After class last week I wasn't entirely sure what route I wanted to explore for creating an automata. It's been a while since I've played with automating movement with servos, solenoids and stepper motors, so I first focused on playing with these tools.
Over the weekend I needed to travel down to Orlando and was able to make a stop at Skycraft Surplus. It's an awesome store with everything and anything you can think of, it's really a shame we don't have something like it immediately available in New York.
Not knowing exactly what I planned to do, I picked up a few items that seemed interesting. It's definitely a dangerous place to go if you don't know what you're looking for.
Back home I started to play with some of the items and other items from past adventures:
This geared motor was one of my favorite finds.
My fist interaction with automata, naturally, was at Disney with shows like Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room and Country Bear Jamboree. As a kid these productions were mesmerizing because of the technical complexity and amazing automation of everything — from automatic doors to figures to exit signs.
What's incredible too is the transition from mechanically complex means of automation to the relative simplicity of industrial automation and computational design of mechanical things.
Another particular favorite automata related experience that I am particularly inspired by is Agent P's World Showcase Adventure. Hidden within the lands of World Showcase at Epcot are hundreds of mechanical interactions and gags that are activated by guests using mobile phones as part of the storytelling of this adventure. I love how the interactions are embedded into the worlds in which they exist. Most folks who aren't playing the game might not even notice they are there.
They range from marionettes:
to singing beer steins:
An idea that came to mind late in my trip was some type of mechanical automata that can provide a benefit to someone or something. There seems to be a plethora of projects at ITP that benefit cats, but very few that benefit dogs.
I found these rubber wheeled motors at Skycraft and they made me think about some type of ball throwing machine:
Perhaps this is the place to start?