Gears for fears

Posted on Wednesday 8 November 2006


My remote emote project depends on a building a device that takes the physical input of pushing and pulling and transmits that to the other side(device). The very physicalcomputing part of this is finding or constructing the rack and pinion mechanism… or finding an alternative. This quote is part of the technical formula for calculating the “pitch” of the gears:

In order to work together, gears must have the same pitch and pressure angle (angle between contact points of meshing teeth). A gear’s pitch is its number of teeth divided by its pitch diameter. For example, a gear with 16 teeth and a pitch diameter of 1/2″ will have a pitch of 32

I found a really nice visual representation of a rack and piniom mechanism for changing circular movement from my motors to linear motion of my “thixels” in the Remote Emote project.

The challenges are two fold for this aspect of my project. 1. getting the right travel distance and 2. keeping the fit and contact within very tight tollerances to allow for a greater reliability in my final mockup.

The nice part of this animation are the red points that show where the stress is.

My first experiments and thoughts were to lasercut my own gears, using hobby gears from a Jan’s Hobby on lex I scanned a gear and broght it into illustrator.


The power and feedback for this linear motion system is the Shokai 20k motorized pot: . What I want to do is both read values and transmit or use that data to drive a motor.

Thixels and motor layout


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