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Linkages: Beam & Crank

March 15, 2010

This is turning into a tutorial in Flash, and is a work in progress.

I spent last night drawing up a Beam & Crank linkage in Vectorworks from Marks’ Mechanical Engineers’ Handbook:

That part didn’t take too long, so then I drew it through 15 stages of rotation, assuming 15 frames per second of animation–so 360° ÷ 15 = 24°. So far, pretty easy, but then I printed the images as PDF’s and imported them into iMovie HD. Definitely not the way to go. I ended up with a pretty crude bit-mapped animation:

I tried PNG’s, and the line work was better, but I had the setting wrong for maintaining the canvas size, so every frame had a different proportion. This effect might come in handy some time, but not here:

I then realized that I needed vector-based animation. Duh. Flash. I knew I would need to learn it or something like it sooner or later. No time like the present. I don’t have it installed, but I figured out how to export the Vectorworks files as a .DWG into Illustrator (each layer can also be copied and pasted), and then exported as a Flash movie:

Beam & Crank linkage, “as used on side-wheel steamers.”

To follow up on this, I plan to do the same with:

  • Drag-Link Mechanism
  • Rocker Mechanism
  • Sliding-Block Linkage
  • Swinging-Block Linkage
  • Turning-Block Linkage
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