Sunday, May 31, 2009

K.G. Griesbaum singing bird automaton video

video
Here is a nice singing bird automaton by K G Griesbaum from Germany.

From the eBay description:
This 12 1/2" tall automaton is in excellent working condition, comes fresh from an estate, with no damages, just a little tarnishing on brass cage, bird sings and moves so beautifully. The on off works perfect (some one put a little magic marker near the switch, nail polish [remover] will take it right off, I don't have any). There are no issues to report at all other than the a little dust that will need to be cleaned.

Here's the full eBay listing with many really large photographs of the K.G. Griesbaum singing bird automaton


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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Acra Mill Plus - create your own mini machine shop

Acra Mill Plus - create your a mini machine shopThe Acra Mill was designed to help model makers perform a wide range of tasks from sanding, grinding, and polishing to machining small pieces to with precision tolerances. The Acra Mill holds a Dremel or similar rotary tool. The Acra Mill comes ready to use. There are many configurations and accessories. If you are tight on space and work with small parts, this is an option to consider.

Here is where you can learn more about the nifty Acra Mill Plus (Warning: ALL CAPS AHEAD).


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Friday, May 29, 2009

The inner workings of a German singing bird box

Here is a great video giving us the rare opportunity to see the inner workings of a miniature singing mechanical bird. This piece was restored in the clock and automata shop of Ray Bates who specializes in the professional restoration of antique clocks, marine chronometers, and automata.

Learn more about Ray Bates at The British Clockmaker site.


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kinetic sculpture showcase at Maker Faire 2009

Maker Faire 2009 is coming up this weekend May 30th and 31st at the San Mateo fairgrounds in San Mateo CA. If you are anywhere near the area be sure and check it out.

Kinetic artists CTP and Nemo Gould have organized an exhibit featuring kinetic sculptures by various artists. This will be their largest selection of artists and their largest amount of space at Maker Faire to date.

Sculptures in the exhibit will include work by:

Mark Galt

Here is where you can learn more about the upcoming Maker Faire 2009.


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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Song for a Dead Moon - new look for an old theme

According to the artist -- Keith Newstead -- this is a steampunk version of a 19th century automata.

See more of his work at Keith Newstead's web site.


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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wooden camel toy driven by a cam mechanism

Wooden Camel toy driven by a cam mechanism
This is a cam-actuated camel toy designed by John Hutchison. The plans for the toy were part of an article in the Woodworker's Journal December, 2000. This particular one was built by a gentleman named Mike for his grandson. A cam is attached to the back wheel axle which drives a dowel that in turn causes the humps, head, tail and legs to move up and down when the toy is pushed.

Here is a page with the builder's notes and several pictures of the wooden camel cam-driven toy.

[ Thanks Charles! ]


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Monday, May 25, 2009

Aquio Nishida cow automaton with sound effect

A few days ago, we featured a nifty cow automaton with an integrated sound effect. Here another by the late Japanese automata maker, Aquio Nishida. This one has an added feature: you can add or remove the sound module at will.


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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Roullet and Decamps smoking monkey automaton

Here is a good video of a smoking automaton -- once a popular theme. This one, made by Roullet and Decamps, features a monkey puffing away on a cigarette.

From the YouTube description
This monkey has been trained to smoke cigars and cigarettes. He was made around 1900 by the Parisian firm of Roullet and Decamps and is made of Papier Mache covered with real fur. His enigmatic green glass eyes show just how much pleasure he gets from a fine tobacco.


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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Proxxon precision mini-lathe - 30 lbs of awesome

Proxxon 34004 PD 230/E Lathe
The Proxxon Lathe PD 230/E can be used to perform precision turning on plastics, steel, brass and aluminum. It boasts a lot of very nice features for such a small lathe.

From the manufacturer's description
Comes complete with automatic feed, thread cutting capability, headstock chuck, live center and top slide for taper turner. It may be used to part, turn, and cut tapers. The numerous optional accessories add the versatility you need to complete all your miniature projects. Weight approximately 30 pounds and dimensions approximately 21inches by 9.8 inches by 5.9 inches. Has features of full sized lathe and can be packed away after each use. Practical hand wheel with zero adjustable scales 1 division = 0.001 (0.025 millimeter) 1 revolution equals .04 (1 millimeter). Combination of 3 speeds and additional electronic speed control allowing speeds from 100 to 3000 rpm are among the many features standard on this precision lathe.

