4 May 2020: Still on Hold
Inclined Slide #1

This automata has been sidelined by:

  • Electric Chair #1
  • then, Surfer #1
  • and most recently Product Spinner #1.

I do intend to complete this automata.

This is the test stand for the Inclined Slide series bipeds.


5 November 2019: The Test Stand is Functional
Inclined Slide #1

The motors finally arrived.  I’ve constructed a ‘portable’ motor assembly…I can use it for this and all future test stands.  In the past I had been purchasing a motor for each test stand.  It was good experience because I got to shop around.  The Chancs Motors gear motors seem to be working well for me so I am going to use them until further notice.

I’ve converted all of the test stand shafts from hardwood to stainless precision shafting…and have installed ball bearing assemblies throughout.  I’ve also replaced the cam follower with a new type that I’ve started using…a much higher quality ball bearing follower.

The sled is still riding on hardwood/nylon.  I think I’m going to leave it that way…at least for now.  As it sits the test stand is capable of properly testing and working out the biped.  That’s all I need.

A YouTube video of the test stand in operation can be seen here.

This is the test stand for the Inclined Slide series bipeds.


14 October 2019: The Actual Build Has Begun
Inclined Slide #1

Testing of the concept is done.  The actual marble lift has been created.  At this point I’m working on the drive frame and the mechanism that it will contain.  The drive frame mechanism is the interface between the biped and the marble lift.  The mechanism must translate the biped pull on the leather strap to rotary motion for the marble lift.  The lift will be operated in 1/2 cycles…each biped pull will rotate the lift mechanism through 1/2 cycle.  There will be a stop ratchet….and somewhere in the whole mix will be a return spring.  I hope to have images of this finished mechanism within a week or so.

Meanwhile…I’ve started Electric Chair #1…I’ll be running two projects at once for a while…so Inclined Slide #1 development will slow down a bit.

Inclined Slide #1 is slowly taking shape.


1 October 2019: Lift Drive Frame
Inclined Slide #1

You see it here first!  And yet it will make no sense because “what am I looking at” will be what you think.  I agree…  

The mechanism that you see is the interface between the biped pulling and the marbles lifting.  The vertical plate to the rear is what will hold the marble lift. And the ‘cage’ in the foreground will hold the drive belt drum, return spring, and ratchets.    Over the next few weeks you’ll see this mechanism develop and become more refined and understandable.

I’ve been worried about creating this.  I was not sure that I could do it…the tolerances are really tight.  In the end I’ve got essentially no slop and there are no binds…so it’s sort of perfect.  Whew!

Inclined Slide Lift Drive Frame


18 September 2019: Test Stand
Inclined Slide #1

The test stand is coming along nicely.  I’ve got the sled traveling freely and the motion of the torso is perfect.

Next is the addition of the hand crank and then the motor.  I’m going to design this so that I crank at about 90 revolutions per minute.  To me the crank speed is important.  In my opinion too many automata crank too slowly…one crank of the handle results in one cycle of motion.  I believe that crank speed should be unrelated to cycles of motion…and rather that it be related to the comfort of the cranker.

The Inclined Slide test stand is progressing.


15 September 2019: Test Stand
Inclined Slide #1

When I create an automata that is going to be 1 of X I always build a test stand for the biped.  The test stand:

  • Let’s me develop the geometry that will work.
  • Fitting and operating each biped in the test stand let’s me know that the each biped is properly hinged and configured.

Generally speaking my bipeds are held in place using magnets.  This allows me to easily install and uninstall the bipeds from the test stand and from the final destination automata.  It is very likely that I will motorize this test stand.  Before that I need to finalize the method that I will use to fasten the biped to the sliding seat and the cam arrangement to move the seat and the torso.  The way that I see this in my mind it will be interesting to watch.

The Inclined Slide Test Stand on it’s way to completion.


3 September 2019: Proof of Concept is Successful
Inclined Slide #1

One of the things that I’ve been worrying over is how to raise marbles in steps.  The predominant design in my brain for a long time was simple and required two large sprockets connected with a chain (to keep the timing correct).  Then one night I visualized what I consider to be a simpler way…no large sprockets…no chain.  But would it work?

