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post answered here too for the searchers and lurkers

The VNT actuator works off vacuum. This is the opposite of wastegate acuators which work off pressure. At rest there is no vacuum so the spring inside the can is the only force acting on it. Your understanding of it is correct. When it's at rest the vanes are wide open and the rod is longest, when the actuator gets full vacuum the vanes are closed and the rod is shortest. When it's running it's somewhere in between. The car modulates vacuum using the N75 solenoid.

http://www.myturbodiesel.com/1000q/a4/VNT-wastegate-adjust.htm see here for some videos
 
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