Friday, June 05, 2009

The Hand of Man - Giant Robotic Hand

By far the most impressive mechanical sculpture I witnessed at this years Maker Faire 2009, was Christian Ristow's piece called Hand of Man. The giant hand is HUGE and fully functional via a haptic interface. It's hard to describe such a familiar thing when it is seen on such a massive and powerful scale. Check out this video for an idea of what I am talking about.

Learn more about the artist, Christian Ristow, on his web site.

[ Found via a post on the Make Magazine Blog ]

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Greg Brotherton on kinetic sculpture, Pendulum

For me, one of the highlights of last weekend's Maker Faire 2009 was the exhibit put on by the Applied Kinetic Arts group. I'm not alone in this opinion for they walked away from the event with 8 Editor's Choice Awards. Here Greg Brotherton answers questions about his piece 'Pendulum'.

Learn more about Applied Kinetic Arts on their web site.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kinetic sculpture showcase at Maker Faire 2009

Maker Faire 2009 is coming up this weekend May 30th and 31st at the San Mateo fairgrounds in San Mateo CA. If you are anywhere near the area be sure and check it out.

Kinetic artists CTP and Nemo Gould have organized an exhibit featuring kinetic sculptures by various artists. This will be their largest selection of artists and their largest amount of space at Maker Faire to date.

Sculptures in the exhibit will include work by:

Mark Galt

Here is where you can learn more about the upcoming Maker Faire 2009.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The kinetic wave sculptures of Reuben Margolin

Here is a wonderful profile of kinetic sculptor Reuben Morgolin from the new Make: Television program.

You can learn more about Reuben Margolin at

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Toys, Robots, and Steampunk gifts - from MAKE

Toys, robots and gifts - from keen minds at MAKE
I'm hoping to offer a list of my own for mechanical toy gifts, but in the meantime I am duty-bound to point you to MAKE magazine's outstanding blog and the suggestions they have already compiled.

Here is their Top 10 unexpected toys.

Here is their excellent Holiday Gift Guide to Robots.

Here is their Steampunk Gift Guide for 2008.

In general, the items in their online store -- The Maker Shed -- are very well chosen and bound to stimulate technical discovery. You can't really go wrong there.

Keep up the good work, MAKE!

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

MAKE Halloween Special Issue - DIY Halloween

It may have hit the newsstands last year, but the MAKE Special Halloween issue is still full of excellent Do-It-Yourself Halloween goodness. You have got to see the headless Marie Antoinette costume!

What does this have to do with automata? This is the issue that features a humble contribution of my own -- an article on how to build a mechanical top hat with a little monster pop out of the top on command. This is the alternate cover; my hat project can be seen in bottom center of the page.

Here's were you can get the MAKE: Halloween Special Edition (Collector's Alternate Cover).

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Super Creepy Mechamo Crab with Baby Head

The team over at MAKE magazine have figured out a way for you to make your own creepy crab/baby abomination -- not unlike the one in the movie Toy Story -- just in time for Halloween.

Here is a link to MAKE's post that shows this and other videos for this project. Their store, The Maker Shed, also sells the Mechamo Crab by Gakken used (baby head not included).

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Make an Automaton in a Hat for Halloween

Here's a video of the hat of my design that was published in last year's Special Halloween Edition of MAKE Magazine.

The project requires two costume "Coachman's" hats, plywood, some small pieces of wood, two L-brackets, two springs, a bicycle brake cable and lever, a cable crimp, some washers and screws, and a rubber finger puppet.

If you start now, you've got time to have it done by the end of the month!

Here's a link to the MAKE store where you can get the Halloween issue, which is full of nothing but cool DIY Halloween projects.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Build This Motorized Paper Horse Automaton

Head on over to the MAKE magazine blog to get all the details for building this animated running paper horse automaton.

The Kinetic Horse is available in kit form which can purchased the on the Clockwork Robot website.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Edison Mechanical Recording Device Kit

The folks over at MAKE have put together a fantastic video of the Edison Phonograph (or is it a Gramaphone?) kit. The kit allows you to record sound on the side of a plastic cup! Don't expect high fidelity, but still...this is a purely mechanical system that teaches all the basics about one of the last century's great inventions.

Visit the MAKE Magazine store to learn more about or buy the Edison-Style Cup Phonograph Kit.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ball Lifting Machine Using Wooden Offset Cams

Here's a neat mechanism that lift balls up an incline. Offset cams lift the balls in sequence as they advance up the steps. When it reaches the top, the ball shoots down a slide so it can start again.

The same technique is used by this dragon automaton and a similar kinetic sculpture. It's nice to see just the mechanism in detail in this video.

