Do you need a control box to run linear actuators simultaneously and synchronously?
Parallel control boxes can cause 2 or more actuators to extend and retract at the same time, but they do not offer true synchronization. The extension and retraction speed can vary if one actuator pulls or pushes a heavier load than the other. Generally, actuators slow down when they experience a larger load. This can be disastrous in an application where the position of both actuators must be exactly equal, like in a tabletop, bed lift, or floor hatch application.
Additionally, there can be up to a ±10% difference in speed between your linear actuators. This difference in speed is due to the manufacturing tolerance for the DC motor inside your linear actuator. This manufacturing tolerance may also mean your actuators may slow down at different rates as they age.
In this article, we’ll cover how these issues can be avoided, and how you can achieve true synchronization using a synchronized dual control box with one of our feedback linear actuators.
What Products Do I Need?
The PA-39 is the perfect 2 actuator control box if synchronization is essential to your application. This linear actuator control box can synchronize two actuators with potentiometer feedback to ensure that both actuators are synchronized throughout their motion. Even if one of the actuators experiences a different load, this electric actuator control box ensures both actuators are synchronized with each other. Additionally, the PA-39 has great features, such as preset memory position programming, actuator sequencing, and preset recall with the hand-held remote or preset position wires.
Before we can get started, you’ll first need a few parts and tools for our demonstration. Here’s what you’ll need for the setup:
2 x 4-pin Mini-Fit Jr. Molex Receptacle Housing (Part number 39-01-2040 or 39-01-3045)
2 x 2-pin Mini-Fit Jr. Molex Receptacle Housing (Part number 39-01-3022 or 39-01-3025)
1 x Needle Nose Pliers
1 x Molex Crimping Tool (or a generic crimping tool)
1 x Molex Extraction tool (or header pins)
Rewiring the PA-14P Actuator
The standard PA-14P Mini Feedback Actuator comes with a 6-pin Mini-Fit Jr. Molex Receptacle Housing with 5 wire leads. Unfortunately, the PA-39 Control Box takes a 2-pin and a 4-pin Molex Connector for your actuator. This means you will need to re-crimp the 6-pin connector to a 2-pin and 4-pin connector to use the PA-14P actuator with this control box. Here are the colour designations for each of the wires:
Red – Actuator Positive, M+ (12 VDC or 24 VDC)
Black – Actuator Negative, M- (Ground)
Yellow – Potentiometer Positive (5 VDC)
White – Potentiometer Ground (Ground)
Blue – Potentiometer Wiper (0-5VDC, depending on extension of actuator)
We have a useful article which shows you how to install and remove Molex connectors. Once you have matched the pinout of your 6-pin connector to the 4-pin and 2-pin connectors, you are now ready to use your PA-14P actuator with the PA-39 Control Box!
Please follow the wiring diagram below on how to connect the power supply, control box, and actuators together:
The 6-pin Molex connector supplies power to the control box, and contains wires for the power, preset position wires, and 12 VDC interlock. The 4-pin Molex connector contains the signal wires for the PA-14P actuator, and the 2-pin Molex connector provides power for the PA-14P Actuator. Please refer to the photo below for wire layout of our control box:
Synchronized Dual Potentiometer Actuator Control Box: Main Features
To select which actuator to use for your application, you will need to refer to the leftmost 3-position switch on the back of the PA-39 Control Box. Each position on this three-position switch provides control for the following actuator configurations:
- Position 1 – Left Actuator
- Position 2 – Both Actuators
- Position 3 – Right Actuator
Extending and Retracting your Actuators
The PA-39 Control Box allows you to extend and retract your actuators with the included wired remote. To retract your actuator(s), press and hold the “1” and “2” buttons simultaneously. To extend your actuator(s), press and hold the “2” and “3” buttons simultaneously.
Up to 3 preset positions can be programmed in each of our 3 modes. Please ensure the 3-position switch is in the correct mode before programming your presets. For example, presets that are programmed in Position 1 can only be used in Position 1.
To program a position preset, extend/retract your actuator(s) to your desired preset position:
Then, press and hold the preset button you want the position programmed to for 5 seconds. Once the LED blinks red one time, your preset position is set up:
To recall a preset, press and release the preset button of your choice. The actuator(s) will then extend or retract to the programmed position.
Preset Position Wire
An alternate method of recalling presets is to use a pushbutton connected to one of our preset switch wires to recall a preset. To set up this preset wire, we recommend connecting the wire to a momentary push button connected to ground, as shown in the wiring diagram. The preset will only be recalled if the control box detects the signal going from 12 VDC to 0 VDC to 12 VDC.
The yellow ignition wire is used as a means of limiting the operation of this control box unless it receives 12 VDC. This is useful in automotive applications, where you would like to restrict the movement of your actuators until your car key is turned into the first or second positions. To use the ignition wire, ensure that the leftmost toggle switch is switched down, and then connect the ignition wire to 12 VDC to operate the control box.
The PA-39 Dual Potentiometer Control Box is the perfect control box for an actuator with potentiometer feedback if synchronization is vital for your application.
In this article, we’ve covered how to convert the 6-pin connector on our PA-14P Actuators into the 4-pin and 2-pin connectors for our PA-39 Control Box. We also covered some basic functionalities of our PA-39 Control Box, such as extending and retracting your actuators, preset position programming, and using the preset position switch wires, and the ignition wire.
For more information on the PA-39’s features and modes of operation, please refer to the PA-39’s User Manual. The user manual includes information on more advanced features, like actuator motion sequencing. Additionally, here’s a helpful video which goes over the setup for our PA-39 Control Box.
If you have any questions regarding how to set up the PA-39, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at 1-800-676-6123.