10 August 2020, onto the trash pile
Electric Chair #1

So here is the deal.  I’ve disassembled Electric Chair #1 and have reclaimed the parts.  There is too much negativity in the world right now…and I do not want to add to the negativity by creating an automata that features an electrocution.

So, I’ve (in just two hours) disassembled it and have reclaimed many of the parts.

Goodbye Electric Chair #1.  You were a good learning experience in many ways.  I’m not sorry that I started to create you…and I am relieved that I’ve disassembled you.

Electric Chair #1 before disassembly. 6 August 2020.
Electric Chair #1 is being disassembled. Here are the components that I am able to reuse. August 6, 2020


Part of the disassembly process is the reclamation of serviceable fasteners. August 6, 2020
This is what my workbench looked like after I had finished disassembling Electric Chair #1. August 6, 2020.

15 March 2020, little details being added
Electric Chair #1

Well, the mechanical construction is just about all completed.  It’s now time to add the little details that help to tell the story.  The image shows a high voltage transformer that is sitting next to the electric chair.  Most likely in real life this is not the case…however I am telling a story and I want the transformer front and center. Two wires will be coming off of the transformer…one to the convict’s leg, and the other to his head. He will have a copper band around his leg, and a copper skull cap on his head.  

It feels good to have a painted piece completed.  The way the build process goes the ‘disassembly and paint’ process is last.  For this automata I envision the process taking about a month.  The transformer and a few other pieces are being created and painted now.

I’m getting ready to either bring the Inclined Slide back onto my workbench or to create a COVID-19 automata.  I’ve got one (COVID-19) rattling around in my head that wants to escape through my hands.

This is a high voltage transformer that is used for ‘you know what’.

1 March 2020, the Electrics Module is Installed
Electric Chair #1

The Electrics Module is completed and installed and it works well.  Nice to have it installed…it makes monitoring and troubleshooting much easier.  There are a few tweaks that I need to make at the interface of the Top Plate and the Drive Frame….then this thing will be ready for dis-assembly and painting.

The only component not contained in the electrics module is the limiter switch that monitors the campak.

This is the completed Electrics module

18 February 2020, the Electrics Module
Electric Chair #1

Last week I finished the last cam.  In the image you see the bell (that will simulate a ringing telephone.  This was a bugger to get working.  You are looking at the third iteration.  Bell Hell.  Anyway…it seems fine now.  Time will tell.

I’m presently working on the Electrics Module.  This is one module that can easily be removed from the automata that contains the drive motor, a DPDT toggle, a push button, and a 3 amp circuit breaker.  This unit hangs from two stainless rods that sit across the drive frame.  Might be done with this tomorrow.

Thie bell will simulate a ringing telephone

4 February 2020, Pulsing.
Electric Chair #1

In this image, you can see that the new side frames have been installed into the Electric Chair drive frame.  I like the new design.  I feel much more relaxed about it.  The first one made me uptight.

Near the front of the top, you see a stringer running across.  This is version one…which has since been replaced.  That is where the pulsing mechanism is being installed.  Just this evening I have gotten the pulsing mechanism to work close to how I want it to be.  It’s been a long time coming.  More pictures next week.

I attended a Miniature Show in Del Mar this past weekend.  I found a nice lady who has agreed to sew the outfits for both the convict and the guard.  Big relief to me.  She is a professional and I have full confidence that she will do an excellent job.

The new side frames have been fitted to the Electric Chair drive frame.

25 January 2020, Side Frames
Electric Chair #1

Compare this image to the 17 January image and you will see the difference.  These version 2 side frames are hopefully the final version.  Side frames are important and they take a lot of time and effort to create.

Now let’s hope that I can reinstall all of the innards without a lot of fuss.

Side frames, Version 2, are being fitted into the Electric Chair drive frame.

17 January 2020, 4 Motions are connected
Electric Chair #1

The campak is working well…better than I had hoped.  Thus far I’ve got four of the six motions connected to the campak.  The two that utilize the ‘pulse’ are next.

I hate to admit it (but I will)…of the four cams I’ve done so far I cut two of them in reverse.  I removed what should have stayed and things stayed that should have been removed.  50% error rate.  Disgusting.  Fortunately I’ve been able to recover pretty easily and it’s certainly something to think about as I approach the next two cams.

One of the things that I’ve noticed is that the Drive Frame sides need to be stiffer…I need to keep more wood in the side frames.  I’ve been expecting to rebuild these side frames…so it’s nice to know how they need to be different.

The poly belting is working well for coupling short distances but does not work well for longer distances…it stretches just a bit too much.

Four of the six motions are now linked to the campak.

11 January 2020, Connecting the top to the bottom
Electric Chair #1

Part of what I’m trying to do is have the Top Plate (the automata proper) easily removable from the drive frame (the lower part of the automata).

The guard’s head needs to move, a rotary movement.  My problem was how to easily connect/disconnect the rotary motion.

