Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Build your own obstacle-avoiding beetle robot

Why not build a capable little beetle robot that can scurry about and avoid obstacles? The really cool thing about it is that the behavior is all hard-wired and/or mechanical -- no computer or programming required. The parts are easy to find too!

Here's a link to the Instructable on How to Build The BeetleBot.


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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Designing Automata Kit available from Amazon

OK...it may be a round-about route, but it is good news in the end: the Designing Automata Kit is now available via Amazon!

From the product description:
"The New Designing Automata Kit is great value and fantastic quality. No glue or tools are required, and you will learn about simple mechanics using cams and a crank slider mechanism. Many different designs can be made, and the kit used over and over again. Produced in Thailand using chemical-free rubber wood, from sustainable sources."

Here's the link to the Designing Automata Kit.


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Monday, March 29, 2010

Make this charmingly disagreeable machine

Check out this wonderful little motorized contraption that simple does NOT want to be on.

If you are inclined to make one, or learn more about it, there is a full instructable on how to build what they call "The Most Useless Machine EVER!". (I don't agree with the name of the device; entertainment and laughter are far from useless.)


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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Video showing how to make a working wooden lock

Here's a great little video by Adrian Iredale showing the steps in making one of the projects from the book Making Working Wooden Locks. I've been eying that book for years; now I really want it!


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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book: Plans from WoodMarvels.com (Vol. 1)

Book: Plans from WoodMarvels.com (Volume 1)
An interesting woodworking book, with scalable designs. The designs look very clean.

From the book description:
This book features woodworking projects at three different skill levels. They include materials list, tools and step-by-step assembly instructions. What makes our philosophy unique is that all our blueprints are completely measurement free which means you can build them to whatever scale you wish using only the thickness of the wood as your guide. This book includes the following WoodMarvels.com models: Abacus, Bird Feeder, Bird House, Bread Box, Brontosaurus, Dolphin Future Car, Parasaurolophus, Pen and Pencil Holder, Portraits, Ring Stacking Game, Showcase, Stegosaurus, Table Protector, Tower of Hanoi, Wood Stacking Game, Abstract Bank, Chessboard, Crab, Cutting Board, Pterodactyl, Medieval Castle Walls, Platform Crane, and Straddle Carrier

Here is more info on WoodMarvels.com: Top Sellers (Volume 1)


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Monday, March 15, 2010

Book: Practical Clock Repairing

Practical Clock Repairing
For those of you interested, here is a top-rated book on clock repair, ...

From the book description:
In this book, the author has dealt with the usual faults likely to develop in each type of movement in a clock's general use, from the lordly grandfather to the humble alarm. All the tools and equipment are described and illustrated, together with the ways of using them. The craftsman's most important and valuable tools of all — his skillful fingers — are shown in use in the clearest manner. Over 400 line drawings have been specially made from parts under working conditions.

Here's where to get Practical Clock Repairing (3rd Edition)


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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Timberkits: Drummer wood automaton kit

Here's a little video of the drummer automaton kit made by Timberkits.

Here's one place you can get the Timberkit drummer automaton.


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Monday, February 08, 2010

CPR wood automaton with available plans

Here's a video that shows a fun automaton designed by Ken Schweim. He has written complete construction plans describing how to build it. It has 36 pages, 36 photos, and 26 blueprints with complete step-by-step instructions. It is available for download for a cost $10 payable through PayPal. This might be a great way to get into making wood automata.

You can purchase and download plans for this wood automaton at Ken's Devil Dog Automata page.


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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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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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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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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Timberkits - wood automata kits make great gifts

Timberkits - wood automaton kits
It's not to late to get the people in your life the gift of automata for the holidays. One nice option are Timberkits -- all wood automata kits featuring a variety of themes and characters. Shown here is their Penguin Wooden Model. All of their kits come with pre-cut parts that need to be pegged together and glued. You can leave it unfinished or add a personal touch by painting it.

Here is a link to a full range of Timberkits Wood Automata Kits


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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mario Hammer paper automaton download

Mario Hammer paper automaton download
Another Mario Brother's inspired paper automaton download is available at Nintendo Papercraft. The paper Mario smashes a Goomba with a large hammer.

Here's the page with the Mario Hammer paper automaton kit.

[ Thanks Alan! ]


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Monday, November 23, 2009

Walter Ruffler paper automata at Flying Pig

Flying Pig paper animations has announced the addition of paper automata by Walter Ruffler to their website. There are twenty seven models from which to choose.

Shown at left is Ruffler's model title "Off Road".

Visit this section of the Flying Pig web site for the full line of Walter Ruffler paper automata kits.


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Monday, November 09, 2009

Karakuri: Make Moving Mechanical Paper Models

Karakuri: How to Make Mechanical Paper Models That Move
Here is a book on how to make paper automata by Keisuke Saka.

From the book description:
Detailed explanations, accompanied by diagrams, explain the physics behind how karakuri move and operate, so you really learn about the properties of the different types of gears and cams. And to inspire you, also included are four fun, full-color karakuri models designed by the author, a well-known paper engineer.