OK, so I'll add this to my wishlist: the Proxxon 34004 PD 230/E Lathe


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Friday, May 22, 2009

German whistling figure carved wood automaton

German whistling figure carved wood automaton
Here is an old German whistler figure. The carved wood automaton dates to the early 20th century and measures about 18 1/2" high.

While this particular one isn't fully operational at the moment, the eBay listing features many great photographs of the mechanism including a close-up shot of the clever bellows arrangement that provides air to the whistle mechanism.

Here is the link to the eBay listing for this German whistling figure automaton.


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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Free gear theory manual PDF from Boston Gear

Free gear theory PDF courtesy of Boston Gear
Boston Gear offers an overview of gear theory in the form of a free 5.5MB PDF file.

From the gear theory download page
This engineering information explains gear nomenclature, tooth formulas, backlash, tooth strength, torque and horsepower requirements and other standard gear selection formulas. Our Gear Theory Manual is a must for anyone who frequently deals with gearing in mechanical components.

Here's the link to the free gear theory PDF courtesy of Boston Gear.


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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Time Machine table top rolling marble clock

The Time Machine table top rolling marble clock
The Time Machine is a mechanical tabletop clock that moves a set of chrome balls every sixty seconds. There is a track of accumulated balls to indicate the hour of the day and another to indicate the minutes. There is a even a second hand on top.

It comes with a custom acrylic display case that makes it look really retro-future cool (not shown here). Reports are that this thing is captivating. One note: because of the constant clacking of the chrome balls this isn't a clock you'll want to put in a library.

Here's the link for more info on the Time Machine Tabletop Clock


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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cow automaton with integrated sound effects

What a clever idea! This contemporary automaton by artist Dominique Corbin uses a bell and a toy sound-maker to really bring this creature to life. I wasn't able to embed the movie here, but I encourage you to follow the link below to see and hear the cow automaton in action!

Here's a link to the video of the cow automaton with built-in sound effects.

[ Found via http://manivelles.unblog.fr ]


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Building a real woodworker's workbench

Here is a great Instructable on how to build a high-quality woodworking bench based on a set of plans originally published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (the best magazine of its kind, in my opinion).

The design used here is simplification of a bench from Sam Allen's book Making Workbenches.


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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chun Yeh Gear Co., LTD - nice gears and photos

Chun Yeh Gear Co., LTD - nice gears and photos
General Industrial Corp based in Tiawaan produces spur gears, bevel gears (straight and spiral), worm gears, gear shafts, motor shafts, output shafts, internal gears, pinions, and splined gears.

They offer products in steel alloys, stainless steel, aluminum alloys, plastics, bronze, and bronze alloys.

While their site is only a few simple static pages, they have a few stunning photographs of gears that are worth a look.

Here's the link to Chun Yeh Gear Co. gear products web site.


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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Reader Contribution: Dog with Ball automaton

We haven't posted any reader-made automata in a while and it's time to remedy that. Here is a first attempt by Automata / Automaton Blog reader Gary Brown.

From Gary's YouTube description
Inspired by *The Invention of Hugo Cabret*, I built this automaton from scratch, using information I found around the Internet. The dog moves his head and tail while a ball bounces next to him. Though simple, the mechanism uses a cam, a crank, a crank slider and linkages. It was the most difficult craft projects I've ever attempted, and the result hardly shows it. But it was a fascinating endeavor.



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Galileo Gravitator with four different floating planets

Galileo Gravitator with four different floating planets
This is an attractive magnetic planet levitation device. Well...model planets, anyway. You get the idea.

From the product description
This unique, eye-catching model depicts celestial gravitation and comes complete with four spheres, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and the Moon. Just place the planet of your choice directly below the gravitational source and watch it float and spin in mid-air. The Gravitator glows beautifully in the dark, creating a radiant nighttime conversation piece or a handsome nightlight, while the Antique Gold frame will embellish any desk, table or bookcase.

Here's a link to the Galileo Gravitator with four floating planets


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Friday, May 15, 2009

Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill: small, green & awesome

Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill
Oh, make no mistake: I want one of these.

From the Amazon.com Product Description
Proxxon micro mill MF 70 - This small and beautiful unit is ideal - the accurate mill for lab, optician, jewelry, electronic and model building projects. Mill is made with a cast iron base. The vertical column and compound lathe are treated, high quality aluminum. All axes are play-free and have adjustable slides. The headstock, made of die cast aluminum, houses 24 pole balanced special motor and provides stability even at high operating speeds. This stability facilitates the use of the finest cutters.