I’ve accomplished this as you can see in the image, by having a square (male) drop down into a square (female).  The female is the driver, the male is the driven.  The mechanism is kept in alignment with a centering pin.  

I simply need to place the top plate onto the drive frame and then rotate the guard’s head until it properly drops (mates) into the female square.  Then one link over to the cam follower…and a tension spring…and it’s done.

This is the drop in fitting that connects the guard’s head to the drive frame.

7 January 2020, CamPak
Electric Chair #1

Happy New Year to one and all…

The CamPak is taking shape.  In this image you see it sitting in place.  None of the cams have been cut yet, nor have any cam followers been built…that’s next.

The campak is easily removable which is going to help a lot to make this build easier than it might have been.  I can get the campak out in less than 1 minute…with no trauma to anything.

As I’m working with the drive frame I’m pleased with how it is going together.  It’s not like I originally envisioned it…it’s better.  The speed reduction is done using a pulley train.  Three of the pulleys are quite large and are interesting to watch. I’m also experimenting with using a combination of clear and yellow for each belt.  I like it.  It’s like there are little yellow snakes worming around in the drive frame.

Now it’s time to build linkages that connect everything together.  I do this one action at a time, starting to the rear of the drive frame.

The CamPak for Electric Chair #1 is taking shape.

30 December 2019: Drive Frame Side Frames
Electric Chair #1

The automata proper sits above the top plate.  The top plate sits on the drive frame.  It is the drive frame’s responsibility to power the automata that sits above it.

I have a choice of solid (non-see-thru) side frames…or lattice side frames that you can see through.  I prefer the lattice.

What you are looking at is the first set of side frames.  Before this automata is finished I will have re-created these side frames at least one more time.  I try to make them look sort of organic.  Of course they need to be strong.  And I like to think that they are relatively minimal…just massive enough to do the job.  They need to look artful and delicate.

The CamPak will sit to the right side.  I’m working right now on a ‘quick release’ for the CamPak so that I can easily remove and replace it.

The side frames for the Drive Frame are taking shape.

20 December 2019: Action items on top are completed
Electric Chair #1

In the automata proper everything that moves has been created.  The top plate (the oval plate on which the automata proper is mounted) is removable as one piece.  This allows me to create the mechanisms in the drive frame (below the oval plate) more easily…and troubleshooting will be much easier.

I am about ready to mount the side frames and the major shafting.  The major shafts will be two speeds…one turning 60 rpm, and the other reduced to 1 rpm.  I am expecting to turn the crank at 60 rpm, the same as the motor.

I’ve got the gear reduction pulleys created…just finished them this evening.  The shake assembly has been completed.

The next major item to work on is the campak…and then the linkages to each individual action component.

Speaking of the campak…it will be easily removable from the drive frame…which will simplify it’s creation and maintenance.

The action items have all been created. The next step is to create the action causing motions in the drive frame (the lower part).

1 December 2019: Middle Wall is Going Up
Electric Chair #1

Sometimes it seems to take so long to do something simple.  

This week I have been worrying the “switch”…the one that turns on the big voltage.  It’s simple enough and yet complicated.  I want the executioners arm to obviously move.  I can pass only 1/2 inch of motion from the drive frame (a limit I imposed so that I could separate the two halves). The switch knife blades need to be credible.  And a bit of sound when the switch is thrown would be nice.  

Today I worried about the ‘window’.  Until this afternoon the window was going to be plexiglass.  And then I realized that ‘bars’ would communicate the message more effectively…so I worried about how to finish the bars.  What should they look like?  And then I realized that stainless steel shafting would be ideal…so I cut some pieces and installed them.  They look great.  And I’ve made them temporarily removable so that I can paint everything (all in due time) and not get paint on the bars.

Sometimes it seems to take so long to do something simple.  That is the trick to all of this…don’t stop.  Keep going…no matter what.  Even if progress in miniscule…keep going.  And in the end it will be done.

This is a view through the executioners ‘port’. Yes, I know that everyone still needs a head!

6 December 2019: Rear Walls are completed
Electric Chair #1

Progress continues to be made.  The two rear wall assemblies and the chair shaking mechanism are completed.

The left rear wall contains a clock…the minute hand advances only one minute.

And the right rear wall contains the execution counter.  I include counters in all of my automata.  The counters give me a sense of how much an automata has been used and are also useful when I note repairs that I make (I reference the count).  In this particular case I’ve got the counter performing publicly.

The chair shaking mechanism has been a bit of a challenge but I think that it’s worked out.  I won’t know until I get the shaking drive mechanism (which is below in the drive frame) completed.

In spite of the time that I’ve invested thus far it still looks pretty barren.  That’s the way it goes.  The paint and final touches and bling will make a lot of difference.

The two rear walls have just been completed.

