Computing used to run on punch cards. Great stacks of cards would run middling programs, with data output onto more punched cards in turn. [Nii] has built a machine in this vein, capable of punching binary into paper tape.
The machine is run by a stepper motor, which is charged with feeding the paper tape through the machine in steady steps. A series of vertically-actuated solenoids punch holes in the paper tape as directed. The machine buzzes and clicks away like the best electromechanical computing devices of the mid-century era.
To what end, we couldn’t possibly say. One user noted the machine was punching seemingly random binary into the paper tape, and [Nii] has not provided any explanation as to the machine’s higher purpose. Regardless, whatever it is doing, it looks like it’s doing it well. Feel free to speculate in the comments.
Impressively, the petite device will be demonstrated at MF-TOKYO, the 7th Annual Metal Forming Fair in Tokyo this year. We’re sure the clickity-clack will be muchly appreciated in person. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Paper Punching Machine Looks Like Cute Piece Of Computer History Past”
Flexures are one of those innocent-looking mechanisms that one finds inside practically any kind of consumer device. Providing constrained movements with small displacements, complete with controlled tension, they can be rather tricky to design. GrabCAD designer [Vyacheslav Popov] hails from Ukraine, and due to the current situation there, plans to sell a collection of flexure building blocks became difficult. In the end, [Vyacheslav] decided to generously release his work open source, for all to enjoy. This collection is quite extensive, looking like it could solve a huge variety of flexure design problems. (Links to the first three sets: Set00, Set01, Set02 but check the author’s collection page for many others)
It’s not just those super-cheap mechanisms in throw-away gadgets that leverage flexures, it’s much more. The Mars rovers use flexure-based suspension, scientific instruments (interferometers and the like) make use of them for small motions where specific axis constraints are needed, and finally, MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes are based entirely upon them. We’re not even going to try to name examples of flexures in the natural world. They’re everywhere. And, now we’ve got some more design examples to use, so why not flex your flexure muscles and send one to the 3D printer and have a play?
We see flexures here quite a bit, like this nice demonstration of achievable accuracy. Flexures can make some delicious mechanisms, and neat 3D printable input devices.
Thanks to [Addison] for the tip!
[Fraens] has been designing a number of fantastic 3D printed machines and making great videos that demonstrate how they work. The last installment was an automatic cigarette stuffing machine, and it’s got a number of pretty complex motions, and somehow manages to get the job done.
While [Fraens] usually uploads STL files for all of his machines, this one is forbidden! Selling automatic cigarette loaders is illegal in Europe, and it’s not clear how close to the legal edge posting them up on Thingiverse is. So until the legal dust settles, you’re going to have to be content with the fantastic video, also embedded below.
But honestly, the devil’s sticks aren’t good for your health anyway, and you’re probably just in it for the mechanicals. Think for a moment about the problem – you’ve got a hopper of tobacco fibers that all like to stick together, and you need to pack them into an easily squished lightweight paper tube. These tubes aren’t easy to handle either. The solution to both of these calls for solenoid-powered tappers that agitate both into place.
There’s also a 3D printed rack and pinion to do the pushing, and a cool stepper-driven revolver mechanism to put the empty papers into just the right place. The machine leans heavily on 3D printing, but also on simple hardware-store parts like aluminum and brass tubes. [Fraens]’s builds are always simple but simultaneously very slick, and you’ll learn a lot from watching it all go together.
And when you’re done, check out some others from [Fraens]. We’ve been impressed by his sewing machine, braiding machine, and even a power loom.
Continue reading “See The Forbidden Cigarette Machine In Action”
There’s seldom anything as joyful and relaxing to watch as a simple marble run. Of course, the thing about letting marbles fall under gravity is that you eventually need to lift them back up again. The Marblevator has a mechanism that does just that.
Overall, the build features a relatively simple marble run. It consists of just six 3D printed ramps which the marble tumbles down in just a few seconds. However, the real magic is in the mechanism that restores the marbles from the bottom of the run all the way back to the top.
