Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nostromo watch, inspired by the ship in Alien

Nostromo watch, inspired by the ship in Alien
We don't travel down the modern-watch road too often here on The Automata / Automaton Blog, but this one recently featured on Engadget is just too mechanically cool to pass by. The watch, called "The Nostromo", is inspired by its namesake -- the ship in the movie Alien. The exposed gears -- and everything else -- are stunning.

Here's Engadget's recent post on the Nostromo Watch.

[ Thanks Tom! ]


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Sunday, February 07, 2010

The whimsical machines of Edmund Dohnert

The finely crafted & whimsical machines of Edmund Dohnert
Edmund Dohnert designs machines that are meant to be amusing celebrations of mechanical movement. Shown here is a piece titled Victor Rat Trap No. 3.

The artist describes this machine:
In a deliberate escalation beyond Victor Rat Traps Nos. 1 and 2, this one is powered by not one, but two rat traps! Both springs are connected by a steel rod, which is attached to a Swiss cheese-like structure that has a cord wrapped around its edge. (The "cheese" is mounted off-center so as to even out the pull on the cord over the full range of the springs' travel.)

This cord pulls the springs back, and through an arrangement of pulleys, connects to a crank-wound gearbox on the right. The gearbox's output shaft connects to a vertical shaft running through a support structure, on top of which is a 'planetary gear' arrangement with two hollow spheres attached.

When the vertical shaft rotates, not only do the "planets" rotate about their own individual axes, they also orbit around the central shaft (hence the origin of the term 'planetary gear'). Connected to the main gearbox is a second gearbox that operates a small fan which not only helps control the speed of the machine through air resistance, it creates a unique whirring sound.

While the machine only runs for about 30 seconds, it's quite interesting to watch, for the movement is reminiscent of a medieval astronomical orrery.

See more amazing mechanical creations from Edmund Dohnert on his web site.


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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Fully automatic electric crossbow

Granted...this is a little off-topic for this blog, but its overwhelming mechanical awesomeness requires me to repost it.

See more amazing crossbow creations on the creator's web site.

[ Found via Hack A Day ]


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Thursday, November 19, 2009

A 'Convolution' of purely wooden mechanisms

Woodworker Ken Schweim built this collection of wood mechanisms and titled it Convolution. It is a wonderful assortment of drives, linkages, and gears. Well done, Ken!

From the video description:
This is a collection of wood mechanisms driven by a common wood crank. The entire project is wood, no nails, screws, wires, etc. Each assembly is removable. The wood is primarily common pine with some black walnut. Total time required was about 4 months with the majority in the design phase. I was going to add more to the open sides and the interior but decided against it for two reasons; one - it would require more cranking power and two, it would make it difficult to see the existing interior mechanicals. Plus, it now leaves the door open for another possible project to explore more wood mechanisms. In reviewing the audio I mistakenly said there is wire in this thing but not so, it is all wood.



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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brad Litwin: A Collection of Mechanical Conundra

Brad Litwin - A Collection of Mechanical Conundra
Brad Litwin's upcoming show is titled Kinetic works: A Collection of Mechanical Conundra. The exhibit starts early next month in Philadelphia. If you will be in the area, you won't want to miss seeing his amazing mechanical creations in person.

From the exhibit description:
Bradley N.Litwin has created works of kinetic sculpture for nearly thirty years. His work draws on the accumulated and synergistic experiences of having worked in manufacturing, entertainment, and multimedia production, as a designer, engineer, animator, photographer, film-maker, performer, prototype maker, and eternal experimenter.

Kinetic works: A Collection of Mechanical Conundra
Date: October 4 through October 16, 2009
Reception: Saturday, October 10, 6pm -8pm
Location:
Tyler School of Art, Temple University
2001 N. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122


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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Revomaze - extreme mechanical puzzles

Revomaze - extreme mechanical puzzles
I'm not entirely sure how you operate this mechanical puzzle, but they sure make it sound difficult to solve. It comes in three levels of difficulty for personalized levels of frustration.

From the ThinkGeek.com description:
Individually milled from a solid block of metal, the Revomaze features an internal labyrinth full of dead ends, traps, and one way paths you need to navigate to remove the metal core and solve the puzzle.

What makes the Revomaze truly great is its challenge to both your mental and physical aptitude. You need dexterity to manipulate the Revomaze as well as brain power to ferret out the correct path in the labyrinth. One wrong move and you're forced to start from the beginning. However the Revomaze is very fair minded... you screw up, you get punished, but you're always aware of whether you are making progress towards the solution.