27 November 2019: The Red Telephone
Electric Chair #1

Over the years I have yearned for a lathe.  I would like to have a mini lathe and a mini mill…tools that I could use for both metal and wood (particularly the lathe).  But the stars have not yet lined up so I need to be creative.  The small telephone turnings that you see were turned on my drill press, using small files as the cutting tools.  All in all I’m pleased

When remains to be done is paint.  This telephone will be a ‘worn red’…a tired phone…a phone that rarely rings…a phone that communicates life and death issues…an important phone…that rarely rings.

The ringer for this phone will be powered off of the shaking mechanism.  Unfortunately the phone will not ring until after the execution.  Oh well.

The ‘not yet red’ telephone for the Electric Chair.

22 November 2019: A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On
Electric Chair #1

This image will be meaningless to anyone looking at it.  It is the shaking mechanism “receiver”…it sits immediately under the chair.  Remember how I want this automata to be able to be easily split apart…top from bottom.  The shaking mechanism receiver is 1/2 inch deep.  It’s job is to transmit the shaking motion that is generated in the drive frame to the electric chair and to the convicts legs.  The motion is transmitted from the drive frame to the tip of the arm that you see in the lower right quadrant.

This is the shaking mechanism ‘receiver’. It sits immediately below the chair.

13 November 2019: Two Major Components
Electric Chair #1

I’m at an interesting stage in the creation of Electric Chair #1.  I am adding the components that will move.

Prior to doing this I took a look at Electric Chair #1 and I realized that it was both big and complicated (relative to other things I’ve made).  I realized that it would be both difficult to create and to service if it was one major component.  I debated with myself and in the end I won the debate…the Electric Chair series will be two major components:

  1. The Top Plate: The top plate includes the large elliptical plate that you see and all of the things above it.  The top plate will present the automata.  Items on the top plate will be painted in the color pallette that I choose.
  2. The Drive Frame:  The drive frame is everything below the top plate.  The drive frame will contain the components that make the automata components move.  Components in the drive frame will be painted camouflage colors…so that they sort of disappear unless you want to see them.

The Top Plate will be mounted on the Drive Frame with just 6 screws.  I will be able to lift the top plate off of the drive frame using no tools (except to remove the initial 6 screws).  The interface will be a 3/4″ space between the two components.  This ‘feature’ will take extra time to create, but it will also permit me to easily develop and then maintain all of the automata.

This automata will have 7 cams in it’s campak.

When I next update this project sheet it will be to show you some of the motion components on the Top Plate.

Electric Chair progress continues.  Here you can see the Top Plate and the Drive Frame.  The Drive Frame is empty at this moment, and the Top Plate will have more detail added.

27 October 2019: The Chair
Electric Chair #1

The actual Electric Chair is taking shape.  It’s fun, building this little automata.  It’s fun envisioning how it will work…it’s fun seeing the look of people’s faces when I explain this project.

The shaking mechanism is taking the most effort right now…but I think I’ve got it.  I believe that it will be very sturdy…with an interesting range of motion for the poor little dude.

The Electric Chair Takes Shape.

19 October 2019: The two Bipeds
Electric Chair #1

One of these fine gentlemen will be electrocuted.  And the other will be the executioner.  Certainly have a way to go with both of them.  

Next step is to install appropriate joints.  Once that is done I’ll be able to begin creating the electric chair.  

The fine gentleman that is being electrocuted will be jerking around quite a bit in the chair.  The jerking motion driver will be built into (and hidden) in the chair.

I’m also thinking that I want both of these guys dressed, not copper leafed.  Which means I need to learn how to ‘sew’ doll clothes.  We’ll see about that!

These two bipeds are getting ready for the electric chair.

11 October 2019: The Idea
Electric Chair #1

Sometimes I’ll get an idea that just sort of tickles me…makes me smile.  This Electric Chair automata is one of them.  Does that mean that I’m not mentally healthy?  Who knows.  I do know that it makes me smile.  And as I conceive the small details…I continue to chuckle to myself.

My normal state is that I build “one at a time”.  However, this Electric Chair automata is nagging at me pretty hard to be built…so I’m going to run parallel with two automata projects for a bit.

What do I envision:

  • I’ll be using two of my normal 1:6 scale bipeds (11″ tall).
  • The convict will be strapped in the chair. The executioner will be on the other side of a wall, wearing a black hood over his head.
  • The sequence will start with the executioner pulling a great big electric switch.
  • The convict will then jerk violently initially…with the jerking lessening until the convict is ‘dead’.
  • And then after a while the executioner will push the great big switch to off.
  • It is interesting envisioning the ‘shaking’ mechanism.  It needs to be random, initially violent, and quiet.  I believe that I’ll be using magnets.
  • Another little detail will be the sound of ‘electric arcing’.  How to do that?  Hum.  I’ll figure it out.
  • That’s it.  In about three months we’ll see how this turns out.  

The image is the model that I’ll be loosely following.  Note that it is Copyright 1908 by the Hamilton Drug Store, Auburn, NY.  I wonder how an image like this gets copy written by a drug store?

The Electric Chair series of automata will be based on this 1908 photograph.