Small Motor with linear movement

Hey, im looking for an motor which can move about 5cm up and down linear. The motor it self shouldn’t be bigger than about 10cm and the position needs to be controllable. I have found Linear Servos which i right now think will be best for my project. Actuators are always so big and some what expensive. Also i found stepper motoea, but they move slow and are a bit bulky.

Is there any other option? Im thankful for any help!


Head actuator from an old 3.5" floppy drive?

didnt think about that, but thanks. I will look into it

Look for motor driven "lead screws" like this one: They come in all sorts of sizes. Sometimes you can find great deals on them at surplus electronics shops.

Yes, with the right translation from rotational to linear motion this can easily be achieved with the dimensions you (incompletely) define - lead screws, ball screws, rack and pinion, worm drive (found in a few disk drives I've seen)

Could be as simple as a nut running up and down a long bolt coupled to the motor shaft ...

A few concerns that you're ruling out capable devices unnecessarily:

  • 'steppers move slowly' ? some do, some don't ... and you can always gear them with the lead screw pitch.

  • also, a linear servo is an actuator - so is a $4 solenoid, what do you mean by actuators being big and expensive ?

  • when you say controllable, that can mean different things depending on how far you want to get into electronics - do you simply mean that it takes step/dir input? PWM? analog voltage? do you mean that it has feedback via an encoder and you close the loop? it does that itself? it has a stripped down 'for dummies' direct SPI arduino interface ?

If you've got bigger fish to fry I can certainly see the appeal of buying into a plug'n'play gadget that is ready to go out of the box - is that what you're after?

Thanks for the detailed answer. By controllable I meant that I want to control the position of the linear movement very precisely.

When I'm searching for actuator, I only find big motors which can press like 100kg. Thats not what I want. I know there are some small ones too, but what I found was also to big for my project. The component itself shouldn't be bigger than 10cm, when it extends, it can be bigger.

It also should be easy to connect with the arduino (without needing another shield). Directly and at the best it only should take like 1-2 pins (without power supply ofc.) Easy plug'n'play


If it's not a secret, please supply some more details, eg

  1. What are you making?
  2. What stroke are you looking for?
  3. What load do you want to lift or move?
  4. What speed are you looking for? eg 5mm per sec, faster, slower?
  5. How were you planning to stop the actuator, limit switches or programmable stops?

The more info you supply, the better the forum response.


Well, a stepper is very precise by it's nature - until it misses a step :)

Not sure how you're going to run a stepper without a shield with only 2 pins... Unless you're not excluding stepper drivers? but then what is wrong with shields ?

I want to move a little screen up and down, not sure how heavy it is. About 10g or so.

Example screen:

The speed isn't that important. It doesn't need to be very fast. Here an example of an linear servo. From the size, speed and the length it can extend, it would fit for my project.

Linear servo:

I'm not sure what you mean by which stroke I need.

I want to have as little components as possible, that's why I want to prevent another circuit board like a shield. Only if it is possible ofc.


You really need a stepper motor. Do you have any laptop/notebook CD/DVDrom unit ? broken, malfunction, etc. ? Disassemble it, you will have a nice surprise.

I tested some with a l9110 based driver board. Working nicely, not fast, as you ask.

Could you recommend any good stepper motor with an driver board? I'm not sure what to search for. All the stepper motors I find look like dc motors. Not sure if that's right.

Or what driver board do I need when I'm taking an stepper motor from an floppy drive

Or what driver board do I need when I’m taking an stepper motor from an floppy drive


l298, l9110, A4988/A4983 based board for bipolar stepper. from worst to the best option I suppose. Floppy drive and some cd/dvd-rom. Stepper are easily identified by 4 wires/flat cables on theses devices.



Stroke=distance of travel.

I've been using an Adafruit motor shield plugged into an Arduino UNO. In between the two boards is an Adafruit Proto terminal shield. This brings out the Arduino pins with miniature terminal blocks for connection to things like push buttons, potentiometers, limit switches etc.