Again I'm sorry I have not blogged in a while. A Christmas vacation, a waterpark excursion with the grandkids, and general sloth slowed me down a little over the holiday period. I have been busy building a section of my parade float though. I haven't been posting that because I felt you wouldn't find it very interesting if you are following my blog for automata knowledge. Anyway I am just completing the mechanism and characters for one section of the float and I think it's time to return to complete the automata project was working on prior to charging off into the float stuff.
Working with polystyrene to cut and shape the penguins has been interesting. I often emerge from my shop coated in static electriclly charged small pieces of foam. Mix in the overspray from some spray adhesive and you have a mixture that is hard to vacuum! I decided I need to purge the shop and myself of polystyrene residue for a while. The vignette I've done is a trio of penguins, ranging in height form 27" to 32" tall that are waddling along the side of the float. They don't actually move forward but tip side to side in the motion of penguins. Along with a little scenery this will occupy one back corner of the float.
The motion is imparted by what I call my "waddle box", a plywood construct that will drop in the float with a motor gearbox, and rocker arms to mount the penguins on. It looks crude but it will serve the purpose of being sturdy enough to survive the rocking weight while only needing to last a few hours for a parade. It wouldn't be good if pieces of penguin where flying off into the assembled spectators! Each of the penguins opens and closes their mouth as if singing "Drivin' Home for Christmas" the theme song for the float.
I made the penguins by generating a 3D image in CAD, and cutting polystyrene disks to laminate pieces together to make an approximate profile. These pieces have a hole up through the centre to allow for passage of control wires to the beak. Once assembled it is onto shaping by cutting and sanding these forms to a smooth finish. (This is where the mess is generated.)
I've attached a couple of photos to look at and I will followup with an operating video when paint is complete. In the "waddle Box" photo you can see the motor and gearbox behind the belt guard and the rockers which have a black PVC pipe that fits up into the bodies of the penguins. The penguins, (Patty, Maxene and LaVerne, ) have one coat of primer paint on them at this point. The little one has a squarish looking head since the beak mechanism was a tight fit and I was reluctant to sand too much off the head. The odd shape will be hidden by a well placed Santa hat when completed.
Here is an early preview of the girls.
Every cool ride needs a set of hot wheels. Here are two of the four for the penguins vehicle made from polystyrene. Apparently they are a well known Antarctic brand.
Every year the grandkids come north and we attend the evening Santa Parade in Fenelon Falls. It' a pretty good showing for a smaller rural town. Since the kids are a little older I pitched that maybe we should enter a float in next years parade! I figured with a little twist on my automata work we could do something little different, fun and, fun for the family and the community.
Before committing I thought I should try and make something that would meet my personal criteria which are entertaining, weatherproof, sturdy enough to survive the trip to town and the parade route, and of course, somewhat automated. So I set out to build a prototype penguin to see how hard working with foam and scaling things would be. Well here is my guy. My daughter has named him Pete. He is 36" tall, opens and closes his mouth and he will waddle side to side when install on the float.
I found a few challenges working with the foam, but basically I think I can pass the 10 ft blink test needed for a parade character. Anyway, here is Pete!
My pregnant character, “Mom”, has finally arrived in the Clinic Waiting Room. She has started contractions as she waits her turn to see a doctor. It’s only a little disturbing for those around her. She still needs more paint but here she is.
I've completed the third of four waiting patients in the "Clinic Waiting Room", a sequel to the original "Waiting Room" automata. This character is a petite little girl. She is made up as a Catholic school girl type, in that she sports a institutional style school tunic and wears a religious icon around her neck.
She has swollen cheeks and is running a high temperature. Even with an ice bag on her head she remains quite flushed. Perhaps she has the mumps, or maybe impudent behaviour resulted in having her mouth washed out with soap, which precipitated an allergic reaction.
Here is Eloise; that is what I have been calling here lately. Perhaps she reminds me of the stories of a little girl living in a hotel in New York City. Anyway, her head turns, her eyes shoot up and down, and she swings her legs aimlessly as children often do.
A big thanks to all the folks who stopped by our table at the Ontario Wood Carvers Association show this weekend in Pickering. Always a fun time to exhibit some automata and discuss the craft with wood working enthusiasts. There is always lots to talk and giggle about.
A special thanks to Jocelyn for coming again this year to help out, always appreciated!
Here's a couple of photos from the show.
Lots going on, but I did manage to get a little time in the workshop. Here is the lumberjack for my current project "The Clinic Waiting Room", a variant of the previous Waiting Room. He's reading a book he should have read before!
Conquergood Creative will be at the OCWA Magic in Wood show this weekend in Pickering Ontario. This years show is 1 day only, a change from last year, being held on Saturday Oct 21st at the Pickering Recreation Complex, 1867 Valley Farm Road in Pickering.
Hope to see you there!
I get many requests in person and online to make plans for some of my more complex automata projects available. Documenting the steps involved has always seemed like a daunting task to me.
I have decided to give it a try using video as the primary medium for instruction as an accompaniment to printed plans. So I am in the beginning of building and filming the building the project that has had the most request for plans - "The Waiting Room". To preserve the uniqueness of the original piece I will reconfigure it as "The Doctors Office" with a few modifications the in characters.
The impatient skelton will be part of the new project. I've been busy building and filming the building of a new version. Right know I am editing the video which will likely end up in excess of one hour, and that is just for him!
I'll push through to the finish and assess the complete project and how ultimately I might make it available.
For now here is the new "Bones".
A big thanks for dropping by at the Kawartha Carving Competition this past weekend. It was nice to see some regular visitors and some new folks as well. A special thanks to my brother for helping out, providing a local dimension to the booth since he lives in Bobcaygeon.
The glasses in the diagnosis performed admirably in its first public showing and the Trojan Cat was a big hit. Here's the dynamic booth duo. I'm the more handsome one!
Automata is a creative blend of my life interests , engineering, art and woodworking.