Carousel Automata




Introduction: Carousel Automata

This instructable will outline how to construct a carousel automata. It's relatively simple because it only uses one cam, but requires two different axes- one for the carousel to spin around, and another for the cam. You can decorate it in any way you want; for example, you could glue moulding around the bases, or replace the cardboard seats with dinosaurs.


A cardboard box

Sheets of cardboard

One large gear

One smaller gear

Random smaller gears

Zip ties


Wooden sticks





Hot glue gun


Step 1: Sketch a Diagram

This was the basic diagram for the carousel automata. This design was changed through trial and error throughout the process of making this diagram into an actual, physical thing. But it does help to have a diagram as a reference point.

Step 2: Step 1: Cardboard Circles

To make the top and bottom of the carousel, cut out two circles of similar sizes out of the cardboard. It helps to attach the marker to one end of a piece of string or wire and then hold down the other end in the centre of the circle and pull away in a circle; just like how you would use a compass. Overlaying the two circles, poke a hole through both of the cardboard pieces. This carousel has three “seats” (the things that go up and down), so using the pick again, poke three holes through the overlaid circles.

Then, make slightly smaller circles using the same method. Make enough of these smaller circles to make a stack the height of 5 centimeters. Using the pick, poke holes in all of the smaller circles, trying to make the holes line up as much as possible. Then, using the hot glue, glue the stack together. In order to make it so that the holes do line up, put a placeholder as you glue the circles together.

Step 3: Step 2: Basic Assembly

Stick the axis into the stack of cardboard, and then using the zip ties, zip tie the axis at the level the bottom and the top of the carousel should be. Do the bottom first, then slip a gear, then the circle on, then zip tie the top, put on the gear, then slip the cardboard on. The gear helps level the surfaces, so the top of the carousel doesn’t tilt.

In order to make the top and the bottom of the carousel to move together if one was moved, cut nine wooden sticks to match the distance between the two circles, then zip tie three sticks together, and then hot glue the bundles of sticks.

Step 4: Step 3: Frame

In order to turn the carousel, the gear on top has to move. Making the frame for the smaller cam is a matter of cutting out a part of a box and cutting one side of that out. Then, create a shallow 4th side so the two sides stay up. Poke holes into the sides using a pick, making sure that the smaller gear can match the gear on the top of the carousel.

Step 5: Step 4: Seats

Cut the wire into three equal parts which are long enough to reach the bottom of the stack from the top of the carousel. In order to make them move up and down, make three egg-shaped cams that will act as a “wheel” that would make the seats move when the carousel turns. Since the cam is egg-shaped, the seat will move up and down.

Although cardboard was used in this carousel, it is recommended to use a heavier material for the cams because that would result in a more stable cam.

Step 6: Step 5: Put It Together

Place the carousel in the frame so that the cam is able to turn the gear on the top of the carousel.

Step 7: DONE!



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