What Is an Encoder?

Encoders are communication devices that produce incremental or absolute signals. These signals provide critical data about the speed or position of a motor or other moving equipment and operating devices. These versatile apparatuses convert motion into electrical signals that can be interpreted and analyzed by a separate control device in a motion control system, such as a programmable logic controller (PLC). As a result, the control device can utilize this information to send a command for a specific function.

There are two types of encoders: linear and rotary. Linear encoders respond to motion along a designated path, while rotary encoders respond to rotational motion. Moreover, linear encoders are considered sensor transducers with a scale that encodes position. The sensor analyzes the scale to convert the encoded position into an analog or digital signal which is decoded into position by a digital motion controller. 

Rotary encoders, on the other hand, are electromechanical devices that convert the angular position or motion of a shaft or axle into a digital signal. They find use in applications that necessitate precise shaft unlimited rotation, such as industrial controls and robotics. Beyond being categorized by their function, encoders are also defined by the type of signal they produce.

Encoders may produce either an incremental or absolute signal. Incremental signals do not indicate a specific position, but rather, show that the position has changed. In contrast, absolute signals utilize a different word for each position, providing an indication that the position has changed and an indication of the absolute position of the encoder.

Both types generate signals in different ways. Incremental encoders produce a series of pulses that are utilized to determine position and speed. Meanwhile, absolute encoders generate unique bit configurations that allow them to track positions directly. Nonetheless, each encoder is widely used in many applications, including automotive, laboratory and medical equipment, robotics factory automation, and electric motors.

Serving a diverse set of operations, encoder feedback is integral to the performance of many automation applications. When properly calibrated and specified, encoders deliver the feedback necessary to support effective positioning at a price point that suits varying budgets. If an encoder is improperly specified, it can affect the performance of an entire system.

Of all their advantages, one of their most favorable qualities is the accuracy they provide. It is important to note that encoder accuracy is measured in arcminutes or arcseconds. However, accuracy can be affected by multiple error sources. One source can be the encoder itself. For example, the widths of the lines present on the encoder disk vary, which may introduce a small error in the timing of the pulses. Errors may also be attributed to the equipment being monitored. For instance, a gearbox may have backlash, or a lead screw might have play in its motion.

If you find yourself in need of encoders, transducers, capacitors, actuators, or other related apparatuses, rely on ASAP Aviation Supplies. ASAP Aviation Supplies has an ever-expanding inventory with over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items, all of which have been sourced from trusted manufacturers across the globe. At ASAP Aviation Supplies, we distinguish ourselves from other distributors in our steadfast commitment to providing customers unmatched lead times, unbeatable cost savings, and exceptional customer service. Additionally, we make it a priority to offer person-to-person communication at every stage of the fulfillment process. When you find a part or component that meets your various requirements, we invite you to take advantage of our Instant RFQ service. Upon completing the form down below, a dedicated representative will reach out within 15 minutes. If upon receiving your competitive quote, you have questions, we are happy to assist you however necessary. Give us a call any time; we are available 24/7x365!


Recent Twitter Posts

Semiconductor's Certifications and Memberships
The only independent
distributor with a
  • All Orders are Fulfilled in the U.S.A.
  • All shipments must comply with U.S.A export laws.
  • No exceptions.
Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

“We Proudly Support Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund that serves United States Military Personal experiencing the Invisible Wounds of War : Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). Please visit website (www.fallenheroesfund.org) and help in their valiant effort”.

Thank You for Visiting ASAP Aviation Supplies today.

Remember Us the Next Time If You are Looking for Aircraft Parts.

Request for Quote

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the amazing experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.