Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sand-driven dancer automaton by Ron Fuller

Here is a nice example of gravity-powered automaton. Sand in the back of the piece, powers the dancing figure who performs some very expressive moves for such a simple mechanism.


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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Per Helldorff's Mekaniskt hjärta (Mechanical heart)

Per Helldorff is a Swedish artist who uses both hand-carving and carpentry techniques to create beautiful automata. The one shown in the video here is called Mekaniskt hjärta (Mechanical heart) is appropriate to one upcoming holiday.

See more of Per Helldorff's automata on his web site.


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Friday, January 29, 2010

Push-powered wooden musical automaton

I don't exactly have the words for this incredible creation since I've never seen anything quite like it. It's a wooden cart that -- when pushed -- plays a tune, a drum, and animates a human figure on the front. Another wonder from the mind of Osamu Kanda!


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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Smith's PP1 "Pocket Pal" Multi-Function Sharpener

mith's PP1 Pocket Pal Multi-Function Sharpener
I haven't done a mini tool review in a while. Well, I've found something that truly deserves mention. I was lucky enough to receive the Smith's PP1 "Pocket Pal" Multi-Function Sharpener as a holiday gift. I have sharpened my share of knives, carving tools, and chisels. I've also purchased a lot of tools to do that sharpening. So, I admit, I was a little skeptical about this pocket-sized sharpening tool. My trusty Swiss Army Knife doesn't get the same attention that my woodworking tools get, so I decided to try the Smith tool on it. I ran the dull blade through the carbide slot a few times, then the ceramic slot a few times. The difference was incredible! I have yet to use the tapered diamond part of the tool, but I don't sharpen too many serrated blades. It can, of course, be used on non-serrated blades too, as well as on small gouges, scorps, and even fishing hooks. This tool is well worth the price in my book.

Here is a link to Smith's PP1 Pocket Pal Sharpener on Amazon.

[ Thanks Kev! ]


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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kinetica Art Fair 2010 - London, Feb. 4th - 7th, 2010

Kinetica Art Fair 2010
Kinetica Art Fair 2010 developed by Kinetica Museum will take place in London from February 4th to 7th. Over 25 galleries and organizations specializing in kinetic, electronic, and new media art are taking part and over 150 artists exhibiting.

From the Kinetica 2010 press release:
A family of holographic light beings, sculpting and drawing robots, an orchestral milk float, a giant vertical electronic wave and a special feature exhibition of work from the masters of kinetic art and the groundbreaking Cybernetic Serendipity show, are just some of the incredible exhibits at Kinetica Art Fair 2010. Kinetica Art Fair takes place from 4 - 7 February 2010 at the P3 space in London and is the UK's only art fair dedicated to kinetic, robotic, sound, light and time-based art. Art that has a life of its own, talks, workshops, performances and more create an art fair like no other.

Visit the Kinetica 2010 web site for more information about this amazing event.


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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Bernie the Wine Taster" Automaton

Here's an automaton designed and built by Stuart Chalmers depicting a wine-tasting Bernese Mountain Dog. Check out the great shots of the mechanism.

Says Stuart:
The model took me about 60 hours to design and build and is my most complicated one so far, with 5 separate mechanisms. The box is made from walnut. The mechanism is a mixture of oak, cherry and birch plywood. Brass rods are also used as well as one piece of mono-filament.


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Monday, January 25, 2010

DaVinci's Last Supper - automaton by Phalibois

DaVinci's
Shown here is a rare automaton by the famous maker Phalibois representing Davinci's painting The Last Supper. It is a large scene-style automaton measuring about four feet in length. It could be the only one of its kind in the world.

The Last Supper automaton will be going to auction along with one of Pierrot Serenading the Moon by Vichy, and another large scale scene of a ship rocking on the ocean in front of a rotating backdrop of a city shoreline in Europe.

These three automata were featured in a traveling exhibition that toured Europe, Australia and New Zealand in the early 1920s, under the name of The London Mechanical and Electrical exhibition.

The auction is to be held on 25th February 2010 in New Zealand by Art+Objects under the name "The Newman Collection".


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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Techno Gears Marble Raceway Mania

Techno Gears Marble Raceway Mania
This is a 420 piece marble track with a competitive twist (sorry for the pun). Two players release one marble each simultaneously with the press of a button. Each marble encounters spinning wheels, dips, a chicane, a corkscrew, a pachinko-like bumper course, a lane switching trigger, and a set of weighted levers. When a marble reaches the finish line, the clock stops and flashes "Winner" on the screen.

Here is a link to the Techno Gears Marble Raceway Mania.


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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Automata: Contemporary Mechanical Sculpture

Automata: Contemporary Mechanical Sculpture The folks at the incredible Cabaret Mechanical Theatre blog have sent word that there is new autoamta exhibit in Madison, WI at the Chazen Museum of Art running from January 16, through March 14, 2010.