So in situations like this I build a test unit and try it out.  You can see the test unit in the image.  One turn of the handle moves the marbles up one step…until they roll off the top.  It works really well and I know that I’ll be able to create a lift using this technique that looks pretty awesome.  I may post a video of the mechanism…not sure yet.

I’ve taken basic measurements off the test unit so that I can plan the actual Inclined Slide #1.  I’ll keep the test unit around until I have created the next version…then I’ll disassemble it, scavenge reusable parts (bearings, etc.), and discard the rest.

With this Proof of Concept step completed I can now charge full ahead into the actual construction of Inclined Slide #1.  I anticipate being done sometime in November 2019.

Inclined Slide Proof of Concept is Successful.


28 August 2019: The Biped Emerges
Inclined Slide #1

When I create automata I tend to build complete sections at one time…sort of modular.  In the case of the Inclined Slide #1 there are two things that need to be done first:

  • I need to ‘proof of concept’ the lift mechanism.  This means that I need to create a rough draft…a mechanism that functions reliably.  Once I’ve got this proof of concept mechanism created I can move forward building the lift module.  
  • I know that I am going to need a biped…so I’ve begun the creation process.  At this time the biped is ‘rough cut out’, and the shoulder joints are installed.  

I’ve been playing with the design of the lift mechanism and at this time I am ready to create the proof of concept mechanism.  I’ll be starting that tomorrow.

The process of making bipeds is becoming easier and more reliable.  This biped will need maximum leg and torso extension.  It will need joints in the ankles, the knees, and the hips.  I’ll also need to allow room for the torso tilt shaft.  The elbows and the wrists will not require joints.

To create the biped I traced front and side outlines onto a block of 2″ X 2″ X 12″ basswood.  I drilled the hinge pilot holes.  I then cut-out on the band saw using a 1/8″ blade.  The arms were cut out of Poplar.  I installed the shoulder joints.  This particular biped has turned out well (at this preliminary point).  It balances nicely on it’s own two feet…and the proportions are all good.  After the hinges are installed and I’ve tested the articulation this biped will be sanded to final form.  In final form it will look quite different.

I’ll also be creating a test fixture for the biped.  The fixture causes the biped to replicate the motion that it will display when installed into Inclined Slide #1.  This test fixture is important.  The fixture will help me create future Inclined Slide bipeds to the same geometry.  The test fixture will be motorized and will include a counter.

The Inclined Slide Biped emerges 28 August 2019.

14 August 2019: Onto the Bench, Priority 1
Inclined Slide #1

A Sunday Drive was going to slide into the #1 priority spot on my workbench after I finished Big Wheel Lift #1…but life happens.  Inclined Slide #1 is ready to come out of my head through my hands…so onto the workbench it goes.

I’ve been thinking about Inclined Slide #1.  It has evolved about five times, including several name changes.  I can finally see it relatively clearly in my mind and am ready to start the build.

At this moment here is what I am thinking:

  • A biped will be sitting on a scooting seat, pushing with his legs.  As he pushes with his legs he will be scooting backward up an incline…about 2-1/4 inches of scoot.  
  • His hands will be holding a handle that is attached to a leather strap.  As he scoots back the leather strap will unwind from a spool which will power a lift mechanism that will raise marbles.
  • As he scoots back his torso will lean back…which should extend the action of the scoot to about 3″.
  • The spool will be rewound by a helical spring.
  • The drive will be through a one way bearing so that the marble lift mechanism won’t go backwards.  There will also be a backstop ratchet.
  • A counter will be oriented facing the biped so that he can see how many cycles he has completed.
  • The marble lift itself will be up an incline…with two linkages raising the lift beam.  The lift beam will follow a circular motion.
  • This automata will be approximated 20″ long, 9″ wide.  7″ to the bottom of the lower deck (just like my other Jim’s Gym automata).
  • It will be both hand cranked and powered by a motor.
  • I want to build exaggerated and organic mechanisms.
This is how one of my automata is initially documented…just scratches onto a steno pad.