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Animated Stirling Engines

One of the great things about Solid Edge (the software I used to create my Stirling Engine CAD models) is that the constraints beftween parts are based on physical (real world) conections. This means that, if the model is properly constructed, the positions of the parts will update automatically when other parts within the model are moved. In the case of my Stirling engine models, the rotational position of the flywheel provides a reference for all the other moving parts (crank shaft, cylinder, displacer and connecting rods) in the model. Therefore, I only need specify a flywheel angle to fully define the location of all the parts in the model.

This feature of Solid Edge (no doubt found in most other 3D CAD software) makes it very easy to generate animated pictures of the 3D models. All that is required is to take "snapshots" of the model at varying (incremental) flywheel positions, then combine the pictures to generate a movie (or in my case animated GIF). This is the technique that was used to generate the animations featured on this web site. In fact, newer versions of Solid Edge can automatically animate the motion of the models based on the specified constaints, however at the time that I was using this software (around the year 2000) I found the size of the files generated to be excessively large and lacking in quality.

To view an animation, click on the thumbnails to the right (the animations will open in a new browser window). The file type and size is displayed when you move the mouse over the image prior to clicking. Movies of the real Stirling Engines were taken using a digital camera (either directly as a QuickTime Movie, or as still frames combined to form an animated GIF).

In my free time (when I have any) I still like to experiment with 3D modelling. If you have an interesting Stirling Engine configuration that you would like to see animated in 3D, then please send me an e-mail.

Update (May 2004)

I have recently completed another Animated Model of a Stirling engine. This model is based on the MM04 Balancier built by Hugo Lindner, which is one of my favorite interpretations of the Hog Stirling Motor (sold by several companies on the internet). I have also rendered this model (see CAD Models)

Animated GIF (415 KB)
Animated GIF (525 KB)
Animated GIF (200 KB)
Animated GIF (500 KB)
QT Movie (615 KB)
Animated GIF (285 KB)

Created by Piero Velletri - Last Updated 20/05/04

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