From the exhibit press release:
"The Chazen Museum of Art presents the delightful work of fourteen international artists in Automata: Contemporary Mechanical Sculpture. Meticulously crafted to perform complex, surprising, and often comic movements, these mechanical sculptures tell quick fanciful tales of nature, myth and magic, the creative process, and sheer make-believe. More than 25 hand-cranked artist-designed automata, most loaned from the private collection of University of Arizona art professor emeritus Michael Croft, will be on view January 16 through March 14, 2010. Videos will play in the gallery to show the animated workings of the pieces. Museum admission is free."

Here is a link to more information on exhibit on the Chazen Museum web site.

[ Thanks to the Cabaret Mechanical blog! ]


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Friday, January 22, 2010

Book: Making Simple Model Steam Engines

Making Simple Model Steam Engines
I don't have this book yet, but it is most definitely on my wishlist.

From the book description:
A highly illustrated, step-by-step guide to constructing a range of simple model steam engines, aimed at both beginners and the more experienced. This book details the construction of a range of simple miniature steam engines and boilers. The projects, each of which can be completed with only a basic workshop, range from a single-acting oscillator to more sophisticated twin-cylinder double-acting engines and a variety of boilers. A final project brings together engine and boiler for a simple steam railway locomotive. These projects are a perfect introduction to model engineering and an enjoyable exercise for the more experienced engineer or those who wish to pass on their hobby to a younger generation.

Here is a link to the book Making Simple Model Steam Engines.


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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Four solid wooden clock designs and plans

This clock with wooden works was the maker's FIRST attempt at designing and building a wooden clock. The gears were cut with a home-made CNC machine and finished by hand. The maker's extensive experience with 3D modeling software surely helped, but it is an amazing feat to have a working clock from the first design. He has gone on to design four other clocks. You can order finished clocks from his site. He also sells plans for 40 Euro.

Here is a link to four solid wood clocks by this talented craftsman in Italy.


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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

PARABOLA mechanical sculpture with wood gears

Here's a charming kinetic sculpture by Brett Dickins titled Parabola. The free-standing mechanical sculpture features wooden gears and matte black wooden framework and is driven by electric motor. It shoots a ping-pong ball up and out to land on a slanted platform that causes it to bounce neatly back into the machine. There is something very satisfying in that cycle.

See more artwork by Brett Dickins on his YouTube channel.


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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beautiful motorized mechanical wooden fish

Take a look at the lovely construction and motion of this mechanical wooden fish. Very nice work, indeed.


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Monday, January 18, 2010

Book: Making Working Wooden Locks

Book: Making Working Wooden Locks
This book provides plans and instructions for building working locks from wood. The book includes step-by-step instructions, color photos, measured drawings, and advice on wood selection, tools, and finishing. Projects include a warded lock, a combination lock, an antique lever lock, a railroad switch lock, and an antique push key lever lock.

Here is a link to the book Making Working Wooden Locks).


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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Amazing animatronics and mechanical costumes

John Nolan Films
I urge you to pay a visit to the John Nolan Films web site where you can see a gallery of amazing special effects projects including animatronics and mechanical costumes.

Here is the gallery of images showing various animatronics and here is their demo reel showing video of animatronics in action.

[ Thanks Bre! ]


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Friday, January 15, 2010

Book: How to Cast Small Metal and Rubber Parts

Book: How to Cast Small Metal and Rubber Parts
This gem of a book teaches you how to reproduce or create new casts of brass, bronze, many other metals, and rubber. It covers metal selection, molding sands, mold-making, and how to repair castings. It also features information on core-making, troubleshooting problems, grinding, polishing, and buffing.

From the book description:
Just some of the countless uses you'll find for this potentially profitable skill: making obsolete or vintage car parts, hood ornaments, garden and fireplace tools, kitchen utensils, automotive parts, replacing broken antique parts, reproducing sculpture, plaques, and other art ... all kinds of decorative and useful objects...

Here is a link to How to Cast Small Metal and Rubber Parts (2nd Edition)

[ Thanks Neil! ]


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Arthur Ganson's motorized walking wishbone

Here is a great video of one of my favorite kinetic sculptures by Arthur Ganson. Who knew a wishbone could be so evocative?

See more kinetic sculptures by the amazing Arthur Ganson on his web site.


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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Huge house-wide Rube Goldberg contraption

Huge house-wide Rube Goldberg contraption
I'm not sure if this video has been kicking around the internet for a while or not, but it's new to me. These ingenious folks have created a Rube Goldberg machine made out of familiar household items, clothing, dishware, string, CDs, and lots of black duct tape. My favorite section is the chess game sequence. Brilliant!

Here is a link to video of the Rube Goldberg contraption on the Baynham & Tyers web site.

[ Thanks Tom! ]


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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Restored fortune teller automaton circa 1900

Restored fortune teller automaton circa 1900
Here is a restored store-front attraction depicting a fortune teller. The automaton was made in Germany around 1900. For the last 40 years, it has been in the foyer of a mansion in Newport, RI.

From the eBay description:
The hands and arms move up and down in a lifting motion (for the picking up of display cards that were supplied by the renter of the automaton), along with the head nodding left to right. Another charming feature is the body articulating up and down. Additionally, the eyes move in unison, as though following you, and the mouth and lips purse as if it were speaking to you. All movements are synchronous and very smooth.

Here is a link to many more images and a very extensive description of this window display fortune teller automaton.


