Tag Archives: Geneva Drive

Electroluminescent Starter Kit Review (with a Geneva Mechanism Video Thrown in!)

el lights invade garage light painting

el lights spinning and blinking light painting

Electroluminescent blinking lights + long exposure camera shot = total craziness

I’ve written this blog for well over a year, and haven’t done anything with electroluminescent lights yet.  After screwing around with everything else and thinking about buying some of these lights, Newark cemented my “purchasing” decision by giving me one of their evaluation kits for free, or check out their other Surelight El devicesSo thanks!

blue el light by itself

A blue EL by itself – a bit more subdued

Although I have plans for these lights, possibly involving some relays and an Arduino, upon opening the package it was evident that even without any soldering or cutting, these were still a lot of fun to play with.  If you do want to solder and cut, here’s a good tutorial (at least it seems good, having yet to follow along).  You really don’t have to do this though, everything just plugs in!  Each light can be attached individually, but the kit includes a splitter to keep everything lit up at the same time if you want!

It’s not really advertised, but the included power pack can be adjusted to blink at different rates.  Really cool, although it may make your eyes hurt after a while!  The first idea I had was to use this with long exposure photography.  I made the lights blink and spin around as the shot was taken.  This can be seen in the first two photos in this post.  There are probably other cool photography tricks that you could use this for, but I haven’t thought of/implemented them yet.  For more light painting, be sure to also check out my earlier CNC light painting experiments.

The second idea I had Read more »

A CNC Cut Geneva Drive

animated geneva mechanismA Geneva Drive is defined by Wikipedia as “a gear mechanism that translates a continuous rotation into an intermittent rotary motion.”  Although replaced by servo drives in many cases, these were once used in movie projectors and to power rotary tables in industrial assembly lines.  This is where I first saw this type of drive, and after redoing practically the entirety of these machines, the venerable Geneva mechanism was still at the heart of it, working like a champ after 20+ years.  Like most cam-type devices, they may not afford nearly the adjustability or the “easy” electrical programming of a servo of PLC controlled device, but they will run for literally decades on end with little maintenance.

So after that introduction, I recently machined one out of MDF on my router.  I plan on making one that works a bit better, and is possibly motor-driven, but check out the video below for my prototype:

This is a crude model a this point, but I’ve included the G-code and DXFs for the mechanism at the end of the article.  Everything was cut with a 5/16 inch bit that I’ve been using as a flycutter on my router, providing a relatively high pocketing speed.  Unfortunately, Read more »