30 December 2019, Product Spinner

It’s almost the end of the year.

It’s almost the start of another year.

Time is running short.  I’ve got perhaps 20 more years to go…then I’m out of here.  As I write this I’m approaching 75.

As I’ve aged I’ve gotten better with time utilization.  I have many fewer non-essential things and activities in my life.  I am much more focused.  It’s easier getting from A to B because the lines are straighter.  I like to think that I’ve finally become “who I am”…as opposed to being someone who was trying to be.

I have been taking Big Wheel Lift into public with me occasionally and I keep noting that people are very attracted to it.  They stop and study it, and marvel at it…and seem to receive joy from it.

This has gotten me to thinking about how to get my automata into public more often.  I am contemplating what I think of as “Product Spinners” that I rent to stores.  A Product Spinner would be a biped powering some sort of machine, part of which includes a platform perhaps 3″ in diameter that turns.  Product would be placed on the platform.  The Product Spinner automata would sit on a counter top and would be a point of interest, an addition to the ambience, and a conversation opener.  I’m thinking rental in the $30-$50 month range.  We’ll see. 

The image to the right shows the side frames for the drive frame coming to life.  This is the first set of side frames.  I’ll admit that I’ve never had the first set on the final automata…there always seems to be critical improvement that I must make…so I bite the bullet and make new ones (perhaps two or three times).   I like these ‘lattice’ frames, because you can see through them.

I’m a little early…wishing you a Happy New Year!

The side frames for the Drive Frame are taking shape.


20 December 2019: A Mess

Automata don’t build themselves.  The creation process is not always neat and tidy.

Here you see me in the final stages of completing the pulleys for Electric Chair #1.  These large pulley assemblies will be dropping the 60 rpm speed of the first shaft to 1 rpm, which is the speed required by the campak.

It seems to me that if you look at how things are arranged that you can (correctly) deduce that I am left handed. Near the top at the center is a Google Nest Mini…a speaker that I use to read audio books with while I work. 

To the left of that speaker is a stack of cocktail napkins.  I used to use paper towels but I find it much easier to use these small cocktail napkins…they help keep my creations, my workbench, and my clothes, clean.

To the left of the cocktail napkins are my sanding sticks.  I purchased these from the beauty shop that my wife uses.  The sticks that I like the most have 100 grit on one side and 180 on the other.  They cost about $.75 each and last me 3-5 weeks.  I love these little sanding sticks.

The big pulleys have taken me two days to create.  Part of that time was spent building a sanding tool…one that helps me sand the disks perfectly round on my disc sander.

Making a mess is part of the process.


11 December 2019: Random

I came across a scientific article the other day…a portion of which has stuck with me.  In essence the article said that scientists say that “all is random”.  ALL IS RANDOM.  I get it.  I don’t have a problem with the statement.  It makes good sense to me.

And then I step back and realize that naturally ‘all is random’ and yet humans are trying to organize it.  It seems such a futile task to me.  For example…what is ‘sanity’?  If everything is random you would expect the definition of ‘sanity’ to change over time.   What is a desired government?  Again, you would expect the definition to change over time.  Is there a God?  Perhaps at times.  And then not.

I worry about this because I am constantly wondering if I am living my life the way I should be.  Am I doing it right?  And when the concept of “all is random” is thrown in…it causes a bit of a dust up.

So I am walking around these days looking at things that don’t make sense to me and I repeat the phrase “all is random”.  It makes me feel better.

To be honest though, thinking that all is random is not making life any better.  Life is not richer.  But perhaps it is just a tiny bit more understandable.


2 December 2019: Progress continues, Styles

I had to slack off my automata creation efforts for just a bit last week…had a project for a customer that I needed to get done.

Automata Styles:  I’ve been giving this topic thought recently.  It’s hard to not compare yourself to others.  Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Fran├žois Junod I am not.  This guy creates amazing automata.  I envy his abilities.  My understanding is that he has training as a watchmaker.  I am very impressed with his ideas and craftsmanship. But I’m not him
  • Paul Spooner I am not.  I admire the way that Paul can let his imagination loose…at the frivolity that he is able to build into his automata.  His craftsmanship is excellent…and his ideas well executed.  But I’m not him.
  • Keith Newstead I am not. Here is another automatist that I greatly admire.  I love his ideas and the way that he executes them.  I love his whimsey. But I’m not him.

I could go on and on…bottom line though, is that I don’t create automata like anyone else (I don’t think).  I have my own ideas…and I create in my own way.  We automatists are all different…I love that about this ‘sport’.  We are all different.  There are no rules.  There is no ‘wrong’.

The image is of the back side of the Electric Chair wall, the one that contains the clock.  The clock needs to advance just 1 minute.  The minute is the difference between life and death.

The backside of the Electric Chair wall clock…before the back panel is glued into place.