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simple machines
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cranks and crank shafts
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Automaton mechanics


How things work


It's not that hard


Machines are simple. At least the 'simple machines' are simple. We're all familiar with examples of simple machines. They're found everywhere in things we use every day. They're even part of us...your elbow, for example.

The basics
All machines are built from one or more simple machines, the basic mechanical devices for applying force. They fall into two families: the lever family (lever, pulley, wheel-and-axle) and the inclined plane family (wedge, screw, inclined plane).

WORK = FORCE x DISTANCE so while machines can't actually change the amount of work done, they can change the size and direction of the force and the distance. That’s what this section is about...mechanisms and how they are use to convert between one type of motion and another.

Motion and how to change it
Rotary motion and linear motion...that’s all there is. Of course each of these can be regular, irregular, reciprocating (back and forth), oscillating or intermittent.

Rotary motion is the starting point for many mechanism. The most common way to input energy into an automaton’s mechanism is by turning a handle (rotary motion) attached to a shaft (or axle). This shaft can power more than one set of mechanisms producing a variety of motions.

Rotary motion can be increased (and decreased) in speed and power with the use of gears and pulleys. Gears can also be used to reflect the direction of rotation and also to change the angle of rotation.

That's all very well but what if you don't want everything to be moving around in circles. The table below summarises the conversions from rotary motion to other types of motion. Note that of these things work in reverse too. For example, the piston converts rotary motion to reciprocating linear motion but can also convert motion from reciprocating linear to rotary.

Rotary motion to: Converted using:
Linear rack and pinion
Reciprocating pistons
Oscillating crank
  quick return
Intermittent geneva wheel
Irregular cams

Still under construction. More coming soon.


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