What is a Servo Control System

A servo control system is one of the most important and widely used forms of control system. Any machine or piece of equipment that has rotating parts will contain one or more servo motor drive control systems. The job of the control system may include:

* Maintaining the speed of a motor within certain limits, even when the load on the output of the motor might vary. This is called regulation.
* Varying the speed of a motor and load according to an externally set programme of values. This is called set point (or reference) tracking.

Servo motors are brushed or brushless DC motors with feedback, typically encoder or resolver. They can be rotary or linear motors. They require a complex closed loop control algorithm (such as the classic PID method). Normally the control loop has to be tuned, and Delta servo motor dither can be a problem.. Due to the added control and feedback, typically servo systems are more expensive than stepper systems.

Servo motors typically have a peak torque of 3-10x the continuous torque, their torque curve is much flatter than the stepper curve, and the maximum speeds are much higher. Peak torque is a great thing; often, a system just needs extra power for a short time to accelerate, overcome friction, or such.

Our daily lives depend upon servo controllers. Anywhere that there is an electric motor there will be a servo control system to control it. Servo control is very important. The economy of the world depends upon servo control (there are other things to be sure – but stay with me on the control theme). Manufacturing industry would cease without servo systems because factory production lines could not be controlled, transportation would halt because electric traction units would fail, computers would cease because disk drives would not work properly and communications networks would fail because network servers use hard disk drives. Young people would become even more unbearable and they would complain more than they do now, because their music and games systems will not work without servo control.

Servo control systems are that important and it is vital to know about them. So pay attention and sit up straight – you are not on holiday and I am not writing this for the good of my health.

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Sychronous type AC Servo Motor

The stator consists of a cylindrical frame and a stator core. The stator core is located in the frame and an armature coil is wound around the stator core. The end of the coil is connected with a lead wire and current is provide from the lead wire. The rotor consists of a shaft and a permanent magnet and the permanent magnet is attached to the outside of the shaft. In a synchronous type AC Leadshine servo motor, the magnet is attached to a rotor and an armature coil is wound around the stator unlike the DC servo motor. Therefore, the supply of current is possible from the outside without a stator and a synchronous type AC servo motor is called a “brushless servo motor” because of this structural characteristic. Because this structure makes it possible to cool down a stator core directly from the outside, it is possible to resist an increase in temeprature. Also, because a synchronous type AC servo motor does not have the limitation of maximum velocity due to recification spark, a good characteristic of torque in the high-speed range can be obtained. In additon, because this type of motor has no brush, it can be operated for a long time without maintenace.

Like a DC servo motor, this type of AC servo motor drive uses an optical encoder or a resolver as a detector of rotation velocity. Also, a ferrite magnet or a rate earth magnet is used for the magnet which is built into the rotor and plays the role of a field system.

In this type of AC Servo Motor, because an armature contribution is linearly proportional to torque. Stop is easy and dynamic brake wordks during emergency stop. However, because a permanent magnet is use, the structure is very complex and the detection of position of the rotor is needed. The current from the armature includes high frequency current and the high frequecy current is the source of toruqe ripple and vibration.

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Mechanical Overview of Servo Motors

Servo motors have serval distinct characteristics that sperate them from their stepper counterparts. The biggest is the lack of direct gearing between the rotor and the output shaft. This eliminates the backlash and cogging behaviors found ins steppers, where there is period of slop between the gear teeth before movement actually begins, and where the shaft continues to move after the Delta servo motor has stopped. This can lead to jerky starts and stops, as well as a time delay in movement. This does not impede static positioning performance markedly, but it presents major issues when on-the-fly velocity changes or hard starts/stops are needed.

A model of a typical radial brushless DC servo motor is shown before in figure 1.1 For a long time, servo motors used brushes to transfer current from the static winding to the rotor, but this would lead to wear on the brushes, in turn shortening the lifespan of the motor. With the advent of electronic motor controllers, the brusheless design was adopted, which uses control electronics to vary the currents phases to the motor’s windings in the same way the brushes do. For the rest of this paper, all mention of mitsubishi servo drives will be of the brusheless type.

