Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ingenious marble manipulating machine

From the clever mind of Osamu Kanda: take a look at this hand cranked marble-moving machine. It looks as though the blocks on top can be reconfigured to cause the marbles to follow different paths.

See more of Osamu Kanda's kinetic creations on his web site.


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Friday, October 30, 2009

8 new sculptures from kinetic artist Nemo Gould

Kinetic sculpture artist Nemo Gould has announced that he has 8 new sculptures to share on his website -- one of which is shown in the video above.

Visit Nemo Gould's website to see his 8 new sculptures.


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Thursday, October 29, 2009

'The Machine' - mechancial animation short film

Check out the Machine, a stop motion animated film short from director Rob Shaw. The director informs me that the work was highly inspired by mechanical theatre. It shows!

See more films by Rob Shaw on his blog.


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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Classic monsters paper automata series

Dracula paper automata kit
Just in time for Halloween, Flying Pig Paper Animation Kits has an entire series of paper automata featuring classic monsters. The series was designed by artist Ng Wing Him.

The paper automata monsters:

Dracula
Frankenstein
Mummy
Wolfman
Reaper


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Skeleton Band Automaton by Wanda Sowry

video
Check out this excellent new motorized donation box automaton by artist Wanda Sowry!

See more automata by Wanda Sowry on her web site.


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Monday, October 26, 2009

Techno Gears Marble Mania Genius Set

Techno Gears Marble Mania Genius Construction Set

The new Genius edition of Marble Mania construction set includes 500 pieces of marble track components allowing you to build five independent tracks that all lead back to one of two marble lift systems.

Here's a link with some more photos and bit more info on The Learning Journey Techno Gears Marble Mania Genius Construction Set.


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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another nice wooden clock, this one frameless

Here is interesting clock with a (mostly) wooden mechanism designed and built by Adrian Iredale. He says this design was inspired by Clayton Boyer.

I am going to have to step up and make one of these one day.

You can buy wooden clock plans from Clayton Boyer's web site.


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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gnome picture automaton from around 1890

Here is a wall-mounted animated picture depicting a group of gnomes. The automaton was probably made by Schoenhut of Germany and dates back to before the turn of the century. It measures 35cm wide by 27cm tall by 12cm deep.

From the YouTube description:
The picture features a replaceable section for advertising purposes, probably of a bar or cafe. In good original condition with very few repairs evident. There is a later added musical movement playing "La Traviata" which can be removed if required.

See this and other amazing antique automata at www.automatomania.com.


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Friday, October 23, 2009

Swiss singing bird music box clock automaton

Swiss singing bird music box clock automaton
Here's an attractive, fairly recently made miniature singing bird music box by Swiss manufacturer Reuge.

From the eBay listing:
Offered for sale is a singing bird music box made in Switzerland by Reuge, probably made in the 1980's. The multi-colored bird is in full feather and will sing a beautiful song. This is in perfect working and singing condition, having been recently serviced by a professional restorer. The clock is separate from the bird automaton and does not activate it. The bird plays by pulling out the knob on the right-hand side. It is in very fine condition, mechanically and cosmetically.

Here's the eBay listing for this particular Swiss singing bird music box clock automaton


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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sculpture and automata by Kelley C. Jones

Check out the lively colors and distinctive characters created by artist Kelley C. Jones.

From the artist's web site:
"Kelley's 'idea explosion' are intricate, moving sculptures that are inspired by Kelly's life, her passion for making others laugh, and her wicked sense of humor."

See more sculptures and automata by Kelley C. Jones on her web site.

[ Thanks Phil Sing! ]



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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

LEGO palette handling automation set up

This nifty programmed LEGO contraption rotates two sets of blocks around a square track (similar to palettes in automated factory set ups) without mixing the them.

[ Thanks Keith! ]


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The automata of Sophie Catherine Naylor

Here is a video of a creative automaton done by Sophie Catherine Naylor. She just graduated from Loughborough University having studied illustration and animation. She specialized in automata during her final year.

I expect we will be seeing more automata from her in the near future.

Check out pictures and video of many other automata by Sophie Catherine Naylor on her web site.


