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Posted by degroof 
Re: Toys
November 17, 2009 08:36PM
I was playing with my nephew with my old Lego Monorail train and I thought that this could be a really good toy for Reprap to be able to print.

Youtube video of it: [www.youtube.com]

I am not saying that this should be a copy of the Lego system, but it does have a some good ideas.

Firstly the way the cars move along the track is by using a rack type arrangement. The "engine" has a DC motor connected to a simple toothed gear, and this gear meshes with a series of teeth on a raised ridge in the centre of the track (which also acts as the guide rail).

The teeth on the centre rail is on both sides which allows you to place the engine in either direction, but this means that the size and spacing of the teeth are important so as to have both the inner and outer teeth on curves match up at the ends.

The connections between the "cars" are designed to allow the cars to swivel in 2 dimension (not just one dimension) : left/right as well as up/down. This allows the tracks to include hills as well as corners.

The wheel housing also has this 2 degrees of freedom as well which allows the monorail to have a smooth and fluid movement along the tracks.

Track lengths would need to come in several sizes:

1 unit long Straight
1/2 unit long Straight
1/4 unit long Straight
90 degree corner (radius 1 unit)
45 degree corner (radius 1 unit)
Junction (a 45 degree corner merging into a 1/2 unit straight - the main problem is the switching mechanism)

Connecting the track pieces could be achieved by a spring clip that can be printed as part of the track piece (or as a separate connector piece in case they break, so you can just print more as needed).

With the experiments in long print sizes that Forrest Higgs is doing, this kind of toy starts to become a real possibility with RepRap.

Car and engine designs could then also be RepRapable, or even a building system could be devised (like lego, meccano, etc) to allow people to print and build their own.
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