Here is four of a possible five characters from a project I am currently working on. I haven't designed the mechanism yet but I know what is needed to do to make all these herring gulls go through their motions. Of course it remains a work in progress. The two in the back will not have their heads lowered into position until all the painting is done and you may have noticed that nobody has any feet yet. The legs will eventually mount down into a top plate for stability and the feet will be also attached to the top plate, although the legs will pass through them. They will be made separately. For now these guys just stand around on a piece of scrap watching me work. I told them if they stayed quiet i would bring them some fish later. They are so gullable!
I am trying to keep the size of this piece fairly small and hopefully it will appear a little "busy", suitable for the subject matter. Without giving away the story yet, I will say that the two gulls in the front will tip down to the ground and back up repeatedly. These two inspired the addition of a new course in the Learning Centre called "Automata Design, From Idea - To Proof of Concept - To Prototype". It is a 20 minute video course showing the process that I sometimes use to prove to myself that a crazy idea I may have can be tested out before commencing a detailed project design. These two guys are the example in the course.
Anyway a fifth seagull who "lunges" is in my mind to complete the crowd above so I need to set my brain to work tonight to come up with its design!
Be safe out there, Al
A new project building course has been added to the Learning Centre today. It is a simple project for beginners to get their feet wet building a kinetic project from wood. The course is being added for free.
The subject is the "Crankman". Templates are included to either build a large or small version. I designed these to let visitors to my display at wood shows, particularly children, have something hold in their hands and operate under my supervision. That said, I must stress that these are toylike pieces are not for small children, by rather a relaxation novelty and educational resource to engage observers.
You can navigate to the Learning Centre from my web Home page!
Today there is a new feature on the Conquergood Creative website. I have configured a Learning Centre where students can take educational and instructional courses on automata making. This includes some video courses where students can download templates and actually build automata projects following step by step instructions. I've created this platform because I wish to share my skills and knowledge with the many people who have contacted me in the art of automata making and are looking to build automata themselves.
One way to reach the Learning Centre is from the menu bar of my website. (You will likely have to click on the MORE tab to have the drop down menu to reveal the Learning Centre link.) A second way is to select the large Learning Centre shortcut link image on the lower part of the home page. Upon reaching the Learning Centre you will be asked to sign in and create your own student password, There is no personal or financial information gathered in this process other than your name and email. This will create your own student dashboard which will keep a record of your learning activity for yourself and allow me to communicate with students if required. I promise that this information will never be shared with any 3rd party.
On entering the Learning Centre you will land on a page that shows you all the courses available for you to take. you can review them as many times as you like. For now there is only a short list of selections. I will work to develop more choices over the coming months. Many will be free. Some may have modest fees to cover development and website management costs. Building projects will have higher fees due to the time and effort it takes to development them. Even these project courses will have free previews that let you audit a bit of the content before purchase. The first project building course posted has 12 hours of instructional video and 55 pages of template and assembly drawings! It is not my objective to make a living from my automata work but rather to recover my costs. As you leave the Learning Centre you will be taken back to the Conquergood Creative home page.
This seems to me like a workable opportunity as an alternative to establishing an in person course program. The costs to students including travel, accommodation and fees for destination schooling are beyond the resources of many interested parties. This scenario would also require facilities that I do not currently possess. So I have decided to step into the modern world and try this approach. I will make myself available to coach all students who take on building projects on this platform through email an telephone. If the site develops popularity, the opportunity exists to have project discussion groups, Zoom meetings and other communication mechanisms.
Payment for paid courses will be processed through PayPal. You do not need an account of your own to pay. You can pay directly through the PayPal process with a credit card. Using services like these allows me more time in the shop developing new content rather than administrating finances.
So I invite you to sign in and look around the Learning Centre and take the two free courses that are available today. Tell a few of your friends of this new educational tool. I am hopeful that this platform will become a good methodology for imparting skills and knowledge to interested woodworkers and hobbyists. By giving the opportunity to gain real automata building experience through the video project lessons students can gain confidence and ultimately, hopefully, become designers and builders themselves.
As always, have fun and stay safe! I look forward to your feedback.
Happy Holidays to everyone. Stay safe! While we all may not get to see our close families, know that you are in their hearts.
It's been such a miserable year I can't resist sharing this cute woodworking video a friend sent me. It made me laugh out loud, and that usually takes a bit! So hopefully this little gift from Conquergood Creative will make you smile too.
I have just recently posted a video of a new automata called "The Chase" on my YouTube channel and created a new webpage with video and photos of "The Chase" on my website.
For some time I have had a lot of folks asking about producing another automata project plan for sale. I designed this project with that in mind so I am happy to announce that I have also added a plan to make "The Chase" into the Store on my website.
Here is a quick photo, but do check out the web page for more information!
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.
Well it has been a little while since I last blogged, but I have busy. I finished the CAD construction drawing for my current project, cut out the mechanism pieces, made the enclosure, and threw it all together. Only a few "as built" revisions this time. Life is not too bad! Anyway here is a couple of photos from along the way!
Click on the photos below and a caption will appear.
As they say in criminal circles sometimes,"The Jig is Up!". In this case it means both the jail cell and the storyline of the automata I've been working on. It seems in the County Sheepshire the ovine community are a rowdy lot. It happens that a pasture rave gathering got out of hand and the attendees were rounded up and thrown in the brig. Charges range from drunk and disorderly, disturbing the peace, solicitation, serving alcohol to minors, public indecency, and noise levels that exceed County guidelines. For most of us this news is a little disturbing because we view sheep as rather docile critters - somewhat sheepish in fact. Well this ovine group seems an exception. Even during their short incarceration they have managed to plan and execute a breakout. There will be chaos when the Sheriff returns to the station in the morning!
I am still in the throws of planning. I have already rearranged the characters several times to allow for mechanism spacing and the allocation of space for the "breakout" since this prototype layout photo was taken. Now it's lots of CAD time designing the lower works. Keep watching.
Automata is a creative blend of my life interests , engineering, art and woodworking.