A motor turns a gear, which then rotates a crank leading to a multi-link rhombus. On one corner of the rhombus is a small protrusion with a magnet attached, which picks up the marbles from the bottom of the run. As the mechanism turns, the rhombus shifts and brings the marble-carrying arm to the top of the marble run. There, it’s grabbed by another magnet, which holds the marble for a moment before letting it drop back down through the run.
It’s a simple project that nonetheless would make a brilliant desk toy. It’s also a great way to learn about linkage analysis and designing such systems on your own. If you’re big into marble runs, you might also consider procedurally generating them. Video after the break.
Continue reading “A 3D Printed Marble Run Features Neat Elevator Linkage”
3D printers are great at creating complex geometry out of plastic, and that geometry can often pull off some impressive tricks. [DaveMakesStuff] found a way to generate geometry that draws 2D shapes with a pen and some fancy cams, and it’s really fun to watch.
The build is relatively simple. It consists of a frame which holds a 3D-printed cam turned by a hand crank. That cam controls the movement of a pen in two dimensions, letting it draw all manner of shapes. Videos on Reddit demonstrate it drawing squares, figure eights, and stars, while on YouTube, it writes the phrase “CAM I AM.”
According to [DaveMakesStuff], he figured out how to create the cams with “hours and hours of tedious CAD work.” We imagine there’s a way to do this with maths instead in parametric modelling software, and await such a build on the Hackaday tipsline. Those eager to recreate the build can explore the files on Thingiverse.
We’ve seen some great 3D-printed mechanisms before, too, like this zig-zag cam for a sewing machine. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Hand-Cranked Doodler Made Using A 3D Printer”
The internal mechanisms that are used in timepieces have always been fascinating to watch, and are often works of art in their own right. You don’t have to live in the Watch Valley in Switzerland to appreciate this art form. The mechanism highlighted here (from Mechanistic on YouTube) is a two-way to one-way geared coupler (video, embedded below) which can be found at the drive spring winding end of a typical mechanical wristwatch. It is often attached to a heavily eccentrically mounted mass which drives the input gear in either direction, depending upon the motion of the wearer. Just a little regular movement is all that is needed to keep the spring nicely wound, so no forgetting to wind it in the morning hustle!
The idea is beautifully simple; A small sized input gear is driven by the mass, or winder, which drives a larger gear, the centre of which has a one-way clutch, which transmits the torque onwards to the output gear. The input side of the clutch also drives an identical unit, which picks up rotations in the opposite direct, and also drives the same larger output gear. So simple, and watching this super-sized device in operation really gives you an appreciation of how elegant such mechanisms are. Could it be useful in other applications? How about converting wind power to mechanically pump water in remote locations? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!
If you want to play with this yourselves, the source is downloadable from cults3d. Do check out some of the author’s other work!
We do like these super-sized mechanism demonstrators around here, like this 3D printed tourbillon, and here’s a little thing about the escapement mechanism that enables all this timekeeping with any accuracy.
Continue reading “Cool Mechanism Day: Two-Way To One-Way”
The geometric chuck was a device that stacked up multiple rotating wheels that could vary their speed and their offset to a central shaft, in order to machine ornate designs using a lathe. It’s this piece of machining obscura from the 19th century that inspired this light painting build from [Ted Kinsman].
Rather than the complicated gears and wheels used in the distant past, [Ted] instead elected to use stepper motors. Three stepper motors are stacked on top of each other, each one able to rotate at an independent rate. The design only implements three steppers as the slip rings needed to send power and control signals to each stepper are prohibitively expensive.
An Arduino is programmed to run the show, changing the speed of each motor and thus the patterns the system generates. Put LEDs on the spinning plates, or install a pen to mark a piece of paper, and it’s possible to generate all manner of beautiful spirograph-like patterns. Vary the motor speeds or the positioning of the lights, and the patterns vary in turn.
It’s a fun build for light painting, with some great visuals produced. We also appreciate the use of the Arduino which makes varying the parameters far easier than having to change out gearsets in classical designs.
If you miss the old school spirograph, you can always build one out of Lego. Else, consider experimenting with other light painting techniques. If you’ve built a fancy rig of your own, be sure to let us know!
[Thanks to zit for the tip!]