The inlet and exhaust valve timing of a piston engine plays a large role in engine performance. Many modern automotive engines have some sort of variable valve timing, but the valves are still mechanically coupled together and to the crankshaft. This means that there is always a degree of performance compromise for various operating conditions. [Wesley Kagan] took inspiration from Koenigsegg’s camless Freevalve technology, and converted a Harbour Freight engine to camless technology for individual valve control.
By eliminating the traditional camshaft and giving each valve its actuator, it is possible to tune valve timing for any specific operating condition or even for each cylinder. A cheap single-cylinder engine is a perfect testbed for the garage hacker. [Wesley] removed the rocker arms and pushrods, and replaced the stock rocker cover with a 3D printed rocker cover which contains two small pneumatic pistons that push against the spring-loaded valve stems. These pistons are controlled by high-speed pneumatic solenoid valves. A reference timing signal is still required from the crankshaft, so [Wesley] built a timing system with a 3D printed timing wheel containing a bunch of embedded magnets and being sensed by a stationary Hall effect sensor. An Arduino is used to read the timing wheel position and output the control signals to the solenoid valves. With a rough timing program he was able to get the engine running, although it wouldn’t accelerate.
In the second video after the break, he makes a digital copy of the engine’s existing camshaft. Using two potentiometers in a 3D printed bracket, he measured push rod motion for a complete engine cycle. He still plans to add position sensing for each of the valves, and after a bit more work on the single-cylinder motor he plans to convert a full-size car, which we are looking forward to.
The video posted by [Let’s Learn Something] is long, but watching it at double speed doesn’t take away much from the enjoyment. By using a piston-type compressor, a lot of the precision machining is already taken care of here. Adding the intake and exhaust valves, camshaft, timing chain, carburetor, and ignition system are still pretty challenging tasks, though. We loved the home-made timing chain sprockets, made with nothing more than a drill and an angle grinder. In a truly inspired moment, flat-head screws are turned into valves, rocker arms are fabricated from bits of scrap, and a bolt becomes a camshaft with built-up TIG filler. Ignition and carburetion are cobbled together from more bits of scrap, resulting in an engine that fired up the first time — and promptly melted the epoxy holding the exhaust header to the cylinder head.
Now, compressor-to-engine conversions aren’t exactly new territory. We’ve seen both fridge compressors and automotive AC compressors turned into engines before. But most of what we’ve seen has been simple two-stroke engines. We’re really impressed with the skill needed to bring off a four-stroke engine like this, and we feel like we picked up quite a few junk-box tips from this one.
One of the tricky parts of engineering in the physical world is making machines work with the available resources and manufacturing technologies. [Tom Stanton] has designed and made a couple of air-powered 3D printed engines but always struggled with the problem of air leaking past the 3D-printed pistons. Instead of trying to make an air-tight piston, he added a rubber membrane and a clever valve system to create a diaphragm air engine.
A round rubber diaphragm with a hole in the center creates a seal with the piston at the top of its stroke. A brass sleeve and pin protrude through the diaphragm, and the sleeve seals create a plug with an o-ring, while the pin pushes open a ball which acts as the inlet valve to pressurize an intermediate chamber. As the piston retracts, the ball closes the inlet valve, the outlet valve of the intermediate chamber is opened, forcing the diaphragm to push against the piston. The seal between the piston and diaphragm holds until the piston reaches its bottom position, where the pressurized air is vented past the piston and out through the gearbox. For full details see the video after the break.
It took a few iterations to get the engine to run. The volume of the intermediate chamber had to increase and [Tom] had to try a few different combinations of the sleeve and pin lengths to get the inlet timing right. Since he wanted to use the motor on a plane, he compared the thrust of the latest design with that of the previous version. The latest design improved efficiency by 366%. We look forward to seeing it fly! Continue reading “Diaphragm Air Engine”→
The build is a steel-framed contraption, mounting a small gas engine of the type you’d typically find in a weed trimmer or other garden tool. It’s attached to a shaft allowing it to spin a blender blade at up to 41,000 rpm when unloaded. A stout metal container is mounted on top, along with a plexiglass lid to ensure the contents of the bowl don’t escape when the blender is in action.