Looking at figure 1.1 below, there are several objects of interest. First are the armature windings (held by the stator), which create a magnetic field that travels through the air gap to the permanent magnets on the rotor. Even though there are normally no gears in a servo motor, cogging can still exist, as there are gaps between the magnets on the rotor where the flux decrease, though this only becomes noticeable at low speeds. This type of congging in servos is perhaps more accurately termed “detent torque.” There are two ways to minimize this type of cogging, the most common being the addition of some gearing to the drive shaft. This allow the motor to run at a higher speed out of its cogging region, but does not compromise power output or precision, thought it can induce some backlash. The other way of minimizing cogging is to skew the magnets on the rotor so that a radial line from the center of the rotor always intersects a magnet at least once. When using a motor without gearing, it is known as a direct drive motor. This allows for the best transfer of power to the load, and avoids any of the negative aspects of gearing previously mentioned. A feature in newer servo motors (including the Bodine models used in this thesis) is the use of an ironless stator, which eliminates iron saturation, a situation where the magnetic properities of the iron limit how much current can be applied to the windings. Inducing iron saturation too ofen will cause overheating and possibly damage the winding or magnets. With an ironless stator, rotor magnet skewing is not necessary, as the magnetic fields aren’t influenced by the material of the stator. Also, since the only mechanical connection between the shaft and the body is through the bearings, friction is very low (especialy when using ball bearings).

In high torque motors such as the ones used in this thesis, the rotor actually consists of two plates of permanet magnets sandwiching the stator, which allows for a major increase in torque. This feature only exists in axial flux motors, due to the design where the stator lies in between the rotors, whereas in radial flux servos, the rotor is completely enclosed by the stator. The majority of the heat dissipated from a servo motor comes from the stator, so its outside location adis in cooling. In fact, the main limiting fator in the power of a servo motor is the heat capacity of the stator and the armature windings.

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Working principle of servo motor

What’s a Servo?

A Servo is a small device that has an output shaft. This shaft can be positioned to specific angular positions by sending the servo a coded signal. As long as the coded signal exists on the input line, the servo will maintain the angular position of the shaft. As the coded signal changes, the angular position of the shaft changes. In practice, Leadshine servo motor is used in radio controlled airplanes to position control surfaces like the elevators and rudders. They are also used in radio controlled cars, puppets, and of course, robots.

servo motor

A servo motor is a dc, ac, or brushless dc motor combined with a position sensing device(e.g. a digital decoder). In this section, our discussion will be focused on the three-wire mitsubishi servo motors that are often used for controlling surfaces on model airplanes. A three-wire DC servo motor incorporates a DC motor, a geartrain, limit stops beyond which the shaft cannot turn, a potentiometer for position feedback, and an integrated circuit for position control.Of the three wires protruding from the motor casig, one is for power, one is for ground, and one is a control input where a pulse-width signals to what position the motor should servo. As long as the coded signal exists on the input line, the servo will maintain the angular position of the shaft. As the coded signal changes, the angular position of the shaft changes.

Servo Mechanism

It consists of three parts:

Controlled device
Output sensor
Feedback system

It is a closed loop system where it uses positive feedback system to control motion and final position of the shaft. Here the device is controlled by a feedback signal generated by comparing output signal and reference input signal.

Here reference input signal is compared to reference output signal and the third signal is produces by feedback system. And this third signal acts as input signal to control device. This signal is present as long as feedback signal is generated or there is difference between reference input signal and reference output signal. So the main task of servomechanism is to maintain output of a system at desired value at presence of noises.

Working Principle of a Servo Motor

As we know, a small DC motor will rotate with high speed but the torque generated by its rotation will not be enough to move even a light load. This is where the gear system inside a servomechanism comes into picture. The gear mechanism will take high input speed of the motor (fast) and at the output, we will get an output speed which is slower than original input speed but more practical and widely applicable.