Here's the link for more info on the Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill



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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wooden helicopter contraption automaton

I like the (nearly) all-wood construction of the helicopter contraption automaton shown in this video.

[ Thanks philsing! ]


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Proxxon 38481 IB/E Professional Rotary Tool

Proxxon 38481 IB/E Professional Rotary Tool
While most of us are familiar with the versatile rotary tool, we tend to equate it with the Dremel brand name. I have owned many, many Dremel tools and do not have any serious complaints.

Still, this Proxxon profession model appears to offer some noticeable improvements. The manufacturer claims that this model can be use for extended periods when polishing, grinding, cleaning and engraving -- without becoming overheated. That is one problem I have had in the past, but I think I pushed the poor Dremel too far.

Like the better models of Dremel rotary tools, this Proxxon can be run at a range of speeds from 5,000 to 20,000 RPMs. Variable speed is a an important feature in any make of rotary tool.

Finally, the Proxxon features a die cast aluminum head which serves as a study housing for the steel spindle, running within a ball bearing assembly. This strikes me as more robust than most Dremel tools.

The unit comes with six collets (sized 1/32", 1/16", 5/64", 3/32", 7/64" and 1/8") and is compatible with a number of Proxxon accessories such as a foot switch, flexible shaft, and drill stand.

Here is a link to the Proxxon 38481 IB/E Professional Rotary Tool


Note: Those of you who know you will be using a rotary tool a lot, should consider something like the Foredom rotary tools that jewelers and serious woodcarvers use.


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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Accordion player automaton nickelodeon

Accordion player automaton nickelodeon
Here's an interesting coin-operated automaton depicting an accordion player currently on the eBay auction site.

From the eBay listing
Made by Swiss automaton builder Zwahlen from Yverdon ca. 1960. Moves finger, lips,eye brows, eyes and plays with tape recorder inside. You can put loud/soft and playing time.

Here's a link to the eBay listing for this Accordion player automaton nickelodeon.


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Monday, May 11, 2009

Vintage automatic cigarette dispenser music box

Vintage automatic cigarette dispenser music box
Here is a neat vintage automatic cigarette dispenser on eBay. There is a button on the front that when pushed starts a the music box. The multiple doors of the dispenser gently open to reveal the chamber inside and reverse side of the doors where cigarettes have been placed. The doors then close on their own to finish the cycle.

Here is the full eBay listing with many other pictures for this Vintage automatic cigarette dispenser music box


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Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Mobile toyshop by Keith Newstead Automata

A charming piece by Keith Newstead depicting a traveling toy shop. Enchanting.

See more of excellent automata on Keith Newstead's web site.


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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Big Book of Wooden Clocks: Projects & Patterns

Big Book of Wooden Clocks: 25 Projects & Patterns
Here is a new book on wooden clocks scheduled to be released in July of 2009.

The book compiles a number of projects from Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts magazine.It looks pretty good -- especially the wooden gear clock depicted on the cover and detailed in pages 120 to to 134. Those 14 pages alone were enough to convince me to pre-order it.

Product Description from Amazon
Featuring some of the most popular projects from sold-out issues of Scroll Saw Woodworking & Craftsmagazine, the projects in this collection include a wide range of clock styles, such as grandfather clocks with intricate fretwork, classic pendulum clocks, and whimsical desk clocks. Detailed plans for more than 25 projects cover the entire process with step-by-step instructions, complete materials lists, instructions on buying and inserting clock parts, cutting the clock using a scroll saw, assembling the pieces, and applying finishes.

Here's more information on Big Book of Wooden Clocks: 29 Favorite Projects & Patterns .


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Friday, May 08, 2009

GEARS video game teaches mechanical thinking

GEARS video game teaches mechanical thinking
The object of the free online game called "GEARS" is to get the end gear rotating in the correct direction. The end gear is the blight blue gear. You can tell which direction the gear should rotate by the arrow.

For gears to rotate they must be attached to the start gear. The start gear is the gear with the Robot in the middle.

You add new gears to the machine by dragging them into place. Once all of the necessary gears are in place, click the start gear to set the machine in motion.

Here is a link to the GEARS video game.

