Saturday, June 29, 2013

Article on how to make a simple ratchet mechanism out of wood

The latest installment of my quarterly column on automaton-making techniques is now live! Dug’s Automata Tips, Techniques and Tricks No. 11 shows a step-by-step procedure for making a simple ratchet mechanism out of wood. The ratchet is advanced on tooth at a time by a driving pawl which is powered by a hand-crank. This can be an easy way to extend the duration of an automaton's performance. Simply attach some of the automaton's actions to the axle that is being slowly advanced, one step at a time. Meanwhile, a more fast paced set of actions can be driven off of the same axle to which the driving pawl is attached.

Need an example? Imagine that the figure of a man with a car jack is driven by a mechanism (probably a cam) attached to the driving pawl. Every time the hand of the automaton makes a rotation, the man could raise and lower the handle on the jack. Next, imaging that a car jack is connected to the same axle as the ratchet that is being driven. It would rise a fixed increment for every rotation of the automaton handle. It's not an exciting example, but it should give you an idea for how the two axles, while operating simultaneously, have a different pace and type of motion. One is continuous complete rotary motion. The other is partial intermittent motion.

The rest is up to you! I hope you enjoy the article on how to make a simple ratchet out of wood.

-Dug North

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