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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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Contest: Make a mechanical vending machine

Contest: Make a mechanical vending machine
The good folks at the The Kugelbahn Blog have announced a competition! The goal is to design and build a coin-operated vending machine that dispenses small German chocolate bars. The deadline for the competition is January 31st, 2010.

Machine Specifications
The apparatus is to be purely mechanical and hand operated. With the input of a 20ct-coin the machine should output one little chocolate bar. The ALDI Moser-Roth chocolate package (found in Germany) contains 50 pieces measuring 5mm x 35mm x 35mm each, which are cheap and stack well (see the picture above). The coin-acceptor unit is to make possible the chocolate output with one 20ct-coin. Other coins with a smaller diameter should fall into the return area.

For all of the competition details visit KugelbahnBlog starts TINKERING COMPETITION for chocolate vending machines.


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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Authoratative web site on singing bird automata

schematic of a singing bird mechanism
Falk Keuten of the Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik blog informs me that www.alte-spieluhren.de -- run by from Detlef Knick of Berlin, Germany -- is the most comprehensive site on the web on topic of singing bird automata. The site is in German only, but has many wonderful photos and diagrams. Shown here is a schematic of a singing bird mechanism. If you can read German, I am envious!

Visit the Singvogel-Automaten page for more on singing bird automata.


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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bowling automaton with free & semi-free objects

My friend and colleague, Falk Keuten, over at the excellent Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik blog has discovered an innovative -- if somewhat mysterious -- automata artist via some YouTube videos.

Check out the use of a ball-lifting mechanism, an articulated figure, a free object (the ball), and some semi-free objects (the bowling pins). This is a impressive combination of techniques. I admire the all wood construction and the fact there is no need for the user to 'reset' the piece.

Here is the original post (in German) from Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik.

[ Thanks Falk! ]


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Friday, September 05, 2008

New Blog: "Play and Art with Mechanics"

Spiel und Kunst mit MechanikI am please to inform you that Hanns-Martin Wagner and Falk Keuten -- both experts on mechanical sculpture -- have started a new blog entitled "Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik" which translates roughly as "Play and Art with Mechanics".

They plan to feature content about all things related to mechanical toys and Kinetic Art including: automata, machine art, outsider art with mechanical actions, whirligigs, rolling ball sculptures, nonsense machines (like Rube Goldberg machines), chain reactions, the history of machines, sound sculptures, mechanical music, coin operated machines, vending machines, and paper engineering.

Sounds delightful!

Here is a link to Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik (Play and Art with Mechanics).

[ Congratulations Hanns-Martin and Falk! ]


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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Falk Keuten - Expert in Mechancial Objects & Art

Falk Keuten, mechancical objects expertThere are a few people that have really helped The Automata / Automaton Blog grow since it started in the summer of 2006. I would like to introduce you to one of those people now -- Falk Keuten of Bonn, Germany.

Herr Keuten has devoted years to collecting information, books, videos, and examples of things directly related to what is presented on this blog.

Among his many interests are:
• Mechanical toys
• Wooden automata
• Coin-operated automata, gambling and vending machines
• Amusement machines for fairs and festivals
• Odd machines, strange mechanics, mechanical chain reactions
• Paper mechanics including books, figures, and greeting cards
• Machine Art / Kinetic art
• Rolling ball sculptures as toys, construction kits, and art

Not content to simply collect items and information, he has invented some of his own things that can be described as a being a mix of toys, art, and mechanics. Herr Keuten has many connections to artists within his diverse areas of interest.

Mechanische Spielobjekte und AutomatenHe is the author of a wonderful book: Mechanische Spielobjekte und Automaten, Munich 1987, now out of print. The title translates in English as something like "Mechanical Toy Objects and Automata". I am informed, though, that in the German "automaten" includes more things than the English word "automata".

Herr Keuten has written many articles for professional journals. He writes a regular column "Virtuelle Wunderkammer" for a German journal aimed at Design and Technology teachers called tu.

He is also a key contributor to the fantastic site www.kugelbahn.ch, providing many of the links found on their kinetic arts page and the author of a comprehensive media list.

Herr Keuten has been involved in many school-based exhibitions. His last general exhibition entitled "Rollende Kugeln" (Rolling Balls) was at the gallery Studio Dumont, in Cologne, in December of 2007.

My admiration and my gratitude are sent to Falk Keuten, an expert with a generous heart.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

DIY Music Machine - Programmable Gloggomobil

Programmable Music MachineI published a post not long ago about an inexpensive Programmable DIY Mechanical Music Box that uses paper strips to program the song to be played.

Here is its upscale cousin -- the Gloggomobil, made by Naef, a swiss company.

The wooden barrel is spun by means of a hand-crank on the side. Small pegs are inserted into pre-drilled holes in the barrel to determine what note plays and when. The music plays on a small-scale metallophone or Glockenspiel (like a xylophone but with metal tuned bars rather than wood).

Where you see more than one peg on a line, the instrument will play a chord. It looks like it comes with pair of mallets for composing or non-automated playing.

The Gloggomobil will set you back over $1000 USD, but I am told it is of excellent craftsmanship and that they are made in limited quantities. This design cries out for a DIY version.

Once again, my thanks goes out to Falk Keuten who tells me he has had one of these amazing musical, mechanical gizmos for 30 years.

Check out a few more details on the Gloggomobil.

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