With the availability of precision controllable actuators, it’s easy to overlook the simple but versatile mechanisms that got us here. In the video after the break, [Teaching Tech] explores the basics of cams and how to use them in your projects.
Cams are used to convert rotation into linear motion, and are probably best known for their use in engines and locking mechanisms. [Teaching Tech] first goes over the basic design and terminology in CAD, and demonstrates it’s use with a cam follower, locking mechanism, cam plate, and a knob that snaps to predefined positions. Of course a cam shape is not limited to a single lobe, but can have multiple lobes of various heights to create different motion patterns.
Cams are especially useful when you need to operate multiple mechanisms from a single input drive, as [Teaching Tech] demonstrates with the 3D printed automaton of a polar bear attempting to swipe a seal. We’ve also seen cams on a mechanical 7-segment display, and they were used to safely fire machine guns through aircraft propellers up to the 1950’s.
So next time you’re thinking adding another actuator to a project, take a moment to consider if a cheap and simple cam could do the job.
Continue reading “A Simple Guide To Cams”
We love the artistry of paper mechanisms. Simple tools and techniques creating humor, beauty, and amazement.
[Federico Tobon] from [Wolfcat Workshop] makes amazing automata, crosses between cut paper art, origami, and traditional carved wood automata. He’s put out a useful new video on making linkages in paper parts.
In this short video, [Federico] shows us how to make a paper version of the leg mechanism for [Theo Jansen]’s classic Strandbeest, which we’ve covered in many variations.
Rotating joints in paper automata are sometimes done with a mechanical fastener like a post screw, but it violates the simplicity of the affair and often looks clunky. [Federico] uses a simple self fastener. A 5 mm hole in one part mates with two “flaps” in the other part. He’s made a separate video covering how to make the fastenings. He’s using a paper crafter’s Cricut-type machine to cut the parts. Pretty cool.
We’ve covered lots of other cool stuf from [Wolfcat Workshop]. If you want more of his automata eye candy, check out Simple Automata Extravaganza.
[Henk Rijckhaert] recently participated in a “secret Santa” gift exchange. In a secret Santa, everyone’s name goes in a hat, and each person must pick a name without looking. Each gives a gift to the person whose name they drew.
Henk needed a gift for Amy, a friend who loves the water and water sports as well as maker-y things. So he built her a wave automaton — a sea wave and fishies, and documented the build in this video.
The build is mostly plywood and 3D printed parts. We have to think reprising it in a nice wood and brass would make a lovely project for a hobby wood and metalworker.
The bulk of the project is 30 plywood boards stacked up with spacers. Each board is mounted with a 3D printed stepped bushing on one end that rides in a horizontal slot. On the other end is a 3D printed eccentric riding in an oversized (about 5cm) hole. So the board moves in a circle at one end and back and forth at the other for a very nice simulation of an ocean wave. Continue reading “A Crazy Wave Automaton”
The art of building purely mechanical automatons has dramatically declined with the arrival of electronics over the past century, but there are still a few craftsmen who keep the art form alive. [François Junod] is one of these masters, and the craftsmanship and intricacy on display in his automata is absolutely amazing.
[François]’ creations are all completely devoid of electronics, and are powered either by wound-up springs or weights. The mechanics of the automata are part of the display, and contain a vast array of gears, linkages, belts and tracks. Many of them also include their own soundtrack, which range from simple bells and chimes to complete melodies from mechanized wind instruments, as demonstrated in Le Champignonneur below. He also collaborates with craftsman like jewelers on works like La Fée Ondine, which we thought was CGI when we first saw it in the video after the break.
Very few people have the time, skill and patience to make these creations, but we are glad there are still a few around. Some builds, like [Patelo]’s flightless drone aren’t quite as complex, but are no less inspiring. If you don’t quite have the time and fabrication skills, you can still create mesmerizing automatons with 3D printing like [gzumwalt]. Continue reading “The Incredible Mechanical Artistry Of François Junod”
Automata are already pretty cool, but the ones that can fool us are something extraordinary. The legendary [Greg Zumwalt] has recently turned his toy-making attentions toward illusory automata, and we think he’s off to a great start with his admirable appetizer, the Magic Chef.
The Chef aims to please, and as long as he has the power to do so, he’ll keep offering dishes from his six-item menu of hamburger, hot dog, pizza slice, BLT, sunny-side-up egg, and banded gelatinous chunk we can’t quite identify. Amazingly, this one-man restaurant does everything with a single 6VDC gear motor, some magnets, and 58 printed parts including gears, cams, and levers. The way the food carousel moves on a sort of magnetic slip ring system is the icing on the cake.
If you want to whip up a Magic Chef of your own, all the STL files are available for take-out from the Instructables page. Hungry for more details? go wash up and get situated after the break, ’cause we’re serving up a demo video with some close-up views of the inner workings. Oh, and here’s some automata-brewed coffee for dessert.
Continue reading “Do You Smell What The Magic Chef Is Cookin’?”
Join us Wednesday at noon Pacific time for the Learning Through Play Hack Chat!
You may think you’ve never heard of Greg Zumwalt, but if you’ve spent any time on Instructables or Thingiverse, chances are pretty good you’ve seen some of his work. After a long career that ranged from avionics design and programming to video game development, Greg retired and found himself with the time to pursue pet projects that had always been on the back burner, including his intricate 3D-printed automata. His motto is “I fail when I decide to stop learning,” and from the number of projects he turns out and the different methods he incorporates, he has no intention of failing.
Please join us for this Hack Chat, where we’ll discuss:
- Lifelong learning through play;
- Toy-building as a means to skillset growth;
- Sources of inspiration and getting new ideas; and
- What sorts of projects Greg has in the pipeline.
You are, of course, encouraged to add your own questions to the discussion. You can do that by leaving a comment on the Learning Through Play Hack Chat and we’ll put that in the queue for the Hack Chat discussion.
Our Hack Chats are live community events on the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, March 13, at noon, Pacific time. If time zones have got you down, we have a handy time zone converter.
Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.
[Federico Tobon] from [Wolfcat Workshop] spent Makevember in 2017 building a series of fascinating automata using the most basic of craft supplies and simple tools in his workshop. Using a combination of rigid materials such as wooden cubes, popsicle sticks, and paper clips and pliable ones like paper and rubber bands, his creations are way more delightful to play with compared to fidget spinners.
There are no assembly guides, instructions or building plans, but for a hacker, one look at these designs ought to be enough to glean how to build one, with some trial and error to get it right. And that is exactly what [Tobon] found to his delight. After sharing animated GIFs of his creations on social media, numerous other hackers built and shared their own versions of his designs as well as building some new ones.
He posts several other useful resources, some of which were the inspiration that got him started making these automata. All of them are pretty interesting, so do take a look at them too. There is a lot that young kids can learn from building these little machines, given some guidance and help from the elders. But the way we see it, it’s likely the old folks will enjoy them more.
The video after the break compiles all of the little machines for six minutes of viewing pleasure.
Continue reading “Simple Automata Extravaganza”