You want to join two shafts. What do you need? A coupler, of course. If the shafts don’t line up, you might consider an Oldham coupler. But what if the shafts are at a 90-degree angle to each other? Then you need a Hobson’s coupler. [Robert Murray-Smith] has the 3D printed hookup for you and a video that you can see below.
The part isn’t all 3D printed, though. You do need some bearings and steel rods. [Robert] proposes using this to couple a windmill’s blades to a generator, although we assume some loss is involved compared to a standard shaft. However, we’ve heard that the coupler, also called a Hobson’s joint or a stirrup joint, is actually pretty efficient. However, you rarely see these in practice because most applications will use a gear train employing a bevel gear.
While it may not be practical, the second video below shows an elbow engine that would look undeniably cool on your desk. By making some changes, you can create a Cardan joint which happens to be half of what you think of as a universal joint. The Hobson coupler and the Cardan joint seem to be made for each other, as you’ll see in the video.
We aren’t sure what we want to make with all these mechanisms, but as [Robert] points out, with new materials and techniques, these mechanisms might have a role to play in future designs, even though they have been mostly discarded.
There are, of course, many kinds of couplings. Then again, not all useful joints have to move.
Continue reading “A Hobson’s Coupler Leads To A Weird Engine”
The discovery and implementation of alternating current revolutionized the entire world little more than a century ago. Without it, we’d all have inefficient, small neighborhood power plants sending direct current in short, local circuits. Alternating current switches the direction of current many times a second, causing all kinds of magnetic field interactions that result in being able to send electricity extremely long distances without the resistive losses of a DC circuit. The major downside, though, is that AC circuits tend to have charging losses due to this back-and-forth motion, but this lost energy can actually be harvested with something like this custom-built transformer.
[Hyperspace Pilot] hand-wound this ferromagnetic-core transformer using almost two kilometers of 28-gauge magnet wire. The more loops of wire, the more the transformer will be able to couple with magnetic fields generated by the current flowing in other circuits. The other thing that it needs to do is resonate at a specific frequency, which is accomplished by using a small capacitor to tune the circuit to the mains frequency. With the tuning done, holding the circuit near his breaker panel with the dryer and air conditioning running generates around five volts. There’s not much that can be done with this other than hook up a small LED, since the current generated is also fairly low, but it’s an impressive proof of concept.
After some more testing, [Hyperspace Pilot] found that the total power draw of his transformer is only on the order of about 50 microwatts in an ideal setting where the neutral or ground wire wasn’t nearby, so it’s not the most economical way to steal electricity. On the other hand, it could still be useful for detecting current flow in a circuit without having to directly interact with it. And, it turns out that there are better ways of saving on your electricity bill provided you have a smart meter and the right kind of energy-saving appliances anyway.
Continue reading “Siphoning Energy From Power Lines”
It’s a rare person who can pick up a cheap laser pointer and not wield it like a lightsaber or a phaser, complete with sound effects. There’s just something about the “pew-pew” factor that makes projecting a laser beam fun, even if it’s not the safest thing to do, or the most efficient way to the light from one place to another.
We suspect that [Les Wright] has pew-pewed his way through more than a few laser projects in his lab, including his latest experiments with fiber coupling of lasers. The video below is chock full of tips on connecting cheap communications-grade fiber assemblies, which despite their standardized terminations aren’t always easy to use with his collection of lasers. Part of the challenge is that the optical fiber inside the cladding is often very small — as few as 9 microns. That’s a small target to hit without some alignment help, which [Les] uses a range of hacks to accomplish.
The meat of the video demonstrates how to use a cheap fiber fault locator and a simple optical bench setup to precisely align any laser with an optical fiber. A pair of adjustable mirrors allow him to overlap the beams of the fault locator and the target laser precisely. The effects can be interesting; we had no idea comms-grade fiber could leak as much light through the cladding as this, and the bend-radius limits are pretty dramatically illustrated. [Les] teases some practical sensing applications for this in a follow-up video, which we’re looking forward to.
Looking for more laser fun with your remaining eye? Check out [Marco Reps] teardown of a 200-kW fiber laser.
Continue reading “Properly Pipe Laser Light Around With Homebrew Fiber Couplings”
In our vernacular, bricking something is almost never good. It implies that something has gone very wrong indeed, and that your once-useful and likely expensive widget is now about as useful as a brick. Given their importance to civilization, that seems somewhat unfair to bricks, but it gets the point across.
It turns out, though, that bricks can play an important role in 3D-printing in terms of both noise control and print quality. As [Stefan] points out in the video below, living with a 3D printer whirring away on a long print can be disturbing, especially when the vibrations of the stepper motors are transmitted into and amplified by a solid surface, like a benchtop. He found that isolating the printer from the resonant surface was the key. While the stock felt pad feet on his Original Prusa i3 Mk 3S helped, the best results were achieved by building a platform of closed-cell packing foam and a concrete paver block. The combination of the springy foam and the dampening mass of the paver brought the sound level down almost 8 dBA.
[Stefan] also thoughtfully tested his setups on print quality. Machine tools generally perform better with more mass to damp unwanted vibration, so it stands to reason that perching a printer on top of a heavy concrete slab would improve performance. Even though the difference in quality wasn’t huge, it was noticeable, and coupled with the noise reduction, it makes the inclusion of a paver and some scraps of foam into your printing setup a no-brainer.
Not content to spend just a couple of bucks on a paver for vibration damping? Then cast a composite epoxy base for your machine — either with aluminum or with granite.
Continue reading “Bricking Your 3D Printer, In A Good Way”
Interfacing a shaft to a 3D printed gear doesn’t have to be tricky. [Tlalexander] demonstrated a solution that uses one half of a spider coupling (or jaw coupling) to create an effective modular attachment. The picture above (and this older link) shows everything you need to know: the bottom of the coupling is mounted to the shaft, and a corresponding opening is modeled into the the 3D printed part. Slide the two together, and the result is a far sturdier solution than trying to mate a 3D printed gear directly to a motor shaft with a friction fit or a screw. This solution isn’t necessarily limited to attaching gears either, any suitable 3D printed part could be interfaced to a shaft in this way.
These couplings are readily available, and fortunately for hobbyists, come in sizes specifically designed for common stepper motors like NEMA 17 and NEMA 23. Ironically, these couplings are often used when building custom 3D printers for those same reasons. With this method interfacing anything at all to a motor shaft becomes mostly a matter of modeling a matching hole out of the part to be 3D printed. One coupling even provides two such attachments, since only one of the two sides is used.
The image up top is from [Tlalexander]’s Rover image gallery, which contains a ton of fantastic pictures of the work that went into the gearboxes, a major part of the Rover’s design that we’ve seen in the past.