Bent Shaft Isn’t A Bad Thing For This Pericyclic Gearbox

With few exceptions, power transmission is a field where wobbling is a bad thing. We generally want everything running straight and true, with gears and wheels perfectly perpendicular to their shafts, with everything moving smoothly and evenly. That’s not always the case, though, as this pericyclic gearbox demonstrates.

Although most of the components in [Retsetman] model gearboxes seem familiar enough — it’s mostly just a collection of bevel gears, like you’d see inside a differential — it’s their arrangement that makes everything work. More specifically, it’s the shaft upon which the bevel gears ride, which has a section that is tilted relative to the axis of the shaft. It’s just a couple of degrees, but that small bit of inclination, called nutation, makes the ring gear riding on it wobble as the shaft rotates, allowing it to mesh with one or more ring gears that are perpendicular to the shaft. This engages a few teeth at a time, transferring torque from one gear to another. It’s easier to visualize than it is to explain, so check out the video below.

Gearboxes like these have a lot of interesting properties, with the main one being gear ratio. [Retsetman] achieved a 400:1 ratio with just 3D printed parts, which of course impose their own limitations. But he was still able to apply some pretty serious torque. The arrangement is not without its drawbacks, of course, with the wobbling bits naturally causing unwelcome vibrations. That can be mitigated to some degree using multiple rotatins elements that offset each other, but that only seems to reduce vibration, not eliminate it.

[Retsetman] is no stranger to interesting gearboxes, of course, with his toothless magnetic gearboxes coming to mind. And this isn’t the only time we’ve seen gearboxes go all wobbly, either.

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Tiny Orrery Is A Watchmaker’s Tour De Force

Six tiny gears, a few fancy pins, and some clever casting are what it takes to build this tiny orrery. And patience — a lot of patience, too.

As model solar systems go, this one is exceptionally small. Its maker, [Mike] from Chronova Engineering, says it measures about 20 mm across and qualifies as the smallest orrery around. We can’t officiate that claim, but we’re not going to argue with it either. It’s limited to the Sun-Earth-Moon system, and while not as complete as some other models we’ve seen, it’s still exquisitely detailed. The gears that keep the Moon rotating 12.4 times around the Earth for each rotation of our home planet around the Sun are tiny, and take an abundance of watchmaking skill to pull off.

The video below shows the whole process, which is absolutely entrancing to watch. There are some neat tricks on display, from milling out the arms of the main wheel using a powered tailstock spindle to casting the Sun from resin in a silicone mold. The final model, with the model Earth and Moon spinning around the Sun on delicate brass wheels, is a visual treat.

We’ve seen some interesting stuff from Chronova Engineering lately, including this bimetallic tea timer.

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Put A Little Pigeon In Your Next Clock Project

If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably wondered why gear teeth are shaped the way they’re shaped. But we’ll go out on a limb and say you’ve never wondered why gear teeth aren’t shaped like pigeons, and what a clock that’s not quite a clock based around them would look like.

If this sounds like it has [Uri Tuchman] written all over it, give yourself a cookie. [Uri] has a thing for pigeons, and they make an appearance in nearly all his whimsical builds, from his ink-dipping machine to his intricately engraved metal mouse. For this build, pigeons are transformed into the teeth of a large, ornate wheel, cut from brass using an impressive Friedrich Deckel pantograph engraver. To put the pigeon wheel to work, [Uri] built an escapement and a somewhat crooked pendulum, plus a drive weight and dial. It’s almost a clock, but not quite, since it doesn’t measure time in any familiar units, and the dial has a leg rather than hands — classic [Uri].

It may not be [Clickspring]-level stuff, but it’s still a lovely piece of work, and instructive to boot. The way [Uri] figured out the profile for the meshing teeth by looking at the negative space swept out by the pigeon profiles was pretty sweet. Plus, pigeons.

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Repairing A Gear With A Candle (and Some Epoxy)

You have a broken gear you need to fix, but there’s no equivalent part available. That’s the issue [Well Done Tips] faced with a plastic gear from a lawnmower. While we’d be tempted to scan the gear, repair the damage in CAD and then 3D print a new one, we enjoyed hearing about his low-tech solution. In addition to the write up, there’s a video showing the process you can watch below.

