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How to select an encoder

~ Performance Motion Devices

Many position feedback devices used in motion control fall under the category of “incremental quadrature encoders”. These provide relative position information yet lack the ability to report an absolute position. Not surprisingly, however, having knowledge of the absolute position at startup can be very advantageous in many applications. In that case, the quadrature encoder’s A/B signal format is inadequate for proving the absolute position information and other formats are used instead.

What applications use encoders?

Selecting the right encoder can be tricky

Big or small, the right encoder/sensor for your motion control application is crucial to meeting your system requirements. Before determining whether or not you need an encoder, or to select the encoder that is best for your application, consider these requirements:

  • What do you need from the encoder? Considerations may be accuracy, speed, control, positioning precision, temperature, or vibration (noise).
  • What kind of movement will each axis of your equipment design require?
  • Does your motion control require linear or rotary motion?
  • Are there functionality requirements that might need integration with communication networks, other modules, or applications?
  • What is the ideal position for your encoded in the design?

Once you've mapped out the requirements for your motion control application, encoder selection will be much easier.

How can we help?

Performance Motion Devices has the motion control ICs, boards, and modules you need to get your motors spinning quickly. What sets us apart is that all of our products come with motion control development tools such as an easy-to-use axis wizard for setup and tuning, and an easy-to-understand C-based development language. PMD Corp. customers benefit from concurrent software and hardware development which makes getting applications to market faster.

Products and Services



  • Motion control products with encoder rates of up to 40M counts/sec
  • ICs that can read multiple encoder formats – in the same devices
  • Products that support dual encoder loops
  • Schematic reviews to ensure you have the ideal components
  • Reference schematics for encoder signal conditioning
  • Years of expertise in motion control design

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