When it comes to engineering, the last thing I ever want to do is more unnecessary work. I have enough numbers to crunch already. Last month, I came across a handy little tool from Progressive Automations. It’s an actuator control app for your iPhone or Android.
The Wi-Fi Actuator Control App
You can view the specs here for the app.
At first, I was a bit skeptical. After all, they’re seemingly offering a ton of control options for virtually free. After working with it for a few weeks, I was much happier than at the outset. I recently performed a job for a sound engineer. He needed a microphone stand that was automated with a few actuators. The app was perfect for this application, and I decided to give it a shot.
I went for it because of the speed control. Speed controllers for actuators can cost a bit of cash, so the app cut down on the cost. It works perfectly, like any other speed controller. It’s also slightly more responsive than a speed control module. At the lower speeds, the physical controller will stop being so responsive. The app can handle the signals better, letting me slow the actuator down further than I would otherwise. Slow speeds were essential in this project, because millimeters of distance can change the sound coming through a microphone.
Secondly, the other features allowed better function for various jobs. The app lets you switch from momentary to non-momentary control options. This makes it easy when I wanted to complete retract both actuators. If they are both in extended position, I just switched it to non-momentary and pressed the button. It brought both actuators back to the starting position. This is also where the simultaneous control option can in handy.
One of the best parts about this app is the preset features option. You can record your movements, and then replay them back. There are six slots for these. This is very useful in recording situations, since you might have to record a few different bands in a single day and have to use different setups for each band.
I love the fact that the app cuts down on the cost of components. Actuators and controls are already expensive enough without having to put out for additional components. Speed controllers, rocker switches and timers can be rather expensive.
The only downside is that if you’re not well-versed in electronics or tech, you have to use the control box that comes with it. It’s a Wi-Fi controlled app, and it gets the signal right from the control box. I’d like to see the control box come down in price. But even so, considering that I saved a good $100 or more from the added components, it’s not a bad price.
All in all, this app is definitely recommended for anyone who uses actuators for projects. Especially if you have an iPhone or Android (of course you do).