Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Semi-automomous household robots store

Semi-automomous household robots store
It is now the year 2009. We may not have flying cars or ray-guns, but -- at long last -- we have personal robots that can actually do some useful things. They can vacuum your carpet, scrub your floor, clean you gutters, empty the cat litter, and monitor your home.

Take a look at a bunch of the household robots that are currently available. The future has finally arrived!

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Antique leaping tiger clockwork automaton

Roullet et Decamps antique leaping tiger clockwork automaton
Shown here is a fine example of an automaton by the French firm of Roullet et Decamps, made around 1890.

From the eBay Listing
When wound, the tiger turns his head slowly from side to side as if sniffing out or stalking something, he crouches down (his rear legs go forward under his body and his front legs stretch out in front of him), and then he leaps into the air and moves forward about six inches! This is amazing to see, and it'll startle you every time he does it! In the center of the tiger's tummy is the brass on/off pin. The pin should be pushed in before winding, and then pulled out once the tiger has been placed on a hard surface. He works best on carpet since he has short metal pins that protrude from the bottom of his rear paws that give him the traction to leap forward.

The eBay listing for this jumping the tiger automaton offers more details as well as 12 photographs from every angle.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Reproduction monkey automaton sewing machine

Reproduction monkey automaton sewing machine
From the Sewing Machine Collector site:
Over 100 years on, and the sewing machine legacy left by Max Sandt appears to be alive and well. As a tribute to the father of figural automaton sewing machines, a French enthusiast has created the gilded monkey. The project, which took three years to complete, certainly seems to have attracted attention, for a full story is to be filmed for French TV. A series of only ten machines has been produced. The stitch plate carries the serial number together with further identification marks. These fully functional chain stitch machines are not inexpensive, but the edition has sold fast. As long as no more are made, they will surely become highly desirable in future years. And speaking of the future, our creative machine manufacturer reports that further projects are already in hand....
Here is the original posting on The Sewing Machine Collector site.

[ Thanks philsing! ]

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Erector Spykee - The Spy Robot

Erector Spykee - The Spy Robot
Another tele-presence robot/toy for you would-be spies and roboticist out there. This one is made by the venerable mechanical toy company, Erector.

From the product description
Spykee, the spy robot, is a crafty 'bot that you control via the WiFi connection in your computer. This means you can give Spykee commands from virtually anywhere in the world! Plus, he does just about everything except feed the dog.

Spykee moves, watches, hears, speaks, takes pictures, records video and sound, and can act as a surveillance camera. What's more - when he begins to lose steam, he automatically heads back to his charging station (included) for more "energy." Compatible with classic metal Erector sets, sold separately. Requires one 9.6V battery (included). Measures 12" x 12" x 12".
Here's the product page with tons of info on the Erector Spykee - The Spy Robot

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Quandary - kinetic wood sculpture by David Roy

Soak in the hypnotic motion of this kinetic wooden sculpture by David C. Roy. Entitled Quandary, this is one of a limited edition of 95.

See this an more amazing moving wooden sculptures at Wood That Works.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

SRV-1 Blackfin Mobile Surveillance Robot

SRV-1 Blackfin Mobile Surveillance Robot
The SRV-1 Mobile Robot is a palm-sized treaded robot sporting a mini video camera. This means you can control the robot via console software or remotely via web browser! The system appears to be very open, allowing advanced hackers/programmers/secret-agents to modify and enhance it.

From the product description:
Using 802.11b/g wi-fi, the SRV-1 connects wirelessly to a computer. The Java-based console software includes a built-in web server to monitor and control the SRV-1 via a web browser from anywhere in the world, as well as archive video feeds on demand or on a scheduled basis. Get programming with fully open-source software for robot and host computer.

