Position-Controlled Actuators

This lab covers the principal commercial solutions for simple position-controlled actuation. The first section of the lab introduces the stepper motor, including mechanical design and control requirements. Various control signal patterns are considered, including full-step, half-step, and wave stepping. The second section covers the mechanical design and operation of the commercial servomotor. The PWM command signal for position control is contrasted to the open-loop PWM control of the DC motor. In the final section, the stepper and servo motors are compared and contrasted with regards to design requirements such as holding torque, position accuracy, and control precision.
by Quanser Inc.

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This is lab 3 of 4 in the course, Fundamentals of Mechatronic Actuators.


After completing this lab, students will be able to:
  1. Understand the control system used in a servomotor.
  2. Describe the mechanical design and functionality of a stepper motor.
  3. Explain the structure of various stepper motor control signals.
  4. Design a control signal to produce a desired position change in a stepper motor or servomotor.
  5. Contrast the stepper and servomotors in terms of major design criteria.
  6. Evaluate the suitability of stepper or servomotors, given example applications.


  • Introduction to Physics or Equivalent
  • Basic LabVIEW Proficiency

Quanser Mechatronic Actuators Board for NI ELVIS III

The Quanser Mechatronic Actuators Application board is an ideal tool to introduce a variety of common actuators and demonstrate their advantages, interfacing and operation, as well as design considerations and limitations.


Engineering laboratory solution for project-based learning that combines instrumentation and embedded design with a web-driven experience, delivering a greater understanding of engineering fundamentals and system design.


LabVIEW is systems engineering software for applications that require test, measurement, and control with rapid access to hardware and data insights.

Required Software

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  • NI ELVIS III Software Bundle (2018 or later)
    • LabVIEW (Requires license)
    • LabVIEW Real-Time Module (Requires license)
    • LabVIEW FPGA Module (Requires license)
    • NI ELVIS III Toolkit

Required Hardware

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