My group consists of all mechanical engineers so we have not been exposed to too much programming in our curriculum
I don't know exactly what amperage the actuators require because it is not listed on the spec sheet,
I could contact the manufacturer for a precise range need be it.
because the screw motors have a position feedback that the linear actuators do not.
QuoteMy group consists of all mechanical engineers so we have not been exposed to too much programming in our curriculumI find this so hard to understand. I'm a Mechanical Engineer. I got my degree 34 years ago, and I took more than half a dozen programming classes during the 4 year program. I can't believe that as computers have become more prevalent, more powerful, and more indispensable, that programming is given even less attention now than 30 years ago.
How much force is required and what is the push distance? Servos like below or smaller (even some in the $7 range) might make a less expensive alternative motive source to a linear actuator. http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__18743__Vigor_VSD_11YMB_MG_HV_Extra_Large_360_Degree_Winch_Servo_0_75sec_40kg_150g.html
I found the datasheet for that actuator at http://progressiveautomations.com/download.php?download_file=PA-15_Tubular_High-Speed_Linear_Actuator.pdf. It takes from 2A at no load to 9A at full load and max speed. If the load is expected to be light then MC33926-based H-bridges such as http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/1213 should be suitable.The homing sensor is likely to be an optical pickup that provides a signal once per revolution of the screw so that revolutions can be counted. Once you know its details, you can easily simulate that with an Arduino.