This fall, I’m running the Autumnal Maker School (AMS). What’s required to be in the school, and to graduate? Make ten things between September 21 and December 21. Preferably useful things, but artistic things work too. I have made a 1) Volvelle, a 2) computer program that calculates the area of a hexagon, a 3) graphic design sample that shows how to make an Egyptian god, a 4) braiding disk, and 5) picture IDs for my school; there was also an 6) art exhibit in there, and guiding a group of students into 7) designing a manufacturing process.  The other day was 8) The Pulley Spinner.  And here’s 9) The parts for a Ratchet.

The Ratchet Gear

My goal was to build a working ratchet gear. I wasn’t sure it was going to work.  Here you can see the parts as they looked this morning (and yesterday evening) at around 7, when I arrived at school.  Some of the parts haven’t even been drilled yet; some of the drilling isn’t very good (drilling is a problem for some of my work).  Both of those square nuts/spacers broke in the process of drilling them.  It turns out that you’re supposed to drill to the correct size, and then cut them them out of the board.  That decreases the likelihood of breakage during the drilling.

Ratchet mechanism

But it still works.

…And here’s how they looked at the end of the day.  As you can see, the glue for the two legs on which it will stand upright are not yet glued and screwed into place.  But the whole assembly of parts is in place. I could definitely use and do some fine-tuning, because hot glue is not the right substance for gluing together such a marvelous creation.  On the other hand…

This is largely (actually, completely) built on the work of Dug from Cabaret Mechanical Theater.  He produces a monthly blog column, and I simply followed his design for this work. I’m not sure at this point that I know how to expand on his design, and produce a ratchet gear of a different size; or even how to get the spacing on the cranks and axles for the different parts correct.  That said, it’s a beautiful bit of design, and I’m glad it works.  Watch the video. There’s some boring bits at the beginning, but it gets good about 20 seconds into a 58-second video.

It works!  It works! Muahahahahahah!

OK, there’s a problem, though.  The cutting, the patience, the skill necessary to do this… it’s not in the wheelhouse of most of my students. They’re not going to know how to do this.  I wish they would, but I think it will be a few years before any of them are ready for it.

Me, I want to build another. A better one.  With a built in cam and cam-follower, and maybe some other movements, as well.  I’m hooked.