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!


Labels: , , , , , , ,



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! ]


Labels: , , , , ,



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Leonardo's: Machines in Motion exhibit, Nebraska

There is an exhibit that looks simply amazing titled "Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion" at the Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, Nebraska. The models for the exhibit are gorgeous and nearly all of the displays are interactive. The Leonardo exhibit runs through May 9th, 2010.

Here's info on the Leonardo exhibit at the Strategic Air & Space Museum web site.

[ Thanks Rusty! ]


Labels: , , , , ,



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.


Labels: , , , , ,



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Bernie the Wine Taster" Automaton

Here's an automaton designed and built by Stuart Chalmers depicting a wine-tasting Bernese Mountain Dog. Check out the great shots of the mechanism.

Says Stuart:
The model took me about 60 hours to design and build and is my most complicated one so far, with 5 separate mechanisms. The box is made from walnut. The mechanism is a mixture of oak, cherry and birch plywood. Brass rods are also used as well as one piece of mono-filament.


Labels: , , ,



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).


Labels: , , , , ,



Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mechanism for animatronic mask in latex and foam

video
F.X. Déco is a French company who creates video, sets, masks, make up, figures, costumes, prototypes, models, and animatronics. Shown here is a the exposed mechanism for mask done in latex and foam and animated with radio-controlled servomotors.

See more fabulous creations by F.X. Dé on their web site.

[ Thanks Karin! ]


Labels: , , , , ,



Saturday, January 09, 2010

Details of arrow-shooting boy karakuri mechanism

This video (in Japanese) explores the right arm mechanism for the famous arrow-shooting boy karakuri. This is a sophisticated automaton that can pick up arrows, put them on a bow string, pull the bow, and fire it at a target. There are additional motions to make the figure come to life. The animation shows the three cams that control the arm's three axes of motion.


Labels: , , , ,



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Contraption - automaton by artist Tom Haney

Contraption automaton by artist Tom Haney
Here is another great new piece from automata artist Tom Haney. This one is titled Contraption.

See more images -- including his great "in progress" shots -- and videos of Contraption on Tom Haney's web site.


Labels: , , ,



Friday, December 25, 2009

Mechanical door knocker interior mechanism



Taylor Shepherd, an artist working out of New Orleans, created this wooden cam-driven machine which rhythmically interrupts the audio circuits on AM an FM and CB radios contained in a box fronted by a two-way mirror and triggered by a motion sensor. The piece is included in an installation by the Society for Decoration and Sacrifice at Barrister's Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana.


Labels: , , , ,



Monday, December 14, 2009

The Verge and Foliot clock escapment in wood

My appreciation and interest in clock mechanisms is growing all the time. Here's a wood version of one of the earliest of all escapements: the verge and foliot.

Wikipedia on the verge escapement:
The verge (or crown wheel) escapement is the earliest known type of mechanical escapement, the mechanism in a mechanical clock that controls its rate by advancing the gear train at regular intervals or 'ticks'. Its origin is unknown. Verge escapements were used from the 14th century until about 1800 in clocks and pocketwatches. The name verge comes from the Latin virga, meaning stick or rod.

Its invention is important in the history of technology, because it made possible the development of all-mechanical clocks. This caused a shift from measuring time by continuous processes, such as the flow of liquid in water clocks, to repetitive, oscillatory processes, such as the swing of pendulums, which had the potential to be more accurate. Oscillating timekeepers are at the heart of every clock today.

Here is a link to Wikipedia's article on the verge escapement.

[ Thanks Steve! ]


Labels: , , , , ,



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 ]


Labels: , , , , ,



Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Birthday of Eli Whitney Jr., Inventor

There is a tribute on the Make Magazine Blog to this American inventor.

From the Make Blog:
"On this day in 1765, Eli Whitney, Jr. was born in Westborough, Massachusetts. Whitney would go on, most famously, to invent the cotton gin, which revolutionized cotton production in the antebellum South. He eventually became the most famous early American proponent of interchangeable parts, and also invented one of the world's first milling machines."

Here's the Make Magazine post about Eli Whitney.


Labels: , , , ,



Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ron Fuller's Sheep Shearing Man Automaton

video
Here is a great little video featuring automata-maker Ron Fuller explaining the mechanics of his classic piece Sheep Shearing Man.

