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Linear encoders Differences [Optical Incremental Magnetic Absolute]

Linear Encoder

The mechanical movement sensors that can detect and digitize movement and linear position are known as linear encoders. Linear encoders are special sensors connected to a scale that can understand it and convert the situation into either analog or digital signals giving you an advanced readout.

The scale is for the most part glass and is solidified to help, generally an aluminum expulsion. The checking unit contains a light source, photocells, and a second graduated bit of glass called the filtering reticle (T. Dear, 2020). This checking reticle sits a short good way from the scale.

A linear encoder is a sensor, transducer, or read head combined with a scale that encodes position. The sensor peruses the scale to change over the encoded position into a simple or advanced signal, which would then be able to be decoded into position by a digitalized readout (DRO) or movement regulator.

When talking about the movement, you should realize that the motion is resolved from changes that occur with time.

Linear encoders determine the linear motion and give the feedback of position in the form of electrical signals. Hence in this way, they help in motion control of motors.

For stepper driven frameworks, which normally work in open-loop mode with no position input, adding a linear encoder expands the exactness and dependability of the situating framework/system without the expense and complexity of a servo engine.

Types of encoders:

The encoders are available in many different types such as rotary, linear, optical and position etc. The encoder such as absolute and incremental are both termed as rotary as well as linear encoder.

 There are a lot of types of linear encoder based upon the use or the feedback required.

The best thing is to select the encoder based upon the requirement of our systems. In case, if we talk about the type of feedback we want for the application, then linear encoder is divided into two types:

Absolute encoders

The absolute linear encoders are those encoders which provide a unique output signal for each position. It can store the position even when the power is down. The absolute encoder is utilized in applications where knowing the specific position of an object is significant. The absolute ones are additionally utilized in circumstances where the machine or cycle is idle for an enormous level of time or moves at a moderate rate.

Incremental encoders

However, Incremental encoders are those which doesn’t store their position when the power is off because there isn’t a unique output for each position.

These encoders utilize an easier strategy for counting the movements and depend on building up the situation of the item by checking the quantity of pulse and afterward utilizing that count to register the position.

Other types of encoders:

Apart from the linear encoders, there are other types of encoder such as:

Optical encoders:

Optical encoders are one of the most precise of all the detecting motion and most widely used in industries process. A revolving optical encoder comprises of a light source, for example, a LED and a pivoting plate that is designed with a progression of murky lines and rotating clear spaces.

As the light goes through the turning plate, a photo sensor mounted on the contrary side of the circle distinguishes the light and creates a sinusoidal electrical signal that compares to the presence of light identified from the clear spaces and the nonattendance of light from the misty lines.

An electrical circuit at that point changes the sinusoidal signal over to a square wave signal, which is a progression of high and low pulses.

These pulses are shipped off a control circuit that can be utilized to gauge the beat consider the encoder pivots and utilize that information to decide a situation for the turning shaft or to control some activity-dependent on development or position. Hence through this process, the position is measured. 

Magnetic encoders:

These encoders depend on the discovery of a change in magnetic flux to set up the development and position of an object. A magnetic rotating encoder comprises of a charged circle that has various flux situated along its circuit.

A sensor is situated close to the plate, and as the circle pivots, the sensor distinguishes the adjustment in the magnetic field as the various posts in the circle surface pass close to the sensor.

The changing field is utilized to produce a sinusoidal output signal that can be changed over to a square signal for checking by a control circuit. 

Capacitive encoders:

These encoders are new in technology in order to design the encoders. The working rule depends on the identification of an adjustment in capacitance utilizing a high-frequency reference signal.

With a turning capacitive encoder, for instance, a three-part arrangement is utilized to empower signal encoding – a fixed transmitter, a rotor, and a fixed collector.

The transmitter creates a high-frequency electrical signal or flow that goes through the rotor towards the collector. A sinusoidal pattern stepped on the rotor in metal adjusts the AC signal as the rotor pivots, and the recipient changes over the tweaked signal into a progression of yield beats that can be utilized to set up augmentations of revolving movement.

