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I have to deal with a situation where I have two parallel and completely independent rods whose motion is dependent only on external inputs, and I want to add up the lengths traveled by each rod.
My first thought was to use two rack-and-pinion mechanisms by which I move two gears, one by each rod, and then couple them to a single rack. But this is not going to work since the rack when moved by one gear, will cause the other to move as well.

This seems to be an easy thing to do on a macro scale but I wish to 3D print this mechanism and they are going to be very small, so I expect to build a very simple mechanism.

Since the description is not so clear, here is a diagram:
The Basic Idea

  • When Rod A and Rod B are at A0 and B0 respectively, I want Rod Y to be at Y0
  • When either Rod A or Rod B is at state 1 and the other at state 0, I want Rod Y to be at Y1
  • When Rod A and Rod B are at A1 and B1 respectively, I want Rod Y to be at Y1

Rods A and B should be absolutely independent of each other. And the gap between the lower face of Rod A and the upper face of Rod B should be around 35 mm, with all rods being about 3 mm wide. How can this be solved?

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  • $\begingroup$ If each rod is only ever rotating in one direction you could use a ratcheting mechanism. $\endgroup$ – jko Aug 4 '20 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ No, the rods move forward and backward along parallel axes $\endgroup$ – Aaron John Sabu Aug 4 '20 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ I thought of a ratcheting mechanism but that's why I added the last statement. It's too complex to be 3D printed as a very small piece $\endgroup$ – Aaron John Sabu Aug 4 '20 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ If a ratchet mechanism is too complex for you to 3D print, I'm not sure you'll be able to produce any sort of solution. I would suggest a series of differential gears, but again this doesn't seem ideal for your manufacturing methods unless you think the components can be made. What is the scale exactly you're thinking of? $\endgroup$ – jko Aug 5 '20 at 1:58
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    $\begingroup$ Since both rods rotate both directions, how does this effect your output? What if both rods move at the same time? And you should move answers of this and other comments into question! $\endgroup$ – StainlessSteelRat Aug 5 '20 at 18:19
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If I hadn't messed up understanding your idea then you can connect all rods to achieve the desired result.

I've considered two bars connecting to maintain all rods paralel to each other.

The starting position will be with Rod A and Rod B are inactive (position 0-0) and rod Y will remain in $Y_0$. Initial position

The intermediary position Rod A or Rod B will be active, and the other is inactive. Rod Y will stay in position $Y_1$.
Intermediary position

The final position occur when both Rods A and B are active. Rod Y will stop in the position $Y_2$.
Final position

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  • $\begingroup$ Perfect. That's exactly what came to my mind a few minutes before you answered this $\endgroup$ – Aaron John Sabu Aug 5 '20 at 23:07
  • $\begingroup$ What software have you used to draw these diagrams? $\endgroup$ – Aaron John Sabu Aug 6 '20 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ MS Powerpoint. The easiest option at the moment. $\endgroup$ – Leafk Aug 6 '20 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a solution where I don't have to use flexible connecting rods and all horizontal rods remain at the same vertical distance wrt each other? $\endgroup$ – Aaron John Sabu Aug 6 '20 at 14:49

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