What are Servo Motors?
Servo refers to an error sensing feedback control which is used to correct the performance of a system. Servo or RC Servo Motors are DC motors equipped with a servo mechanism for precise control of angular position. The RC servo motors usually have a rotation limit from 90° to 180°. Some servos also have rotation limit of 360° or more. But servos do not rotate continually. Their rotation is restricted in between the fixed angles.
Where are Servos used?
The Servo motors are used for precision positioning. They are used in robotic arms and legs, sensor scanners and in RC toys like RC helicopter, airplanes and cars.
Servo Motor manufacturers
There are four major manufacturers of servo motors: Futaba, Hitec, Airtronics and JR radios. Futaba and Hitec servos have nowadays dominated the market. Their servos are same except some interfacing differences like the wire colors, connector type, spline etc.
Servo Motor wiring and plugs
The Servo Motors come with three wires or leads. Two of these wires are to provide ground and positive supply to the servo DC motor. The third wire is for the control signal. These wires of a servo motor are color coded. The red wire is the DC supply lead and must be connected to a DC voltage supply in the range of 4.8 V to 6V. The black wire is to provide ground. The color for the third wire (to provide control signal) varies for different manufacturers. It can be yellow (in case of Hitec), white (in case of Futaba), brown etc.
Futaba provides a J-type plug with an extra flange for proper connection of the servo. Hitec has an S-type connector. A Futaba connector can be used with a Hitec servo by clipping of the extra flange. Also a Hitec connector can be used with a Futaba servo just by filing off the extra width so that it fits in well.
Hitec splines have 24 teeth while Futaba splines are of 25 teeth. Therefore splines made for one servo type cannot be used with another. Spline is the place where a servo arm is connected. It is analogous to the shaft of a common DC motor.
Unlike DC motors, reversing the ground and positive supply connections does not change the direction (of rotation) of a servo. This may, in fact, damage the servo motor. That is why it is important to properly account for the order of wires in a servo motor.