Here is the link to Karakuri: How to Make Mechanical Paper Models That Move


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Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Complete Modern Blacksmith book

The Complete Modern Blacksmith book
I recently gave this book to a friend for his birthday. An anthology of three out-of-print books, this book is a great value. The book covers much of what you might expect from a book with this title. What makes it really cool is its emphasis on making, repairing, and maintaining useful tools of every sort. I haven't found this information elsewhere yet. Very nice pencil drawings accompany the text. If you want to take your "making skills" to the next level, you should check this book out.

Here's amazon's info page on The Complete Modern Blacksmith.


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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, September 30, 2009

Four free wooden clock plans to download

Four free wooden clock plans to download
If you have an interest in wooden clocks and clockwork, you will want to head over to http://www.woodenclocks.co.uk. Not only is there a lot of great information on the site, there are four clock plans that are free downloads. This is a great resource. Thanks to Brian Law of Wooden Clocks for making these available!

Check out the Wooden Clocks site.


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Friday, September 11, 2009

Great Book of Wooden Toys: 50 Easy Projects

Great Book of Wooden Toys: More Than 50 Easy-to-Build Projects
This looks like a good book on making wooden toys. Anyone out there have this one?

From the book description:

Detailed and copiously illustrated, this in-depth handbook offers instruction for constructing more than 50 wooden toys designed to appeal to a child’s sense of imagination and playfulness. A brief introduction covers the basic techniques—gluing, sanding, and making wheels—and each project presents a meticulous diagram, a handy materials list, step-by-step instructions, and a photograph of the completed toy. Designs include stylized versions of a Model T car, a crane, and the Spirit of St. Louis airplane, as well as projects specifically for beginning woodworkers, such as pull-along trains and circus animals. Instructions for finishing and detailing ensure that the completed crafts will last for years.

Here is the link for more information about Great Book of Wooden Toys: More Than 50 Easy-to-Build Projects


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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

BotBrain Animatronic Head Kit

BotBrain Animatronic Head Kit
The BotBrain Animatronic Head kit lets you build a fully functioning animatronic head which can turn left and right, move its eyes and eyelids, and change its mouth expressions. Sensors allow the robot to react to changes in the environment.

Here's a link to the BotBrain Animatronic Head


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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Motorized Marble Roller Coaster Instructable

Here's a nice Instructable on how to make a rolling ball track out of cardboard, hot glue, some old printer parts, and a few other odds and ends.

Here's a video of the completed marble track in action:


Here's a link to the complete Marble Roller Instructable.


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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Zany Wooden Toys That Whiz, Spin, Pop, and Fly

Zany Wooden Toys That Whiz, Spin, Pop, and Fly: 28 Top-Secret Projects You Can Build from the Toy Inventor's Workshop
This book looks fantastic! I just ordered it.

From the book description:
Inventive and unique, this dynamic collection of woodworking projects teaches the basic skills needed to make exciting, action-packed toys. From rapid-fire nickel launchers and ball-and-socket robots to a monkey-toss gumball machine, each project includes a color photograph, a tools and materials list, a full diagram, woodworking plans, and instructions for using the finished product. Covering all the methods necessary for creation—selecting wood, drilling and shaping, making wheels and axles, and decoration—these constructions are simple enough for children and parents to complete together, all in an afternoon's time.

Here is the link to Zany Wooden Toys That Whiz, Spin, Pop, and Fly: 28 Top-Secret Projects You Can Build from the Toy Inventor's Workshop


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Monday, August 24, 2009

Swine Flew paper automaton kit

Swine Flew paper automaton kit
This little play-on-words is the latest downloadable automaton kit available form Flying Pig Paper Animation Kits: Swine Flew.

Here is where you can get the Swine Flew paper automaton download (for just over $4 US Dollars).


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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Making Mobiles: a step-by-step instruction book

Making Mobiles: a step-by-step instruction book
Here is a book that provides practical step-by-step instructions for making horizontally balanced mobiles. Though only 80 page long, the book covers materials, tools, designing, fabricating, assembly, painting, and hanging of mobiles.

Product Description
...19 carefully written chapters and 190 color photographs let you see and understand all the stages toward creating your mobiles. He even shows you how to fix a mistake and pack it for shipping. By following Bruces steps and positive attitude, hours of fun and challenge will be rewarded with art you are proud of.


Here is the link for Making Mobiles


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How to make a super accurate vernier protractor

How to make a super accurate vernier protractor
Check out this cool DIY article by Steve Garrison on how to make a protractor accurate up to 0.1 degree.

