A one-servo seven-segment mechanical display

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The seven-segment display might be a bit prosaic after all these years, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to spice it up. Coming up with a mechanical version of the typical photon-based display is a popular project, of which we have seen many examples over the years. Corn this seven-segment display is quite a mechanical treat and a unique way to cycle through numbers.

With most mechanical displays, we’re used to seeing the state of each segment changed with some sort of actuator, like a solenoid or servo. [Shinsaku Hiura] decided on a sleeker design by using a 3D printed barrel carrying a cam for each segment. Each articulated segment is attached to an arm which acts as a follower, overlapping its cam and turning on or off in a set pattern. The number displayed depends on the position of the barrel, which is controlled with a single servo and a pair of gears. It trades mechanical complexity for electrical simplicity and overall elegance, and as you can see from the video below, it’s quite eye-catching.

We think the best part of this build is figuring out the shape of the cams. We wonder how they compare to camera profiles in [Greg Zumwalt]the mechanical display; it uses two separate discs with grooves, but the principle is pretty much the same.

Thanks to [Jan Derogee] for the tip.


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