Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Automaton - Surprise Top Hat

Here's a wearable automaton I made a few years ago. The hat is controlled by a bicycle brake cable that runs down the back of the hat, behind the collar, and down my sleeve. At the end of the cable, I attached a brake lever. When the lever is depressed, the cable pulls on the back of a four-bar linkage which makes the hinged section of the hat fly open and the little monster pop out. I intended to make a little wooden monster, but I ran out of time. The rubber finger puppet works well, because the arms flap about as if he is trying to scare someone.

Watch the video of Dug North's Automaton Hat (.wmv) or Dug North's Automaton Hat (.mov)

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Don McGranaghan's Einstein Automaton

Here's an article entitled Art in Motion from the Scranton Times-Tribune profiling the work of automata maker Don McGranaghan. McGranaghan's work sounds like it borders on animatronics as he uses electronics, cables, aluminum, stainless steel, silicone rubber, and swne clothing.

In addition to a good article, there is a nice little sidebar on the history of automata. I only regret that the article doesn't include photographs.

Read about Don McGranaghan's Einstien Automaton

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Awesome Gear Toy: Quercetti 3D Gear Tech

Quercetti 3D Gear Tech
Here's a great toy for the aspiring automaton-maker.

From Kazoo Toys web site:
The Quercetti 3D Gear Tech allows you to build exciting technological structures! There are 270 pieces in this gear set featuring pillars, 6 way axles, connectors, extenders, interlocking plates and meshing gears. There are exclusive universal joints that allow for greater freedom during construction. This set also includes a new "chain" and an "elastic belt" to transmit rotary motion to distant gears. Ages 6 and up.

Check out the Quercetti 3D Gear Tech toys


Friday, October 27, 2006

Tool Freaks: Northern Tool has Free Shipping!

With the Holidays coming, this is a post you really should bookmark. If you have tool-freaks in your life, Northern Tool + Equipment is a great source for everything tool related. At the very least, you'll want to order the paper catalog.

Visit Northern Tool + Equipment for Holiday tool gifts

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Miniature Automata

Here is a range of miniature automata or mechanicals toys. Handmade in England, and around 2cm (20mm) high, the toys are made of wood and tin. Some have a small handle that you turn, sometimes a wire or lever that you push in and out, in order to make the action happen. The toys display a range of whimsical ideas.

Take a look at (and buy) the Smallest Automata I've ever seen


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Automata and Kinetic Art Portal page

It's a little hard to read, but that's only because there is so much information on this site dealing with all things automata, kinetic, and toys.

Check out this automata link bonanza at Kinetic Mechanized Toys and Automata Super Portal.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Make Ball and Socket Armature Joints

Armature joints are useful for model makers and stop-motion animators. If you've ever tried to locate ball and socket joints, you'll know it isn't easy. When you do find them, you will find that good quality ones can be very expensive.

Here is an entire site dedicated to showing you how to make them yourself. It is a very complete step-by-step guide, with each section set up in slide-show format. Thankfully, the author has also included a list of suppliers for the required parts.

Model makers and animators: Make your own brass ball-and-socket armature joints

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Brass Cam Shaft Drives Monkey Automaton

Figurative artists Chomick and Meder document an experiment with a spring balanced armature that evolved into a variable speed, hand-cranked monkey automaton. Check out the photo of the beautiful cam-shaft that controls the automaton's motion. There is tons of interesting stuff on their site.

Visit Chomick+Meder Figurative Art and Automata


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Virtual Mechanisms Animated with Java

16 classical categories of mechanisms are shown animated on this site. Many are useful for automata. I used the Scotch Yoke depicted here for my Flying Santa automaton. You'll also find examples of:

  • Straight Line Motions
  • Rotary/linear Motions
  • Four Bar Linkages
  • Escapements (including the Geneva Stop)
  • Miscellaneous Mechanisms

The site references the following books:
1 - Elements of Mechanism
2 - Mechanical appliances, mechanical movements and novelties
3 - Machine design

The animations require that the Java applet is installed and enabled on your browser (not a big deal).

Check out the Animated Virtual Mechanisms


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Francois Junod: Master of the Automate

This article is about Francois Junod -- one of the world's finest creators of Automate (or automata as we English speakers say). Ron DeCorte, the author, describes this as a photo-essay and, indeed, there are many, many fine photos of Junod's work.

Enjoy the work of Francois Junod, Automatier

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Flying Bat Paper Automaton for Halloween

Here's a brilliantly designed paper automaton for the October holiday.

BELA the Bat flaps its wings in a realistic way. The bat is life-sized, with a wingspan of over sixteen inches. The design cleverly incorporates a crumbling headstone and rotting trees into the base.

There is one PDF for the instructions and one for the parts.

Build your own flying bat automaton

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Life-Size Walking Automaton

Check out this life-size walking automaton by Fred Abels. Named "Dirk", he looks like homeless person walking behind a bag-laden shopping cart. Dirk is connected like a marionette to the mechanism hidden in the base of the cart.

This is not only an amazing automaton, but an interesting piece of performance art, and sociological experiment.

It's a Flash site, so you'll need to do a few things to see video...

  1. Visit Fred Abels' site
  2. Click on the first link on the left labeled "Dirk"
  3. Click the word "Video" written vertically on the right hand side of the page.

Thanks John!

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Maker's Manifesto - Dave Gingerly

Formal title of the essay: Most of my life was spent in trying to figure out how to do a $50.00 project for 50 cents, and the remainder of my time was spent in trying to scrounge up the 50 cents.

My title for the essay: A Maker's Manifesto

This is great essay about how to think about making things by the late Dave Gingerly. Both logical and inspirational reading for all Makers.

Click here to read A Maker's Manifesto.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Lindsay Books - Mechanics and Machines Galore!

Lindsay Technical Books offer a great catalog of titles that range from reprinted vintage technical books to do-it-from-scratch manuals.

I think the Dave Gingerly Series is an amazing concept. Here's the deal. As you progress through the seven books, you build an entire machine shop from scraps and commonly found items. You start with casting intitial parts in a homemade charcoal foundry. Once you have completed a given tool you then use it to build the next tool. I want to take a sabbatical just to experience building my own machine shop. (Sponsorship offers will be considered.)

Believe me, this just scratches the surface of the books they offer. Almost all are mechanically-oriented.

Visit the Lindsay Books Web Site

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Brock Engineering's mechanism home page

Brock Engineering, a mechanical engineering company in Roxbury Connecticut has made a number of Java based animations of basic machines and engines. Animations include:

  • Straight Line Generators

  • Rotary/linear Motions

  • Four BarLinkages

  • Escapements

  • Miscellaneous Mechanisms

Brock Engineering's mechanism page.

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Animated Engines

Matt Keveney's personal web page has some animated illustrations that show the inner workings of a variety of steam, Stirling and internal combustion engines. The engines use some of the mechanisms you'll find in Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements (one of my favorite little books).

He's also been kind enough to tell you how the animations were made and include an interesting bibliography.

Learn about some basic mechanism by viewing these animated engines

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