16-Bobbin Rope Braiding Machine Inspired by Surplus Store Find

When the Red Bull Creation build days were past, [David] pulled us aside and asked if we wanted to see the mechanical hack he’s been working on. He built this rope braiding machine, which uses 16 bobbins, with help from his brother [Jed].

Ideas for projects always come from funny places. [David] came up with this one after finding a rope braiding machine at Ax-man Surplus. This outlet, located in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota) has been the origin for innumerable hacks. Just one that comes to mind is this electric scooter project from the ’90s.

[David] wanted to understand how the mechanism, which divides the bobbins up into groups of orbiting spools, actually works. It’s both mesmerizing and quite tough to visualize how it works without really getting in there and looking at the gearing. Thankfully you can do just that if he follows through with his plan to turn this into a kit.

In case you don’t recognize him, [David] was on the 1.21 Jigawatt’s team during this year’s Creation. We’ve also seen a couple of hacks from him in the past like this half-tone drum printer, and this bicycle frame welding jig.

Dilemmabox brings tactile upvoting

Here’s a fun art installation which you might run into downtown. It’s called the Dilemmabox and lets you pull a rope to up or down vote a question. [Christoffer Lorang Dahl] realized that touchscreens are wiping out a lot of really fun user interfaces of yore. He incorporated the two hanging rope inputs as an homage to doorbell ropes.

The built process works much like a laptop-to-digital photo frame conversion. The first step is to liberate the LCD screen from the laptop body. Both are housed in a wooden box, with a window cut out to show the screen. The mechanically clever part is the rope pulls. They’re both just pressing a key on the keyboard in a roundabout sort of way. [Christoffer] attached a smooth hemispherical piece to two keys. The ropes are connected to wooden levers which are held in place by springs. They rub on the hemispheres just enough when passing by to register a keypress.

The photo above was taken during the Dilemmabox’s brief appearance at a shopping plaza in Oslo.

Lawnmower+stake+rope=Analog robotic lawn service

[Kirov], a regular reader and one of our most notorious commenters, tipped us off about this lawn mowing hack. On one hand we’re wary that this is bait for a huge flame war, but on the other hand it’s a hack that brings a smile to our mischievous faces. By pounding a stake into the center of the yard and connecting a mower to it with a piece of rope, [Korey99] has achieve an automated lawn mower. He tied the self-propelled mower’s throttle bar down to make the machine run unattended. There’s no kill switch or any kind of remote control for the lawn mower so we wonder what happens when the rope gets all wound up?

ATLAS powered rope ascender gen 3


This last weekend we got a chance to check out ATLAS Devices‘ latest version of their powered rope ascender. You probably saw their first generation device in the news earlier in the year. It was originally built for a design competition, but they’re now on generation 3. The earliest version used a capstan style winder, but newer versions have a far more simple/elegant design. The original had a ton of thrust and needle bearings that were hard to keep in adjustment. The new design is lighter, less abrasive to the rope, and easier to use.

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