Recording Video In The Era Of CRTs: The Video Camera Tube

We have all watched videos of concerts and events dating back to the 1950s, but probably never really wondered how this was done. After all, recording moving images on film had been done since the late 19th century. Surely this is how it continued to be done until the invention of CCD image sensors in the 1980s? Nope.

Although film was still commonly used into the 1980s, with movies and even entire television series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation being recorded on film, the main weakness of film is the need to move the physical film around. Imagine the live video feed from the Moon in 1969 if only film-based video recorders had been a thing.

Let’s look at the video camera tube: the almost forgotten technology that enabled the broadcasting industry. Continue reading “Recording Video In The Era Of CRTs: The Video Camera Tube”

Tangential Oscillating Cutting Knife Makes Parts From The Ups And Downs

If you thought using a utility knife manually was such a drag, you’re not alone. [luben111] took some initiative to take the wear and tear off your hands and put it into a custom machine tool they call TOCK, or Tangental Oscillating Cutting Knife. TOCK bolts onto your typical CNC router, giving it the ability to make short work of thin materials like cardboard. Rather than apply a constant downward pressure, however, TOCK oscillates vertically at high speeds, perforating the material while cutting through it at a respectable clip.

TOCK’s oscillations are driven by a radially symmetric cam mechanism, allowing the blade to completely pivot full circle while still performing the oscillations. While traditional inexpensive methods for bolting a blade to a CNC machine passively swivel along the path they’re directed, [luben111] has taken the generous extra step of powering that axis, commanding the blade to actively rotate in the cutting director with a custom script that converts PLT files to G-code. The net result is a tool that preserves a tremendous amount of detail in cumbersome thick materials, like cardboard. Best of all, the entire setup is documented on the Thingiverse with CAD files and light instructions. A few folks have even gone so far as to reproduce their own!

It’s great to see some dabbling in various disciplines to produce a working machine tool. As far as knives go, we’re starting to see a good spread of other utility knife augmentations and use cases, whether that’s a traditional CNC retrofit or a solid attempt at a homebrew ultrasonic mod.

Continue reading “Tangential Oscillating Cutting Knife Makes Parts From The Ups And Downs”

Gripper Uses Belts To Pinch And Grasp

For all the work done since the dawn of robotics, there is still no match for the human hand in terms of its dexterity and adaptability. Researchers of the IRIM Lab at Koreatech is a step closer with their ingenious BLT gripper, which can pinch with precision or grasp a larger object with evenly distributed force. (Video embedded below.)

The three fingered gripper is technically called a “belt and link actuated transformable adaptive gripper with active transition capability”. Each finger is a interesting combination of a rigid “fingertip” and actuation link, and a belt as a grasping surface. The actuation link has a small gearbox at it’s base to open and close the hand, and the hinge with the “fingertip” is spring-loaded to the open position. A flexible belt stretches between the finger tip and the base of the gripper, which can be tensioned to actuate the fingertip for pinching, or provide even force across the inside of the gripper for grasping. Two of the fingers can also rotate at the base to give various gripper configurations. This allows the gripper to be used in various ways, including smoothly shifting between pinching and grasping without dropping a object.

We love the relative simplicity of the mechanism, and can see it being used for general robotics and prosthetic hands, especially if force sensing is integrated.  The mechanism should be fairly easy to replicate using 3D printed components, a piece of toothed belt, and two cheap servos, so get cracking! Continue reading “Gripper Uses Belts To Pinch And Grasp”