So this exercise was mechanically a failure, but I ended up learning a great deal, making it ostensibly successful (this covers mechanical movement and motorized mechanical movement). The beauty of these automata is how with such simple mechanical movements, incredibly complex stories can be told. Mechanically, what I built was very simple, but a brain looking at it makes incredible assessments and leaps in logic, applying an entire innate knowledge base about hands and how they work. Such things aside, I learned a great deal from this project. Firstly, movement is complicated. That was a genuine lesson that I guess I had not quite internalized. As an industrial designer, I’m used to making rather static objects. The leap to the kinetic was a large one. I had a great number of difficulties with different parts of the movement. The cams were unsuccessful for several reasons, foremost their geometry. There was far too great a change in radius in either direction in too short an amount of time. Thusly, they were never fully incorporated. Among the other major hurdles I ran into were material choice for the “tendons,” the amount of throw for each of the finger joints, and having far too lofty of goals (my first idea was a Michael Jackson moonwalker-bot). Even though the project did not turn out the way I had originally hoped it would, people still responded very viscerally to the hand and were immediately drawn to it.
December 16, 2007
November 1, 2007
Just to get everything up on the class blog, here’s the documentation I shot of a failed attempt at Exercise 5. After hours of breaking balsa wood, cutting myself, and generally not getting anywhere, this is what I had. (more…)
October 30, 2007
I brazed together this robo-bug out of copper tubing and wire. It translates flex movement to rotational movement of its legs via braided bicycle cables. A pair of springs return the legs to their original position. The most interesting part of the build was brazing the tubes together with simple flux, solder, and a torch. I had to wrap more complicated joints with copper wire before brazing to hold things together and provide a stronger finished joint.
October 23, 2007
I used a template of an eagle flapping its wings from ceracera. I was interested in using paper as a medium because of its delicacy and also because I thought it would save me some time. Ironically, folding the paper to make 3d objects with sufficient structural stability and strength required much cutting, folding, gluing, and assembling. It took a good 6-7 hours from printing to the final product:
I was trying to see how the template maker actually went about making the final piece. My conclusion is that he/she first makes it using his/her own creative judgment. Afterwards, the piece is taken apart and explained through reverse engineering. This is my conclusion because it would be very difficult to first make the template parts and then see how the final assemblage turns out. I’ve also seen on another website a japanese creator make an elephant out of paper, rip it apart carefully, tape the ripped pieces, and then scan each part to make the template accessible for everyone as well as for personal documentation so he can remake the elephant at a later time.
From a paper designer, injan.net (Example of Reverse Engineering):
With the learning from the eagle, I went ahead and tried to play around with some other medium, this time aluminum pipes & wires, to start Exercise 6. I’ve started to make gears with these pipes, nails, and wires:
My intention behind this project was to make a manual version of the wind-up fishy games of my youth. It ended up being a little more abstract, and not so easy to play. I tried to go with foam core again like my last project, as I got a little more comfortable cutting and gluing.
It’s not the ideal material, especially once things start moving. I had issues with making proper teeth for the gears, so I had to make those a few times. Once I had all proper pieces and support, I put the fins on the bottom, but the “fish” kept getting caught on them. Once I put tape on the bottom of the fish and also on the fins underneath, things were a little smoother, but still getting caught every once in a while.
The end result is a clunky fish game that you need a third person to crank the wheel in order to play:
Overall, I’ve learned a great deal but simply jumping in and trying shape things the way I want them, but I can’t help but feeling like I don’t have the right tools or that someone with more experience with foam core could probably teach me a lot quicker. I also would like to use the laser cutter so that I can be more experimental and not worry about ruining a gear that took me an hour to cut out.
October 21, 2007
I created two gears, one with a piston action turning circular rotation into a vertical and front back oscillating motions like a piston.
From that motion I turned it back into a back and forth linear motion with another assembly of gears on the post of the piston.
To test the movements I initially modeled them in 2D, and then moved to 3D space, learning a lot about precision in the process.
October 17, 2007
Basicly, I tried to do a carousel. there are two basic motions that I tried to implement, one of them was ” two gears which directed with a handle , while one of the gears make a motion as a wheel, it turns the other one as if it is a turntable. This part was for the carousel basement.
And the other one was basicly a motor piston , I did for to catch the motion for horses on carousel.
I used mixed materials, balsa wood and foamcore. I think they do not work together well and it is really hard to control foamcore board in a dynamic model.
For next phase, I think I will try to go with plywood for kinetic side and for arduino I will use a dc motor works in corporation with photoresistors.
October 16, 2007
The two larger gears are attached to the sides, and the two smaller gears are attached on the lower part of the toy.
In order to make the two larger gears rotate in the same direction, I put one extra gear, which reverses the movement of the existing lower gear.
The tricky part about making gears was that you need to be extremely meticulous when you have to decide how many teeth you use for one gear, at what angle you would cut each tooth, and how to position the gear next to one another so that none of the teeth would get jammed up.
I’m still deciding how I’m going to utilize the two larger gears to make a different type of movement other than just “rotation.” Anyhow this is what I have so far.
Video attached below.
October 15, 2007
Having never built anything mechanized, I felt it was important to start with something that would work, so I searched for paper automaton kits online. I found an automaton blog, which has a lot of great links. Ultimately, I settled on a design from Flying Pig.
I thought working with paper would be less difficult than other materials, but I’m not sure if that was correct. I spent a good six hours printing, cutting, and assembling my piece. It was amazing to see 2D paper become a 3D object.
What did I learn from this? Well, I now know what a cam and cam follower are (kind of), and it helped give me some ideas for the next project.
I built a frustrated coder, inspired by the coding animation on my homepage.
It looks like this: and for size reference: . Truly a wooden monstrosity, but it was my first time in the woodshop. And the mechanism: . The two outside hands (levers) type rapidly when the dowel is turned; the head rises then eventually thumps against the keyboard in frustration. C++ code is pasted to the inside of the enclosure.