What You Must Know About Optical Linear Encoder?

A linear encoder is a sensor, transducer, or reading-head that is connected to a scale and used to encode position information in real-time. Using the scale as a reference, the sensor measures distance and turns it into an analog or digital output. Changes in location over time are used to determine how far something has moved. This sort of approach is used by both optical and magnetic optical linear encoders to perform their functions. Their physical characteristics, on the other hand, distinguish them from one another.

 optical linear encoders
optical linear encoders

In optical systems, the light source and lens combine to form a parallel beam of light that travels through the four windows of the scanning reticle to be detected. The 4 scanning windows are offset by 90 degrees from one another. The light then goes through the glass scale and is detected by photo sensors on the other side of it. When the scanning unit moves, the scale turns the detected light beam into something else.

What is the Operation of Optical Linear Encoders?

The photo sensor generates sinusoidal wave outputs as a result of the detection of light by the sensor. In the following step, the linear encoder system combines the shifted signals to produce two sinusoidal outputs that are symmetrical although 90 degrees out of phase with one another. Whenever a fifth pattern on the scanning reticle gets aligned with just an identical pattern on the scale, a reference signal is generated. Figure 1 shows how a reference signal is generated.


Laser encoders are widely utilized in a variety of applications, including electronics, medical & healthcare, aerospace, research and technology, precision machining, and precision machining. Each application has highly unique requirements for the encoders that are utilized in that application.

Resolvers used to be far more prevalent than optical linear encoders, but that has changed in recent years, with a wide range of encoders available from a diverse range of manufacturers to meet the demands of a wide range of customers today.

Since it has a mechanism that is able to detect whether light passes through into the slit or not, the optical encoder seems to have the advantage that it is simple to improve accuracy and reliability by modifying the shape of the slit. The optical linear encoder also has the advantage that it is inexpensive to upgrade to a higher resolution.

As a result, it is employed in servo control and hollow through shaft type motor control applications that necessitate great accuracy.

Furthermore, because it is not influenced by the magnetic field of the surrounding environment, it may be employed in applications where a high magnetic field is created without causing damage. As a result, it is commonly seen in devices that employ large-diameter motors.

You should now understand what such an optical linear encoder is and how it operates on a basic level. It is clear that these are extremely helpful techniques that enable us to track motion and location with extraordinary precision. When you see one in action, make sure to take a closer look – appreciate all of the hard efforts that went into providing away.

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