The two mightyZAPs we got our hands on were
the L12-40PT- 3 and the L12-100PT- 3. The first letter
corresponds to the motor type. In our case, the L
meant that we had high performance coreless
motors in the hearts of our linear servos. The other
options for mightyZAPs are cored motors (designated
with a D) and a soon-to-be-released brushless option
(designated by a B). The number after the motor
designation corresponds to the voltage. In our case,
it was 12 for 12V, and the servos are also available in
a 7.4V option labeled with a 7.
The next set of numbers correspond to the rated
force of the linear servo — we had 40 for 40N and
100 for 100N. The mightyZAPs are also available in a host
of other strengths as diverse as the menagerie of creatures
inadvertently released in Cabin in the Woods: 6N, 12N,
13N, 20N, and 64N.
The next two letters refer to the communication
protocol. In our case, PT corresponds to PWM and TTL
control. There’s also an option for RS-485 designated by
the letter F. The last number in the sequence refers to the
stroke length of the rod. For our mightyZAPs, the 3
corresponds to a decent reach of 30 mm, and there are
future plans for 60 mm and 100 mm stroke lengths
(indicated by a 6 and 10, respectively).
The IR Robot website contains a treasure trove of
documents and software that is easily navigable, and that’s
where we discovered the rundown on a cool accessory for
the mightyZAPs: the IR-USB01 PC USB interface. The sleek
shrink-wrapped PCB (printed circuit board) can be used to
control parameters for the mightyZAPs using your
The IR-USB01 is equipped to connect to mightyZAPs
with both PWM and RS-485 interfaces, and has a USB
micro-B port for connecting to your computer. The
mightyZAP doesn’t come with a USB cable, but micro-B
cables are as common as a jump scare in a PG- 13 horror
movie, so we don’t think that should present a hurdle to
anyone. The USB interface is used in conjunction with the
mightyZAP Servo Manager software, which can be
downloaded from the IR Robot website along with a
delightfully detailed user manual.
The Servo Manager can be used to do cool things like
set various parameters for the servos such as maximum
stroke, maximum speed, and even maximum force. An
interface like this is particularly useful given the surprisingly
high resolution on the linear servos, which boast position
control as fine as 100 µm.
One thing we really appreciated about the Servo
Manager manual is that it goes into great detail on the
initial setup of the software and connection to the device.
The manual painstakingly describes the process of ensuring
that you have the proper drivers, and the steps to selecting
the proper COM port. Too often these essential threshold
steps are glossed over, and the initial setup of a device
takes a tedious amount of troubleshooting.
The Mechanical Servo-pede
You don’t have to do any parameter adjusting or
programming of any kind if you don’t want to. The
mightyZAPs are ready to plug and play right out of the
box. Before plugging and playing, however, we had to
figure out a platform to plug them into. The input voltages
of the mightyZAPs are either a decent 7.4V or a brawny
12V. The two servos we had were both rated for 12V,
which made tracking down a suitable test platform a bit of
Our larger scale control systems run on 24V, and our
mini tank punkin chunker ran on 14.8V. We didn’t want to
push our luck by over-voltaging our cool new linear
actuators, so we took the cautious approach by selecting
our trusty VEX kit (which runs on 7.4V) as our preferred
prototyping platform. We hoped that under-voltaging the
servos wouldn’t too adversely affect performance, though
it would give us an easy excuse in case the mechanisms
didn’t meet expectations.
The mightyZAPs come with an assortment of wires,
SERVO 10.2017 49
FIXINGS FOR MOUNTING.
FIXINGS FOR WIRING.