How To Clean Up Incremental Encoder Signals

An incremental encoder defined is a part of an industrial machine that regulates the increase of the pulses that operate it.   The operation of the encoder also indicates the position of some movable parts of the industrial machine.  The incremental rotary encoders emits light that passes through a patterned wheel and detector that result to shadows in the machine.  The controller of the encoder then measures the number of pulses to keep in sight the movement of the parts of the machine. 

Rotary encoders, known also as shaft encoders, convert the position of a shaft or axle to a more modern digital or analog code.  There are two major types of incremental encoder signals. 

Optical type. This has two gray coded tracks.  The codes provide a hidden value for each position that the shaft may be situated. 

Mechanical type.  This is somewhat related to a linear encoder that tracks the movement of the speed, velocity and position of the industrial part. 

Take note that incremental encoders differ from an absolute encoder.  This is because absolute encoders have multiple code rings that show the exact position of the encoder parts as the machine starts up.  The incremental encoder, however, uses two different types of pulse signal outputs that often give no useful information to the electronics of the machine.  The incremental changes reported by the counting electronics are the only useful parts of the incremental encoder. 

Position encoder may be the best description of this part.  As stated, the part indicates the amount of increase of the machine electronics that shows the location of the part.  Take for example in the motor industry, the encoder tracks the position of the motor shaft that is used in CNC machines, robots and industrial equipments. 

The encoder makes certain that the robot or equipment functions to its best.  Otherwise, the inaccurate result may give poor functions that will limit the productivity of the machine in question.  The timing of the rotor magnets used must coincide with each other.  The alignment of the motors is essential to the competent function of the equipment.   

The function becomes limited when the incremental encoder becomes unclean.  Here are some tips to clean your encoder to ensure the accurate functioning of the equipment. 

  1. Remove the affected encoder slowly.  Make sure that the encoder that you will remove is the affected one.  Removing a clean one will often harm it more than help it. 
  2. Once removed, use a clean cloth to wipe the encoder.  This is to remove any stains found in the encoder.  Do not use a liquid soap to clean it, as this will damage it permanently.  If possible, use oil to clean it. 
  3. Then use a brush to clean the other parts of the equipment.  Make sure that any residue of dirt and dust removed as slowly as possible.  Take note the remaining dust or dirt may spread again to the encoder if not taken care of properly. 
  4. Make sure that all parts attached to the encoder function well. 

No matter how much you try to improve the function of the equipment used, you always have to consider that cleaning is always a part of it.  The fact remains, that if you are unable to clean it properly, the function may become limited.  In these cases, the incremental encoder used to make the machine more effective becomes more of a hindrance rather than an advantage. 


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