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Monday, October 19, 2009

Roullet & Decamps pipe-smoking automaton

Automata that appeared to smoke were a common theme around the turn of the century. Here is a smoking automaton made by the famous firm of Roullet et Decamps.

From the eBay listing:
This ca. 1880 automaton by the quality makers, Roullet & Decamps, is in fully original condition. As described on pages 209-212 and page 321 of the Automata: The Golden Age 1848-1914 by Christian Bailly, the "Black Smoker" is a very rare automaton in this original condition. The "Smoker" has some fiber loss from the jacket and a small area of fiber separation on the left front shirt. When tobacco or a lighted cigarette is placed in the pipe and the mechanism activated, you are entertained by two different aires from a magnificent miniature musical movement.

Body movements include the eyes, lips, head and both arms. When the right arm with pipe is raised to the "Smokers" lips, the tobacco glows as the mechanism "inhales" the smoke. The eyes move in delight, the head moves from right to left, and the lips move (slightly) in anticipation. As the right arm is lowered, smoke billows from the lips as the "smoker" exhales.

Here is the complete listing on eBay for the Roullet & Decamps smoking automaton.


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Sunday, October 18, 2009

THE HARLEQUIN automaton by PIERRE MAYER

Take a look at this video of a charming new piece by Pierre Mayer called "The Harlequin", which looks to be inspired by a classic automaton of old.

See more automata by Pierre Mayer on his web site.

[ Thanks Phil Sing! ]


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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Maillardet's drawing automaton at the Franklin Institute

Maillardet's automaton at the Franklin Institute

I had the chance to visit Philadelphia recently, location of The Franklin Institute whose stated mission is "to inspire an understanding of and passion for science and technology learning." For this visitor, they did just that.

The Institute has several traveling exhibits and at least ten continuing exhibits that fulfill their mission admirably. I was there to see one thing in particular. You see, the Franklin Institute is home to one of the world's great mechanical treasures: The Maillardet Automaton.

The automaton is the centerpiece of the Institute's Amazing Machines exhibit -- and with good reason. Created somewhere between 1800 an 1810, the Automaton has the largest "memory" of any such machine ever created. It is capable of drawing four sketches and writing three poems (two in French and one in English).

To see what I mean, check out this video of the automaton in action.

I was fortunate enough to have been able to see the automaton in operation the day I visited -- a rare event, since it is not demonstrated on a regular basis.

I was greeted by several friendly and helpful museum officials. Most of my time was spent with Charles Penniman -- a long-time researcher, caretaker, and operator of the automaton. Mr. Penniman demonstrated how the machine's two spring-driven motors are wound, the writing instrument calibrated, and the machine set into motion. He answered my questions and pointed out various details of the machine and its sophisticated sequences of action.

Seeing the brass skeletonized figure of a boy spring to life, deftly guiding a writing instrument over a blank sheet of paper to create an intricate sketch or a beautifully penned poem filled me with awe. As someone who appreciates mechanical things, there was no doubt that I was in the presence of greatness.

Below is one of the drawings the automaton creates -- a landscape depicting a Chinese palace.

Drawing by Maillardet's Automaton

To my mind, Maillardet's Automaton has to be one of the most impressive unions of mechanical engineering and artistry that has ever been created.

Beyond its antiquity and complexity, the automaton has a fascinating history. At one point, the automaton verified its own origin when, restored to working order, it signed one of its poems in French with the statement "Written by Maillardet's Automaton" (below).

Maillardet's automaton - signed poem

More recently, this automaton was inspiration for Brian Selznick's book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which features an automaton very much like Maillardet's.

Here is a longer video shot in November of 2007, when Brian Selznick visited The Franklin Institute for a signing of his book. Andrew Baron, master mechanician, is the man operating the machine in this video.

My sincere thanks goes out to The Franklin Institute and the many people who contributed to the demonstration I was fortunate enough to witness.

While you may not be so lucky as to see the automaton in operation, it is on permanent display and features a great exhibit complete with a wonderful, informative video (not shown here). I am certain that the Amazing Machines exhibit will appeal to readers of The Automata / Automaton Blog, as will the museum as a whole. If you will be anywhere near Philadelphia, I urge you to plan a trip to The Franklin Institute.

