Analog vs. Digital Servos: Which Is the Better Option?
Many of us can relate to playing with remote control cars as children. With a flick of a button or switch, we could make a car move. And the same technology that made your RC car race down your driveway is what powers your factory’s CNC machines.
This technology is the servo motor, and it comes in different varieties depending on the machine’s needs. The main choices you’ll find are analog vs. digital. Which is the better option is the question we will explore.
An Intro to Pulse Width Modulation
An understanding of analog and digital servo motors requires an understanding of pulse width modulation or PWM. PWM is a system that uses a series of electrical pulses of varying lengths to send a signal between two devices, such as a cell tower and phone, remote control and RC car, or servo drive and motor.
PWM systems are essentially like a person flipping a switch on and off but at incredibly high speeds. The system may produce anywhere from 50 to hundreds of pulses per second, but when it doesn’t send pulses, it’s essentially “turned off,” and no electricity leaves it.
The Difference Between Analog and Digital Motors
Both analog and digital motors use pulse width modulation. They differ in the rate at which they send pulses and how much energy it uses to send them.
Analog servos are the standard in most applications, sending 50 or more pulses a second and shutting off in between. It’s a simple set-up, but it ensures a low-cost, low-volume system that consumes less energy. However, the system can have a slower start time and not have as much torque as other motors.
Digital motors use a high-powered microprocessor to increase the number of pulses per second the motor can produce by hundreds. This creates far faster start and response times, as well as increased torque. However, these systems consume significantly more power and tend to be more expensive.
Choosing Between Analog and Digital
When deciding which is the better option between analog and digital servos, it’s important to consider how you are using them.
In most simple applications, analog servos will serve your purposes well enough. However, it’s wise to invest in digital servos for more complex applications, such as advanced motion control or systems where you need to store sequences in the system’s memory.
Whichever motor type you use, we at Industrial Automations want to make getting parts for your equipment as easy as driving a remote-control car. Our collection of servo drive amplifiers is sure to have the right piece for your equipment.