Linear Actuator GUI


A linear actuator was needed to be rapidly deployed for testing to improve production machine performance. It needed to oscillate back and forth in a customized 2-step and 3-step pattern to simulate motions by the actuator installed in a production machine. A GUI to control the system was also required, as well as standard safety interlocks. 


The linear actuator was deployed and within a few days a GUI, control code, and safety system was implemented to fully test the system. The video below shows the GUI I created to control the linear actuator. It highlights my ability to generate code to operate a linear actuator, make a GUI to interface with it, and provide near-real-time feedback of the state of the actuator.


The GUI works well to control the linear actuator through the use of a Beckhoff PLC and a TwinCAT controller. It can successfully generate customized 2-step and 3-step oscillatory motions to simulate and fine-tune different parameters of the linear actuator for improving production-level operation. 

A few items of note:

  • The “enable” GUI button is not strictly a toggle button based on click input, it does use state feedback of the linear drive to change. This can be observed when pressing the red e-stop button, the button name changes from “disable” to “enable” since the e-stop disables the drive, even though no click-event was captured.
  • The linear position slider on the right of the GUI displays the representative position of the actuator relative to the linear rail in near-real-time, even during motion. When the actuator is far away from the user in real life, the slider displays the bar to the left side of the slider, whereas when the actuator is closer to the user the slider is shown on the right side.
  • The GUI is linked to the LABview style and CLI software, which I also generated.