A Servo Motor is basically a DC motor (in some special cases it is AC motor) along with some other special purpose components that make a DC motor a servo. In a servo unit, we can find a small DC motor, a potentiometer, gear arrangement and an intelligent circuitry as shown in figure 2. The intelligent circuitry along with the potentiometer makes the servo to rotate according to our needs.

Servo Motor Applications

Servos are found in many places: from toys to home electronics to cars and airplanes. If you have a radio-controlled model car, airplane, or helicopter, you are using at least a few servos. Servos also appear behind the scenes in devices we use every day. Electronic devices such as DVD and Blu-ray Disc players use servos to extend or retract the disc trays. In automobiles, Servos manage the car’s speed: The gas pedal, similar to the volume control on a radio, sends an electrical signal that tells the car’s computer how far down it is pressed.

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The Advantages and Disvantages of Servo Motors

Servo motors are somewhat more expensive than steppers — perhaps double the price, or more. They are generally just as accurate, if maintained in a proper state of tune, however they rely on encoders to provide positioning information back to the computer. Thus the complexity of the system is at least doubled, with no accuracy advantage, greater initial cost, and more maintenance issues. The “closed loop” rhetoric that some manufacturers play up sounds convincing to the uninitiated, but provides no benefit over a simpler and more reliable stepper system.

Servo motors are available in larger sizes than stepper motors, and powerful ac servo motor are generally used on heavy machines with gantry carriages in the 500 to 1,000 lb range. They offer no advantage whatsoever on lighter machines, such as Torchmate and its competitors.

Servo motor design

A servo by definition is any device with feedback. Servo motors have coils on their stator which are energized in sequence by a brushless servo motor or amplifier, causing rotation (spinning) of the magnetic rotor. In order for the controller to determine what winding to energize next, it must know the current position of the rotor.This sensing is done using either hall sensors or a dual-function encoder.

Servo motor system components

The block diagram of a servo system is identical to the block diagram of a step motor system,although the technology of the components is different.The servo amplifier is the functional equivalent of the step motor drive. As with step motors, functions are often combined by manufacturers.

Advantages of Servo Motors

For applications where high speed and high torque is needed, servo motors shine. Stepper motors peak around speeds of 2,000 RPM, while servo motors are available many times faster. Servo motors also maintain their torque rating at high speed, up to 90% of the rated torque is available from a servo at high speed. Servo motors are also more effecient than stepper motors with efficiencies between 80-90%. A servo motor can supply roughly twice their rated torque for short periods, providing a well of capacity to draw from when needed. In addition, servo motors are quite, available in AC and DC drive, and do not vibrate or suffer from resonance issues.

Some of the advantages of servo motors over stepper motors are as follows:

High intermittent torque
High torque to inertia ratio
High speeds
Work well for velocity control
Available in all sizes

Servo motors are capable of delivering more power than stepper motors, but do require much more complex drive circuitry and positional feedback for accurate positioning. Servo motors are also much more expensive than stepper motors and are often harder to find. Servo motors often require gear boxes, especially for lower speed operation. The requirement for a gearbox and position encoder make servo motor designs more mechanically complex and increase the maintenance requirements for the system. To top it all off, servo motors are more expensive than stepper motors before adding on the cost of a position encoder.

Servos have inherent disadvantages:

• More complex system than step motors
• Motors must be tuned for optimal performance
• More costly system than step motors
• Less torque at lowest speeds compared to step motors
• Non-standard mounting geometries (vary by manufacturer) and shaft diameters
• Less torque than comparably sized step motors at low speeds


Selecting the best motor for your application depends on a few key design criteria for your system including cost, positional accuracy requirements, torque requirements, drive power availability, and acceleration requirements. Overall, servo motors are best for high speed, high torque applications while stepper motors are better suited for lower acceleration, high holding torque applications.

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