Completely new to anything dealing with hardware (Programmer person) and have no real clue as-to how I can accomplish what I want.

The goal is to be able to move an object up and down (Specifically a light). The light will be fairly light, so weight shouldn't be much of an issue.

I found that a linear actuator does what I want, but seems to cost a decent amount. Because this is something we want to give students, we'd like to keep the cost low.

The other option is some form of a motor. Precision isn't something we need to worry about too much.

I know we have stepper motors, servo motors, and I'm sure their are more. But I'm not too sure what I'm trying to look for when reading about these.

For example, how can I figure out how much force one of these can spin/move?

Is their any other way you'd recommend raising/lowering an object? Any examples that have been done in other applications? I've found some standing desk examples, but these aren't the best.


  • \$\begingroup\$ You could use one of the servo motors in a "pully system". Depending on the weight of the object that might be your "cheapest" route. \$\endgroup\$
    – R. Johnson
    Mar 8, 2016 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ More of a mechanical problem: a simple DC motor + gearing + limit switch will handle the electrical side, but on the mechanical you have to specify a lot more. Crane with pulleys? Screw drive from below? Threaded rod? \$\endgroup\$
    – pjc50
    Mar 8, 2016 at 16:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The property you want is probably torque in Newton-meters (Nm), which specifies the force. \$\endgroup\$
    – pjc50
    Mar 8, 2016 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Force = torque * radius ( * gear ratio). That'll give you some idea how to use the torque figures given in motor datasheets. \$\endgroup\$
    – user16324
    Mar 8, 2016 at 17:52

1 Answer 1


Several ways to do this.

  1. Pulley and rope system that moves the light up or down. Requires a motor that can run in both directions and a set of small relays that you can control from your micro-controller.

  2. As you said, linear actuators, though they have a limited scope of movement.

  3. Threaded rod with a holder and a slot, similar to CNC machines but in an orientation you want. A motor rotates the rod and consequently the light is moved along the rod.


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