Creating an Automata


Introduction: Creating an Automata

I was assigned to create anything I could think for my engineering class. At first I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for the project but, eventually I decided to an automata. I am not very experienced with workshops so I had my grandfather help me throughout the majority of the project. The majority of my project was made from leftovers and scraps found around my house and my grandfather´s garage. All of the tools used in my project belong to my grandfather; I will list all of the tools we used to create the project as well as talk about them in my steps. Note that I am not aware of the specific brands on the tools we use and any sizes or measurements can be altered to fit your needs.

  • Table saw
  • Scroll saw
  • Hand held pipe cutter
  • Drill (including various bits)
  • File
  • Goggles
  • Vices
  • Level
  • Safety Push Handle
  • Square

Step 1: Measuring Out My Box

The first step for creating my automata was to create the sides of the box that would eventually house the crank, the cams, and the followers that make the automata. Each side was measure to 8" long by 8" tall. I'm unaware of what wood I used for the sides of the box as it is from my grandfather's scrap pile.

Step 2: Cutting Out My Box

After finally getting the measurements done for the box, I proceeded to cut my pieces out using my grandfather's table saw. He helped me set up the saw because I have no idea how to actually use the thing. Everything worked out find and all of the pieces came out good.

Step 3: Testing Out My Box

After cutting out the box, I wanted to see if it would actually be a proper box once put together. I accomplished this we put the pieces together and then we clamped them. I don't believe this is a necessary step to create a functioning automata but, it never hurt to check things out early on in development.

Step 4: Drilling the Hole for the Crank

After we figured the pieces would fit together nicely, we dismantled them and began working on the hole in which I would put the crank for the automata. My grandfather and I measured out the two of the sides so we could get the middle of two of the sides. Once we found the middle we began drilling the holes. I drilled all the way through both of the sides while using some extra scrap would to prevent the sides from splitting or cracking.

Step 5: Painting the Outisde and Inside of the Box

After drilling the holes for my crank into the sides of the box, we began painting the sides. I chose to paint the box blue to follow a water theme. We purchased some wooden fish to put onto my followers once we the all the cutting was done. The paint used on the inside of the box has a texture to it, making it feel like sand. This choice, I believed, added to the water/ ocean theme I was going for. This is another part where you can deviate from my choices if you would like. I personally do not blame you.

Step 6: Measuring Out the Cams

While the paint on the sides was drying, my grandfather and I began measuring out the cams that would go inside the automata to create the "movement" of the cams. Each cam was 4" tall and about 1/4 of an inch thick. I decided to use a hexagon as my cam because I believed it would give me the most dynamic movement. However, later on in making my automata I found out that the size and shapes of my cams were not suitable for the size of my box, which I will talk about later in the steps so I recommend not using the same size as written about here if you are following my exact design process to avoid complications further along.

Step 7: Cutting Out the Cams

Once my grandfather and I were done measuring and sketching out my cams, I got on his scroll saw and began cutting them out. I forgot to mention the cams were made out of scrap wood. Once all of the cams were cut out we took the drill and I drilled holes 1/2 an inch in size in the middle of all of the cams. You can use any amount of cams for your automata, I choose to use three.

Step 8: Putting the Box Together

Once I was done drilling the cams, the paint had dried on the pieces of the box. So, I began the task of putting the pieces together. Using the drill, I drilled holes into the edges of the pieces to prevent the wood from cracking. The pieces themselves are not very thick so this was necessary to preventing my pieces from break. After the holes were pre-drilled, I drilled in the nails putting the box together.

Step 9: Putting in the Crank

Once I was done screwing the box together I began to work on the crank of the automata. The picture above shows the crank was put in before the box was completely screwed together however, this was just a test to see if the pieces I had done were lined up properly. Therefore, once the box was complete we had also altered the crank so it wasn't so long. The crank itself is half and inch wide and it was cut to be about 9 inches long.

Step 10: Drilling the Follower Holes

Once my box was put together, we began measuring out the top of the box to drill the holes for the followers to go into. With my grandfather, we decided to drill two holes as a means of stabilizing the followers when it moved along the cam. Each hole is 1/4 inch wide and it goes all the way through the top of the box. Each hole is right next to one another using eye measurement and each pair of holes is around an inch apart for one another.

Step 11: Putting in the Followers and the Cams

Once the holes were drilled, we cut out three inch increments of a smaller dowel that we found in my grandfather's garage to use as my followers. Once we were done cutting we inserted the followers into their holes and using the left over dowel from the crank, we created the bases that would be put on the cams. Once the followers were in we put the crank in with the cams on it to make sure the followers would move properly. They did not; Between the paint being on them and the shape of the cams, as well as the followers not sliding smoothly we had to make a few extra additions to make the Automata function.

Step 12: Fixing the Problems

We tried scraping the paint off the cams, this sadly did not work so we decided to cut the cams into circles and a mean of fixing the issue. So using a saw I went through and cut the extra cam that we had leftover from cutting them out originally and made it into a circle. We put it on the crank and tested to see if there was any improvement to the movement of the cams. There was a minor improvement which lead us to believe this was a start to fixing our problems. Our second though on how to fix the problem was to find a way to make the followers move smoother in their holes. So, we went to Ace and bought some 1/4 inch copper tubing. The piping was almost a perfect fit but, we decided to give it a little more room in the holes so we went through and drilled the holes a little larger. Once done we put the followers up the tubing as well as putting the new circle cams on the crank. These two changes solved our problem of the followers not moving correctly.

Step 13: Putting It All Together

Once we solved all of the issues, we put everything in to the box. I used O-rings on each end of the crank and between the cams to hold them in place. Before I decided to call the project complete, we drilled a back on to the project to seal everything but the front.



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    Nice. You should enter this into the wood working contest that is currently running.