How-To: Trammel of Archimedes

How-To:  Trammel of Archimedes

The mechanism known formally as the Trammel of Archimedes (Wikipedia) has practical application, when fitted with a drawing or cutting tool, as an ellipsograph. Otherwise it is fascinating but generally useless, and these qualities have earned it a variety of approximately affectionate epithets: “do nothing machine,” “nothing grinder,” “BS grinder,” and “Kentucky do-nothing” are a few I’ve heard. Recently, I was thinking about building one as a gift, and found this great tutorial by Instructables user perry112358.

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6 thoughts on “How-To: Trammel of Archimedes

  1. gernith says:

    I had one as a child that said BULL$HIT GRINDER on the bottom, and no one would tell me what it said! I wanted to learn to read just so I could find out.

  2. RocketGuy says:

    I want to say “scottish wheel” but that’s wrong, although it led to an interesting link about a boat lift.

    Now it’s driving me crazy, I know there’s another (serious) name for this mechanism, maybe from steam engine lore?

    1. cbrink says:

      I believe you’re thinking of a scotch yoke.

      But that is far from a useless mechanism :). It converts rotational motion to linear motion (or the reverse).

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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