Here's the link for the Revomaze mechanical puzzles.


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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, June 27, 2009

The dangers of an automated snuff machine

Check out this wooden mechanical snuff delivery device. It is ingenious in a sinister sort of way. Let this poor fellow's experience be a lesson to us all!


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Monday, June 22, 2009

Decoding the Heavens: Antikythera mechanism


Book - Decoding the Heavens: Antikythera mechanism
Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer--and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets is about the the Antikythera mechanism a mysterious and sophisticated mechanical device recovered in 1901 from an ancient Mediterranean shipwreck. It is now thought to have been built about 150 - 100 BC and represents the first known analog computer designed to calculate astronomical positions. It's an astonishing piece of ancient mechanical technology with a fascinating history.

From the Publishers Weekly
Marchant, editor of New Science, relates the century-long struggle of competing amateurs and scientists to understand the secrets of a 2000-year-old clock-like mechanism found in 1901 by Greek divers off the coast of Antikythera, a small island near Tunisia. With new research and interviews, Marchant goes behind the scenes of the National Museum in Athens, which zealously guarded the treasure while overlooking its importance; examines the significant contributions of a London Science Museum assistant curator who spent more than 30 years building models of the device; and the 2006 discoveries made by a group of modern researchers using state-of-the-art X-ray. Beneath its ancient, calcified surfaces they found "delicate cogwheels of all sizes" with perfectly formed triangular teeth, astronomical inscriptions "crammed onto every surviving surface," and a 223-tooth manually-operated turntable that guides the device. Variously described as a calendar computer, a planetarium and an eclipse predictor,Marchant gives clear explanations of the questions and topics involved, including Greek astronomy and clockwork mechanisms. For all they've learned, however, the Antikythera mechanism still retains secrets that may reveal unknown connections between modern and ancient technology; this globe-trotting, era-spanning mystery should absorb armchair scientists of all kinds.

Here is a link for more information on the book Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer--and the Century-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets


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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Antique alarm clock with automatic candle snuffer

Carriage clock with automatic candle snuffer
Here's a really nifty gadget clock dating between 1840 and 1875.

From the eBay listing item description
The rear left corner of the clock has a candle tube, and the front has a cantilevered arm that is activated by a time setting on the clock. Upon reaching the desired time setting, the arm lowers and the cup on it’s end snuffs out the candle.There is also a wake-up alarm setting. So we here have a clock that tells the owner when to go to sleep, and when to wake up!

Here's the link for more info on this Carriage clock with alarm and automatic candle snuffer


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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Free gear theory manual PDF from Boston Gear

Free gear theory PDF courtesy of Boston Gear
Boston Gear offers an overview of gear theory in the form of a free 5.5MB PDF file.

From the gear theory download page
This engineering information explains gear nomenclature, tooth formulas, backlash, tooth strength, torque and horsepower requirements and other standard gear selection formulas. Our Gear Theory Manual is a must for anyone who frequently deals with gearing in mechanical components.

Here's the link to the free gear theory PDF courtesy of Boston Gear.


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Friday, May 08, 2009

GEARS video game teaches mechanical thinking

GEARS video game teaches mechanical thinking
The object of the free online game called "GEARS" is to get the end gear rotating in the correct direction. The end gear is the blight blue gear. You can tell which direction the gear should rotate by the arrow.

For gears to rotate they must be attached to the start gear. The start gear is the gear with the Robot in the middle.

You add new gears to the machine by dragging them into place. Once all of the necessary gears are in place, click the start gear to set the machine in motion.

Here is a link to the GEARS video game.

[ Thanks Andrew! ]


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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

More books on gears, theory, and applications

As a continuation of my early post about books on gear design and fabrication, here are some other books that I have turned up. These definitely fall into the more esoteric and expensive category.

Gear Geometry and Applied TheoryGear Geometry and Applied Theory
by Faydor L. Litvin and Alfonso Fuentes

Product Description from Amazon
"This revised, expanded edition covers the theory, design, geometry and manufacture of all types of gears and gear drives. An invaluable reference for designers, theoreticians, students, and manufacturers, the second edition includes advances in gear theory, gear manufacturing, and computer simulation. Among the new topics are: new geometry for gears and pumps; new design approaches for planetary gear trains and bevel gear drives; an enhanced approach for stress analysis; new methods of grinding and gear shaving; and new theory on the simulation and its application."