How it Works (from Steve's site):
Since this protractor uses a bubble level it can only measure vertical angles. The bubble is zeroed up on a reference surface by rotating the disc that the vial is attached to until the bubble is aligned with a mark and the front wing-nut is locked down. Then the protractor is placed on a tilted surface and the larger disc is unlocked (using the wingnut on the back) and the disc is rotated until the bubble is again aligned in the same position, then the rear wingnut is locked back down. The angle is read to a degree where the long line on the left side of the vernier points to the degree scale - read the smaller number. The angle is then read to a tenth of a degree by seeing which of the vernier lines matches up best end-to-end with the degree markings and added to the degree measurement. The markings on the vernier are 0.9 degree apart.

Here is the link with details on how to make your own compact protractor accurate up to 0.1 degree.


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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Doodling robot / Vibro-bot mechanical kit

Doodling robot mechanical kit
This kit allows you to build a simple robot with pen for feet. Doodle robot's motor makes it shake, rattle, and spin which results in a variety of patterns being drawn on the paper below it. You can also remove the pens to transform it into a classic little vibro-robot that slides across smooth floors, tables, and countertops.

Here's the link for the Doodling Robot kit.


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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Great used book - How to Make Animated Toys

Great used book - How to Make Animated Toys
A very affordable volume (purchased used) this book features detailed plans and scaled drawings for 30 different animated wooden toys. The author also goes into some detail about the processes of designing and building good toys -- including writing about child-safe materials and finishes. Projects include a waddling duck, a hopping rabbit and a lumbering gorilla.

Here's Amazon's page where you can buy a used copy of How to Make Animated Toys


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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fly Pterosaur paper automaton you can make

Fly Pterosaur paper automaton you can make
From the ingenius mind of Rob Ives at Flying-Pig Paper Animation Kits, here is a fun model for you to purchase, download, print out, and make.

From the Flying-pig.co.uk website:
Turn the handle on the box and the Pterosaur flaps his wings to fly, just like they used to do in prehistoric times.The model used a cam shaft and four bar linkage to to make the wings flap and the Pterosaur rise up and down.

Here's the link to the Pterosaur paper automaton page.


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Friday, July 10, 2009

Plans for mechanical flying goose on radiator cap

Plans for Mechanical flying goose on radiator cap
The folks over at the always interesting Modern Mechanix Blog recently posted this great set of plans for an animated mechanical hood ornament originally published in 1932. Like a reverse-whirligig, the air speeding past the car's hood powers the motions of this mechanical bird.

From the original article:
While your car is standing still this wild goose isn't so wild. He perches sedately upon the radiator cap surveying the world with a glassy eye. But as soon as you start up and shift into high he flattens out his tail, stretches his neck forward and begins to flap his wings as if he were going somewhere, and going there in a hurry.

The article has been converted in to text and scanned as three large images -- everything you should need to make this project yourself.

Here's the article on the Mechanical Flying Goose Decorates Radiator Cap.

[ Thanks deanS! ]


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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Making Moving Toys: 30 Quick and Easy Projects

Making Moving Toys: 30 Quick and Easy Projects to Make
I don't have this book myself (yet), but it looks like it could be a lot of fun. Making Moving Toys offers instructions and templates to make 30 different types of moving toys out of common materials. The projects range from spinning tops, wind-powered figures, paper airplanes, a carousel, a climbing monkey, a zoetrope, and many more. See? Fun!

Here's the link to Making Moving Toys: 30 Quick and Easy Projects to Make.


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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Proxxon model-maker's power tools store section

Proxxon tool model-maker's power tools store
I am the proud owner of two Proxxon tools -- the miniature table saw and the miniature mitre saw. As someone who works with small-scale pieces of wood and metal, I am a big fan of this company's products. The Automata / Automaton Store now features an entire section dedicated to Proxxon tools. If you are serious about model-making and are looking for high quality power tools that are the right size for the job, look no further.

Check out the Proxxon Power Tool section of The Automata / Automaton Store.


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Thursday, June 04, 2009

23 Piece Hobby & Craft Tool Set for under $15

23 Piece Hobby & Craft Tool Set
I'm a little smitten with this hobby knife and tool set offered by Woodcraft.com. It contains all the things you would expect from one of these sets such as assorted knife blades, handles (3 actually), and a saw blade. But it goes beyond the norm with a inclusion of a tiny spoke shave, block plane, balsa strip tool, sanding block, and tweezers. It comes in a plastic case designed to fit each item. For $15 USD, this looks like a nice starter set for model making or working with any type of wood miniatures (model railroad, planes, boats, carving, etc).

Here's a link to this 23 Piece Hobby and Craft Tool Set.


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Monday, June 01, 2009

Galloping dinosaur vintage mechanical toy plans

Galloping dinosaur vintage mechanical toy plans
The folks over at The Modern Mechanics blog have scanned and typed up the plans for this animated wooden dinosaur pull-toy.

From the original article:
A TOY saurian from the far-away past proves to be a refreshing novelty to the youngsters. The toy is extremely simple to make, as there are only six major parts. In addition to these, four wheels and some wire complete the whole thing.


Here is the article with photographs and drawings of the dinosaur on The Modern Mechanics blog.

[ Thanks deanS! ]


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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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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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