What is Backlash in a PTZ Camera System?

Glossary Definition

Backlash, in the context of a pan-tilt system, refers to the amount of movement or “play” in the system’s mechanical components. It is the difference between the requested position of the pan-tilt system and the actual position of the system.

Backlash can be caused by a variety of factors, including misalignment of the components, looseness in the bearings and/or gears, wear and tear on the mechanical components or even by limitations of the command protocol. It can be especially problematic in high-precision systems where even small amounts of backlash can result in significant aiming errors such as weapons targeting systems, or tracking small and high-speed targets likes drones for Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS).

To minimize backlash in a pan-tilt system, it is important to properly maintain and align the mechanical components, and to use high-quality bearings and gears. Some pan-tilt systems also use backlash compensation algorithms to automatically adjust the commanded position to account for backlash, helping to ensure more accurate aiming. Backlash is just one of many factors that should be taken into consideration when buying a PTZ, gimbal, pedestal, or pan tilt where pointing accuracy is important.

An integrated PTZ camera system is only as good as its weakest component. Too often pan-tilts are the reason a PTZ camera is not able to accurately point at long ranges or track targets properly even if high performance long range camera sensors and lenses are used. This is why Infiniti will suggest different types of pan-tilts depending on your application, and why it is important to use a pan-tilt that fits not only the speed and weight requirements, but also ensures that the accuracy and backlash of the system are able to meet the requirements.