibration

- Power on the system and check the motor driver's LED indicators for any errors or malfunctions.

- Calibration might be required for accurate positioning. Consult the motor driver's manual for instructions on calibrating your specific model.

Step 2: Control Signal

- Connect a control signal, such as a microcontroller or computer, to the motor driver.

- Test the actuator's forward and reverse motion by controlling the motor driver with appropriate signal commands.

Step 3: Smooth Operation and Alignment

- Observe the linear actuator's motion to ensure smooth operation without any jerks or vibrations.

- Check if the actuator's movement aligns with the desired linear motion accurately.

Step 4: Troubleshooting

- If the actuator shows any unexpected behavior or malfunctions, refer to the motor driver's manual for troubleshooting guidelines.

- Inspect all wiring connections, power supply, and motor driver settings to identify potential issues.

Applications and Further Enhancements

DIY linear actuators offer endless possibilities for various applications. Here are a few areas where your DIY linear actuator can be utilized:

- Robotics: Implement your DIY linear actuator in robotic systems for precise positioning and movement.

- Automation: Use the actuator for automating processes like opening and closing doors, adjusting furniture, or controlling gates.

- Manufacturing: Incorporate your actuator into assembly line systems for accurate component alignment.

- Camera Sliders: Build camera sliders capable of smooth linear motion using your DIY linear actuator.

- 3D Printing: Enhance your 3D printer's capabilities by integrating a custom-built linear actuator.


Building a DIY linear actuator with a can stack stepper motor is an exciting and rewarding project. By selecting the right components, carefully assembling, and thorough testing, you can create a versatile linear actuator suitable for various applications. Remember to prioritize safety during construction and always consult component datasheets and manuals for accurate wiring and usage information. With your DIY linear actuator, explore new possibilities and unleash your creativity in the world of automation and robotics.


Smooth Motor is a professional stepper motor manufacturer in China, with years of exporting and manufacturing experience. Our main products contain: Linear Stepper Motor, Stepper Motor, Lead Screw And Nut, Voice Coil Motor and Linear Rail Systems, welcome to contact us!
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