The Mighty Lip Balm Linear Actuator

September 6, 2013 – 11:09

webm34_lipbalmactuator_useitI needed a small linear actuator (a mechanism for creating motion in a straight line) for a project and was finding only oversized or cost-prohibitive solutions. Industrial automation actuators have plenty of muscle but rarely come in small packages. Hobby linear actuators come with a smaller footprint but can be costly. I’ve often wondered about the load capacity of the screw and nut contained in a standard lip balm tube,so I collected all the lip balm tubes I could find and started testing.

One stood out over all the others and could exert over 10 pounds of thrust with a 1.25″ stroke: the mighty Blistex tube. No other lip balm screw-and-nut assembly comes close to carrying the same load as a Blistex tube. Add a magnet to the shaft and a couple of reed switches to the case,and you’ve got an actuator with limit switches at each end!


  • Drill and drill bits: 3/8″ Forstner,3/8″ brad point,3/16″
  • Utility knife
  • Tubing cutter or hacksaw
  • File or sandpaper
  • Screwdriver,flat-blade


  • Clevis mounts,rear and front — Make these from ABS plastic,wood,or any material you’re comfortable working with. See dimensions in Step 7.
  • Hobby servo,full rotation — SparkFun Electronics #ROB-10189,
  • Blistex lip balm tube — The actuator’s drive screw,body tube,drive nut,and cap are all made from it.
  • Proximity sensors,magnetic,NPN,3-pin (2) — Jameco Electronics #513244,
  • Magnet,1/8″ square — SparkFun #COM-08644
  • Aluminum tube,3/8″ OD × 3″ — McMaster-Carr #9056K643, The shaft can be any nonmagnetic 3/8″ OD tube of it least 1/4″ ID — even plastic.
  • Threaded insert,#8-32 — McMaster #92105A660
  • Threaded shaft,#8-32 × 3/4″ — Cut this from any #8-32 bolt.
  • Cable ties,small
  • Plastic epoxy — J-B Weld works well.


MAKE Volume 34: Join the robot uprising! As MAKE's Volume 34 makes clear,there’s never been a better time to delve into robotics,whether you’re a tinkerer or a more serious explorer. With the powerful tools and expertise now available,the next great leap in robot evolution is just as likely to come from your garage as a research lab. The current issue of MAKE will get you started. Explore robot prototyping systems,ride along with the inventors of the OpenROV submersible,and learn how you can 3D-print your own cutting-edge humanoid robot for half the price. Plus,build a coffee-can Arduino robot,a lip balm linear actuator,a smartphone servo controller,and much more

On newsstands now,by subscription,or available in the Maker Shed

Buy now!

Like this:

Like Loading...


Your grid tie inverter

2006-11-07 17:40:58 by solarmandotorg

From what i gathered from google, your inverter probably does use MPPT (maximum power point tracking).. read your manual and make sure though.
like i said, seasonal tilt makes a huge difference. you have about 3 times the panels i do. i leave mine in place but i can move them in about 10 minutes and that includes dragging the ladder out.
you could even set up some linear actuators to move them up and down. these are the things that swung the huge satellite dishes back in the 70' and 80s.. little moter with a long bolt that spins a nut up and down a pipe.. a tiny motor can really move something like that

Thomson introduces web-based sizing and selection tool for linear guides  — The Engineer
Thomson has introduced Linear Guide Components, a sizing and selection tool that enables users to quickly configure, customise and select optimised round or square rail linear guides, with outputs that simplify and speed the machine design process.

Brenner-Fiedler to Participate as a Sponsor in the 28th Annual Riverside ..  — Newswire Today
NewswireToday - /newswire/ - Riverside, CA, United States, 2013/08/28 - Brenner-Fiedler will participate as a sponsor in the 28th Annual Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament on September 23 -

PACK EXPO 2013: MISUMI USA to Exhibit Mechanical Components for ..  — Robotics Tomorrow
MISUMI USA, Inc. is a leading supplier of fixed and configurable components such as leader pins, single-axis actuators, linear shafts, slotted keys, aluminum extrusions, parting locks, linear guides, XY stages and other components for factory ..

Related posts:

  1. Hydraulic Linear Actuators
  2. EDrive Linear Actuators
  3. 8 inch Linear Actuators
  4. Satchwell actuators