Check out the extensive details on the SRV-1 Blackfin Mobile Surveillance Robot.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

automatesgalerie - automata museum in Belgium

Our colleagues at the Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik blog have alerted us to some exciting news. A new automata museum has open in Brussels, Belgium featuring the following automata artists:

- Keith Newstead
- Robert Race
- John Grayson
- J Ch Detallante
- L & A St-L├ęger
- Wanda Sowry
- Philip Lowndes
- Peter Lennertz
- Neil Hardy
- Jason Cleverly
- James Chedburn
- Jacques Jauniaux
- Ian Mckay
- Dominique Corbin
- Carlos Zapata
- Jon Mills
- Jan Zalud

Learn more at the automatesgalerie web site.
[ Thanks Falk! ]

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Little Lab Physics - learning mechanical physics

Little Lab Physics - learning mechanical physics
Here's a nice 50-piece building set that teaches the principles of simple mechanical physics by building gears, levers and pulleys.

The Little Lab Physics kit contains an pictorial instructional booklet (in both English and Spanish). The kit is intended for ages 5 and up. Way up!

Here's the product page for the Little Lab Physics available from ThinkGeek.com.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Giant hand-cranked butcher automaton

"Hand-cranked" may be a bit misleading, as it seems like operating this giant automaton would be a full-body workout!

See a few other shots of the giant butcher automaton at flickr.

[ Thanks philsing! ]

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

'Flying away from my demons' - automaton video

Another amazing new automaton by artist Pablo Lavezzari.

See more of Pablo Lavezzari's automata on his web site.

[ Thanks Pablo!, Thanks Sergio! ]

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

'El Gran Garmendia the magician' automaton

'El Gran Garmendia the magician' is an absolutely amazing new automaton from artist Pablo Lavezzari. Lavezzari has a way of incorporating surprising and clever features in ways I greatly admire. He is one of my favorite automata artists -- without question.

The video production is top-notch too! A pleasure to watch.

See more of Pablo Lavezzari's automata Flash-based web site.

[ Thanks Pablo!, Thanks Sergio! ]

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Fire Dragon paper automaton by Walter Ruffler

Fire Dragon paper automaton by Walter Ruffler
Check out this paper automaton kit by Walter Ruffler called 'Fire Dragon'.

From the product description:
Normally a gentle beast, when provoked this dragon breathes fire snapping his mighty jaw, rearing up on his hind legs and fluttering his beautiful wings. A gentle dragon indeed! In Fire Dragon the handle moves a crank slider that makes the dragon rear up. His jaw, forelegs and wings are all operated by strings, which tighten when the dragon rears, causing coordinated life-like movement.

Here is the link to the Fire Dragon paper automaton.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wanda Sowry's wonderful wood automata @ flickr

Wanda Sowry's wood automata images on flickr
Be sure to check out the videos and photographs of Wanda Sowry's wonderful automata now accessible via a flickr photostream.

Shown here is her piece entitled 'Skeleton Xylobone'.

Here is the link to Wanda Sowry's automata on flickr.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thames & Kosmos wind power experiment kit

Thames & Kosmos Wind Power Kit
Here is a cool mechanical model you assemble to make a wind turbine with a small electric generator.

It comes with a 32-page manual that walks you through how to conduct more than 20 experiments -- including ones using different numbers of rotor blades, different blade angles and profiles, different wind speeds, different gear ratios, lifting a weight, lighting up an LED, and charging a rechargeable battery.

Here's the product page for the Thames & Kosmos Wind Power wind power experiment kit

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Giant automaton featured on 'The Simpsons'

Giant automaton appear on 'The Simpsons'
Though I missed the show myself, I received a tip that a recent episode of The Simpsons featured Lisa operating a giant automaton to unravel a mystery.

Sure enough, during the episode titled 'Gone, Maggie Gone', Lisa plays an organ that starts in motion a huge automaton that provides clues to the whereabouts of her missing baby sister Maggie.

I don't know how long this link will remain operational, but the automaton can be found at timestamp 9:50 in this video of 'Gone, Maggie Gone' Simpson's episode.

[ Thanks JSB! ]

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Video clip of The Applause Machine in action

Here is a great video clip of The Applause Machine (designed by artist Martin Smith) in action!

Applause machines are available in orange, green, red, white and black. They may be purchased from Laikingland.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Monks at Exploratorium make cardboard automata

As part of the Exporatorium's Cardboard Automata activity, a group of monks observed, discussed, and then made their own hand-cranked automata. So cool!

See photographs and read more about the monks' adventures during this workshop on the Learning Studio Blog.

