Cams are the mechanisms that add life to our automata. As many people have noted, they can be viewed as a type of “memory” that allows the mechanism to perform the same motion over and over again. Cams can’t do it alone, however. Cams are usually paired with a cam follower that translates the shape of the rotating cam into a linear motion. Let’s take a look at some practical cam follower designs. Read more
January 21, 2015 by Dug North · Comments Off
In previous installments of this column, we looked at some methods for cutting brass and techniques for bending brass for your automaton projects. At some point, you will want to join some of these pieces without the use of screws, bolts, or other hardware. In this, the final installment of our series on working with brass, we will look at some tools and techniques to solder brass parts together.
July 14, 2014 by Dug North · Comments Off
In the last instalment of this column, we looked at some of the many ways you can cut brass for your automaton project. Once cut, there is a good chance you will need to bend the brass in some way to suit your needs. Let’s take a look at some of the methods for bending brass rod, tubing, bar, and sheets.
Brass is a metal that looks good with wood, is easy to work, and can be soldered. You can use it for specific parts or create entire automaton with it! If you are going to use brass, probably the first thing you’ll want to do is cut some. It comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Let’s take a look at some of the more common formats and how to cut them. Remember to wear safety glasses when using any of these techniques.
10 Handy Tricks for Woodworkers & Automaton-makers
We’ve focused on techniques in this column up to this point. Now it’s time for some small tips that can make a big difference! Here are some woodworking tricks that I have found useful for automaton-making.
A ratchet can be a very useful mechanism within an automaton. It can be used to keep the handle from being turned the wrong way or to divide the cycle of action into a series of small steps. This is one way to extend the duration of the performance. Let’s make a ratchet that is advanced by one step for every revolution of a crank. Read more
In the last article, we looked at how to make pulleys for automaton projects. We also made belts from O-ring gasket material. Custom-sized belts can also be made from urethane belting material. Joining the ends of this material is one of those jobs that seems to require three or four hands, but it doesn’t have to. Let’s take a look at an easy method that produces a strong welded joint. Read more
Pulleys and belts are incredibly useful to the automaton maker. They can transfer power from one axle to another and change the speed, direction or plane of rotation! Check out Cabaret Mechanical Movement for more information about pulleys.
In this article, we will use a simple approach to make a pair of pulleys and make a belt from O-ring gasket material.
Often an automaton figure without jointed arms and legs will work just fine. But, if you want to create a character pedaling a bicycle, those knees will need to bend! To depict a realistic human motion, it is helpful if the figure’s joints only bend the way real humans bend. Joints that only move in the correct way give you more options for providing the necessary input motion also. This, in turn, creates a greater range of resulting motions from which to choose. In this article, we will create a basic wooden knee joint that is easy to make and has dozens of uses.
Building the Boxes for Wood Automata
There is no rule that says the mechanism for a wood automaton must be contained inside of a box, but the practice does have some advantages. A box makes a sturdy base, provides even surfaces for mounting mechanisms and figures, and can make the construction process easier. While there are dozens of sophisticated woodworking joints, a basic one will do the trick!