What's on my bench: Auger Lift Test Stand


Good morning...
I've been thinking about this post and considered titling it "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly".
In my mind I've got an automata created...however it includes techniques that I've not created before.  I've learned that in this kind of situation the best way for me to proceed is to build a test stand.  See how things work.  See where the limits and soft spots are.

The chain of motion is:
  • A 20 rpm gear motor.
  • A set of pinwheel gears.
  • An auger.
  • Two Marble Tip wheels.
This test stand has been created mostly from scrap bits and pieces and super glue.  I've not created a test stand for the biped and the elliptical machine that he will be peddling...I don't feel that I need one.

A couple of comments.
  • This thing looks ugly.  It is ugly.  It's about five days old, completed yesterday, and by tomorrow it will be in my scrap heap.
  • I've tried two different motors in it.  The 20 rpm motor gives the best results.  10 rpm was too slow.
  • The two pinwheel gears cause me joy.  They are wonderful.  They have a wide connection tolerance, are very quiet, and have been ultra-reliable from the beginning.  The body of the gears is 3d printed and the pins are stainless steel roll pins 1/8" X 1".
  • The auger has been loosely mounted.  I've not used bearings...just a rough sized bushing...so there is slop between the auger and the rail that the marbles lean on as they travel up.  This is a problem.  I've learned that I'll need to firm up the relationship between the auger and the side rail...else there are marble derailments as the descending marble bounces around.
  • Getting the marbles on and off the auger has not been as problematic as I thought it would be.
  • I've learned that I should tip this whole assembly a bit further towards horizontal...not much...just a bit.
  • The marble 'tip wheels' are the weak link on this test stand.  They exist for two reasons...to lower the marbles...and to slow them down.  They do lower the marbles...but the slowing down part is tough.  The swinging pendulums are my third solution and while I like the solution, especially the long one, I think I need to explore other ways of slowing the marbles down.
I'm glad that I created this test stand.  It's given me vital real-world working knowledge.  I've created a short video that shows most features of this test stand first in real-time and then in slow motion (4X slow).

Why do I do these "What's On My Bench" posts?  I just like to share.  I'm a teacher at heart.  It's important to remember that what I show in these posts is simply "my way" of doing something.  Over the years I've learned that "my way" is usually a bit different than a "normal way".  So understand that I'm not trying to show you how to do something...just suggesting.  Just showing how I do it.  You will have your own way of doing it.  And hopefully, someone will get an urge to strike out and try to create their own automata...and that's wonderful.
I also think that the automata world could disappear and to me that would be sad...so I'm trying to do my part to help keep the wonderful world of automata alive and kicking.
Have a good week, everyone.
-Jim Coffee-
creating automata near San Diego, California.

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