Thursday, April 30, 2009

List of books on gear design and fabrication

After seeing the beautiful use of gears in Bill Durovchic's kinetic sculpture, I started looking for books on gears. The following books all look good and get great ratings from Amazon's vast customer base.

Additional suggestions are welcome!

Handbook of Practical Gear DesignHandbook of Practical Gear Design (Mechanical Engineering, CRC Press Hardcover)
by Darle W. Dudley

Product Description from Amazon
"For more than 30 years the book Practical Gear Design, later re-titled Handbook of Practical Gear Design, has been the leading engineering guide and reference on the subject. It is now available again in its most recent edition. The book is a detailed, practical guide and reference to gear technology. The design of all types of gears is covered, from those for small mechanisms to large industrial applications."

Gears & Gear CuttingGears & Gear Cutting
by Ivan Law

Product Description from Amazon
"Gears in one form or another are part of most mechanisms, but they are by no means as simple as they may appear. This book explains simply and comprehensively the underlying theory involved, and in its second part, how to cut gears on a lathe or milling machine."

Gear Design SimplifiedGear Design Simplified
by by Franklin Jones and Henry Ryffel

Product Description from Amazon
"Contains a series of simply diagrammed gear-designing charts, illustrating solutions to practical problems.Presents all of the rules, formulas, and examples applying to all types of gears."

Manual of Gear Design (Vol. 1-3)Manual of Gear Design (Vol. 1-3)
by by Holbrook Horton and Earle Buckingham

Product Description from Amazon
"These manuals conveniently gather together the necessary information required for solving a majority of gear problems. The first section contains tables and information on calculating gear rations, as well as tables of factors and involute functions. The second section cover subjects on spur and internal gears, while section three focuses on information pertaining to helical and spiral gears."

The Art of Gear FabricationThe Art of Gear Fabrication
by Prem H Daryani

Product Description from Amazon
"This in-depth guidebook places emphasis on teaching beginners and advanced planners how to process gears, and will enable manufacturing engineers familiar with machine shop practice to be specialists in the gear manufacturing field. The first few chapters are devoted to common gear nomenclature and analysis of processing of six typical gears, including explanations of the logic and reasoning for every sequence of operation. Subsequent chapters thoroughly describe production, selection of materials, heat treatment, plating, methods of cutting, hobbing, shaping, and grinding."

"Unique in content and broad in scope, The Art of Gear Fabrication provides beginners with sufficient information to independently process six typical gears step by step and presents model numbers, capacity and addresses of gear machinery manufacturers and suppliers at the end of each process description. It also offers gear designers practical and useful hints on reducing fabricating costs. And it contains useful tables from commercial catalogs, including cross-references of different U.S. standards and American stainless steel materials with equivalent German, British, French and Italian materials."

"Additionally, it is essential for manufacturing and design engineers to have sufficient knowledge of various heat treatments and their related cost. Though it is a specialty, the author describes this subject in as easy-to-understand manner as possible. Gear designers and entry-level manufacturing and processing engineers in the machine shop field will find this reference extremely helpful and valuable."

Here is a link to even more books on gears.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hand-cranked gear sculpture by Bill Durovchic

Hand-cranked gear sculpture by Bill Durovchic
Take a look at the stunning mechanical beauty of Bill Durovchic's kinetic sculpture. Shown here is a piece entitled Magnetic Gear Box . The sculpture has a 5-inch diameter steel plate with 3-inch tall black anodized aluminum legs, and some 30 brass gears! When you turn crank, the gears rotate on magnetic spindles. You can reconfigure the spindles to change patterns. Very, very nice.

Visit Bill Durovchic's web site for more information and photographs of his work.

[ Thanks philsing! ]

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Remote controlled underwater manta ray toy

Remote controlled underwater manta ray toy
Here's a novel twist to the remote control toy: an underwater manta ray. The really cool thing about it is that you can perform tricks and moves in three dimensions (like a plane) but with much less concern for crashing the thing into the ground at high speed!

