Archive for the 7. A Mechanical Automaton Category

Mechanical Yahtzee Dice Thing made on a plane

Posted in 7. A Mechanical Automaton on December 17, 2009 by Rohit

Finally got this done on a southwest flight from chicago to vegas. I was playing yahtzee and kept losing the dice so I decided to go ahead and make a contraption that allowed me to use the real dice but not have them go all over the place in the plane. The machine is made entirely out of southwest safety cards, drink stirrers, coffee cups, a plastic cup, and tape(only part i happened to have in my bag). I couldn’t make a good video on the plane so the video is in my hotel in vegas!

a bunch of pics of how this was made …


Dog wants to have fun.

Posted in 7. A Mechanical Automaton on December 15, 2009 by melloko

Here’s an assignment that I never got around to documenting.

Check it out: (very straight forward)

Some Details:

A comment:
The bell crank did not work out so well, as it was very stiff. Next time, I would change the angle and choose a stronger material.

How to make it:
1. Laser cut on white cardboard silhouettes of a person sitting, a dog and a person standing.
2. Create the chair by making a wide but skinny rectangular box, and a cut-rectangle for the seat.
3. Create another box, same thickness and width, only shorter. Glue it to the seat, near the floor. This is part of the lever.
4. To create the fulcrum, I basically followed the photo from flying pig. Cut out two shapes with a whole punched hole, tube -in this case 3 wires squished together.
5. Next, make another small box and glue the two shapes on its sides. Put the wires through the holes and blue the middle of the wires to the second box you built. There’s your lever.
6. Glue the dog’s front feet to the edge of the lever. Since feet were small and fragile, I stuck them into a piece of cardboard (normal card-b) then glued that cardboard to the lever.
7. To create the bell crank, cut out the shapes shown in the video. Make sure you have two of each shape, because one piece of cardboard is not strong enough.
8. Put the straw through the wholes of your shape. Attach string from the legs to the straw for better tilting abilities.
9. Finally, give the sitter a fat surface by gluing a (random) shape to its butt. This way, it can actually sit.
10. Done! Enjoy your personal annoying dog.

Walking Puppet

Posted in 7. A Mechanical Automaton on November 2, 2009 by zingzhang

Materials : Cardboard, paper clips, glue, tape

This idea was supposed to be a simple one, but in hindsight, I realized that even the simplest of gears are very frustrating to get working when you are creating them from hand. The “gears” are just two egg-shaped prisms that are pierced through by a bent apart paperclip such that by turning the paperclip, you are turning the gears as well.

Next, I just have a cardboard man with cardboard legs that can move vertically up and down (guided by another bent paperclip). I put the man on top of the gears so that by turning the gears, the man’s legs will alternately go up and down as if he was walking.

Assignment 7- A Mario becomes a Frog (but not Frog Mario)

Posted in 7. A Mechanical Automaton on October 20, 2009 by sbisker

I originally has hoped to design a two part system – the first part being a little paper “Mario” figurine that jumped up and down, and the second part being a little mario level background that scrolled behind it. I imagined that the mario figurine would move up and down on a cam, and the level background would scroll behind it on a friction tread. This was slightly ambitious – I’d never really built my own gear system in my life (save for Lego), and for this I decided to create my own gear, tread and cam system from scratch using a laser cutter – but I thought it’d be worth a shot.

After much cutting, re-cutting, hammering, unhammering, rehammering, drilling, aligning, taping, untaping…you get the picture…I wound up having all of the physical pieces in place. However, I realized that my initial idea of how a cam worked was slightly off – a cam only pushes something up and down if that item is being pushed onto the cam by gravity and held straight in place somehow. I understood this fact, but failed to realized that the up and down motion is not something that could easily happen *in front of* the tread system (that is, in three dimensions) – which is what would have been necessary for the effect to work.

At this point, I’d plowed quite a bit of time into the thing – and in the two dimensions the gears worked well in, was only left with a functional tread system and a spare, wobbly gear. I lamented my fate for a bit until I talked with Cheng, who noted that the wobbly gear actually gave the rubber band a jerky effect. I’d been struggling to get the rubber band to move consistently smoothly on the tread for a while – but she suggested I take the opposite approach, and turn that occasional jerkiness into an aspect of the intended movement. Which is how I wound up turning my Mario scene into a frog “hopping” scene. 🙂 The entire thing is hand-powered; I had planned to run off of a single motor but
having to secure the motor in a way that kept the motor gear both flush and able to turn freely was becoming an exercise in futility.

So, after much ado, a frog hopping:

MTI7 – Gift Box

Posted in 7. A Mechanical Automaton on October 19, 2009 by ryun


I built a “Glue-Free” gift box using “Rack and Pinion” and “Gears” mechanism. It was the first time I made my own gears and not very easy to create perfect ones. That is why you see kind of crooked gears working funny on the video. The challenge is that I tried not to use glue or screws to put the pieces together so that the gift receiver can take apart the box, play the puzzle with the pieces and build the box over and over again in an easy way.

Here are one of my drawings and screen shots of the Giftbox

Growing wire

Posted in 7. A Mechanical Automaton on October 18, 2009 by Kuan-ju Wu

“Making Things interactive” assignment 7:Mechanical Automaton. I use two rows of wood wrapped by plastic pipe in parallel to pull the wire up. Beside raising the wire, the big gear in the bottom also make the wire spin. So the wire raises and spins just like a growing plant.

I made the gears using Laser Cutter Machine


the small gears and the box are made of  hardboard, the big black gear is acrylic, and the stick is brass rod.

The two wood cylinders are wrapped by clear PVC pipe.

Finally, Super Glue is always a good friend.


Muhnah MuhBot!

Posted in 7. A Mechanical Automaton on October 18, 2009 by danrapoport



Check this out – I couldn’t figure out how to embed Vimeo so please take the time to click the link – it’s appreciated.

Thanks, Dan.

Muhnah MuhBot! from Dan Rapoport on Vimeo.

I used an erector set to animate the mouth of my Muppet. The design is fairly simple and incorporates an rotating motion converted into an up-down motion via an off-center wheel on an axis and a rod.