The idea is pretty simple. Using a piece of pipe and melted candle wax, he prepared a mold of an undamaged section of the gear. Then he cast epoxy resin in place to recreate the missing pieces. There are a few tricks, like putting holes in the remaining part of the gear so the epoxy flows into the existing part. Depending on the gear’s purpose and original material, you might be able to just use it as-is. However, you could also use the repaired gear as a template to create another mold and then cast an entire gear from resin or even metal if you can cast metal.

You can argue whether resin is better or worse than PLA, but of course, it depends on the kind of resin—photopolymers are different from epoxy resins you’d use for this sort of thing. If you think you might like to make your new gear out of aluminum, you might find some inspiration in a previous post.

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Stripped Clock Wheel Gets A New Set Of Teeth, The Hard Way

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from [Chris] at Clickspring, it’s that a clockmaker will stop at nothing to make a clock not only work perfectly, but look good doing it. That includes measures as extreme as this complete re-toothing of a wheel from a clock. Is re-toothing even a word?

The obsessive horologist in this case is [Tommy Jobson], who came across a clock that suffered a catastrophic injury: a sudden release of energy from the fusee, the cone-shaped pulley that adjusts for the uneven torque created by the clock’s mainspring. The mishap briefly turned the movement into a lathe that cut the tops off all the teeth on the main wheel.

Rather than fabricate a completely new wheel, [Tommy] chose to rework the damaged one. After building a special arbor to hold the wheel, he turned it down on the lathe, leaving just the crossings and a narrow rim. A replacement blank was fabricated from brass and soldered to the toothless wheel, turned to size, and given a new set of teeth using one of the oddest lathe setups we’ve ever seen. Once polished and primped, the repair is only barely visible.

Honestly, the repaired wheel looks brand new to us, and the process of getting it to that state was fascinating to watch. If the video below whets your appetite for clockmaking, have we got a treat for you.

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Clever Mechanism Powers This All-Mechanical Filament Respooler

No matter how far down the 3D printing rabbit hole we descend, chances are pretty good that most of us won’t ever need to move filament from one spool to another. But even so, you’ve got to respect this purely mechanical filament respooler design, and you may want to build one for yourself just because.

We were tipped off to [Miklos Kiszely]’s respooler via the very enthusiastic video below from [Bryan Vines] at the BV3D YouTube channel. He explains the need for transferring filament to another spool as stemming from the switch by some filament manufacturers to cardboard spools for environmental reasons. Sadly, these spools tend to shed fibrous debris that can clog mechanisms; transferring filament to a plastic spool can help mitigate that problem.

The engineering that [Miklos] put into his respooler design is pretty amazing. Bearings excepted, the whole thing is 3D printed. A transmission made of herringbone gears powers both the take-up spool and the filament guide, which moves the incoming filament across the width of the spool for even layers. The mechanism to do this is fascinating, consisting of a sector gear with racks on either side. The racks are alternately engaged by the sector gear, moving a PTFE filament guide tube back and forth to create even layers on the takeup spool. Genius!

Hats off to [Miklos] on this clever design, and for the extremely detailed instructions for printing and building one of your own. Even if you don’t have the cardboard problem, maybe this would help if you buy filament on really big spools and need to rewind for printing. Continue reading “Clever Mechanism Powers This All-Mechanical Filament Respooler”

Radial Vector Reducer Rotates At Really Relaxed Velocity

When [Michael Rechtin] learned about Radial Vector Reducers, the underlying research math made his head spin, albeit very slowly. Realizing that it’s essentially a cycloidal drive meshed with a planetary gear set, he got to work in CAD and, in seemingly no time, had a design to test. You can see the full results of his experiment in the video below the break. Or head on out to Thingiverse to download the model directly.

[Michael] explains that while there are elements of a cycloidal drive, itself a wonderfully clever gear reduction mechanism, the radial vector reducer actually has more bearing surfaces, and should be more durable as a result. Two cycloidal disks are driven by a planetary gear reduction for an even greater reduction, but they don’t even spin, they just cycle in a way that drives the outer shell, setting them further apart from standard cycloidal drives.

How would this 3D printed contraption hold up? To test this, [Michael] built a test jig with a NEMA 23 stepper providing the torque, and an absurd monster truck/front loader wheel — also printed — to provide traction in the grass and leaves of his back yard. He let it drive around its tether for nearly two weeks before disassembling it to check for wear. How’d it look? You’ll have to check the video to find out.

If you aren’t familiar with cycloidal drives, check out this fantastic explanation we featured. As for planetary drives, what better way to demonstrate it than by an ornamental planetary gear clock!

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