From the product description:
Forefinger triggers on the underside of the remote enable independent pitch for each thruster, providing control for steep, powered dives to the bottom of pools and rapid ascents. Thumb toggles on the topside of the remote allow for independent thrust operation of each shrouded propeller, providing the ability to move forward, backward, make left and right turns, barrel rolls, or complete underwater loops--even intricate submerged Immelmann turns.
I have no idea what "Immilmann turns" are, but the range of motion sure sounds like a lot of underwater fun.

Here is a link to more info on the Remote Controlled Manta Ray.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Multi-stage wooden mechanical puzzle box

Multi-stage wooden mechanical puzzle box
Here is a neat little wooden puzzle box I acquired recently. It was a lot of fun figuring out how to open all of the little compartments of the box. It was an exercise in 3-dimensional and lateral thinking.

The box is sturdy, made entirely of wood, and measures about 6 x 3.5 x 2 inches. It could be used as a low-tech "safe" for kids who want to store secret messages or other small items. For the price, I give this little wooden puzzle box the thumbs up.

The puzzle box is offered by Their product page for the puzzle box has many photos, if you are interested in the multi-stage opening sequence. (If you do not want to know how to open it, you may want to have someone else order it for you.)

Here's the link to the clever and affordable wooden mechanical puzzle box. I am told you can use a the code DM5OFF4 to get 5% off discount for anything on their site.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Robo-Q tiny remote control robot - UPDATE!

Robo-Q tiny remote control robot
Recently, we posted a video about this REALLY small remote-control robot toy. Some additional information is now available by way of ThinkGeek, who is now also offering these robots for sale.

From the product page:
* Amazingly small robots can avoid obstacles and play soccer
* Control your robot directly through the remote
* Two autonomous modes: chase the included ball, or avoid obstacles
* Full control with three walking speeds and right or left turns
* Magnetic charging coupler on remote
* Robot is powered by built-in rechargeable LI battery, charges from remote
* 20 minutes charge time, 5 minutes continuous run time
* Robot stores inside remote
* Remote requires 4 x AA batteries (not included)
* Includes Robot, Remote, Soccer Ball, and Manual (in Japanese)
* Four different robot varieties to choose from. Each is on a different channel.
* Imported from Japan
* Robot height: 3.4cm / 1.33in

Here's a link to more information, photos, and a video of the Robo-Q Tiny Remote Control Robot.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mechanisms 101 - online resources for devices

Mechanisms 101 -  online resources for devices
Here is a great site with resources on various types of mechanisms. There are many great animations, some of which are interactive so you can plug your own numbers into the system and see the results.

Mechanisms 101 has animations and information about: linkages, indexing mechanisms, gears, pumps, couplings, pneumatic systems, electronics, and many miscellaneous mechanical things. You will need the Flash player plug-in for your browser to see most of these great resources.

Here the link to Mechanisms 101.

[ Thanks Steve! ]

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Skeleton Clock with chronometer escapement

I'm no authority on clocks or clockworks, but you just have to love a large skeleton clock with all the exposed metallic mechanical finery. Here is a good example of what I mean. This clock happens to use what is known as a 'chronometer escapement'.

Here is a book on various clock and watch escapements with detailed instructions for making all types of escapements and for locating and correcting problems with them.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Physics equivalent to the class chemistry set

Thames & Kosmos Physics Workshop
Here is the long overdue equivalent to the classic chemistry set: the Physics Workshop set for learning the fundamental laws of mechanical physics in a hands-on way.

Using the 64-page full-color instruction book to build 36 models of machines and then conduct 37 experiments with the models you've built.

You can start by experimenting with simple machines: gears, levers, screws, inclined planes, pulleys, wheels and axles to understand fundamental physics. Then you can build small models of a crane, sail car, pinball game, windmill, wind-powered generator, pendulum clock, hammer machine, centrifuge, scale and many others.

