Twisting Steel with LEGO Motors

LEGO bricks are some of the most awesome things on earth. They’re incredibly versatile for building all kinds of structures, and you can make some pretty impressive machines with them when you combine them with Technic and Mindstorms parts. I’ve always assumed that LEGO motors and gears aren’t particularly strong, but it turns out with the proper engineering, you can use them to bend and twist steel.

Brick Experiment Channel loves to create LEGO machines that show off their strength. He recently built a rig that uses a pair of LEGO Power Functions XL motors along with a number of gears to reduce their speed and increase their torque output. The result is a machine that that outputs 15 Newton meters (~11 lb-ft.) of torque, and is capable of taking a stainless steel axle and twisting it like a drill bit (or a Twizzler).

The builder’s ultimate goal was to see if he could actually break the steel rod before the LEGO parts would fail. By twisting the metal back and forth numerous times, he was ultimately able to introduce enough metal fatigue to to make the axle crack. It’s pretty amazing that this is possible, and looks like a fun science experiment for LEGO fans to try and replicate at home.

This Machine Will Probably Never Finish a Full Rotation

When it comes to telling time with an analog clock, the idea of gear reduction is a very critical piece of the puzzle. Basically, a set of multiple gears work in concert to gradually rotate at slower speeds. So a single motor can drive the seconds, minutes, and hour hands on a dial.

But rather than just reducing the speed of a gear a couple of times, engineer Daniel de Bruin decided to make what he says is the “biggest reduction gear in the universe.” Well, it may not be the largest in dimension, but it’s definitely the most complicated, with 100 gears, each gradually reducing the speed from the gear before it.

Each successive gear turns at exactly 1/10th of the speed of its predecessor. The result is a setup that would take literally eons before it would rotate its final gear.

According to the guys at Gizmodo, you’d have to turn the first gear

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

times to move the last gear to move just one position. Man, that’s a whole lot of zeros, and I definitely can’t count that high.

The machine’s creator explains the rationale behind his build: “Today at 14:52 I will be exactly 1 billion seconds old. To celebrate I build this machine that visualizes the number googol. That’s a 1 with a hundred zeros. A number that’s bigger than the atoms in the known universe. This machine has a gear reduction of 1 to 10 a hundred times. In order to get the last gear to turn once you’ll need to spin the first one a googol amount around. Or better said you’ll need more energy than the entire universe has to do that.”

If you’ve got a full hour to kill you can watch the contraption get through the first few of layers of gears…

[via Gizmodo]

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The Twist Press brings joy to the process of coffee-brewing

Twisting is a pretty common interaction that we’ve sort of taken for granted. You can use it for any sort of secure tightening (or loosening) action, or even for compression and expansion, especially given that it requires much lesser effort… take the car-jack for instance.

The twisting action is a fun and functional one, and it found its way into this Joseph Joseph Lemon Juicer, and consequently into the Twist Press, a hand-operated espresso maker that can rival a state-of-the-art, expensive, espresso machine. The Twist uses a container with a helical guide, and a plunger that twists downwards, forcing the liquid through the coffee powder. It creates a high-pressure that’s effortless and powerful enough to churn out a thick coffee concentrate that you most definitely wouldn’t get with a french-press or a pour-over.

80% of the fun is in operating the Twist (the remaining 20% is in drinking your coffee, duh!) With the simple, effortless interaction that is a whole lot easier than applying vertical pressure (as you probably would with an aeropress), the Twist allows you to brew the coffee you desire. Just by regulating the amount of water and the brew time, you can make yourself anything from an intense, thick shot of espresso, to a tall, irresistible glass of black coffee. With just three cylindrical parts that can easily be rinsed under running water or placed in a dishwasher, maintaining the Twist is as simple as operating it is… Be careful though, you may find yourself making too many cups of coffee!

Designer: Barista & Co.

Coffee GIF | The Twist Press brings joy to the process of coffee-brewing

The Twist Press brings joy to the process of coffee-brewing

The Twist Press brings joy to the process of coffee-brewing

The Twist Press brings joy to the process of coffee-brewing

The Twist Press brings joy to the process of coffee-brewing

The Twist Press brings joy to the process of coffee-brewing

The Twist Press brings joy to the process of coffee-brewing

The Twist Press brings joy to the process of coffee-brewing

The Twist Press brings joy to the process of coffee-brewing

The Twist Press brings joy to the process of coffee-brewing

Woodworker Builds Automatic Dog Petting Machine

Petting dogs is tough work. And when you pet them, they just want more and more. This can be tough on our wimpy 21st-century arms that are only used to holding smartphones. What can we do? Well, the answer as always is technology. Dogs demand the pets 24/7 and that’s like a damn workout. That’s why we need an automatic dog-petting machine like this one built by Michigan woodworker Matt Thompson.

Hey, we have our massage chairs so why shouldn’t our pets have some fun too? To make this contraption fun to watch, he gave it a Rube Goldberg style flare. Bonnie clearly likes getting pet by this machine, but Clyde is just too short, so he needs to be lifted up to enjoy it. Thanks Clyde. Your master built this so he wouldn’t have to do any work and he still has to lift you up.

I’d say this is more of a Clyde punishing machine. When he does something bad he gets to watch Bonnie get pets, but sorry Clyde, you’re too short.

[via Laughing Squid via Geekologie]