Learn about the Geneva Drive – A Snappy Mechanism Found Inside Old Film Projector

The functional Geneva drive - a mechanism easily 3D printed

The functional Geneva drive - a mechanism easily 3D printed

If you have you ever held a film projector before, chances are you have probably heard the distinct clacking noise that comes with using it. 

The sound comes from the Geneva Drive, a mechanism which gets its name from the 17th century Swiss watches it used to power.

In a video by the Maker’s Muse YouTube channel, they take a look at how the Geneva Drive takes continuous rotational movement and turns it into precise, indexed, movement.  

One of the earliest mechanisms which translates index movement, the drive consists of a rotating drive wheel which forcibly locks into one of the driven wheel’s many slots (known as “dwells”). The driven wheel can consist of as little as three slots to a more complex eighteen slots. This hard switching between dwells is what gives the Geneva drive a sound of someone clicking their tongue at a breakneck speed.

Overview of the Geneva drive mechanism

Overview of the Geneva drive mechanism

While the external Geneva drive is the most popular design, there are variants to the traditional formula. There is the spherical Geneva drive which is set at a 90 degree angle, and a variation to the external drive called the Geneva stop, which locks into place and cannot be moved any further.

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