You can learn more about Maillardet's writing and drawing automaton at The Franklin Institute's page on Maillardet's Automaton and another page they have with information about the automaton.


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Friday, October 16, 2009

Remake of classic Robert the Robot toy by Ideal

Robert the Robot toy by Ideal
Robert the Robot was the first plastic toy robot introduced in 1954. This is a modern recreation now being sold.

From the item description:
As the first plastic toy robot introduced to the American Public, he not only walked but included the "sensational new patented talking device, better known today as phonographic record. Recreated from the original Ideal molds, this golden anniversary edition includes: An authentic numbered Robert the Robot, Numbered Certificate of Authenticity, Collector's Manual covering Robert the Robot's history and other exciting details. This is not a toy. It is a fine collectible to be enjoyed by adults. This is a new toy.

Here's an Amazon link to Robert the Robot by Ideal Toy


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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Motion mimicking boxing robot toy set

Motion mimicking boxing robot toy set
A pair of hand-held controllers with on-board sensors capture your hand motions in real time and translate them into little robotic punches directed at your similarly armed opponent. The set includes two robots and two pairs of infrared controllers.

"The infrared controllers have built-in tilt sensors and accelerometers to detect when you move your hands--when you punch, the robot punches; directional buttons control forward and backward movement. Each robot has a target area in the middle of its chest; when struck, it registers a "hit" on the four-LED display just above the target. Four hits disables a robot and wins a bout."

Now if we could just scale these up to the size of monster trucks...

Here is the link for more info on the Motion Mimicking Robotic Pugilists.


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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Big Man Walking, Scotland's first giant puppet

Check out this video of an impressive 8 meter tall blue giant of a puppet known as Big Man.

See more photos and additional videos at the Big Man Walking web site.

[ Thanks Bill! ]


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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The mechanical wooden art of Per Helldorff

Check out about ten automata and other mechanical wooden creations created by Per Helldorff on his web site.

I don't know what all of the pieces do, but it is clear that there is some serious creativity and ingenuity behind them.

Here's the link to the 'Mekanik' section of Per Helldorff's web site.

[ Thanks Charles! ]


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Monday, October 12, 2009

Marble music: Quadrilla Music Melody Composer

Quadrilla is a marble-track building system. The new addition to the line is the Quadrilla Music Melody Composer, which incorporates xylophone-like tone blocks into the marble track. As the marbles roll down the track and hit the xylophone bars, a little tune results. This set includes 50 building pieces, 20 marbles, and an instruction book with 14 construction examples.

Here is where you can get the Quadrilla Music Melody Composer Quadrilla Melody Basic Set.

Here is a variety of Quadrilla mable run setsif you want to incorporate the Music module into a larger marble run.


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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Video of 'Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood'


Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood
If you've ever wondered if the book Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood contains projects that would appeal to you, check out the video above sent by Richard Thorne. Richard has made four of the book's 17 projects and demonstrates them briefly in the video. Well done!

If you are up for working on some challenging, but rewarding woodworking projects, here is a link to where you can pick up a copy of the book Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood.


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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Strong National Museum of Play - mechanical toys

Strong National Museum of Play - mechanical toys
Click your way over to the Strong National Museum of Play web site for three pages worth of mechanical toy images including banks (like the cast iron magician shown here), wind-up toys, clocks, and automata. The rest of the site is worth checking out too. If you happen to be in the Rochester, New York area...well, lucky you!

Here's the link to the Strong National Museum of Play's mechanical toys section.


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Friday, October 09, 2009

The Dog Ate My Homework paper automaton

The latest fun paper animation kit from Rob Ives: The Dog Ate My Homework.

Like his other offerings, this model comes as a downloadable file that you print onto thin card-stock with your printer. Once printed, you then cut out the parts and follow the illustrated instructions to make the animated model.

The color version can be purchased now for a modest price. A free, uncolored version will be available on October 20th.

Here's the link for The Dog Ate My Homework paper automaton.


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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Make a Lathe from other peoples rubbish

Here's another cool Instructable. This one is a very complete manual on how to make your own wood lathe from a variety of recycled parts.

