A detent is a device used to stop an object from rotating. It may also refer to the process of halting rotational movement. The classic gambling wheel serves as an effective example of this principle. As the wheel rotates, a plastic or wooden object clicks between the pegs at the wheel's edge, eventually stopping it from moving. In this instance, detent may refer to the process of stopping the wheel or the plastic device used to stop the wheel from moving.
Depending on the application, this device may be used in a variety of ways. It can be fixed to an object located near a wheel or spindle, and used to stop the movement of the wheel. It may also be inserted into a wheel or other round object, where it can be used to fasten the wheel to another nearby device. In some instances, a detent installed in two connected wheels can be used to help both wheels rotate at the same time, or at the same speed.
Detent-based devices can be found in manufacturing and industry, as well as many household applications. Most vehicles and engines rely on detents to function, and cars often include some form of this device in the gear shifter. This device holds the car in park and prevents it from slipping into gear when not in use. A special metal plate fits around the detent in this type of application to help control its movement.
This is similar to the operation of the standard ratchet wrench. As the wrench is rotated, the detent slips into a groove within the tool. This creates the traditional clicking noise that's commonly associated with these wrenches.
Many standard appliances also rely on this type of operation. For example, a radio or stove dial that clicks on and off includes at least one detent. Additional units may be included to allow users to turn up the volume or heat level by rotating the knob to a specific point. The standard household door knob also includes a detent pin to allow users to remove the knob or change the lock.
This device may rely on spring force or positive latching to hold the rotating object in place, or stop its movement. A detent pin locks the object in place using spring force, while a ball detent provides a more permanent and secure hold. Ball-based models are often used as fasteners, while pin-based units allow for easy removal as needed.