Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sand-Powered Automata

Sand powered automata go back hundreds of years, perhaps even more. Rather than turning a crank by hand, sand is loaded into a hopper placed high within the automaton. When released, the sand turns a wheel (very much like a water wheel seen on the side of mills), that then powers the mechanism.

I had the good fortune to see a absolutely delightful sand powered automata form the 1700s recently. (More on this later, so stay tuned.)

Walter Ruffler is one of my fellow automata makers on display at the Charles Museum of Industry in Waltham, Massachusetts. Mr. Ruffler is one a very few masters of the paper automata. He has some recent versions of sand powered automata his site.

Though he has an English version of his site, I could only find the sand powered automata within the German version. There are animated GIF images to show the motions of each automaton.

See the Sand-powered paper automata by Walter Ruffler.

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