Aimed at ages ages 8 and up, the Physics Workshop requires the addition of one "C" type battery.

Here is the link to the Thames & Kosmos Physics Workshop.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fiendish Japanese mechanical pocket puzzles

solid metal Japanese pocket puzzles
These solid metal Japanese pocket puzzles are precision crafted in Japan and are based on classic mechanical puzzles from around the world. is offering four different difficulty levels of puzzles ranging from level 3 (solvable) to level 6 (insanely hard).

From the
What makes these puzzles so appealing is how you always seem to be on the verge of solving them. The precision metal casting becomes apparent as you try to separate the parts of each one to solve it. They are just sooo close to coming apart you will be cringing with delight.
Here is the link to the solid metal Japanese mechanical pocket puzzles.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arthur Ganson @TED: Sculpture that's truly moving

Here is another amazing TED lecture -- this one from one of the greats of kinetic sculpture, Arthur Ganson. The video is about 15 minutes long, and worth every second.

More about Arthur Ganson from the TED web site:
A modern-day creator of "twittering machines," Arthur Ganson uses simple, plain materials to build witty mechanical art. But the wit is not simply about Rube Goldberg-ian chain-reaction gags (though you'll find a few of those). His work examines the quiet drama of physical motion, whether driven by a motor or by the actions of the viewer. Notions of balance, of rising and falling, of action and reaction and consequence, play themselves out in wire and steel and plastic.

Ganson has been an artist-in-residence at MIT (where the Lemelson-MIT Award Program named him an Inventor of the Week, and where his show "Gestural Engineering" is ongoing) and has shown his work at art and science museums around the world -- including a current, held-over show at the phaeno in Wolfsburg, Germany.

[ Thanks Richard and Steve! ]

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Gorgeous automaton chronograph pocket watch

Take a look the video showing all the functions of this magnificent pocket watch. Brass case, skeleton back, and animated bell-ringing figures. I am in love.

Details of this Pocket Watch
Movement: Swiss made 1/4 repeater and chronograph movement
Case Material: Brass case
Dial: Brass & Enamel
Size: 58mm round excluding the crown.
Condition: Overall in vintage condition and time keeping time, repeating function working correct.

One of many detailed photographs, this one showing the mechanism in back...
Gorgeous automaton chronograph pocket watch
Here is the full eBay listing with a number of outstanding detail photographs of Brass cased automaton chronograph pocket watch

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

HUGE cam used in wall-mounted kinetic art piece

Here is some video of a GIANT cam incorporated into a piece of kinetic sculpture.

The piece may be called Parallelotree and the Mechanical Wind, though I am not certain of this. I am certain that it was created by kinetic artist Aaron Geman and was shown at Mercury20 Gallery in Oakland, CA.

See more of Aaron Geman's kinetic sculpture on his web site.

[ Thanks to CTP! ]

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Giant metal kinetic praying mantis sculpture

Kinetic artist, Nemo Gould, will be part of the upcoming IT MOVED show in San Diego we told you about the other day. Here is some video one of his recent sculptures, Praying Mantis.

Especially cool is that he has also created a step-by-step guide showing how he build this stunning piece.

Giant metal kinetic praying mantis sculpture
Here is link for the Giant Kinetic Praying Mantis Sculpture from found materials on the Instructables web site.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Carving tools sets with interesting handle design

Carving tools sets with interesting handle design
I've used the traditional carving knives, chip carving knives, and palm carving tools, but I can't say I've ever used a carving knife with this style of handle.

I gather that the handle design is meant to serve two purposes. They can be held fully in the palm for larger, forceful cuts, or griped by the narrow part at the neck -- rather like a pencil -- for finer cuts. It sure sounds like a good idea.

Woodcraft has a seven piece set (shown here, $50) and a a five piece set ($40). Both come in a storage box of some sort.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

3 classic automata from Fourteen Balls Toy Co.