Ron Fuller was one of the early contributors to Cabaret Mechanical Theatre and is one of many artists featured in the book Automata and Mechanical Toys.

[ Thanks Charles! ]


Labels: , , , ,



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Exploding and reassembling picture with gears

Here is a great wall-mounted kinetic sculpture featuring wooden gears and other wooden mechanical parts. The mechanism makes the frame of the piece come apart, then come back together. The piece is driven by an electric motor.

[ Thanks Art! ]


Labels: , , , , , ,



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gary Schott's MECHANICAL PLAYTHINGS

Gary Schott's MECHANICAL PLAYTHINGS
Texas-based metalsmith, jeweler and educator, Gary Schott, will be holding his first real solo show, called MECHANICAL PLAYTHINGS starting this week.

The show opens Nov. 28th at Design Works, located in Galveston, TX at 2119A Post Office Street. The opening reception will be held from 6-9PM Saturday Nov. 28th, 2009.

It is sure to be a great show in which you can touch and play with some mechanical art-toys.


Labels: , , , , ,



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.



Labels: , , , , , , ,



Monday, November 16, 2009

Mechanical Christmas tree stand with four tunes

Made around 1900, this German clockwork Christmas tree stand spins the tree around and plays four tunes.

For more info, visit http://www.automatomania.com.


Labels: , , , , ,



Saturday, November 14, 2009

Authentic, working replica of a praxinoscope

Authentic, working replica of a praxinoscope
Here is an heirloom-quality working replica of the praxinoscope -- an animation device invented in 1877.

About this praxinoscope replica:
Used to depict motion using a series of rapidly spinning images, it is considered the precursor to the modern motion picture, it was invented by French science teacher Charles-Émile Reynaud. A dodecagonal drum -- each face containing a 2 3/4" H x 1" W mirror -- sits concentrically inside a smooth, 8" diameter cylinder. A paper strip of 12 images is placed into the cylinder; when the brass finial is spun, the images are reflected in the central prism of mirrors, creating the illusion of movement. This replica comes with 14 image strips, including a galloping horse, two blacksmiths taking turns hammering a piece of iron on an anvil, and a rotund captain of industry rolling by virtue of his own girth. Beech construction.

Here is the link to The Authentic Praxinoscope.


Labels: , , ,



Thursday, November 12, 2009

Isis Impossible Titanium Puzzle

Invented by a magician and manufactured from high-grade aluminum (not sure where the 'titanium' name comes from) the Isis puzzle is a mechanical puzzle with an interactive twist. Solving the physical puzzle is just the start. Now we can all feel like characters in The Da Vinci Code.

From the puzzle description:
As the Isis puzzles are supposedly "The hardest puzzles in the world" the manufacturer gives you some clues, encrypted of course available on their website. The Isis is a high quality puzzle, similar to a combination lock. The object of the puzzle is to solve the combination and obtain the secret number inside. Each Isis is unique, and you will need to obtain the key number inside and enter the numbers onto the Isis Adventure website in order to access the "Pyramid Map". Many hidden pyramids will be found on the map, and fantastic monetary awards are available to those that can solve the location and the pyramid passwords.
Here's a link with more info on Isis Titanium Puzzle and its even more difficult cousin known as Ramisis Pyramid Puzzle.


Labels: , , , ,



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

LEGO palette handling automation set up

This nifty programmed LEGO contraption rotates two sets of blocks around a square track (similar to palettes in automated factory set ups) without mixing the them.

[ Thanks Keith! ]


Labels: , , , ,



Sunday, October 11, 2009

Video of 'Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood'


Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood
If you've ever wondered if the book Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood contains projects that would appeal to you, check out the video above sent by Richard Thorne. Richard has made four of the book's 17 projects and demonstrates them briefly in the video. Well done!

If you are up for working on some challenging, but rewarding woodworking projects, here is a link to where you can pick up a copy of the book Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood.


Labels: , , ,



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.


Labels: , , , ,



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Animated peanut butter lid video, Part 2

Yesterday, we looked at video of the mechanically animated scene created on top of a peanut butter jar lid. This video takes a good close look at the mechanisms that make it all work. Some very creative and clever design solutions are used!

