Friday, January 22, 2010

LEGO compatible linear actuators, by Firgelli

While browsing stuff for a LEGO integration project, I came across these compatible Linear Actuators from Firgelli (a Canadian company), what they call "LEGO Actuators"...

They look quite interesting, specially because they are self contained units which include their own electric motor embedded.
The motors must be really small, as per the actuators pictures we see on the respective Firgelli webpage.
Also Firgelli claims for compatibility with both NXT and LEGO Power Functions systems.
Hence these could turn into a useful piece, as an alternative to designing with awkward gears, motors, servos and linkages. This, if you are not a purist, of course... and this the point we return to heavily animated discussions, like in a few posts ago...

Despite never having seen them available for ordering, since the day I've noticed them, they are actually advertised in two sized versions (50 and 100mm stroke lengths), as pictured below.

The use cases, are:
  • For use with the NXT Brick you will need a standard NXT connection cable to connect it in place of one of the MINDSTORMS Servos, and you will need to download the respective NXT-G block from Firgelli.

  • For manual use with LPF components, you will require an NXT-PF cable available also from Firgelli. The combination of LEGO 8528 NXT converter cable, with one 8886 or 8871 extension wire is also likely to work in my suppositions.

  • For manual use with older Technic style battery packs, you will require their NXT-Technic cable, but guess the original one from LEGO (8528) should also work with Firgelli actuators!?

The PF or 9V connections will just drive the actuator motor, wilhe the 6-pin NXT connection will allow for actuator driving and position control.

These "LEGO Actuators" seem to be built based on one of the Firgelli L12 Linear Actuators & Servos, which do exist in several versions (the basic version, one with limit switches, one with position feedback, one with internal position controller or a servo version for RC and robotic applications).
Once I didn't manage to get answers from the manufacturer, just can give my best guess, which goes for the L12-I version (with internal position controller).

From the L12 specs described in the Firgelli datasheet, we can get them in 5-6V or 12V versions, and also with gear reduction ratios like 50, 100 or 210, which correspond respectively to 23, 12 and 5 mm/s maximum speeds (no load condition) at 43, 80 and 150N force. See the datasheet if you are looking for more detailed info, like force and consumption curve characteristics.
Nevertheless it is still unclear, which of these versions is used in their "LEGO Actuators" products.

While the real product doesn't seem to be yet available, we can take a look into another L12 linear actuator in action, from one Firgelli video at YouTube.

I guess the Firgelli webpages about these actuators, aim for an early product announcement/promotion, or have anyone here actually bought them?
Probably it is just a matter of getting final production parts for the specific LEGO compatible plastic cases, which from a few details in the pictures above, look like still in a prototyping phase, at the time they were taken.

Advanced prices at their website, are however quite expressive.


Anonymous said...

yes i have bought the shorter one. it is very nice. i use it with my PF

arezey said...

Duh.. it's not LEGO and considering that it's very large in size and needs the NXT-PF-cable to connect to PF battery box makes me assume this is only for very large models. Not for me, at all, even if I could buy one.

mahjqa said...

If they are using the word 'Lego' without permission, they will be in a shitload of trouble.

santi said...

This is very interesting. It might be more useful for NXT than for PF I think. With PF we already have the lego linear actuators. But connecting a NXT motor to a linear actuator is much bulkier, so this might be a great solution.

Assuming you are not a LEGO purist, of course :)

Anonymous said...

they are ridiculously priced, $800 for the large one,

TechnicBRICKs said...

Well... very expensive, but not that ridiculous. :)

$800 is the price for some models, but in packs of 10.

The 100mm "LEGO Version" costs $550 for 10 units.

Unless you have found something else ???

Marc-Andre Bazergui (bazmarc) said...

They are not yet available
They have supplied samples to select individuals and ignored others
The product is meant for NXT and can be also used with PF if needed. An NXT-G block can already be downloaded, you will see that you can set limitswitch as well as position VERY VERY interesting... if only they would reply to my emails !

RjbsNXT said...

They can twist, although unlike standard LEGO LAs, they do not spin without being held on their axis, interesting :)
The NXT block is also interesting, you can set the speed, the distance (in 'holes' or mm), and there is a 'Manual Mode' - what's that?

TechnicBRICKs said...


didn't answer to any of my e-mails either...
Very annoying customer service, for something advertised in their website!


from the manual

"The manual test program is a check box on the block. If you put the block inside a
"Loop" and leave the loop in its default state (Infinite Loop) the Left and Right NXT
buttons will move the actuator when the program is run. To exit the program, press the
grey button below the orange button on the NXT controller."

RjbsNXT said...

Ohh, I rarely read manuals :P

邱信仁 said...

All are "This item is currently out of stock!" *_*

Anonymous said...

Out of stock! No trade marks when mentioning Lego. Not looking too good for these guys. Still, they could come in handy for $50.

linear actuator said...

Excellent post concise and easy to understand I picked up a few new ideas from the post. I am sure your visitors find your site as useful as I did. Thank you very much!

R12345 said...

Now in Stock!

The Mindstorms NXT software block and NXC library are both free to download @

Lego Compatible actuators @

Unknown said...

Im bying 2 for my Telescopic-Boom! It needs about 4,1 kg of lift between the batteries, and I dont know what else to use. Lego Pneumatic cylinders is to short and Lego aktuators are far to long :-/

Firgelli said...

Yes, they are now available. Sorry about the delay. These are a brand new product for us, please let me know if you have questions or comments. Most of the info posted above is correct. These use a 9v 100:1 motor. And yes you can make your own cable for use with Power Functions or Technic battery packs. I am working on getting a distributor in the EU soon.
Mike B

TechnicBRICKs said...

Thanks Mike!

I've ordered a few and seem they are already shipped. Soon I should have a more informed opinion about these.

So it means you have use a third motor type (9V), out of the L12 range!?

Also which is the L12 base actuator, used on these?
L12-I version (with internal position controller)!?

TechnicBRICKs said...

BTW, I've updated the post, because original images, were not linking right anymore.

Firgelli said...

Its only some of the mechanical parts that are the same as the regular L12 line. We replaced the standard feedback POT with an encoder, used a special 9v motor and added the Lego Technic features to the outside plastic case. The tricky part was finding the offset RJ12 port to interface with the NXT Brick.
Various Lego experts are now working on things like Labview, NXC, RobotC, LegoCAD and other software. I will post them when they are done.

TechnicBRICKs said...

Then you should have asked. ;D
Then offset RJ12 ports, can be easily ordered from

Eagerly waiting for my order to arrive and experiment them. :)

TechnicBRICKs said...

They arrived yesterday! :)

Well done!

Marc-Andre Bazergui (bazmarc) said...

yes i also received one of each they are really really cool... but beside Mike's reply on this post i have never received an acknowledgment on any of my email. That is kind of sad.

linear actuator said...

This very nice!

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