Found via the always cool MAKE Blog.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dunninger's Encyclopedia of Magic in MAKE

I'm thrilled to have played a small part in MAKE Magazine's latest issue, Volume 13. The theme of the issue is magic. I review a classic book on the subject: Dunningers Complete Encyclopedia Of Magic.

Magicians have a long history of being exceptional makers. Just to assure you that this post is on-topic, the book contains details of one of Hero of Alexandria's automata and instructions on marionette construction.

The book is out-of-print, but available used online.

Pick up a copy of MAKE, Volume 13 to read my concise book review. The issue also has a TON of articles on magic, makers, and cool things to make for yourself.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

MAKE Finds Wood Automata @ NYC Toy Fair 2008

Phillip Torrone of MAKE Magazine is in New York City covering Toy Fair, 2008. Among his favorite finds this year: Timberkits wood automata!

Here's a link to his post about TimberKits at The NYC Toy Fair, 2008.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dug North's Trick Halloween Automaton Top Hat

Here's a little video of the hat of my design that is in the new Halloween edition of MAKE magazine.

This is the prototype shown in this movie. The model in the magazine is a bit shorter and so sits on the head better. I also used a black ribbon in place of the maroon one.

The project requires two costume "coachman's" hats, plywood, some small pieces of wood, two L-brackets, two springs, a brake cable and lever, a cable crimp, some washers and screws, and...brace yourself...a rubber finger puppet. Terrifying!

Here's a link to the MAKE store where you can get the Halloween issue, which is full of nothing but DIY Halloween projects.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Make Magazine Halloween Project Archives

I am really excited to have an article in the fist-ever Halloween Special Issue of MAKE Magazine. They have set up a dedicated Halloween section of their site. It's full of DIY Halloween projects.

They are also holding Halloween contests in a bunch of cool categories including:

  • Pumpkin decorating
  • Costumes
  • Decorations, haunted houses, and gadgets
  • Halloween Food
To enter just upload your photos to the DIY HALLOWEEN Flickr photo pool and tag them "DIYHALLOWEEN." You can also email your photos to, or put them on Instructables in the MAKE group with a tag "DIYHALLOWEEN". Maybe your project will be in the second Halloween edition next year!

Check out the Make Magazine Halloween project archives.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Make Magazine Halloween Issue on Sale 9/4

MAKE magazine has its fist-ever special Halloween issue for sale on newsstands starting today, September 4th!

I have written a short article for this issue showing the reader how to make a trick top hat for the spooky holiday. The hat can be seen on this version of the cover at the bottom, in the center.

The hat holds a mechanism connected to a cable and bicycle brake lever. When the lever is squeezed, a little monster bursts out of the top of the hat. Pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

The project is fun to make, but even more fun to wear!

If you local newsstand or bookseller does not carry MAKE, you can order the Halloween issue at the MAKE online store.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Automaton How-To Article, MAKE Halloween Issue

Automaton article in MAKE MagazineI am very pleased to announce that I have contributed an article to MAKE Magazine's first-ever special Halloween issue. The article shows the secret behind the trick top hat I designed, so that you can build one for yourself!

You can pre-order MAKE Magazines Special Halloween Issue now. I have a feeling it is going to be a really great issue of MAKE.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Make Magazine Now Selling DIY Automta Kits

The ever-cool Make Magazine is now offering Designing Automata Kits.

I've never tried one of these kits, but it sure looks like a great way to try your hand it it -- even if you don't own tools. I bet this kit it would be a great gift for kids too. If any of you have tried these kits, drop me a line and tell me what you think.

Head on over to the Make Store to get your Designing Automata Kit.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Nemo Gould Featured in Make, Nov. 2006

Nemo Gould was featured in their "Made on Earth" section the most recent issue, vol 8, page 25.

Most of what he makes are what he calls "Fauxbots" -- mechanical sculptures inspired by popular conceptions of robots. Mostly metal, his work is made from found materials.

Here's a link to the Make site and here's a link to the

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Ernie Fosselius in Make Magazine Print Edition

Automata Maker Ernie Fosselius is featured in a two page spead in the latest print edition of Make magazine (vol. 8, O'Reilly).

The spread features photos of eight of his automata and a short article.

From the article
"I'm creating little characters, situations, and stories that hopefully make people laugh".

Well, said!

Check out an interview with Ernie Fosselius at Make Zine and his entry on Wikipedia

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Automata Maker Video Profile - Ernie Fosselius

Here's a video profile of automata-maker Ernie Fosselius and his traveling workshop/theater. Very cool!

Video courtesy of the good people at the Make Magazine Blog

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