Max Mahoney (Chemistry) and I worked on a mechanical automata project this morning. Our long-term goal is to create laser cut wooden versions of the various mechanical mechanism building blocks in the beautiful book Karakuri: How to Make Mechanical Paper Models that Move by Keisuke Saka. To get a sense of what the design and development considerations might be, we decided to start with a Thingiverse search, and found Simple Machines – Geneva Stop (CC BY-NC-SA) by Zombie Cat. A few minor adjustments to the layout, and we cut the parts out of 1/4″(ish) hobby plywood. We ended up having to tweak a few of the parts to fit the dowels we had on hand, and we made a few slight modifications to the design based on the differences between the vector files and the thickness of our plywood, but overall it’s a great design and turned out pretty well for our first automata.
The rest of the afternoon was spent working with Nicole (student and Innovation Center staffer) on a stencil for organic chemistry. Max hung around finishing the automata, and answered a few technical questions as Nicole and I worked through the layout in Illustrator. We tested the first prototype, and decided that the various cut-outs representing the bonds needed to be scaled up a bit. Below is version 2, including Nicole’s beloved chicken in the lower left hand corner, and a fancy star on the right.
The design finished and tested, we cut the final version out of acrylic. Success!