Mechanical Components

Improved Gear Shapes for Face Worm Gear Drives

These shapes offer potential for increasing precision and reducing vibration and noise. Shapes different from the traditional ones have been proposed for face worm gears and for conical and cylindrical worms that mesh with them. The proposed shapes are based on the concept of generating a face worm gear surface by use of a tilted head cutter instead of by the traditional use of a hob. (As used here, “head cutter” is also meant to signify, alternatively, a head grinding tool.)The gear-surface-generation equipment would be similar to that used for generation of spiral bevel and hypoid gears. In comparison with the corresponding traditional hob, a tilted head cutter according to the proposal would be larger, could be fabricated with greater precision, and would enable the generation of gear surfaces with greater precision and greater productivity.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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Alternative Way of Shifting Mass To Move a Spherical Robot

A payload would change its position by lengthening and shortening suspension cables. An alternative method of controlled shifting of the center of mass has been proposed as a means of locomotion of a robot that comprises mostly a payload inside a hollow, approximately spherical shell. The method would be applicable to robots that include rigid, semirigid, or flexible inflated shells, including those of the “beach-ball rover” type, variants of which have been described in several previous NASA Tech Briefs articles.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Fastener Starter

This tool is superior to prior screw and nut starters. The Fastener Starter is a creative solution to prevent the loss of small fasteners during their installation. This is the only currently available tool that can firmly grip and hold a single screw, bolt, nut, washer, spacer, or any combination of these parts. Other commercially available fastener starters are unable to accommodate a variety of parts simultaneously. The Fastener Starter is a more capable and easier tool to use than prior tools. Its compact size allows it to be used effectively in cramped, difficult-to-see locations. Its design also allows it to be used with or without handles and extenders in other difficult-to-reach locations. It provides better protection against cross threading and loss of fasteners and associated parts. The Fastener Starter is non-magnetic and does not off-gas, thus meeting flight hardware requirements.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Temperature-Controlled Clamping and Releasing Mechanism

A report describes the development of a mechanism that automatically clamps upon warming and releases upon cooling between temperature limits of 180 K and 293 K.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Piezo-Operated Shutter Mechanism Moves 1.5 cm

This shutter is designed for use as part of an atomic clock. The figure shows parts of a shutter mechanism designed to satisfy a number of requirements specific to its original intended application as a component of an atomic clock to be flown in outer space. The mechanism may also be suitable for use in laboratory and industrial vacuum systems on Earth for which there are similar requirements. The requirements include the following:

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Two SMA-Actuated Miniature Mechanisms

These mechanisms represent two different approaches to latch/release operation. The figures depict two miniature mechanisms actuated by strips made of shape-memory alloy (SMA). A typical SMA is a nickel-titanium alloy known by the trade name “Flexinol” or “Nitinol.” In preparation for a typical application, a suitably sized and shaped piece of an SMA is deformed by a predetermined amount at the lower of two operating temperatures, then mounted in a mechanism. When stroking of the mechanism in one direction is desired, the piece of SMA is heated above a transition temperature to make it return to the “remembered” undeformed state. When stroking of the mechanism in the opposite direction is desired, the SMA is cooled below the transition temperature to make it return to the deformed state.

Posted in: Mechanical Components, Briefs

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Two-Step Laser Ranging for Precise Tracking of a Spacecraft

A document proposes a two-step laser ranging technique for precise tracking of a coasting interplanetary spacecraft to determine the degree to which leakage of fuel, solar wind, and/or solar-radiation pressure causes it to deviate from a purely gravitational trajectory.

Posted in: Mechanics, Photonics, Mechanical Components, Briefs, TSP

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