Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mysterious Flopping Fish Wood Automaton

Here's an automaton design I haven't seen before. When the rod in the side of the box is pushed or pulled, the hinged wooden fish on top flops around.

At first glance, you might assume there is a ridged profile on the pushed rod that bumps the underside of the fish. But wait! The end of the video reveals that the fish is resting on a solid surface. This begs the question that is the title of the video: Why does this fish move?

I'll let you ponder that.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe there's a simpler way, but it seems like you could accomplish that with magnets (one in the push rod, one in each section of the fish or at least the head and tail) with the same pole facing each other. The repulsion should get you motion similar to what you see on the video. The head movement looks particularly magnet-y.

June 17, 2008 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger gabr said...


June 17, 2008 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Robinson said...

I would guess that there might even be a couple of off-set magnets, so the rod can be put in upside-down and still get the fish to flop. But I think what you have to appreciate is that, at least from what you can see in this video, the fish parts look like like they're carved from solid pieces of wood. So, if there are magnets in the fish (and rod), their presence appears to be disquised really well.

June 17, 2008 at 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I took and blew up the still pix of the fish in different orientations, the fins don't seem to be carved out of the same piece as the the fish body. The differences in the wood color and texture / grain suggest that one or all of the fins are added to the fish body (e.g to cover a cavity made in the body under the belly or on the top of the body). Of course, unlike examining the actual piece with a naked eye, the use of an enhanced image has its limitations.


June 17, 2008 at 10:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd say magnets inside a cavity which is accessible at the hinges - these cavities are probably hidden at those hinges and we just can't see them. The rod itself may or may not have magnets as well, the negative and / or positive poles could be part of another moving mechanism just beneath the fish hole. Ingenious however it's done. Jason

June 25, 2008 at 1:19 PM  

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