[ Thanks philsing! ]

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Micro carving tools for very small wood carvings

Dockyard micro carving tools for small wood carving
The other day I mentioned the Rick Bütz woodcarving knives I use. While about 70 percent of the time I use either the standard carving knife or the detail knife, there are times when a specially shaped carving tool is just what you need. For a long time, I struggled with a mediocre set of palm carving tools. Mine didn't hold an edge very well and were just too big to be very useful.

A few years ago I discovered these unassuming little micro carving tools. They may look simple but they are hand forged, tempered, and tested for a correct edge profile. Not only that: they come sharpened and ready to use. Hallelujah!

They offer sets like the one shown here in three different sizes -- 1.5mm, 2mm, and 3mm. I went with the 2mm and am very happy with it. The micro carving tool set I bought has single and double bevel chisels, a skew chisel, a 90 degree V-shaped tool, and U-shaped gouge. All in cherry wood handles.

Here's the full line of Dockyard micro carving tools.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Carved wooden cuckoo clock with moving figures

Carved wooden cuckoo clock with automata figures
We don't normally feature cuckoo clocks here on The Automata / Automaton Blog. But...why not? Carving, mechanics, historical tradition, wood, automata figures...it's all there as far as I'm concerned.

Here's a rather grand cuckoo clock I found listed on eBay. This clock already has many bids on it with a fair amount of time left. I don't know much about cuckoo clocks, but this suggests to me that this is a good one. Those of you who know more about this sort of thing: please comment!

This listing features many nice detail photographs.

Here the eBay listing for this large carved wooden cuckoo clock with automata figures.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Artist Andy Hazell's web site with metal automata

A dedicated reader of The Automata / Automaton Blog was kind enough to draw our attention to the relatively new web site of artist Andy Hazell.

Among the many things this artist does (including photography, sculpture, and film) are very nice tin automata like the one shown here entitled 'Monday Morning'.

Check out all of the cool creations on Andy Hazell's web site.

[ Thanks Sergio! ]

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to build your own plan holding stand for $10

How to build your own plan or pattern holding stand
If you make models, miniatures, or work from plan drawings of any sort you can spend good money on a plan holder. This one is the product of a great do-it-yourself guide. For about $10 you can make the plan holder shown here. This is a good way to get those sheets off your workspace and into plain view.

Here's the link on HOW TO BUILD A $10 PLANS HOLDER.

[ Thanks bilagaana! ]

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

'Lauren and Jordan' - automaton by Tom Haney

Another enchanting automaton by artist Tom Haney. This one is powered by the wind-up motor from an old 16mm camera. Great idea! The video shows the finished piece in action and a number of nice "in progress" still photographs of the automaton.

See more of Tom Haney's work on his web site: www.tomhaney.com.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

John Harrison, his clocks & longitude problem

Here is a 10 minute video segment about one of my heroes -- John Harrison. Harrison was the creator of the marine chronometer which gave sailors the first reliable way to determine their longitude while at sea. People didn't trust watches and clocks as we do now and many scientists of the day sought an astronomical solution to the problem. While possible, this was extremely impractical approach to use on board a tossing ship at sea in all kinds of weather.

Harrison made a total of four marine chronometers (H1, H2, H3 and H4), each more sophisticated that the one before. Prejudice and politics kept him from receiving a large prize for solving this problem. It wasn't until he was an old man and had gotten the attention of the British king that he was officially recognized for his contributions to science, horology, and navigation.

The full story can be found in Dava Sobel's book Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Carving basics: Bütz two-knife woodcarving set

Rick Butz two-knife woodcarving set

If you are a wood-carver or interested in learning, you will need a good quality carving knife and smaller detail knife. The set of Rick Bütz carving knives shown here are the ones I use.

Rick Bütz wrote the book on wood carving. No, really...he DID write the book called How to Carve Wood. He also wrote a great book on How to Sharpen Carving Tools. Both are excellent.

The two knives shown are a standard carving knife (bottom) for most roughing out and carving and a detail knife (top) for doing fine cuts. Together, they should be the only knives you'll ever need. Now...other carving tools...well, you may want/need those in time, but this is a great place to start. Don't mistake these knives for the ones you find at your local arts and crafts chain store: these are much better. I learned this the hard way.