Gear Noise and VibrationGear Noise and Vibration, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded
by J. Derek Smith

Product Description from Amazon
"Based on more than 40 years of consultation and teaching experience, the Second Edition demonstrates logical gear noise and vibration approaches without the use of complex mathematics or lengthy computation methods. A straightforward source for enhanced gear design, assessment, and development practices;enriched with more than 150 figures."


Gear Drive SystemsGear Drive Systems
by Peter Lynwander



Analytical Mechanics of GearsAnalytical Mechanics of Gears
by Earle Buckingham


Involute Spur Gears - Design and Lathe CuttingInvolute Spur Gears - Design and Lathe Cutting
by Earle Buckingham

Product Description from Amazon
"Chapter titles are ...(1) The Involute Spur Gear and Its Properties ...(2) Design of Involute Gear Tooth Profiles ...(3) Methods of Production ...(4) Methods of Testing Gears ...(5) Strength of Gears."


Gear Hobbing, Shaping and ShavingGear Hobbing, Shaping and Shaving: A Guide to Cycle Time Estimating and Process Planning
by Robert Endoy



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Thursday, April 30, 2009

List of books on gear design and fabrication

After seeing the beautiful use of gears in Bill Durovchic's kinetic sculpture, I started looking for books on gears. The following books all look good and get great ratings from Amazon's vast customer base.

Additional suggestions are welcome!

Handbook of Practical Gear DesignHandbook of Practical Gear Design (Mechanical Engineering, CRC Press Hardcover)
by Darle W. Dudley

Product Description from Amazon
"For more than 30 years the book Practical Gear Design, later re-titled Handbook of Practical Gear Design, has been the leading engineering guide and reference on the subject. It is now available again in its most recent edition. The book is a detailed, practical guide and reference to gear technology. The design of all types of gears is covered, from those for small mechanisms to large industrial applications."


Gears & Gear CuttingGears & Gear Cutting
by Ivan Law

Product Description from Amazon
"Gears in one form or another are part of most mechanisms, but they are by no means as simple as they may appear. This book explains simply and comprehensively the underlying theory involved, and in its second part, how to cut gears on a lathe or milling machine."


Gear Design SimplifiedGear Design Simplified
by by Franklin Jones and Henry Ryffel

Product Description from Amazon
"Contains a series of simply diagrammed gear-designing charts, illustrating solutions to practical problems.Presents all of the rules, formulas, and examples applying to all types of gears."


Manual of Gear Design (Vol. 1-3)Manual of Gear Design (Vol. 1-3)
by by Holbrook Horton and Earle Buckingham

Product Description from Amazon
"These manuals conveniently gather together the necessary information required for solving a majority of gear problems. The first section contains tables and information on calculating gear rations, as well as tables of factors and involute functions. The second section cover subjects on spur and internal gears, while section three focuses on information pertaining to helical and spiral gears."


The Art of Gear FabricationThe Art of Gear Fabrication
by Prem H Daryani

Product Description from Amazon
"This in-depth guidebook places emphasis on teaching beginners and advanced planners how to process gears, and will enable manufacturing engineers familiar with machine shop practice to be specialists in the gear manufacturing field. The first few chapters are devoted to common gear nomenclature and analysis of processing of six typical gears, including explanations of the logic and reasoning for every sequence of operation. Subsequent chapters thoroughly describe production, selection of materials, heat treatment, plating, methods of cutting, hobbing, shaping, and grinding."

"Unique in content and broad in scope, The Art of Gear Fabrication provides beginners with sufficient information to independently process six typical gears step by step and presents model numbers, capacity and addresses of gear machinery manufacturers and suppliers at the end of each process description. It also offers gear designers practical and useful hints on reducing fabricating costs. And it contains useful tables from commercial catalogs, including cross-references of different U.S. standards and American stainless steel materials with equivalent German, British, French and Italian materials."

"Additionally, it is essential for manufacturing and design engineers to have sufficient knowledge of various heat treatments and their related cost. Though it is a specialty, the author describes this subject in as easy-to-understand manner as possible. Gear designers and entry-level manufacturing and processing engineers in the machine shop field will find this reference extremely helpful and valuable."
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Here is a link to even more books on gears.


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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mechanisms 101 - online resources for devices

Mechanisms 101 -  online resources for devices
Here is a great site with resources on various types of mechanisms. There are many great animations, some of which are interactive so you can plug your own numbers into the system and see the results.

