Watt’s linkage and possible app in rapid prototyping hardware

Craft & Design

As Primus tells us: “Jerry was a race car driver.” Jeri Ellsworth was both a race car driver and a race car designer. In this segment from a Fat Man & Circuit Girl episode, she talks about the concept behind Watt’s linkages she used in a rear suspension system she designed and how this mechanical linkage could be used in rapid prototyping/CNC machines to achieve precision positioning using much less expensive parts.

The linkage model she has in the video might be hard to understand. This animation on Wikipedia might make it easier.

BTW: I finally got to meet my new idol at Maker Faire, but alas, I did not get to hear her talk or to see her booth where she had her Easy Bake Chip Fab set up. I was there to see her present her “homebaked” solar cells to Jérôme Demers, Solarbotics’ intern (and MAKE Contributor), for him to build them into a BEAMbot. Can’t wait to see what he does with them.

9 thoughts on “Watt’s linkage and possible app in rapid prototyping hardware

  1. Zee says:

    Ok… make some prototypes. I understand the concept but I have no idea how I’d implement it.

    1. Simon says:

      Whenever I am playing about with linkages or suspension geometry type stuff I always end up falling back to my ancient Lego Technic set to prototype the basic idea just so I can see how it works in real life.

      Perhaps it’s time to sell the Scalextric set to buy some Mindstorms :)

      1. Simon says:

        Bad form replying to my own comment I know but seems I missed the Lego boat :( I found only one place locally that has Lego NXT and they are out of stock. Seems ridiculous in the biggest city in NZ there is nowhere I can walk in, hand over my $400NZ or so and just buy a set. How I miss real toy shops like Hamleys and FAO Schwarz!

  2. DU says:

    Jeri is very impressive. I wish she had her own website/show.

    Oh, she kind of does now: http://www.jeriellsworth.com/

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

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