Introduction: Making an Automata

I was given a project for my engineering class to make an automata. We were allowed to choose any theme, so I decided to make it beach themed. I built the automata with supplies and tools from around my house.



Wooden skewers


Hot glue gun

Hot glue sticks

Craft knife / scissors




Step 1: Designing

The first step to creating my automata was to draw out a design. I had chosen to do a beach theme, so I designed is off of that. I chose the measurements for the box based on the cardboard box I was using. I designed the automata with five cams. On top, it had waves that added depth and had fish, dolphins, and a boat.

Step 2: Cutting Out My Box

After getting the design and measurements done for the automata, I was ready to cut the pieces from the box. I did this by using a craft knife and scissors. I cut the pieces to build the base and the pieces for the waves.

Step 3: Cutting Out the Top Animations

For the top animations, I printed and cut out the images that I wanted to use. I then traced and cut out cardboard to be the backing of each image.

Step 4: Painting and Piecing Together the Top

I then painted the top piece of my box and the waves to be the color of the ocean. When the paint dried, I glued the waves onto the top piece of the box.

Step 5: Building the Base

Next, I glued the side pieces onto the base. This allowed the automata to freely stand. In each side piece, I made a hole that the axle would later fit into.

Step 6: Cutting Out the Cams

I decided on how much I wanted the top animations to move up and down, and measured the cams accordingly. I cut the cams out of cardboard and cut two of each size. I glued the two together, so the cam would be wider.

Step 7: Placing the Cams

I used a skewer as the axle, and placed the cams on it. I measured out where each cam should be placed, and then glue them to the axle. The axle got placed in the base of the automata. It fit in holes in the side pieces of the base but was still able to rotate without falling out.

Step 8: Positioning the Top Animations

I inserted skewers through the top piece of the base, which would hold up the top animations of the automata. I lined up each skewer with the cams, and placed them in between different waves to add depth to the automata.

Step 9: Adding the Followers

I cut the followers out of cardboard and glued them onto the end of the skewers for the top animations. I placed each following so that it would stay lined up with the cam during the full rotation. On the bottom of each following, I added additional cardboard on the sides that acted as "bumpers," so the cam would stay aligned with the following in between the "bumpers."

Step 10: The Crank

For the crank, I added a piece of cardboard to the end of the skewer, which was sticking out. So, to work the automata, you would rotate the piece of cardboard.

Step 11: The End Result

This is how my automata turned out. As the crank was rotated, the cams would turn, and the top animations move up and down as if they are moving in the water.