Late last month I got word from Matt Smith at Fourteen Balls Toy Company that they would be making some new editions of classic Fourteen Balls automata. Among the editions to be made are:

The Misers Deathbed

An Allegory of love

Being Followed

Check out all of their amazing creations at Fourteen Balls Toy Company.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gears + Monkeys = Incongruous Mechanical Fun!

 Gears! Gears! Gears! Movin' Monkeys set
The various Gears! Gears! Gears construction sets have won awards and seem to get great reviews on the whole. I have found the big robust gears make good templates for wooden gears.

This 136-piece set in the series involves a jungle theme. With Gears! Gears! Gears! Movin' Monkeys you can either build the scene shown here or invent your own mechanical-jungle configuration.

The monkeys hang from various appendages to assorted parts of your contraption. I wouldn't necessarily have put gears and monkeys together, but I have to admit the gears and cranks DO look even more fun with tropic foliage and primates all around them.

Here's a product page for Gears! Gears! Gears! Movin' Monkeys from Learning Resources.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

IT MOVED kinetic art exhibition at Device Gallery

IT MOVED kinetic art exhibition at Device Gallery
The Device Gallery's upcoming showed, IT MOVED, is an exploration of the kinetic art form. The show will feature the work of Greg Brotherton, Benjamin Cowden, Tom Haney, Nemo Gould and Reuben Margolin.

The Opening Reception will be Saturday, April 25th, 2009 from 6:30 - 9:30PM. The show itself will run from April 25 - June 20, 2009.

Device Gallery
1815 B Main Street
San Diego CA 92113

Visit the Device Gallery web site for more information on this show.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Kid Galaxy RC Bump-N-Chuck Bumper Cars

Kid Galaxy RC Bump-N-Chuck Bumper Cars
A fun looking set of remote control bumper cars. The object is to knock the other driver out of his seat. They are rated well by Amazon customers. I love the name.

From the product description
Bump...and watch your opponent's driver fly through the air! Hit your opponent's car straight on or sideswipe it and watch his driver eject or "chuck" through the air activating cool sounds. Cars are designed with fans that really work giving the illusion of wind power and adding to the effect. Set includes two remotes, two cars and two drivers. Cars are full functional. Requires 10 "AAA" batteries, not included. Measures 8.25" x 6.25" x 14.5".

Here's a product page with a short video of the Kid Galaxy RC Bump N Chuck Bumper Cars

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Automta in antiquity article from SPIEGEL Online

Automta in antiquity article from Speigel Online
The German magazine SPIEGELhas published an article on automata in antiquity. least that's what I believe it is about. I cannot read German. Nevertheless, they have a number of wonderful drawings and photographs that accompany the article.

Once again the credit must go to Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik for finding this great resource.

Shown above is a diagram of Hero of Alexandria's clever method for automatically opening temple doors. The fire in the pot, creates pressure in the large water tank. This causes water to spill into the bucket, the weight of which works against the counterweight to rotate the vertical axle attached to the temple door. Very clever. Done with the right amount of ceremony, this must have seemed very magical indeed to the ancient Greeks.

Here is a link to the photoset associated with the article. If you are able to read German, you might also like to read the original article on automata in antiquity.

[ Thanks once again to Falk Keuten! ]

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bowling automaton with free & semi-free objects

My friend and colleague, Falk Keuten, over at the excellent Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik blog has discovered an innovative -- if somewhat mysterious -- automaton artist via some YouTube videos.

Check out the use of a ball-lifting mechanism, an articulated figure, a free object (the ball), and some semi-free objects (the bowling pins). This is a impressive combination of techniques. I admire the all wood construction and the fact there is no need for the user to 'reset' the piece.

Here is the original post (in German) from Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik.

[ Thanks Falk! ]

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Teeny, tiny little remote-control robot with AI

Teeny, tiny little remote-control robot
In case you missed this over at the other day, you've got to check out this teeny, tiny little remote-control robot!

