Friday, April 23, 2010

Site featuring top 10 unbelievable miniatures

10 unbelievable miniaturesCheck out this site with a bunch of cool miniatures!

[ Thanks Julia! ]


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Monday, February 22, 2010

Construction toy with internally illuminated parts

Construction toy with internally illuminated parts
Here is a new take on a construction toy. As you assemble the translucent parts to make an assortment of designs, a low voltage current supplied by a power base progressively lights up LEDs inside causing the toy to glow in various hues.

From the product description:
You can create antennaed insects, fat-tired dune buggies, streamlined starships, and more with the kit's 72 differently shaped pegs -- straight, t- and u-shaped pegs, wheels, and flat squares -- that have built-in, multi-colored LEDs.

Here's a link to the Lighted Construction KitThe Lighted Construction Kit.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Book: Miniature Internal Combustion Engines

Miniature Internal Combustion Engines
Model engineers have been making miniature internal combustion engines for as long as that type of engine has been around. Some, though, have been put off from this endeavor because of the perceived difficulty of the task. This book attempts to remedy this situation. The text covers various internal combustion engine designs and their operating cycles. The core of the book provides detailed information about the process of constructing internal combustion engines. Readers with a basic knowledge of machining should find the information necessary to build a simple single cylinder engine. The book features tons of photographs and beautiful drawings to make the concepts clear.

Here's where you can learn more about Miniature Internal Combustion Engines


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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Driver - car automaton with moving scenery

Here is a nifty landscape automaton showing a car with the scenery moving past -- literally!


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Monday, February 01, 2010

5 foot long working scale roller coaster model

5 foot long working scale roller coaster model
Shown here is a 1/48th scale working roller coaster model.

From the model description:
A rotating spring lifts the train up the first hill, then releases the train, where it dives and rises into its second turn. The second hill provides enough potential energy for the train to continue smoothly around the loop and power it through its corkscrew. The kit consists of 464 pieces made of durable ABS and POM plastic. When fully assembled, it spans 4' 9" long by 15" wide and stands 25" tall.

Here's a link to the working scale roller coaster.


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Friday, January 22, 2010

Book: Making Simple Model Steam Engines

Making Simple Model Steam Engines
I don't have this book yet, but it is most definitely on my wishlist.

From the book description:
A highly illustrated, step-by-step guide to constructing a range of simple model steam engines, aimed at both beginners and the more experienced. This book details the construction of a range of simple miniature steam engines and boilers. The projects, each of which can be completed with only a basic workshop, range from a single-acting oscillator to more sophisticated twin-cylinder double-acting engines and a variety of boilers. A final project brings together engine and boiler for a simple steam railway locomotive. These projects are a perfect introduction to model engineering and an enjoyable exercise for the more experienced engineer or those who wish to pass on their hobby to a younger generation.

Here is a link to the book Making Simple Model Steam Engines.


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Friday, November 20, 2009

Tiny functional solar-powered brass engine models

Szymon Klimek creates tiny solar-powered miniatures like the steam engine show in the video above. The parts are cut from very thin sheet brass. He then hand-shapes and glues them together to create the final machine.

Here is a nice article on Szymon Klimek on Internet Craftsmanship Museum site.

Here is the link to Szymon Klimek's web site.

[ Thanks Karin! ]


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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jensen steam engine model kit

Jensen steam engine model kit
Here's a nice little working model steam engine.

From the product description

Build a real head of live steam in the boiler, ease the throttle open and watch the engine take off. The stationary steam plants have nickel plated brass horizontal boiler, water gauge, whistle, safety valve, throttle, 3" dia flywheel and power takeoff pulley. Our dry pellet fuel model (includes 20 fuel pellets) has a single action horizontal piston engine and comes as a kit. It requires about 2 hours to assemble and mount on its roughly 7" sq base, using simple tools like pliers and screwdriver.

Here the link for this Jensen Steam Engine Model.


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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Sleek Stirling engine locomobile kit

Here is a very attractive Stirling engine kit. Stirling engines, you may recall, are powered by the expansion and compression of air.

From the engine kit description:
The finished engine is fueled by an alcohol burner that heats the front of the glass tube, causing the air inside to expand and contract and push the piston toward the gears. The piston is connected to a system of flywheels and pulleys that exert reciprocal force on the piston, causing it to move back and forth. The energy produced by the desktop engine can be harnessed to spin the integrated fan, illuminate the attached light bulb, and rotate the rear wheels, propelling the locomobile forward. Assembles in two to three hours.

Here is the link for the The Stirling Engine Locomobile.


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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sand tight spots with the Proxxon Pen Sander

Sand tight spots with the Proxxon Pen Sander
If you sand really small wood, metal, or plastic surfaces, this pen sander may be a HUGE time-saver.

