Archive for the 'machines' Category

AntiKythera Mechanism out of Legos

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Apple engineer Andrew Carol pieced together 1,500 piece Lego Technic blocks to build a faithful-in-function replica of the Greek Antikythera Mechanism. Though built in ancient times (150-100 BC) it’s thought to be of comparable sophistication to 19th century Swiss clocks.

Discovered in a ancient shipwreck in 1901, it took researches decades to discover its intended purpose – as an astronomical calculator capable of predicting eclipses, the positions of the sun and moon, other planets and significant stars. It’s widely considered the first known mechanical computer.

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Tesla Turbine on steam

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Warning! Turn your sound down before watching video!

As a long-time fan of Nikola Tesla and with access to lots of steam, it was only natural eventually I’d build my own Tesla Turbine.

I machined the entire turbine from scratch (except the bearings and fittings) and getting thin discs affixed to a shaft such that it would be safe with steam and well balanced proved difficult. Eventually, I machined the discs and shaft from a solid piece of 2.5″ aluminum round stock, cutting away probably 95% of the material.


I later used my laser tachometer and the turbine can easily spin up to 35K RPMs. Due to my non-ideal spacing between the discs, though, I’m not getting that much torque out of it. For the next version of the disc pack rather than using a lathe parting tool to cut the discs I’ll instead make a jig to hold a hacksaw blade in the cross slide and make much narrower slots.

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Robotic Privacy Curtain

Thursday, October 14th, 2010


Niklas Roy writes:

My workshop is located in an old storefront with a big window facing towards the street. In an attempt to create more privacy inside, I’ve decided to install a small but smart curtain in that window. The curtain is smaller than the window, but an additional surveillance camera and an old laptop provide it with intelligence: The computer sees the pedestrians and locates them. With a motor attached, it positions the curtain exactly where the pedestrians are.

The whole setup works really well. But in the end, it doesn’t protect my privacy at all. It seems that the existence of my little curtain is leading itself ad absurdum, simply by doing its job very well. My moving curtain attracts the looks of people which usually would never care about my window. It is even the star of the street, now! My curtain is just engaged. And because of that, it fails.


He publishes is plans and software on his website

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Monday, October 11th, 2010




MechaniCards™ are miniature, pharm hand-operated, patient kinetic sculptures, case designed and produced in limited edition by Bradley N. Litwin. Each one is hand made, numbered and signed by the artist. They are constructed primarily from paperboard, with a few bits of wood, metal, or plastic. They make excellent gifts, and are suitable for mailing, as truly unique greeting cards. Each piece comes with complete instructions and display recommendations. They are also available as do-it-yourself construction kits.


buy some – MechaniCards

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shinya kimura

Thursday, July 8th, 2010


There’s nothing I could say to make this better but link to his website

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Magnitka – Camera man’s cut

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Magnitka. Camera man’s cut. from Sasha Aleksandrov on Vimeo.


This beautiful time-lapse movie shows the process of making sheet steel from raw materials in Magnika, Russia. It’s easy to imagine this process far removed from us until you consider every piece of metal within an arm’s reach went through this form and reform process.

from the vimeo page:

Shot in Magnitogorsk. The footage was edited in precise correspondence with the sequence of technical operations in sheet metal manufacturing at the Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Factory. The result is a serious film with deeply transcendent subject matter.

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The train that never stops at the station

Friday, June 18th, 2010


This clever chinese design shows how a future bullet train might only need to slow down when changing out a small number of passengers. Yes the sound is wonky.

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A robot that can balance on a ball

Friday, April 30th, 2010


Developed by Masaaki Kumagai and Takaya Ochiai at the Robot Development Engineering Laboratory, sick Department of Mechanical Engineering and Intelligent Systems, Tohoku Gakuin University, Japan.

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Turing Machine

Friday, March 26th, 2010


Mike Davey writes:

In Alan Turing’s 1936 paper on computable numbers, he presented a thought experiment. Turing describes a machine that has an infinitely long tape upon which it writes, reads and alters symbols. He further shows that a machine with the correct minimal set of operations can calculate anything that is computable, no matter the complexity.

My goal in building this project was to create a machine that embodied the classic look and feel of the machine presented in Turing’s paper. I wanted to build a machine that would be immediately recognizable as a Turing machine to someone familiar with Turing’s work.


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1975 San Francisco’s Artists’ Soap Box Derby

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

The Incredible San Fancisco Artists’ Soapbox Derby, 1975. from Mike Haeg on Vimeo.



San Francisco enjoys many public artist events but perhaps few have been going as long as the Soap Box Derby races (officially city sanctioned or not). The first movie chronicles the 1975 making and racing the cars from the artist’s point of view often explaining their motivations for their creation. These artists received official city support as part of a fund raising activity for charity. The second video is from the 2007 version which is not formally organized with no official sanctioning from the city (and questionable legality) built entirely with the funds of the artists themselves.



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