The bird in my current automata project (a North American Sleptin), is fairly heavy with many moving bits. Some of the movement with be rapid, likely causing a fair bit of jostling and force. I need the legs to be strong enough to handle all of this. I often use hardwood, like maple, to make strong legs, but I figured I needed something a little more.
I'm going to use 3/16" brass rods so I can securely fasten the legs to the base for strength, and a strong pivot for the bird. The rod isn't very realistic, or even pretty, so I'm going to clad the rod with maple to make bird looking legs. The rods will extend below the feet so I can fasten them into the top of the mechanism chamber. I made each leg in two pieces since it can be tricky drilling long straight holes in hardwood. I will hide the joint in the knee joint of the bird. It is important that the rods be tight in the holes so that they act as one piece. On final assembly I will add glue into the hole with the rod to fill any voids.
The completed one is on the left and the work in progress is on the right. In the photo the rod is not shown protruding below the foot. That is for later.
Sometimes when I try to visualize things I just feel like it's better to knock a quick prototype of a component together it help me see things more clearly. Is the size I'm considering big enough? Is there enough room for the mechanics? Should I add some more scope?
The bird trying to grab the worm from an apple was such a case. I made the apple. I really haven't drawn the bird yet, but I wanted to scale the bird appropriately, so I decided to prototype it. There is nothing too fancy here. It is built of bits of wood I find lying around in my shop. This one includes some particle board, something I would never use in an automata.
So here is the bird. It's going to be a North American Sleptin, a bird rarely seen in the morning hours. It pivots forward and back, it raises and lowers it's tail, flaps it's wings, and opens and closes it's beak. So I think the prototype has helped. Now I need to turn it into a more life-like creature. Since I'm having fun in the shop I think I will just start in on making the legs. My next blog will show some detail on a special leg assembly I'm going to use.
I'm kicking off a new project and the first component is an apple. I haven't even finished the mechanical design but I think I know what I want the apple to do. I sketched it out yesterday and came up to the shop this morning and roughed out the basic pieces. Then I was off to the Caygeon Carvers to hang out with the boys and do some detailing while catching up on local news. (I try to save carving jobs so I can take something to the carving club when I'm up north.)
After a few assembly touches when I returned to my shop, here is the apple that I hope will become part of the next automata piece.
The apple has a little worm that will pop up and down. This version of the worm may not be the final, but I wanted to visualize things so I knocked him together from some wooden beads I had and made him a head - stupid grin included! While building the apple I decided to add another dimension to the action. I find this often happens despite the fact that I think I have planned everything out. I plan to add an additional hole in the rear of the apple so that when the worm disappears into the apple, a bit of his rear end will stick out the back. I'll have to hollow out part of the bottom part of the apple to make space for the mechanism.
I want to show you a detail in the leaves. I usually don't try for an exact detail like competitive carvers but will settle for a reasonable facsimile. I don't won't the apple to stand out from the rest of the automata characters. But here's the thing, if this apple was going to sit on a shelf as a sculpture, seldom be moved or handed, then I might have chosen to simply just glue the leaves onto the stem. With little fingers and moving parts, cranking, and moving it around I prefer something just a little more resistant to an occasional bump. The photo below shows where I have reinforced the leaf-to-stem connection with a small piece of stainless steel rod doweled into each part, and glued into place with the final epoxy glue-up.
It still won't survive being dropped on the floor but I feel better for doing it!
I had made a spare horse body just in case things on the "7-1/2 Horsepower" project went badly. Well things went well so I ended up with one extra horse. I decided to make a "1 HP Heat Pump" for my daughter's office since she works for a biomedical company and has often reminded me she doesn't have one of my pieces. So earlier today a box was dropped at her office with this inside.
I 've added the video for the "7-1/2 HP" automata project and the "Automata Tablet" to the webpage for
7- 1/2 HP in the automata gallery.
Enjoy this simple piece.
Automata is a creative blend of my life interests , engineering, art and woodworking.