It’s a fun build, and one that has no trouble turning a bucket of apples into mush in under 60 seconds. More realistically, [JT] is able to whip up several litres of blended cocktail without major effort, which would be great for parties. Though, we do imagine the burning oil and gas fumes does somewhat spoil the taste sensation. We’ve seen similar hacks before, like this nitro-fuelled pencil sharpener. Video after the break.
Imagine traveling back in time about 2,200 years, to when nothing moves faster than the speed at which muscle or wind can move it. Think about how mind-shattering it would have been to see something like Hero’s Engine, the first known example of a steam turbine. To see a sphere whizzing about trailing plumes of steam while flames licked around it would likely have been a nearly mystical experience.
Of course we can’t go back in time like that, but seeing a modern replica of Hero’s Engine built and tested probably isn’t too far from such an experience. The engine, also known as an aeolopile, was made by the crew over at [Make It Extreme], whose metalworking videos are always a treat to watch. The rotor of the engine, which is fabricated from a pair of hemispherical bowls welded together, is supported by pipes penetrating the lid of a large kettle. [Make It Extreme] took great pains to make the engine safe, with relief valves and a pressure gauge that the original couldn’t have included. The aeolopile has a great look and bears a strong resemblance to descriptions of the device that may or may not have actually been invented by Greek mathemetician [Heron of Alexandria], and as the video below shows, when it spins up it puts on a great show.
One can’t help but wonder how something like this was invented without someone — anyone — taking the next logical step. That it was treated only as a curiosity and didn’t kick off the industrial revolution two millennia early boggles the mind. And while we’ve seen far, far simpler versions of Hero’s Engine before, this one really takes the cake on metalworking prowess.
[Keith57000] started building the V10 engine back in 2013, after completing a 1/4 scale V8. The build is documented in a forum thread with lots of pictures of his beautiful craftsmanship. Most of the mechanical components were machined on a manual lathe and milling machine. No CNC, just lots of drawings and measurements, clever use of dividing heads, and careful dial reading. The engine also features electronic fuel injection with a MegaSquirt controller.
The rest of the car is just as impressive as the power plant. The chassis is bent tube, with machined brackets and carbon fiber suspension components. Two electric skateboard motors are added to give it a bit more power. The three speed gearbox is also custom, built with gears scavenged from a pit bike and angle grinder. It uses two small pneumatic pistons to do the shifting, with a clever servo mechanism that mechanically switches the solenoid valves. Check out all fourteen build videos on his channel for more details.
An amateur project of this complexity is never without speed bumps, which [Keith57000] details in the videos and build thread. It has taken seven years so far, but it is without a doubt the most impressive RC car we’ve seen. His skill with manual machine tools is something we rarely get to see in the age of CNC. We’re looking forward to the finished product, hopefully screaming around a track with a FPV cockpit.
While there are many in the 3D-printing community who loudly and proudly proclaim never to have stooped to printing a 3DBenchy, there are far more who have turned a new printer loose on the venerable test model, just to see what it can do. But Benchy is getting a little long in the tooth, and with 3D-printers getting better and better, perhaps a better benchmarking model is in order.
Knocking Benchy off its perch is the idea behind this print-in-place engine benchmark, at least according to [SunShine]. And we have to say that he’s come up with an impressive model. It’s a cutaway of a three-cylinder reciprocating engine, complete with crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, and engine block. It’s designed to print all in one go, with only a little cleanup needed after printing before the model is ready to go. The print-in-place aspect seems to be the main test of a printer — if you can get this engine to actually spin, you’re probably set up pretty well. [SunShine] shares a few tips to get your printer dialed in, and shows a few examples of what can happen when things go wrong. In addition to the complexities of the print-in-place mechanism, the model has a few Easter eggs to really challenge your printer, like the tiny oil channel running the length of the crankshaft.
Whether this model supplants Benchy is up for debate, but even if it doesn’t, it’s still a cool design that would be fun to play with. Either way, as [SunShine] points out, you’ll need a really flat bed to print this one; luckily, he recently came up with a compliant mechanism dial indicator to help with that job.