Mechanisms 101 has animations and information about: linkages, indexing mechanisms, gears, pumps, couplings, pneumatic systems, electronics, and many miscellaneous mechanical things. You will need the Flash player plug-in for your browser to see most of these great resources.

Here the link to Mechanisms 101.

[ Thanks Steve! ]


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Saturday, April 04, 2009

1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices& Appliances

1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices&  AppliancesAnother classic from Dover books...

From the product description:
A fascinating compendium of early-20th-century mechanical devices, this expansive work ranges from basic hooks and levers to complex machinery used in steam, motive, hydraulic, air, and electric power, navigation, gearing, clocks, mining, and construction. More than 1,800 engravings include simple illustrations and detailed cross-sections.

Here is a link to 1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices and Appliances (Dover Science Books)


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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Del's peg & slot rotary drive with wooden chain

Del never ceases to amaze me with the amazing wooden machines he has built over the years. This one features a nifty drive made up of two discs -- one large one and one small. The large disc has a grooves cut into it that run from the center to the edge. The small disc has thee protruding pegs that engage the grooves and drive the larger wheel. Also of note are the nice wooden chains and sprockets -- one with a chain tensioner!

Check out Del's YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/woodificood

[ Thanks to Art and Del! ]


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Casa de Máquinas - Animated machine film

Here is a enchanting animated film depicting a house of machines. It's wonder full to see the mechanisms come to life, move themselves, and ultimately control a figure. I don't want to give away too much...so, just watch!

[ Thanks philsing! ]


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Friday, February 20, 2009

Del's cage and peg gears train assembly

I never tire of seeing the wonderful wooden machines that Del has created. This one was an experiment with peg gears (in which dowels radiating from the center of a disc serve as gear teeth) and cage gears (also known as "lantern gears" in some contexts).

This machine has hand cranks on two sides. The gear train is such that one crank acts as a "low gear" and the opposite crank acts as a "high gear".

Personally, I think Del and Art are ready for their own TV show. There something about the machines and these too men that I could watch for hours.

If you would like to communicate with Del directly, visit his YouTube channel.


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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Corkscrew by Rob Higgs - Fantastic machine

The Corkscrew by Rob HiggsIn case you missed this on various blogs the other day, I really must ask that you check out this machine.

Mechanical sculptor Rob Higgs assembled an machine that opens a wine bottle and pours a glass. He uses many old parts, some as is, some modified and recasts them in bronze. The result is astounding.

Here is an article on The Corkscrew. Here is a link to a video of The Corkscrew by Rob Higgs.

This story comes to us by way of BoingBoing.net.

[ Thanks to Jim Jenkins! ]


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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Heart automaton made of meshed moving gears

I'm uncertain if the material used in this hand-cranked automaton figure of a heart is wood (the narration is in Japanese). Of this much I am certain: the effect is mind blowing.

It just doesn't seem possible that the gear shapes that make up the outline of this sculpted heart shape can rotate freely -- but they do! And smoothly at that. It takes a few revolutions of the handle before the pieces of the moving, fragmented heart gently reassemble. A wonderful metaphor for the the breaking and healing of hearts, but I have no idea if that was the artist's intention.

This is one of the most amazing pieces I have seen, both for its artistry and the technical accomplishment.

[ Thanks Martin! ]


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Friday, October 31, 2008

Army Knife big enough for the entire Swiss Army


Giant Swiss Army Knife
Every decade of my life has included a Swiss Army knife in my pocket. My personal Swiss Army Knife progression has been as follows:

1 - Swiss Army Tinker Pocket Knife

2 - Swiss Army Super Tinker Pocket Knife

3 - Swiss Army Deluxe Tinker

4 - SwissChamp Pocket Knife

I'm years overdue for my regular upgrade which I suppose is either the SwissChamp XLT or the SwissChamp XAVT

Or...I could just go for Mother of All Swiss Army Knives shown above. There are, however, a few drawbacks to this option. First, this knife is made by Wenger. And though they are an official and reputable maker of Swiss Army knives, you'll see from the list above that I am a Victorinox man through and through. Second, this baby will set you back $999 USD. Finally, this knife weighs in at nearly 3 pounds. There is no way.

My jeans wear out in the same spot -- right were my knife sits. Fortunately, worn jeans are trendy right now. Perhaps I'll just stick with the SwissChamp and switch to the version with the black handle, or the beautiful hardwood handle (shown at left).

I may even down-grade to the Swiss Army Craftsman Pocket Knife because honestly, I have yet to use the hook disgorger/fish scaler on the SwissChamp.



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