The rotor creates a changing capacitive reactance between the sign produced by the transmitter and the metal on the rotor, which causes an anticipated and repeatable mutilation in the AC field (Vikas Phatak, 2016).

The PLC encoders:

As stated above an encoder is a sensing device that sense the motion and send the feedback to the control device in a control device system. The process where the control device is a (programmable logic control) PLC then those encoders are known as PLC encoders.

Thus this then help in motion control of an object e.g. motor. The signal that is sent by the encoders is then used to find out position, direction or speed.

Encoders either linear encoders or rotary use motion and generate signals. Then signals are then feed backed to the control device such as PLC and then scaled according to the representative values which then used to do programming. In short term, the process where encoder is connected with the PLC then those are known as PLC encoders. 

Resolution of encoder

Resolution is the separation over which a single encode counts happens – it's the littlest separation the encoder can quantify. For revolving encoders, it is regularly determined as far as estimating units, or pulse, per revolution (PPR).

Direct encoder goal is most generally determined as the separation over which the check happens and is given as far as microns (μm) or nanometers (nm). The rotary encoder has a high resolution of almost greater than 10,000 counts per revolution.

The resolution an absolute of encoder is indicated in bits since supreme encoders output binary (0 or 1) "words" in view of its position. 

Resolution is one of the main indicators of an encoder's performance. For incremental encoders, it is ordinarily indicated in pulse per revolution (PPR), or, on account of linear encoders, beats per inch (PPI) or pulse per millimeter (PPM).

These square-wave pulses are definitely separated, and the encoder decides its situation by counting the quantity of pulses produced during a motion. 

Hence for a linear encoder, resolution can likewise be determined regarding microns, which alludes to the separation between pulses (COLLINS, 2017).

In order to find out the resolution of encoders then you should be known what type of encoder you are using. For incremental encoder, the resolution is calculated depend upon the max revolution per minute (RPM) and encoder operating frequency.

For the absolute encoders, it depends upon the protocol baud rate and how often the system requires position information. 

In order to determine a resolution of absolute one, the first step is to find out the smallest increment that we need to measure. Let us suppose the smallest increment is 3° then the number of pulse per revolution is 


Hence in this case it will be 120 PPM. Hence they are not limited to the frequency response, their resolution depends upon the data communicated over a particular sample per second. 

In the incremental encoders, the electronics of the encoder have a maximum frequency response which limits the rapid generation of the pulse.

Hence in this case the maximum encoder resolution is determined by multiplying the operating frequency by 60 and divided by the maximum resolution per minute. 

Along with the resolution, there is another term that might confuse and that is Accuracy. Hence a lot ofpeople confuse accuracy with resolution while taking measurements (Staff, 2019.  

Accuracy is the contrast between the genuine position (or speed) of the gadget being estimated and the position (or speed) measurement of the encoder.

For rotary encoders, it is indicated in arc-seconds or arc minutes, and for direct encoders, precision is regularly given in microns. 

Another term some of the time utilized regarding encoder execution is "error." Error is basically the reverse of precision. As such, exactness determines how close the encoder perusing is to the genuine position, where error indicates how far the encoder is from a genuine position while measuring it in control systems. 


COLLINS, D. (2017, August 3). MotionControl Tips. Retrieved from Encoder:

Staff, R. ( 2019, october 22). Robotics business review. Retrieved from robotics:

T. Dear, J. C. (2020, october 16). Encoder product company. Retrieved from Encoder:

Vikas Phatak. (2016, october 16). Quara. Retrieved from encoder and PLC:

Linear Encoder FAQ

What linear encoder used for ?
Linear encoders are commonly used in manufacturing, basicly is a sensor device that provide feedback and convert to motion electical signal that can be used by multiple type of machine to determine the position count speed direction deepness ect..
What are the main types of linear encoders ?
Basicaly have different types of linear encoder the most common one are Absolute Encoders and Incremental Encoders but some other encoders are also wildly use like Optical Encoders, Magnetic Encoders, PLC Encoders
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