From the product description
Proxxon 12-Volt Pen Sander sands linearly where space is at a premium. This superfine sander with linear sanding motion operates at 8,000 strokes per minute with a 3/32" stroke. Superfine finishing of wooden, plastic or metal surfaces can be done in less time hands can do without big efforts. It is ideal for surfaces, slots and tight corners. Included are four sanding attachments with straight shanks and four with angled shanks -four different shapes per shank style- as well as three sheets of pre-profiled self-adhesive sanding pads. The sheets are 180, 240 and 400 grit with 5 of each shape per sheet.

NOTE: To operate, this unit requires a 12-volt transformer such as the Proxxon 38704 Heavy Duty Transformer

Here's a link to more info on the Proxxon Pen Sander.


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Monday, July 13, 2009

Pendulum clock made entirely of paper

Marvel at this beautifully made working pendulum clock made entirely of paper.

Here is a link to the creator's web page with many additional photos and ordering information if you want to buy the PDF plans for the paper clock.

You might also consider the pre-printed book Make Your Own Working Paper Clock.


[ Thanks philsing! ]


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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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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Proxxon's Miniature Bench Drill Press Machine

Proxxon Miniature Bench Drill Press Machine
More Proxxon goodness for you (me) to ponder...

From the Amazon Description
Proxxon Bench Drill Press TBM 115 - This 3 speed drill press excels at drilling micro holes down to 1/64 inch (0.5 millimeters). The unit offers a high quality machined work table of ribbed die cast aluminum, 8-1/2 inch x 4-3/4 inch in side. It provides an adjustable parallel fence with scale. The solid high chrome steel column is 11 inches high and is 4/5 inch in diameter. The powerful motor is built into the super stable die cast head of the machine, runs very quietly and has a long life expectancy. The power transmission by 3 step aluminum pulley and flat belt provides 3 spindle speeds of 1800, 4700, 8500 rpm. This allows triple torque and lower speeds.

Here's the link for more information on the Proxxon 38128 TBM Bench Drill Machine.


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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dremel 220-01 rotary tool work station & press

Dremel 220-01 rotary tool work station & pressThe Dremel Work Station allows you to use almost any Dremel rotary tool as small table-top drill press.

You can tilt the Dremel Work Station in 15-degree increments from 15 to 90 degrees horizontal. It can also be used as a telescoping FlexShaft tool stand. Finally there is a little tool caddy for holding a few bits, collets, and wrenches. Comes with the accessory nest, mounting wrench, and instructions.

Here is the link to the Dremel 220-01 Rotary Tool Work Station


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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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Monday, June 08, 2009

6-foot long remote controlled reproduction Titanic

6 foot long remote controlled reproduction Titanic
At six feet long, this must be the mother of all remote control boats. Priced at $2,500, let's just hope it stays afloat better than the original.

From the product description
This is the 6' long, remote controlled reproduction of the RMS Titanic that includes authentic period details for the most discriminating nautical enthusiast. Painstakingly reproduced at 1:150 scale and involving over 400 man-hours in its assembly, the model is constructed from over 300 individually handcrafted pieces, including sculpted cedar strips that overlay the molded fiberglass hull, white maple planks (stained to replicate the color of the originals) for the decking, and mahogany for various superstructures.

Here is the link to Hammacher Schlemmer's Authentic 6 Foot Remote Controlled RMS Titanic.



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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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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to build your own plan holding stand for $10

How to build your own plan or pattern holding stand
If you make models, miniatures, or work from plan drawings of any sort you can spend good money on a plan holder. This one is the product of a great do-it-yourself guide. For about $10 you can make the plan holder shown here. This is a good way to get those sheets off your workspace and into plain view.

Here's the link on HOW TO BUILD A $10 PLANS HOLDER.

[ Thanks bilagaana! ]


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Monday, February 09, 2009

Gakken's Stirling engine powered car kit

Gakken's Stirling engine powered car kit
The other day, the Retro Thing blog drew my attention to this really awesome looking Sterling Engine Car Kit by Gakken.

From one review:
The kit has nice components. The instructions are complete (24 pages in Japanese). And, there are a whole bunch of tiny details to get lost in. The cylinder mount and the gears need to be carefully aligned. This is one of the trickier parts. If you have it misaligned, there will be too much friction for the engine to run. A gauge is supplied to make this step easier.

This and several other hard-to-find Gakken kits can be found at the Make Magazine MakerShed.


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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Victorian Flea Circus Chariot Project

The other day, I wrote a short post about a very nicely made miniature tool bench. If you are interested in miniatures, you should hop on over to the Workshop Shed blog to see more about how Andy put together this amazing little brass chariot.


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Friday, January 30, 2009

Miniature woodshop models with amazing detail

Miniature woodshop with amazing detail
Setting the scene for an automaton often requires making miniature versions of things. Having done bit of this myself, I can really appreciate the work of David Brookshaw who makes 1/12-scale miniatures of tools and workshop equipment.

Brookshaw is working on a fully-equipped Victorian workshop. In the photo above that is a U.S. Quarter clamped to the bench vise!

