This kids are officially tapped out. We’ve been working on The Long Now project all year and they just put their foot down – they are ready to start with the quad copters. Fair enough. But that leaves me to figure out some final details before next year’s class carries the torch. I’ve been working on creating the drive mechanism which is a smörgåsbord of different ideas. It’s weight driven, steals a continuous winding mechanism idea from clockwork (the Huygen Loop), and was originally pictured to look like the fan system at Dave & Busters.
I’ve been stuck as two how exactly to integrate all these ideas together but this week has been full of epiphanies.
- I had originally expected the drive system to be an industrial scale system of belts and pulleys. Fate KISSed me and I recalled something I saw at the MIT Museum in Cambridge – a way wire rope can be wrapped around a drum to form a kind of friction drive system. After poking around for relevant search terms I found a wealth of information (including this fantastic set of materials). That realization simplifies things quite a bit – I can make it myself and don’t need to start begging for industrial equipment.
- Next, I realized that wire rope can be substituted for a continuous loop of Kevlar cord or some other low-stretch, high tensile strength, high flexibility woven rope. Easier again.
Yet I’m still stuck with how to actually make it all work together. Sketches and CAD had left me hopeless so after my wife went to bed on this splendid Friday night, I started hunting around for a way to model the system. What I came up with: sticky notes, push pins, and floss.
In ten minutes I had a rough system worked out. This was a humble reminder of the strength of manipulatives. This is something I should start considering in my classroom as I ask students to think through increasingly abstract concepts. Goodnight.