From the product description:
The World Smallest RC Robot with Artificial Intelligence (AI)!
The all-around control, you may never experience it! The 6 directions control plus 3 speed levels. Also the Robot can be controlled via Artificial Intelligence (AI) after you press the AUTO button, then the Robot can detect-and-escape from the barriers. What's more, after you press the AUTO button and Direction button, the Robot can detect-and-trace the objects. In the Trace mode, the Robot can be charged and run to the controller automatically! The controller as a Robot Station can be stored a Robot inside.

Here's a link to the product page with more images, varieties, and a somewhat hyper-active video of The World Smallest RC Robot with Artificial Intelligence.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Koch Studio Kollegs - carving instruction manuals

Koch Studio Kollegs are written by master carver Kurt Koch. Each Kolleg focuses specifically on building your carving skills in a particular area while also covering proper tool selection, handling, and use. They feature numerous illustrations and photographs along with easy-to-follow instructions in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish.

From the product descriptions:
 Koch Studio Kollegs - carving instruction manual on hands
Kolleg #5 - Hands
Instruction in carving the seven known carved motives of hands: The working hand; the hand of the crucified; open hand of a woman; hand with firm grip, half closed hand, hand grabbing something fine and hand of an infant. 44 pages. Over 340 photos.

Koch Studio Kollegs - carving instruction manual on heads
Kolleg # 10 - Heads
Instruction in carving the different faces (heads) that lend itself to a family grouping: Young lady, child and man with beard. 40 pages. Over 340 photos.

Koch Studio Kollegs - carving instruction manual on clown
Kolleg #30 - Climbing Clown
Instruction in carving a clown climbing a rope. Once finished you'll be able to actually hang the clown from a piece of rope. A large carving approximately 19" tall, this project is generally regarded as one for the more advanced carver. 52 pages. Over 350 photos.

Koch Studio Kollegs - carving instruction manual on bear
Kolleg #46 - Standing Bear
Instruction in carving a standing bear approximately 15½" tall not including the base. Over 81 steps, 365 photos along with copious illustrations guide you through the project. Considered a project for the more advanced carver. 56 pages.

Here is the link to the Koch Studio Kollegs - carving instruction manuals.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Rocky Mountain High by Uncle Don's Mechanicals

Rocky Mountain High by Uncle Don's Mechanicals
Turn the crank on this nifty wall-mounted automaton and the grass waves back and forth, the car bounces with steam coming out of the hood and exhaust coming out the back, and the driver bounces up and down in his seat. Finally, the sun moves across the sky with the clouds just missing it every time.

See this and other wall-mounted automata at Uncle Don's Mechanicals.

[ Thanks Joe! ]

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

BlueBell Folk Art Gallery featuring wood automata

BlueBell Folk Art Gallery featuring wood automata
Michael and Marlene Forte create one-of-a-kind wood and fabric folk art -- mostly featuring animals -- from their studio in rural Vermont. They also have a few automata on display in their online gallery.

Here is a link to the BlueBell Folk Art Gallery page with wood automata.

[ Thanks philsing! ]

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Other cool mechanical sculpture by Casey Curran

Check out five more great pieces by artist Casey Curran called (in order of appearance): Law of Karma, Dick and Jane Have a New Game, Drawing on the Self, Green Pastures, and Distopia.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Wind-up automaton dancer from 1800s

Wind-up automaton dancer from 1800s
According to the eBay description for this item, it is a wind-up dancing automaton from the 1800s. The piece was made by Perry and Company, London.

For more details and additional pictures here is the eBay listing for the Wind-up automaton dancer from 1800s By Perry and Co.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices& Appliances

1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices&  AppliancesAnother classic from Dover books...

From the product description:
A fascinating compendium of early-20th-century mechanical devices, this expansive work ranges from basic hooks and levers to complex machinery used in steam, motive, hydraulic, air, and electric power, navigation, gearing, clocks, mining, and construction. More than 1,800 engravings include simple illustrations and detailed cross-sections.

Here is a link to 1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices and Appliances (Dover Science Books)

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