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Published on Jul 22, 2012
This is a completely re-designed version of my torque-sensing automatic transmission built in 2010. This version was originally designed for use in an element I designed for Clockwork, my latest ball machine. The transmission powered a crane which would automatically switch directions at the top, but I decided to get rid of it because it was painfully slow.
The new design is much smaller and is done entirely with gears, eliminating the large chain drive required for the original. This makes the device much smaller, and also capable of outputting a far higher torque before engaging the opposite gear. A differential gear box of the same type used in my automatic continuously variable transmission is used to detect the torque. The differential is connected to rubber bands, and it will rotate in either direction based on which way the torque is being applied. If it rotates too far in any one direction, it will trigger the transmission to switch gears and go the other way. An inverse pendulum with gears running up its length switches between two gears spinning in opposite directions. A cam follower rides on top of the pendulum, pushing it into place once it has been disengaged, ensuring that it is impossible for the pendulum to become stuck in the middle. (People have messaged me saying they have problems with that part of the design, so I have included detailed footage, including high speed video).