Here is the link to see the original Insructable on how to make your own lathe.


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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Three spherical 3D ball maze puzzles

Check this assemblage of 3D puzzles. With all three puzzles the idea is to rotate the sphere such that gravity pulls the small enclosed ball through loops, tracks, corners, walls, and around the various pitfalls of the 3 dimension maze. They look pretty challenging/fun to me.

Perplexus Maze Game

Perplexus Maze Game


Magicel Intenect Ball - 3D Maze Game

Magicel Intenect Ball - 3D Maze Game


Superplexus 3D Game of Skill

Superplexus 3D Game of Skill


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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Shooting game with flying motorized duck

Shooting game with flying motorized duck
Here's a new twist to the classic duck hunt game that brings it into 3 full dimensions. This "duck" is actually flying around the room!

From the game description:
This is the live-action shooting game that lets you hunt a flying duck with a harmless infrared gun. A 10-second charge on the barrel of the gun energizes the mechanical duck for a 30-second flight. The duck's 6" long mylar wings flap up and down nearly 500 times per minute, and it can be set to fly in an erratic left- or right-turning circle or a level, straight line. Sharp-eyed hunters take aim with the infrared gun--the first two hits merely stun the waterfowl, momentarily interrupting his flapping; the third hit downs the duck for good. The single-shot blaster has a 20' range and makes a loading sound with each pump.

Here's the link for the live-action flying duck hunt target shooting game.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Lambert Brothers smoking musical automaton

Lambert Brothers smoking musical automaton
Here is an interesting antique smoking automaton in working condition currently listed on eBay.

From the eBay description:
He has the following movements: Head moves back and forth and tilts upward. Leg raises and lowers, giving the appearance of crossing, the arm with pipe raises and lowers. the arm with feathered fan raises and lowers. A concealed bellows gives the appearance of inhaling and exhaling smoke. Both the SMOKER mechanism as well as the MUSICAL Automaton mechanism are both in good shape. The SMOKER bellows and Tubes are fine and he will actually "inhale" and "exhale" SMOKE. There is an old repair to the base of the wood stool. A piece of the wood base that covers the mechanism is also missing but a simple fix. A hard to find piece in excellent original condition.

Here is the link to the full eBay listing for this Lambert Brothers smoking musical automaton


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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Video of antique walking peacock automaton

I posted last month about an antique walking peacock automaton by Roullet and Decamps that was on eBay. I'm happy to report that the peacock has found a good home and will soon be getting a new coat of feathers.

Visit the AutomataMania Workshop to see more pictures of the walking peacock clockwork automaton.


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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Hand-cranked wooden rotating iPhone dock

In part inspired by The Automata / Automaton Blog, Murtaza Lakdawala created this hand-cranked wooden iPhone dock. By turning the handle the gears will reorient the iPhone to either the upright or horizontal position.

Check out Murtaza's blog for complete details on the iPhone dock project.


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Friday, October 02, 2009

Drumming fingers - mechanized impatience

Drumming fingers - mechanized impatience
Artist Nik Ramage has created a mechanical copy of his own hand that continually drums its fingers.

From the the Dezeen blog:
Called Fingers, and featuring resin fingers cast from Ramage's own, it will be shown by kinetic brand Laikingland at 100% Design at Earls Court, London from 24-27 September.

You will recall the Laikingland are the people that produce the Applause Machine.

Here's the Dezeen post with more information and images of Fingers by Nik Ramage.


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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Musical Machines & Living Dolls exhibit

Musical Machines & Living Dolls exhibit
The Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey, is home to a large and impressive collection of automata and mechanical music machines. There is a nice review of the exhibit over at the Curious Expeditions blog.

From the blog post about the museum:

The museum does a nice job displaying these fragile, if eerie, machines. Short films show the more delicate automatons in action and a daily demonstration displays some of the less delicate pieces. Beautiful and strange automatons line the walls behind glass cases, in sumptuous dress, with bright faces. Those that do not fit in the gallery are on display in the basement, a storeroom of lonely un-wound figures behind two panes of glass for curious visitors to peer at.

Read the complete review and check out this flickr set of photos from the Morris Museum.


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