You can visit David Brookshaw's web site to see more photos of his work

[ Thanks Charles! ]


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Monday, January 05, 2009

Floating arm trebuchet - throws golf balls 200'

Floating arm trebuchet kit
This precision engineered trebuchet is a functional model standing 34" tall, 18" long and 12" wide when built. The guillotine-action and a plunging beam can hurl a golf ball over 200 feet. Nice!

From the product description:
Detailed instructions and high quality hardwood pieces that have been pre-cut and pre-drilled are all provided, so you can construct a finished model in a day.

This kit is professionally engineered, designed and manufactured in the USA. Made with 100% hardwoods, each part is precision carved by computer controlled machinery for a guaranteed fit and accuracy.

Here a link to see more about the Floating Arm Trebuchet.


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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Working replica of the Antikythera mechanism

Working replica of the Antikythera mechanism
A British museum curator has built a working replica of the Antikythera mechanism -- a 2,000 year old machine found off the coast of Greece in 1902.

The Antikythera mechanism was used to track the movements of planetary bodies (including their various eccentricities) as well as for determining the dates for Olympic games.

Here's a full article on the working Antikythera reproduction: World's First Computer Rebuilt, Rebooted After 2,000 Years.

For even more information on this device, check out the book called Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer.



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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The 6 Foot Working Ferris Wheel K'NEX Kit

The 6-Foot tall Ferris Wheel is largest K'NEX building set they have ever produced. It has more individual pieces (8,550 to be exact) and is physically bigger, topping out at a full 6 feet tall.

Clearly, this is a big project -- probably best for expert builders in their late teens and older. The set comes with color-coded instructions and a wall-powered motor to set the wheel in motion.

Here is one place to get the The 6 Foot Working Ferris Wheel Kit.


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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Paper snowman model, automata, & surprise gifts

Snowman paper model kitRob Ives over at Flying Pig Paper Animation Kits has just released a new paper model for the holiday season. The snowman shown here is a downloadable model. You simply pay online using your Paypal account or a credit card, then download the .PDF that contains the pattern and instructions. Don't worry if you are not used to paying in Great Britian Pounds (GBP) -- PayPal will convert the transaction into your currency. Most cost less than a cup of Starucks coffee. Once you download the file, print it, cut out the pieces, and glue it together as instructed.

If you have kids at home on vacation complaining of having "nothing to do", check out all of amazing paper animation kits from Flying Pig. There are dozens, ranging from dinosaurs to working paper locks. You can let the kids choose the model and have the kit printed out in just minutes. That ought to keep them busy!

Struggling for what to get the crafty/clever person in your life for the holidays because you think they already have everything? Why not surprise them by pre-ordering Rob's forthcoming book? It's called Paper Engineering & Pop-ups For Dummies.Give them an envelope with a print out of the book's cover and they'll look forward to receiving a great gift in just a few months.


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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mechanical toy gifts for the holidays 2008 - Part 1

You've still got a few shopping days left! Here is a list of mechanical toys that can be ordered online and at your home in plenty of time for the holidays.

Battery Science: Make Widgets That Work and Gadgets That Go
Battery Science: Make Widgets That Work and Gadgets That Go - An affordable, creative kit for making all kinds of crazy little contraptions with little more than a small battery-powered motor. At $15, this is a great value and great fun.

More fun engineering from Klutz:
Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes


Karakuri: Bow Shooting Boy
Karakuri: Bow Shooting Boy by Gakken - A kit for the advance or ambitious maker, this is a plastic recreation of a famous Japanese karakuri. The boy actually picks up arrows, places them on the bow, and shoots at a mini target. Amazing! At $150 this may be best for the "big kid" in your life or a gifted youngster. A different Gakken Karakuri kit may be found at the MAKE magazine store.


Wooden Pinball Baseball
Front Porch Classics Baseball- I finally had a chance to play at a friend's house and I am pleased to say that this is a really great game. It's well made and doesn't take up a ton of room. This rather nice model runs $80, but there are versions for about half the price. Good for adults and kids.


Kluz and Lego bundled packages
Lego Crazy Action Contraptions and Lego Crazy Action Contraptions: A Lego Inventions Book- Both spiral-bound books ($22 and $14, respectively) have clear instructions with step-by-step diagrams and come with a small pouch of LEGO bricks for the projects. Having additional basic Lego brickson hand is a good idea for the first book, and required for the second.


We'll be back tomorrow with part 2 of our last-minute mechanical gift suggestions. You can also peruse The Automata / Automaton Store where our staff has added hundreds of items that are available at Amazon.com.

[ My thanks to the esteemed members of The Automata / Automaton Group on Facebook for many of these suggestions! ]


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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Stirling engine kit runs from heat of your hand

Stirling engine kit
The principle of the Stirling engine is simple but ingenious. An external heat source and heat sink create temperature differences in a cylinder. The air inside expands and contracts because of these differences and thus moves a piston. The piston is typically attached to a crank shaft to convert the reciprocating motion into a rotary motion.

This Stirling Engine Kit can run on the heat coming from your hand alone! This would make a pretty cool gift IMHO.

Here is the link for this Stirling Engine Kit.



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