Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Video of mechanical south-facing chariot

I posted last year about some South Pointing Chariots -- an amazing mechanical invention from ancient China. No matter which way the cart turns or how often, the figure on top always points South (the cardinal direction of preference in that culture at that time). A magnetic compass isn't used to accomplish this task; the solution is entirely mechanical. Here is some video of a functional model made by the clever hands of Osamu Kanda.


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Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Chinese master of junk robots

A Chinese master of junk robotsBack in 2007, an amazing story circulated around the blogsphere about a man in China who -- with no formal engineering education -- has created a menagerie of robotic creations out of junk. Among the most impressive is a robot-powered rickshaw (shown here) that can pull a passenger along.

Here is a link to a video of Mr. Woo, the Chinese Robot Farmer on Gizmodo.com.

Note: If you want to make some junkbots of your own, I've got to recommend the book JunkBots, Bugbots, and Bots on Wheels.

[ Thanks Charles! ]


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Friday, June 06, 2008

South Pointing Chariots, Ancient Gearing Marvels

South Pointing Chariots Ancient Mechanical MarvelsSouth Pointing Chariots are an amazing mechanical invention from ancient China. From a distance, it would look like a figure standing in a horse-drawn chariot. No matter which way the cart turns or how often, the figure's arm always points South -- the direction of preference in that culture at that time. Seen here is a modern functional model.

So, what...it's a magnetic compass hidden inside of a figure, right? Nope. Ok...so it's a gyroscope of some kind then? That's not it either. These South Pointing Chariots use complex gear arrangements to adjust the figure's orientation depending on the motion of the wheels.

Here's a great web site with tons of info about South Facing Chariots. Of particular note is the functional models page showing working examples made from everything from brass, to wood, to LEGOs! So cool.

Thanks bhaaluu!

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