Sunday, March 22, 2015

Gear generator tool allows you to design full gear trains and see them in action!

This new online Gear Generator tool can be used to simulate sets of spur gears. You can plug in all kinds of a parameters, and then animate the gears at various speed to demonstrate working mechanism. You can also download the final results in SVG format. The tool allows you compose full gear layouts with connected gears to design multiple gears system with control of the input/output ratio and rotation speed. The gears are of the involute type which is what most of the world wants -- except perhaps for the clockmakers. This tool is fantastically useful and very well designed too!

Here is where you can check out and use the free online Gear Generator tool.

To learn more about gear design, check out these great reference books such as Dudley's Handbook of Practical Gear Design and Manufacture, which provides comprehensive information on the design and manufacture of gears for the expert and novice alike. Topics include: Gear Types and Nomenclature, Gear Tooth Design, Gear Reactions and Mountings, Gear Vibration, and The Evolution of the Gear Art.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

BusyBody - pose and animate a little figure in minutes!

Rufus Seder of Eye Think has just come up with this wonderful animation toy! You pose ten identical bendy figures a little differently in sequence. Then, when you spin the turntable you will see the results animated in the mirror rotating at the center of the toy. What a fun gizmo!

Here is where you can get the BusyBody Quick Pose Animator.

If you are into this type of animation, you might also check out this Praxinoscope available from Amazon. Not unlike the BusyBody, this optical device uses mirrors, paper, and a platform to create moving pictures. When you spin the platform, you can view the animations through the mask plate. It includes printed discs and blank discs for creating your own animation.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Japanese Automata - Karkuri Zui: An Eighteenth Century Japanese Manual of Automatic Mechanical Devices

Cover of Japanese Automata book
There is a wonderful new book out titled Japanese Automata - Karkuri Zui: An Eighteenth Century Japanese Manual of Automatic Mechanical Devices. This book by Kazuo Murakami translates into English the unique book Karakuri Zui, originally published in 1796. The book starts with an introduction which explains the history of karakuri. What follows is a complete translation of Karakuri Zui which explained the mechanisms and methods of construction for several Japanese clocks and mechanical toys of the Edo period in Japan (1603-1867).

Murakami-San wrote to tell me about the Tumbling Acrobot automaton shown in the video above, which I've posted about in the past. He explains that the tumbling doll seems to have already been invented by the beginning of 18th century. Like many of the fine automata of the past, the Tumbling Acrobat was a toy for wealthy people. There is some evidence that the the doll was brought to Europe by the Dutch, where it was then imitated, westernized, improved, and manufactured by German toy makers to look more like this.

The great magician and automaton-maker, Robert-Houdin, bought a tumbling doll from a French toy maker. This story is recounted in the book Two Odd Volumes on Magic and Automata.

All of this information and more is covered in detail in Kazuo Murakami's new book, Japanese Automata. This soft cover book has a total of 257 pages with 104 original diagrams and drawings of the mechanical devices made during the Edo period. It has been published in a limited run of 500 copies. Here are is an small image of some of the pages:

Here is where you can see sample pages, reviews, and order the book Japanese Autoamta.

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