Fusion 360 has tools for creating involute gears, including its own spur gear add-in and GfGearGenerator, and they work well. However, if you want cycloidal gears, it's not so easy to find something that works. Here's one approach, in case this turns out to be helpful to anyone else.Start by generating the gear in DXF form using Rainer Hessmer's Cycloidal Gear Builder. Make sure to use the highest quality level. It's useful to include a hole in the middle so you can identify the center. Download the DXF file. If you load this DXF into Fusion 360 (Design > Insert > Insert DXF) you will get an unhelpful error message. The DXF file isn't in a form that Fusion 360 can handle and we need to fix it.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Sunday, October 24, 2021
One of the designs in the book Making Wooden Gear Clocks is for an electromagnetic gear clock driven by a simple and baffling mechanism. I took the design and adapted it for 3D printing; as with some of the other clocks, I won't publish my design as the copyright status is unclear. Here is the clock:
The clock works as follows. The pendulum is driven electromagnetically by means of a magnet in the end of the pendulum and a coil in the base. The coil detects when the magnet comes close and then sends a pulse to drive it on its way. The pendulum drives a cam with two pawls on it. This in turn engages with a toothed wheel and advances it once per second. The principles thus far are similar to the Thriecan clock described in a previous post.
The minute wheel is also a toothed wheel, with the opposite orientation to the seconds wheel. A small metal rod near the middle of the seconds wheel engages with the teeth of the minute wheel and advances it once per minute.
There is also a pawl for the minute wheel to prevent it falling back. The minute wheel is tightly attached to an arbor which also carries the minute hand.
Now we get to how the motion of the minute wheel is divided down 12:1 to the hours motion. This is done by means of the daisy wheel. The daisy (or daisy wheel) motion was invented around 1830 by Aaron Dodd Crane. The wooden clocks book does not credit the invention or explain how it works. There is a little more information in Philip Woodward's book My Own Right Time.
The daisy wheel has 11 petals and 11 notches between the petals. A device ("tri") with 3 arms interacts with the daisy wheel by means of pins mounted on the ends of the arms. A rod attached to the daisy holds it loosely in place in the frame, allowing this movement while preventing it from just rotating with the tri. Woodward mentions that the number of arms and pins is not critical. The hour hand is mounted on the tri. The key to this is that some parts of the mechanism are mounted eccentrically to the minute arbor and so the whole system operates in a manner similar to epicyclic gears. I will have more to say about that eccentric mounting in a moment, but first I want to say that I simply do not understand this in any detail. Every time I try to reason it through, my brain breaks. The explanation in Woodward and in another work as well as several YouTube videos do not make it any clearer to be and mostly they end up with a statement along the lines of "you have to see it to believe it". It clearly does work. I just can't understand how, and why having 11 notches on the daisy leads to a 12:1 reduction.
I've been a little evasive about exactly what is eccentric, and the reason for this is that I think the design in Making Wooden Gear Clocks is incorrect. In the design as shown in exploded form in the book, on the accompanying plans, and in the photos showing it being assembled, the daisy is mounted co-axially on the minute arbor. A part called the tri excentric in the book is also mounted on the arbor, such that its axis of rotation is offset from the axis of the minute arbor. The tri rotates about this offset axis. Thus the parts look like this:
the daisy wheel is mounted loosely on an eccentric collar rigidly fixed on the central arbor of the clock.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
In a previous post, I described some experiments with circuits for driving an electromagnetic pendulum. The results were not very satisfactory, and for the Thriecan clock, I ended up using a commercial module. I have since revisited this, and now have something I am happier with. To recap: the pendulum contains a magnet. As it approaches the center of its swing, a sensor detects its presence, and then energizes a driver coil to impart some momentum to the pendulum. Ideally, you use one coil as both the sensor and driver. The circuit I present here uses an Arduino and a small number of discrete components.
Some initial experiments
In the first attempt, I was unable to get a strong signal from a coil: only a few millivolts. This is probably because of the geometry of the coil, which had a narrow diameter but was quite long (about 25mm), based on the one in the instructions for the Toucan clock. It is better to have a shorter, fatter coil, so that more of the winding is close to the magnet as it passes by. I rewound the coil on a bobbin with a 6mm inner diameter and a length of 10mm. I did not count the number of turns or measure the length of wire. Based on its resistance (35 ohms) and the resistance per unit length for 32 AWG magnet wire, it is around 60m. The winding is about 30mm in diameter.
