the problem

I'm prototyping for a musical instrument based on sliding sticks (see https://vimeo.com/170450482) but I'm struggling to make a robust, yet smooth clamping mechanism for the sticks. The challenge is to hold the (hard wood) sticks in such a way that they won't fall to the ground, yet are as easy and smooth as possible to move by hand. (And of course it needs to be cheap and easy to produce.) I have thought of and tried a number of solutions, but up until now none seem sufficient.

insufficient solution one

The solution used in the first functional prototype uses flat springs on each side of the board. While it keeps the stick in place, the springs are not easily adjustable, making the stick move not that smooth. Also they were relatively difficult to manufacture consistently. solution 1

insufficient solution two

Trying to find a more adjustable solution, we make clamps with springs for the second functional prototype. While this allowed for good adjustablilty, this solution had too much wiggle, still didn't feel smooth and was even more intensive to manufacture.

solution 2

insufficient solution three

Seeing that things needed to get more smooth, we tried to use felt to slide the stick against. This worked yet it proved difficult to make the hole exactly the right size for the sticks plus felt. Above that there were concerns that the felt would get more and more compact over time, as such losing their clamping force.

solution 3

possible solutions 4?

The ideal solution seems to be in the image below; to use felt, but being able to adjust it's position. Yet I have not been able to find an adjustable mechanism which stays in place and keeps consistent over time.

solution 4

Are there things I am missing? I am sure there are similar mechanisms out there in the world, but I haven't been able to find anything .

So my question is:

What would be a better mechanism for this problem?

  • $\begingroup$ I'm thinking of two (or perhaps three) small wheels with hard rubber rollers which clamp the sticks from both sides... does that sound sensible? $\endgroup$ – Andy Aug 3 '16 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ A wheel would indeed be nice, but I'm still at a loss on how to make it properly adjustable. (A small sketch i.imgur.com/RzXughS.jpg ) $\endgroup$ – Arvid Jense Aug 3 '16 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking of maybe three wheels. One as you drew it, the other two against the opposite side of the bar instead of the flat pad. Using stiff rubber rollers, I think there might be enough friction to hold the bar in place when released, but allow it to move when pushed. $\endgroup$ – Andy Aug 4 '16 at 7:49

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