What is a VEX Motor?

Jump to: navigation, search

What is a VEX Motor?

A VEX motor module is, very simply, a continuous rotation servo.

VEX motors - from left to right: 2-wire motor, 3-wire motor, 3-wire servo with clutch.

At the most basic level, a servo is just a controllable motor. There are various types of servos. The Standard Servo (Known in VEX as the 'Servo Module') is a geared down motor that has a limited range of rotation. These servos use internal electronics to identify the current angle of the motor, and using an input signal, are told what position is desired. The electronics then do some calculations and will make the motor spin one way or the other, to get to the desired position. These servos have limited usefulness, however. The VEX motor modules we will be using are different as they allow continuous rotation.

Most servos use a form of PWM to receive the desired position from some controller. This is done by having a PWM signal with a period of 20ms. Now by simply adjusting the duty-cycle of the signal, it would be very easy for another device to measure the duty-cycle or pulse time, and use that to receive data. In this case the servo receives the PWM signal and measures the time that the signal is high. There are some variations for maximum and minimum pulse durations among the servos. However, all servos will position the servo output at the mid-point of its range of motion, when the pulse received is 1.5ms. Most servos have a maximum input of 2.0ms, and a minimum input of 1.0ms. So if you were to send a pulse for 1.0ms, the servo would go to one end of travel, and it would go to the other end if you sent a pulse for 2.0ms.

PWM signal samples for controlling a servo

What is a Continuous Rotation Servo?

A continuous rotation servo is a servo that does not have a limit on its range of motion. Instead of having the input signal determine where in its range of motion to go to, the continuous rotation servo relates the input to the speed of the output. So if the input pulse is 1.5ms long, that would be the middle value of the possible outputs, so the servo would remain stationary. Now if you were to send a 1.0ms pulse, the output of the servo would turn full speed in one direction, and if you sent a 2.0ms pulse, the servo would turn full speed in the other direction. If the signal is somewhere in between, the servo will turn with a speed and direction determined by how much greater or less the signal is than 1.5ms. For reference, here is a table of sample inputs, rotation speeds, and directions for a Continuous rotation servo with an input range of 1.0ms to 2.0ms.

Input Pulse (ms) Rotation Speed (%) Direction of rotation
1.0 100 Clockwise
1.1 80 Clockwise
1.2 60 Clockwise
1.3 40 Clockwise
1.4 20 Clockwise
1.5 0 N/A
1.6 20 Counter-Clockwise
1.7 40 Counter-Clockwise
1.8 60 Counter-Clockwise
1.9 80 Counter-Clockwise
2.0 100 Counter-Clockwise

Notepad.gif NOTE: Most Continuous Rotation Servos do not respond linearly to the change in the PWM signal. Most will have a linear speed response only for the first small range around the center. once this range has been passed, the speed of the servo will be at its max and the torque of the servo will continue to increase.