I wanted to know how much difference the specific magnet made, so I constructed a pendulum with the magnet on the end of a 300mm brass rod and measured the voltage when the pendulum was dropped from a known position. The magnets I had lying around were:
- 20mm x 4mm N38
- 12mm x 3mm N35 (I think)
- 12mm x 3mm N42
- 10mm x 3mm N52
- read the sensor
- when it exceeds a threshold (20), wait (10ms)
- turn on the coil (200ms)
- turn off the coil, and wait a little longer (10ms)
- keep going
Sunday, October 10, 2021
The Thriecan Clock is a modified version of Clayton Boyer's Toucan clock, adapted for 3D printing. The key feature of this clock is a electromagnetic pendulum. There is a magnet attached to the end of the pendulum and a coil hidden in the base. As well as providing the timing, the pendulum also provides the energy to drive the clock. As the pendulum approaches the vertical position, the electronics attached to the coil senses the magnet and applies a pulse to the coil. This pushes the magnet and hence the pendulum away and the process continues. The top of the pendulum is attached to an arbor and this turns a cam with two pawls. One pawl, called the pick-up pawl, pushes on the escape wheel. The other pawl then holds the escape in place while the pick-up pawl moves back for the next cycle. The remainder of the clock is a standard gear train to divide the rotation of the escape wheel down to minutes and hours.
Adapting the design
The original design was intended to be made out of wood. You can see many examples on the Toucan clocks YouTube channel. I bought a copy of the plans in DXF format and loaded them up into Fusion 360 to provide a starting point for the sketches. For parts where the dimensions were critical, I used these sketches directly, and for others I either adapted them (for example, the cam) or replaced them entirely (for example the weight bob). The original design used 3/8 inch arbors, and I replaced these with 3mm ones. Instead of printing separate gears, connectors and pinions and then gluing them together, I merged them into a single part. This is something which works nicely for 3D printing, but it difficult or impossible in woodwork. I undersized many of the holes for the arbors and for the pendulum shaft and drilled them out to either a tight fit or a loose one. I've not always been successful in getting good tight fits and so where possible I also provided holes for set screws.
One of the hardest parts to adapt was the frame. It is much too big to fit on the printer bed. It's possible to split up large pieces like this and then glue or otherwise connect them. However, I didn't like where the splits ended up so I changed the shape of the frame. It still needs to be split into three pieces: the main part of it, the left foot, and the curve reaching down to the right foot. You lose the nice curve on the left hand side of the original design by doing this. The joins are hidden behind the dial on the left and where the arc on the right joins the vertical part. In each case, as well as gluing the parts, there are some metal pins joining them. These help keep the parts aligned while the glue sets and provide a little extra strength. The dial is also slightly smaller, and has a central bar to help support one arbor and the hour wheel. It's held on to the frame with two M3 screws. I didn't really think ahead here, so I ended up having to use 45mm screws with a bit of padding behind the frame to get the length just right.
One reason for wanting to try this specific design was to see how easy it is to start with a plan designed for woodworking and adapt it for 3D printing. It worked out somewhat well. The process was a bit hindered by the ways the plans are supplied: the DXF is a single gigantic file some parts of which are actual plans, and some parts of which are descriptive text, assembly diagrams and other auxiliary information. It seems an odd way of doing things. Fusion 360 gets a bit heated when you load all this in, and so a fair amount of initial pruning was needed. I'm also a novice with Fusion 360, so the way I did some things might not be best.
The pendulum is a 2mm brass rod with the magnet holder as the bottom and the weight bob around the 25cm mark. Adjusting the position of the weight is a bit fiddly as it involves loosening the screw underneath it, and sliding it up or down. The bob holds quite tightly to the shaft so adjustment can be down without tightening the screw until it is in its final position. The weight itself is a few M3 screws in the shiny little bucket.