[ Thanks Karin! ]


Labels: , , ,



Friday, July 03, 2009

The Way Toys Work - book on the science of toys

The Way Toys Work book
The full title of this intriguing book is The Way Toys Work: The Science Behind the Magic 8 Ball, Etch A Sketch, Boomerang, and More. The book covers 50 well-known toys examining their history and the technology that makes them work. Throw in a mention of DIY experiments and some reverse engineering (see below) and this book is definitely on my reading list!

From the book description on Amazon:
Discover how an Etch A Sketch writes on its gray screen, why a boomerang returns after it is thrown, and how an RC car responds to a remote control device. Leaving no detail unrevealed, the guide includes original patent-application blueprints and photos of the “guts” of several devices. Inventors and museum curators also offer their observations of favorite gizmos while dispelling (or confirming) several toy legends. Complete with explanations of do-it-yourself experiments and tips on reverse engineering old toys to observe their interior mechanics, this entertaining and informative reference even provides pointers on how budding toy makers can build their own toys using only recycled materials and a little ingenuity.

Here is the link to The Way Toys Work: The Science Behind the Magic 8 Ball, Etch A Sketch, Boomerang, and More on Amazon.com.


Labels: , , , ,



Monday, June 29, 2009

Gear Materials, Properties, and Manufacture book

Gear Materials, Properties, and Manufacture book
OK, I am basing this on the table of contents (see below)...but this has got to be one of the definitive treatments on topic of gears. Any engineers out there to verify my guess?

Chapter 1 - Basic Understanding of Gears
Chapter 2 - Gear Tribology and Lubrication
Chapter 3 - Ferrous and Nonferrous Alloys
Chapter 4 - Plastics
Chapter 5 - Machining, Grinding, and Finishing
Chapter 6 - Casting, Forming, and Forging
Chapter 7 - Powder Metallurgy
Chapter 8 - Through Hardening
Chapter 9 - Carburizing
Chapter 10 - Nitriding
Chapter 11 - Carbonitriding
Chapter 12 - Induction and Flame Hardening
Chapter 13 - Gear Failure Modes and Analysis
Chapter 14 - Fatigue and Life Prediction
Chapter 15 - Mechanical Testing

Here is Amazon's listing for Gear Materials, Properties, and Manufacture



Labels: , , ,



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!


Labels: , , ,



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


Labels: , , , , , ,



Sunday, June 07, 2009

Video of paper prototyping a griffin automaton

Katy Hargrove has created a great video in which she describes the process she is using to prototype an automaton project. Using manila folders, paper clips, scotch tap, and metal paper-fasteners, she has managed to create a very interesting motion for her griffin project. This is a great demonstration of an easy and effective process for working out the proportions and motions for various automata figures.

Check out more of her projects on the Art by Katy Hargrove blog.


Labels: , , , , ,



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


Labels: , , , , ,



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.


Labels: , , , ,



Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chun Yeh Gear Co., LTD - nice gears and photos

Chun Yeh Gear Co., LTD - nice gears and photos
General Industrial Corp based in Tiawaan produces spur gears, bevel gears (straight and spiral), worm gears, gear shafts, motor shafts, output shafts, internal gears, pinions, and splined gears.

They offer products in steel alloys, stainless steel, aluminum alloys, plastics, bronze, and bronze alloys.

While their site is only a few simple static pages, they have a few stunning photographs of gears that are worth a look.

Here's the link to Chun Yeh Gear Co. gear products web site.


Labels: , , ,



Monday, May 11, 2009

Vintage automatic cigarette dispenser music box

Vintage automatic cigarette dispenser music box
Here is a neat vintage automatic cigarette dispenser on eBay. There is a button on the front that when pushed starts a the music box. The multiple doors of the dispenser gently open to reveal the chamber inside and reverse side of the doors where cigarettes have been placed. The doors then close on their own to finish the cycle.

Here is the full eBay listing with many other pictures for this Vintage automatic cigarette dispenser music box


Labels: , , , ,



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! ]


Labels: , , , , ,



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



Labels: , , ,



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."
-----------------------------------------

Here is a link to even more books on gears.


Labels: , , , , ,