Here's where you can get the Butz Knives - Carving Knife and Detail Knife.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

A new Mechanical Confection every day!

Artist Gina Kamentsky has set a challenge for herself for the next few weeks. She will be creating one of her signature 'Mechanical Confections' every day she is in her studio (about three days per week). She is aiming to create 10 to 12 new small works.

Not only will this be fun to follow, but it is also a good chance to own some interesting work at a very reasonable price!

Gina Kamentsky on this project:
I'm calling this The $149.99 Challenge, as I will be selling these on-line for a fixed low low price. Every day, After I'm done, I will shoot the work and create a small video which will be posted on the On the Workbench blog. The work will be available on a first come first served basis ( via paypal or check ).

Here's the link to Gina's On the Workbench blog.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

How to build working gears from paper cardstock

How to Build Working Gears from Junkmail or Cardstock
Finally! A truly wonderful use for all that junk mail! It pleases me to no end to see such a wasteful nuisance turned into a thing of mechanical beauty. This is from a great lesson on Instructables showing you how to build working gears from junk mail or cardstock.

Here's a video clip to showing the finished gears in action!

Here's the link on Instructables about how to build working gears from junk mail or cardstock.


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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Roullet & Decamps - rabbit drummer automaton

Roullet & Decamps rabbit drummer automaton
Here's a charming antique by the famed French automata makers Roullet & Dechamps.

The eBay listing has a long description of the piece and a dozen nice photographs of Roullet & Decamps rabbit drummer automaton.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Beautiful hand-cranked Wooden Orrery

Beautiful hand-cranked Wooden Orrery by Dave Goodchild
Dave Goodchild of Norfolk, England has been making automata for well over 10 years. Most recently, he has chosen to focus his considerable talent on the designing and making of orreries -- mechanical models of the solar system. What is particularly remarkable is that he uses wood as the main material.

The artist says he is about to embark on a new 9-planet orrery which will he will blog as it is built. Take a look at the video below to see some of his handiwork in motion.
See more pictures and videos of Dave Goodchild's Orreries at www.woodenorrery.com

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Airway Suspenders - advertising automaton

Airway Suspenders - advertising automaton
Automata have been connected with advertising for a VERY long time. Some of the masterworks from the 1700s were made by clockmakers showing off their expertise. Here is a more modern, but clever version. This automaton actually demonstrates that Airway brand suspenders say put when you move.

From the eBay listing for the Airway Suspenders display automaton:
Up for auction is this very amusing, 19 1/2" tall X 13 1/2" wide, electrical automaton figural advertising display rack & unit. The composition man rocks/sways slowly from side to side while the cloth elastic & leather suspenders practically stay in place. The base in made of oak and the mechanical unit is in fully-functional condition. The man has had an old restoration to the neck area, but it was extremely well executed. The unit seems to date from the 1940s or '50s.

The eBay listing has many large pictures showing all angles of the automaton including the motor assembly.

Here the link to the Airway Suspenders advertising display automaton.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Amazon Toy Outlet update - toys at 25% - 70% off

Amazon Toy Outlet update, 2009
Amazon informs me that they have recently updated he Toys Outlet section of their site. They say that you can save 25% to 70% on a bunch of action figures, games, construction toys and more. They also have weekly specials and daily 'Gold Box' offers for toy bargains.

I'm guessing you, Dear Readers, will be most interested in the following sub-sections of the Toys Outlet:

* Construction Toys
* Hobbies and Models
* Learning & Exploration

Play! Have fun!

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Chameleon Chronicles automaton by Thomas Kuntz

Another beautiful piece by Thomas Kuntz. The mechanical sophistication, multi-disciplinary artistry, attention to detail, and ability to create a complex, but cohesive whole are all things that make me want to apprentice to this man I consider to be a modern master of a automata.

Thomas Kuntz on 'Chameleon Chronicles':
The piece has 16 different functions and is completely mechanically cam and lever driven with the aid of chains pulleys and linkages,additionally (but not shown ) the dragon smokes with incense which is placed in his body through a door in the back . The piece is about three feet all with figures in roughly 1/9 scale.

See more of Thomas Kuntz's automata at Artomic.com.

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