The pendulum is connected to the cam with a 3mm brass shaft. This is a problematic part of the design, as the weight of the pendulum is greater than that of the cam and pawls, causing the shaft to tilt to the back. There are a few ways this could be fixed; perhaps a counterweight on the front, or a longer support glued to the back of the frame. Another option would be to move everything in front of the from forward and lengthen the shaft. For now, it works OK as it is.
One tooth or two?
Looking at the examples of the Toucan clock on YouTube, there are two different philosophies about the position of the pick-up pawl and the stop pawl at the point where the pick-up pawl starts to push on the escape wheel. They can either be on adjacent teeth like this, or separated by one tooth like this. The clock runs either way, and you can set the way it works by adjusting the angle between the pendulum and the cam. It may make some difference to the required swing of the pendulum. Looking at the first 10 videos on the YouTube list, I saw 8 were adjacent (the Toucan closes its beak) and 2 were separated (the Toucan eats with its mouth open). I went for adjacent, which sets the cam a bit anticlockwise from the pendulum.
I experimented with various driving circuits. As mentioned in a previous post, I had no success with getting a 1 or 2 transistor circuit to work, and after fiddling around for a long time, I wasn't happy with any of the other options I tried. In the end, I decided to buy a ready made module from carveshop. It works well, but is a little pricy. I plan to spend some more time looking into this, in part because I have a second electromagnetic pendulum clock I would like to try.
Sunday, October 03, 2021
For a future clock project, I would like to construct an electromagnetic pendulum. The pendulum has a magnet at its tip, and base contains a coil of thin wire. We aim to detect when the pendulum is approaching, and then turn on the coil for a short time to add extra energy. This can be done by turning on the coil to attract the magnet before the pendulum reaches the center (vertical), or waiting until it has passed the center and turning on the coil to repel it.
There are many different ways of doing this, and it was used in commercial clocks before electronic movements took over. The German-made Kundo clocks are one example. If you look on the web, you will find many articles about electronic pendulums, whether for clocks or just as toys, with a variety of different circuits. One of the best descriptions is Kundo battery clocks by Rod Elliot, with several possible circuits and a lucid explanation of how they each work. There is a 2 coil, 1 transistor design, used in Clayton Boyer's Toucan clock, and two variants of a 1 coil, 2 transistor design from the Kundo clocks themselves. In another article on the same site, Rod Elliot notes that there is some trial and error in getting these circuits going. After playing around for a few days without getting to anything reliable, I agree. I also found a site with a very similar circuit and a comment thread full on people saying how they never managed to get it to work. I'm not sure why I had so much difficulty. I know that for a few components (capacitors mainly), I didn't have the exact values and had to come up with a substitute. I tried out several different coils that I had around. Some didn't produce enough voltage to turn on the transistors. They would need more turns or more cross-sectional area, both of which affect the induce voltage. Others could clearly turn on the transistors but didn't impart enough energy the the pendulum.
There are other solutions, both analog or digital. One analog option is to replace the transistors with two or more stages of op-amps. You can then tune the sensitivity of the triggering better, and also add some delay before the pulse to the coil happens. Other solutions use a simple microprocessor like a PIC, or a TI chip.
I decided to go with a simple and highly controllable solution. I had some KY003 Hall effect sensor boards in my stock of parts, and so I just connected one to an input pin on an Arduino. The Arduino can't drive the coil directly, so I hooked up an output pin to a transistor, like this:
- wait until the Hall effect sensor turns on.
- wait a while to allow the pendulum to reach the center.
- energize the coil for a while.
- check the Hall effect sensor has turned off (in case we are still within range).
After some experimenting with this form of drive, I think there are some good and bad points.
Good points: it is very easy to build as the circuit is so simple. It's convenient for tuning the timing. You can add a few extra lines to report the time between ticks. Note that the activation delay and duration make very little difference to the timing, so this is about adjusting the position of the bob on the pendulum.
Not so good: getting both the Hall effect sensor and the coil close enough to the magnet is a challenge. I mounted the sensor on top of the coil, but this then requires a large coil to supply enough impulse. The force on the magnet goes down (if I remember correctly) as the square of the distance from the coil. To make life easy, my coil was whatever was left on a 4oz could of 30AWG magnet wire, probably about 300 metres. Anything much less than this didn't work. This could be solved by more careful design, such as mounting the probe embedded in the top of the coil or in the hole in the middle.