Randomly Move Marionette With Steel Balls And Geneva Drives

The ball driven Geneva drives that move the marrionette. (Credit: Karakuri channel, YouTube)
The ball driven Geneva drives that move the marrionette. (Credit: Karakuri channel, YouTube)

Over the years we have seen many marble machines, but this one on the [Karakuri channel] (hit CC for subtitles) on YouTube is somewhat special, as it uses Geneva drives to turn the motion of the steel balls going around the circuit into random movement of a marionette. The Geneva drive type of gear mechanism normally converts a constant rotary motion into intermittent rotary motion by having a singular pin on the first wheel drive the second wheel. In the demonstrated mechanism, however, the pin is replaced by the steel balls, which are only intermittently and randomly present because of how each steel ball picks one of four paths, one towards each Geneva drive.

As a result of this, the motion of the marionette’s appendages – attached to the red wheel – is random. The only powered element of the (mostly 3D printed) system is the drive mechanism that carries the steel balls up again and keeps the primary wheels on the Geneva drives rotating. We have to give the creator pops for what is both an interesting art piece and a demonstration of how to creatively use this somewhat unusual gear mechanism to introduce randomness without a lot of complexity.

Thanks to [MrTrick] for the tip.

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Ikea Clock Gets Wanderlust

We always enjoy unique clocks, and a recent 3D print from [David Kingsman] caught our eye. It converts an Ikea clock into a very unusual-looking “wandering hour” clock that uses a Geneva drive to show a very dynamic view of the current time. The concept is based on an earlier wandering clock, but [David] utilized a different mechanism.

To read the clock, you note which hour numeral is in range of the “minute arc” and read the time directly. So if the 12 hour is over the 20-minute mark, the time is 12:20. Besides the clock, you need a fair number of printed parts, although they all look like relatively simple prints. You’ll also need 13 bearings and some metric hardware. A piece of cardboard used for the face rounds out the build.

Modifying the clock is more than just taking it apart. There is a template file to print, and you’ll need to align it and drill holes as indicated.

If you haven’t seen a Geneva drive before, it translates a continuous rotation into intermittent rotation. This isn’t the first clock we’ve seen use this kind of drive, although the last one we saw represented time differently. If you want something even more mechanical, try a chain-driven clock.

Flip-up clock

A Flip Clock That Flips Up, Not Down

The venerable flip clock has become an outsized part of timekeeping culture that belies the simplicity of its mechanism. People collect and restore the electromechanical timepieces with devotion, and even seek to build new kinds of clocks based on split-flap displays. Designs differ, but they all have something in common in their use of gravity to open the leaves and display their numbers.

But what if you turned the flip clock on its head? That’s pretty much what [Shinsaku Hiura] accomplished with a flip clock that stands up the digits rather than flipping them down. The clock consists of three 3D-printed drums that are mounted on a common axle and linked together with gears and a Geneva drive. Each numeral is attached to a drum through a clever cam that makes sure it stands upright when it rotates to the top of the drum, and flops down cleanly as the drum advances. The video below makes the mechanism’s operation clear.

The build instructions helpfully note that “This clock is relatively difficult to make,” and given the extensive troubleshooting instructions offered, we can see how that would be so. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a mechanically challenging design from [Shinsaku Hiura]; this recent one-servo seven-segment display comes to mind.

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Whiteboard Plotter Rocks Three Colors And An Eraser

AutoWhiteboardBot’s business end, with three markers.

[td0g]’s AutoWhiteboardBot is not just any 3D printed whiteboard plotter, because it also sports a triple-marker carrier and on-board eraser! The device itself hangs from stepper motors, which take care of moving the plotter across the whiteboard, and the trick to making the three colors work was to incorporate retractable dry-erase markers. A spherical Geneva drive-based assembly on the plotter rotates the pen cartridge, and a plunger activates the chosen color. Erasing, arguably the easiest thing to do on a whiteboard, is done by a piece of felt. 3D printed parts are on Thingiverse and [td0g] says software is coming soon. It’s a clever device, especially the method of accommodating multiple colors with retractable markers.

AutoWhiteboardBot hangs from motors which pull it around, but we’ve also seen a SCARA-type robot writing away on a whiteboard. Watch the video embedded below, which begins with sped-up footage of AutoWhiteboardBot drawing in different colors as it slides across the board surface.

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A Little Geneva Drive Made Of Wood

MDF Geneva drive in action

Long ago, before servo motors and linear actuators were common, clever mechanical devices were what engineers used to produce the needed motion for their processes. The CNC-cut Geneva Drive may not be fit for industrial use, but this type of device has been used in everything from film projectors to rotating assembly tables. The constant rotation of the driving wheel is translated into intermittent motion by the [Maltese cross] driven wheel.

The drive and Maltese cross section of this particular drive are made out of MDF with the exception of a putty material that the motor shaft press-fits into. The article claims that this is the only Geneva drive in existence made out of MDF, however, we’d love to see that proven wrong in the comments!

If you’d like to make one of these yourself, CAD and G-code files are given for the hand-cranked version that this Drive is based off of in a separate post.  If you’re not familiar with how a drive like this works, or would just like to see everything in action, be sure to check out the video of it after the break! Continue reading “A Little Geneva Drive Made Of Wood”