Sophia's Automata: McGuire Science 9

Introduction: Sophia's Automata: McGuire Science 9

In our Physical Science 9 class, Mrs. McGuire had us build an automaton. It needed two moving parts that moved in different ways. My project has three moving parts, one moving up and down, one spinning, and one spinning and moving up and down. I had a dog, with its mouth moving up and down and its tail moving up and down while spinning, and a frisbee spinning. These steps include the materials you need and how to use them to create your own automaton.

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Step 1: Planning

To build an automaton, you will need to plan out what you will do. Here is an attached picture of the plans I made, although I did change a few things. These changes are marked in red pen.

Step 2: Materials

You will also need some materials. This list entails everything I used to make this automaton and I will later show you how I used them.

-1 1/2" X 6" wood for base and dog

-1/2" composite board for cams and vertical gears

-1/4" (cut to 7" for frisbee) wood dowel

-1/8" (one cut to 12" for the tail and one cut to 8 1/2" for the jaw) wood dowels

-1/2" (cut to 16") wood dowel

-5/16" Dowel Pins


-Hot glue

-4 2" wood screws to keep base together

-Materials to decorate: I used felt, paint, and googly eyes


-power drill

-drill-bits (3/8", 1/4", and 1/2")

-measuring tape

-power sander

-miter saw

-3d printer (optional)

Step 3: Building the Base

To build the base, where the moving parts will be inside and the dog will be on top, you must cut two 14" lumber pieces and two 9" lumber pieces from my 1 1/2" X 6" wood plank. I then screwed the bottom piece to the two sides with 4 2" wood screws. I glued dowels to the sides and drilled holes into the top so I could put the top on and take it off when I wanted. I cut the wood with a miter saw.

Step 4: Making the Cams

The cams cause the up and down movements of my automaton. My cams are two circles with an offset axle hole that is glued to the 1/2" dowel that goes through the center of the base. The cam for my moving jaw is 4 1/4" in diameter and the cam for the tail is 4" in diameter. Both are made of 1/2" composite board. I cut them with a jigsaw and made the 1/2" hole with a drill.

Step 5: Making the Vertical Gears

My vertical gears are used to make the frisbee spin. They are 4"(diameter) circles and made out of 1/2" composite wood. I cut them with a jigsaw. The two circles have 5/16" dowel pins sticking out, both at symmetrical places on each gear. One is glued to the 1/2" dowel and the other spins and is attached to the frisbee by a 1/4" dowel. You can see this in the attached picture.

Step 6: Building the Dog

My dog, which you could make any animal for this project, is 7 1/4 inches tall and 7 1/4 inches long (with head and body). To create the body, I cut a 6" long and 4" tall block of wood that is 1 1/4" thick. I then cut a 3" long and 1 3/4" tall rectangle out of the dog to create his legs. For the head, I shaped a 3"X3" square into an 'L' shape so it looked more like a head.

Step 7: Creating the Moving Jaw and Tail

To make the dog's jaw move, I drilled a 3/8" hole through the neck and front leg through the top of the base. I attached a 1/8" dowel to the moving jaw (shown as the red piece in the pictures) and to a 2" circle on the other side of the base top. The 2" circle helps the dowel move up and down with the cam.

To make the dog's tail move, I drilled a 3/8" hole through the back leg and through the top of the base. I then attached a 1/8" dowel to a 2" circle that helps the dowel move with the cam.

Step 8: Making the Frisbee

To make the frisbee, which will spin, I used a 3d printer to print out a frisbee. It has a diameter of three inches and is about 1/4 of an inch tall. I then painted it so you can see that it is spinning and how fast. It is attached to a 1/4" dowel that is connected to the spinning vertical gears.

Step 9: Painting the Base and Decorating

For this step, you can decorate and paint your automaton in any way you want. I painted my dog with brown spots and added googly eyes and felt ears. His tail is also made of felt and bends at the top with a wire I attached to the end. I painted the base and frisbee as well.

Step 10: Making the Crank Handle

To make the crank handle, I glued to pieces of wood together, as you can see in the picture. I glued this to the 1/2" dowel that goes through the center of the base and you can turn it to work the automaton, but glue this piece on the final product last.

Step 11: Putting It Together

When you have created all of the pieces and are ready to put it together, get your super glue and hot glue gun out. Glue it together in this order.

1: Put the 1/2" dowel through the drilled holes in the sides on the base. Then, put the cams and gear on, corresponding each to the moving parts. Glue these in place, centering them over the drilled holes in the top.

2: Then construct the dog's body by gluing the 1/8" dowel to the jaw (if you haven't already) so that it can move freely. The dog's head can now be glued to its body, and the body can be glued to the top of the base.

3: The tail dowel (1/8") can be stuck through the back leg and you can attach a 2" circle to both 1/8" dowels (both should be centered over the cams).

4: Now, attach 1/4" dowel to the vertical gear that is not already glued to the 1/2" dowel. Stick it through the top of the base so that the gears are resting on each other (see picture). Then attach the frisbee to the spinning dowel.

5: Then, glue the handle crank and glue a small piece of wood to the other end of the side base so the dowel doesn't move side to side.

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