Sunday, March 15, 2009

AUTOMATA: "Walk the Dog Bot"

About 5 years ago, I became interested in the art of "automata" (aw-TOM'-a-tah). These are sometimes referred to as "mechanical toys" or "kinetic art". Most of the ones I've made have been for family and friends as gifts. I'll be showing you some of the earliest attempts on another post. But this little guy I made just for myself..."Walk The Dog Bot".

If you click on the photo, you can see a larger version...then hit your "back" button in your browser window to return to this page.

The idea for this piece came from a little sketch I had done on the back of a business card. It seemed like a fun character to animate, since he was mechanical to begin with. But as these images from my sketchbook show, it was trickier than I thought to figure out how to make it work. In the end, I had to compromise the design a bit, but I was happy with the results. And as I often learn when I construct these...the real-time engineering rarely functions like I thought it would.

When the crank handle is turned, the Saucer-Dog moves up and down, pulling the robot's hand up that holds the chain. The robot's legs move forward and back, while one arm swings back.

Most of the components were hand-made in my little woodshop in the corner of my basement. There are a few bits that were "found objects" like the dog's saucer (a wooden door knob for cabinets).

That's it for now...more to come.


Unknown said...

I'm glad you set this up. I love this stuff...'course I'm kinda weird.

lizabba said...

I'm so glad to see your art up where it can be showcased... the way it should be!!

Ken Westphal said...

So cool, Luddy! I'd love to have one of those.

MyJo said...

I love this piece. The whimsy of the robots face and the dog is great. I have a piece of Automata that I call "The Beer Drinkers" that I bought at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles many years ago. Sadly th threads have become a little worn and it doesn't work as well. Any suggestions where I can get it fixed?

Warren Ludwig said...

MyJo...I'm afraid there may not be many options for repairing your automata. If the artist who made it is in your area, they may consider fixing it for you (perhaps for a fee). But it also may require some major deconstruction of the piece, to get to where the threads are attached. Hard to make an assessment without seeing the automata. You might be able to add a new string or thread by "sewing" a needle with new string through the holes where the old lines are. But again...I'm only guessing. Good luck!