Make Anything Clockwork With This Ridiculous Stick-On Device

Clockwork devices were popular right up until motors and electronics proved far more capable in just about every way. However, there’s something charming about a device you can wind up to make it do its thing. To recreate this feeling on modern technology, [Kousuke Saito] created a clockwork winder that you can fit to a wide variety of modern appliances. 

Somehow it just feels right.

The design is simple. It consists of a motor which is run from a battery. The two components are installed in a 3D printed housing with a magnet on the bottom. When the device is attached to a metal surface, a switch is activated which turns the motor on. The motor is attached to a large printed “winding key” that would be familiar to anyone who has used a clockwork toy or timepiece before. If the magnetic manner of activation is familiar, you might recall it from [Kousuke Saito’s] chirping cicada project.

It’s a silly build, to be sure. Regardless, when placed on certain appliances, like a simple fan, the motion really does imply that the clockwork winder is connected to the mechanism inside. It’s a falsehood, of course, but a joyous one.

We’ve featured some real clockwork hardware before, too, like these amazing time locks.

38 thoughts on “Make Anything Clockwork With This Ridiculous Stick-On Device

  1. Many years ago, the mid 1970’s IIRC, I witnessed a VW bug on the highway. Unsurprising, as they were everywhere, air cooled and inexpensive, and as safe as any other car of the time, but this was special.

    It had the ‘wind up’ option for when the little engine couldn’t.

    A giant (maybe 1m wide) wind up key was attached to the back, rotating as the car went along the road, rocking the car around as it cut the airflow at different angles, possibly, at times, improving the aerodynamics of the vehicle.

    Some thing one never forgets.

      1. Thanks for the link. I don’t know if I ever saw the film.

        Not likely. Maybe a publicity tour, but more likely a copy, or even an independent idea. I don’t recall the exact year, but I do recall where: Rt 1, north of Boston, near the Hilltop (anyone that traveled the region prior to the 1990’s will recognize the location) This millennium, I would have had a camera handy, rather then in the camera bag in the trunk.

        1. Back in the day there were a couple running around LA down by the beaches. 1 orange, 1 tan, and one hideous green. The orange one had the key mounted to the roof. Thanks for the memories

        1. It seems that the director (which is also the main character) was inspired by Herbie, but the concept is completely different: while Herbie was “magic”, Dudu is 100% technology. It has a powerful computer and all the things that it does are thanks to gadgets installed by the owner.

          In fact, Glen Larson said that he was inspired by it to create Knight Rider.

  2. Brilliant(ly ridiculous ;)
    Suggestions for “improvement”:
    1. It sticks out too far for my tastes.
    2. It should have either A) a wireless current sensor placed inline with the appliance to turn it on and off with the actual operation, or B) a wireless relay that only allows the appliance to operate once it’s been “wound up” (which fails “on” if communication with the key is lost).

  3. Slightly off topic, but a wonderful prank to pull is to put Bluetooth logo stickers on appliances and random bits of office hardware. People will spend hours trying to connect to them.

    I mention this because someone once got me with a “kerosene powered desktop” when I was in kindergarten. It was a windows 3.1 machine with a tiny kerosene lamp and some extra parts pop-riveted onto the desktop housing. They’d hidden power switch on the floor to turn it on once the lamp “got up to temperature”.

    Some of my favorites for the Bluetooth stickers include…
    – window blinds with a boxy housing on top, the kind you pull down or push up with your hand instead of strings
    – legacy hardware that was implemented well before Bluetooth
    – egg timers
    – paper shredders
    – desk chairs
    – mouse pads
    – bulky insulated coffee mugs
    – wired computer mice and keyboards (just to confuse people)
    – Tupperware
    – needlessly complex desktop flower pots

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