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

L. & A. St. Leger collectible miniature automata

L. & A. St. Leger collectible miniature automataL. & A. St. Leger create very small, metal automata. Their automata are typically less than two inches high and very clever. They offer a wide variety, which would make nice little gifts. For an addition fee, they will also do custom pieces.

Here's the page with a full listing of L. & A. St. Leger miniature automata.

[ Thanks Joe! ]


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Monday, January 11, 2010

Marvelous wooden ball-stairway machine

Marvelous wooden ball-stairway machine
Our good friend Falk Keuten over at the excellent Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik Blog pointed me to this great ball-lifting device made from wood.

From the creator's site:
Driven by hand crank through a small planetary transmission, the rotating camshaft and roller lifters cause the balls to "roll uphill". The balls then deposit in the "dropper", which directs them to the holding tilt-track (a feature borrowed from the Rolling Ball clock). When the sixth ball arrives, the track unbalances and the balls roll down the coaster track to start their journey again.

Here's a link to more info on this cool wooden ball stairway machine.


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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mechanism for animatronic mask in latex and foam

video
F.X. Déco is a French company who creates video, sets, masks, make up, figures, costumes, prototypes, models, and animatronics. Shown here is a the exposed mechanism for mask done in latex and foam and animated with radio-controlled servomotors.

See more fabulous creations by F.X. Dé on their web site.

[ Thanks Karin! ]


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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Details of arrow-shooting boy karakuri mechanism

This video (in Japanese) explores the right arm mechanism for the famous arrow-shooting boy karakuri. This is a sophisticated automaton that can pick up arrows, put them on a bow string, pull the bow, and fire it at a target. There are additional motions to make the figure come to life. The animation shows the three cams that control the arm's three axes of motion.


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Friday, January 08, 2010

Video explanation - how a singing bird clock works

Justin Miller over at blackforestclocks.org has made a nice video in which he describes how a singing bird clock works. It's a really cool mechanism to see and a clear, concise description of how it works. Thanks Justin!

Here is a link where you can learn more about this singing bird clock.


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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Automata Orchestra in Malmo Sweden

Automata Orchestra in Malmo Sweden
Reader Jerry Johansson wrote to ask about this amazing automata orchestra that is currently on display at the Technical and Maritime Museum in Malmo, Sweden.

Jerry writes:
Little is known about the orchestra but it's said to be constructed in England sometime during the 1920s. A well known Swedish toy expert came to the conclusion that the orchestra must have been serial made, but due to the size (it is life size) of the orchestra, and the rather complicated machinery, I don't find that statement plausible. I was wondering if you might have any information regarding robotic orchestras, or indeed any robotics manufactured in England during this time period?

For so little to be known about such a large and complicated system does seem a strange mystery. If you happen to know anything about this or similar automata bands, leave a comment at the end of this post.

Here's a link to a video featuring the Automata Orchestra.


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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Classic marble-lifter mechanism in wood

Here is a nice example of a common marble-lifting device sometimes used in marble track machines. It's cool to see how a few cams, sloped surfaces, and continuous rotary motion can be combined to make marbles climb stairs. This one was made and sent in by reader Richard Thorne.


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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Full-scale moving mannequin shop display

Check out this full-sized animated mannequin who is drinking water and looking very fashionable. From a few feet away, it is disarmingly real.

See more videos of this moving mannequin at the Moving Displays web site.


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Monday, January 04, 2010

H-Racer car uses solar generated hydrogen fuel

H-Racer car and solar hydrogen fuel station
This little toy car uses a hydrogen fuel cell for power. To create hydrogen fuel for the car you just add water to the station's tank and let the solar panel do its job, converting the water to oxygen and hydrogen. No batteries. You have to love that. The H-Racer will run for about 4 minutes on a full tank of hydrogen.

Here's a link to the H-Racer & Hydrogen Fuel Station


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Sunday, January 03, 2010

More video of Pablo Lavezzari's 'The Jailer'

I posted video of The Jailer automaton in action the other day. Here is more video of this automaton by artist Pablo Lavezzari showing the back of the piece and how it is operated.

From the video description:

Explanation about the piece THE JAILER. Death locks the souls in jails from where they will never be able to escape and return to the world of the living. But this time Death herself has been trapped. An despite of all her fury, a dog-shaped and a crow-shaped demon will prevent her from escaping.

See more automata by Pablo Lavezzari on his web site.


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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sky scene automaton with ducks and biplane

Here's a clever hand-cranked automaton that features a sky scene with ducks flying toward the viewer. A biplane does circles around the birds and the sky. Take a look at the beautiful wooden gear works when the video shows the back of the piece. Very nice!


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Friday, January 01, 2010

Mad God Universe - by Newstead & Steadman

Keith Newstead collaborated with the artist Ralph Steadman on this amazingly extensive and eccentric automaton.

From the YouTube description:
It was commissioned for an exhibition called 'Devious Devices' in 1990. It features God rising above storm clouds. Below the earth is supported on 4 elephants which in turn are supported by strange creatures. It was about 10 feet high and I have no idea where it is now.

See more automata by Keith Newstead on his web site.


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