Put together a little automata this last week that has a big fish chasing a little fish around an oval with a plan to eating him for dinner. I sort of started with and idea and then designed on the run, building a little, designing more details in CAD and then building a bit more. Below is a photo of all the pieces except one I forgot to add to the pile.
As you might expect building the chain was a bit finicky. Not so difficult but challenging for fat fingers like mine. The chain has a fair bit of play in it so building it first to get the right centre to centre distance for the wheel was necessary. The mechanism is shown below without the oval on the top in place.
As I was building it I started to think of other chase scenarios that might work with this mechanism. I thought perhaps I should just have a collection of characters that could be easily swapped out to change with the seasons, or the whim of the owner. As a result I thought I should rename it "The Chase" and have a cache of changeable characters. Hmm, I'll have to consider that. In the meantime it's two fish. Here is one of the fish below.
Finally here is a quick peek at the fish in motion.
I just post the latest completed automata "Baa Baa Bad Sheep" on Youtube and added three pages on my website to display and relate the design story.
Click here to go to first of 3 webpages on Conquergood Creative.
When I build automata I always try to have the handle relate somehow to the subject of the piece. This is not always simple because I usually try to find something with a slender aspect ratio, that is, long and skinny. I have used odd shapes but they seem a little awkward for people to turn. The other constraint is I try to have handles smooth on one side since I use a motorized push pin to spin the handle around when displaying as shows, so I can relax and chat to visitors.
Anyway I was struggling a bit to come up with something that either related to sheep or jail for my current project. I settled on a skeleton key as might be used to lock a cell door. The shaft had to be a little fatter than normal for strength, but I managed to fashion one that I originally thought reasonable. I glued it on with temporary latex adhesive to try it out and take a look at it in place. It didn't take long to realize that I was not happy with it and I set out to think of another design.
After drawing a blank for a while I settled on a "machinery type" crank, themed it toward sheep. So below is a picture of a "cast iron" handle made by the Ovine Manufacturing Company. I am happier now.
Automata is a creative blend of my life interests , engineering, art and woodworking.