The escapement mechanism has been widely used for centuries in mechanical clocks. It is the mechanism by which a clock controls the release of stored energy, allowing it to advance in small, precise intervals. Not all mechanical clocks contain escapements, but it is the most common method for performing this function, usually hidden away in the clock’s internals. To some clockmakers, this is a shame, as the escapement can be an elegant and mesmerizing piece of machinery, so [Brett] brought his rolling ball escapement to the exterior of this custom clock.
The clock functions as a kitchen timer, adjustable in 10-second increments and with several preset times available. The rolling ball takes about five seconds to traverse a slightly inclined, windy path near the base of the clock, and when it reaches one side, the clock inverts the path, and the ball rolls back to its starting place in another five seconds. The original designs for this type of escapement use a weight and string similar to a traditional escapement in a normal clock. However, [Brett] has replaced that with an Arduino-controlled stepper motor. A numerical display at the bottom of the clock and a sound module that plays an alert after the timer expires rounds out the build.
The creation of various types of escapements has fascinated clockmakers for centuries, and with modern technology such as 3D printers and microcontrollers, we get even more off-the-wall designs for this foundational piece of technology like [Brett]’s rolling ball escapement (which can also be seen at this Instructable) or even this traditional escapement that was built using all 3D-printed parts.