Tuesday, August 10, 2010

AUTOMATA - "DiggerBot" Pt.1

I'm starting a new project and returning to the very first topic I ever posted on this blog...AUTOMATA! (For you newbies, it's basically a mechanical toy with cranks, gears, cams...whatever creates movement.) Today at work, I had an unexpected email exchange with a product engineer I met just yesterday. I had commented on a fun little crank toy on her desk, then ended up referring her to my blog to see what I've made over the years. That exchange just reminded me of how ridiculously long it's been since I've made one of my toys. Unlike previous posts of finished automata, this time I'll show you the "making of" process as I build it.

The sketches above of the "Digger Bot" were done last year sometime, but they were intended to represent a Sculpey piece, not a "kinetic" sculpture. I just put them in a folder, thinking I'd eventually get back to it. Now, the idea of turning it into a moving mechanical thing seems like a natural. I may still use Sculpey for some detailing, but it'll mostly be out of wood.
This sketch shows where things starting heading today. I'm sure this will go through several variations before I figure out how to make it work. Since I'm not an engineer, I'll have to look at some books I have on machines, and gears, etc. I haven't decided which way the "arms" will bend...like a human elbow, or like a modern earth mover on a construction site. I'm pretty sure I'm leaning towards a "steam-punk" approach (think Jules Verne era), with boilers and rivets, etc. Stay tuned! You can click on the "Automata-Handmade Toys" Label to see past projects.


Fitz-Badger said...

Oh cool! I always love your "automata" and steampunk is cool, too. I'll look forward to watching this progress.

Tim said...

I love steampunk, so I can't wait to see this project be built!

Is there a good place to buy large amounts of sculpy for not art store prices? I've only used it a little but it seems like a cheaper alternative to the green and brown stuff gamers use when doing a large bulky project.

Warren said...

Hey, Fitz and Tim...glad you'll be along for the ride. My puny little brain is already struggling with how to make the bot-arms movement that my imagination sees for this project. But that's part of the fun...solving the puzzle.

And Tim...sorry, I don't have a cheap source for the Sculpey. However, if you have a craft store (like "Michael's") in your area, sometimes I've gotten 40% off coupons in our local paper. That helps some when I purchase a pound of Sculpey. Be aware, though...Sculpey is not as durable as "green stuff", so choose wisely about the functionality of your piece. If it's going to be handled a lot, it can break. I've also used epoxy plumbers putty sometimes, but you have to work quickly. Hope that helps.