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Engineers consider several factors when choosing an actuator. One thing they consider is the linear motion created by the actuator; the actuator rod end might travel a very long distance during its extension, or it might not move much at all. The actual distance the rod moves is known as its stroke. You must extend and retract the actuator to measure its stroke. The most accurate way to do this is to operate the actuator with the power source that it will ultimately use when it is installed.
Connect the actuator to its power source. Connect a hydraulic actuator to a pressurized hydraulic source, and an electric actuator to an electrical power source.
Retract the actuator. The actuator rod end doesn't have to be connected to a component. In fact it is easier to measure the stroke if the actuator's rod is not attached to anything.
Measure the length of the entire actuator in the retracted position. Measure from the base of the actuator to the center of the bolt hole or pin hole at the end of the rod.
Extend the actuator.
Measure the length of the entire actuator in the extended position, from the base of the actuator to the center of the bolt hole or pin hole at the end of the rod. It is important to measure the actuator from the exact same location both times for the greatest accuracy.
Subtract the measurement of the actuator in the extended position from the measurement of the actuator in the retracted position. The difference between the two is the actuator's stroke.
Michael Signal began writing professionally in 2010, with his work appearing on eHow. He has expert knowledge in aviation, computer hardware and software, elementary education and interpersonal communication. He has been an aircraft mechanic, business-to-business salesman and teacher. He holds a master's degree in education from Lesley University.