[ Thanks Andrew! ]


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Thursday, May 07, 2009

i-Bird and Hornet remote control flying toys

 i-Bird remote control flying bird toy
Flapping-wing flying toys are fairly well-established now. I never thought I would see the day.

Product Description
Built-in Li-Poly batteries for long flying time. Easy to operate & control through slow speed fly. Unique material withstands crashes. Precision speed control and rudder trimmer. 3 Channel full function control. Incredible stability and complete control.

Here is the line for the i-Bird remote control flying bird toy



Want a flapping-wing flying toy, but birds not quite your thing? Fine...here's an equally cool remote control hornet...
 i-Bird remote control flying bird toy


Here's the link for more information (and color choices) for the WowWee Flytech Hornet


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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

More books on gears, theory, and applications

As a continuation of my early post about books on gear design and fabrication, here are some other books that I have turned up. These definitely fall into the more esoteric and expensive category.

Gear Geometry and Applied TheoryGear Geometry and Applied Theory
by Faydor L. Litvin and Alfonso Fuentes

Product Description from Amazon
"This revised, expanded edition covers the theory, design, geometry and manufacture of all types of gears and gear drives. An invaluable reference for designers, theoreticians, students, and manufacturers, the second edition includes advances in gear theory, gear manufacturing, and computer simulation. Among the new topics are: new geometry for gears and pumps; new design approaches for planetary gear trains and bevel gear drives; an enhanced approach for stress analysis; new methods of grinding and gear shaving; and new theory on the simulation and its application."


Gear Noise and VibrationGear Noise and Vibration, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded
by J. Derek Smith

Product Description from Amazon
"Based on more than 40 years of consultation and teaching experience, the Second Edition demonstrates logical gear noise and vibration approaches without the use of complex mathematics or lengthy computation methods. A straightforward source for enhanced gear design, assessment, and development practices;enriched with more than 150 figures."


Gear Drive SystemsGear Drive Systems
by Peter Lynwander



Analytical Mechanics of GearsAnalytical Mechanics of Gears
by Earle Buckingham


Involute Spur Gears - Design and Lathe CuttingInvolute Spur Gears - Design and Lathe Cutting
by Earle Buckingham

Product Description from Amazon
"Chapter titles are ...(1) The Involute Spur Gear and Its Properties ...(2) Design of Involute Gear Tooth Profiles ...(3) Methods of Production ...(4) Methods of Testing Gears ...(5) Strength of Gears."


Gear Hobbing, Shaping and ShavingGear Hobbing, Shaping and Shaving: A Guide to Cycle Time Estimating and Process Planning
by Robert Endoy



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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Ambigram + Automata = Ambigramautomata

Check out this totally brilliant word-oriented hand-cranked automata. Created by artist Tom Banwell, he calls these creations "Ambigramautomata" -- a combination of the words "ambigram" and "automata".

From the artist's site
The S, I, L, and T are all vertically symmetrical so that they read the same when rotated 180 degrees. The disc with SIL is on a cam so that it moves left and right when rotated. The EN is stationary.

See more of Tom Banwell's many creations at his web site and on his Etsy site featuring some AMAZING masks.


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Monday, May 04, 2009

Robotic woodpecker simulator sound sculptures

Here is a short video on a innovative kinetic sculpture that uses sound to great effect. A set of motorized robots mounted in trees effectively simulate the sound of woodpeckers tapping on trees. Very clever.

[ Thanks Falk! ]


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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Husqvarna's semi-automomous stealth Automower

Husqvarna's semi-automomous sleath Automower
In case you missed this over on the BoingBoing Gadgets blog the other day, you've got to check out the latest totally stealth-looking autonomous robotic lawn mower from Husqvarna. I wonder if it can be detected by radar.

From the product description
The Automower 260 ACX is designed for semi-professional use in business or public environments as well as for demanding consumers. Like all Husqvarna's robotic mowers, it charges and operates itself without need for supervision. Should anything disturb the operation, 260 ACX sends a text message to your mobile phone. Thanks to 6000 sq. meter (1.4 acre) capacity, low noise level and no requirement of labour, Automower 260 ACX is perfectly suited for use in quiet environments such as hospitals, hotels and leisure facilities, and office locations. Day or night, rain or shine, it simply gets on with the mowing, leaving you free to get on with managing your business.

Here is a link for more info on the Husqvarna Automower.


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