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Bryan Gilles
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Inner circle
Northern California
1729 Posts

Profile of Bryan Gilles
I was thumbing through this month's Genii Magazine and realley enjoyed reading the article called "The Remarkable Little Man" by Richard Kaufman. It's really inspired me to make a similar automata to keep as a conversation piece or a nice piece to keep on the shlf... I thought a reproduction of The Chess Player built to scale would be really cool... Or an automata that looks like David Copperfield or David Blaine (etc... not specifically these magi) and performs one of their effects (ie- Copperfield in his death saw or Blaine performing his Above the Below effect... just a doll in a glass box (slaps knee...thanks Mike for that one!!!). Anyway, Has anyone here built their own automata or attempted to? Would love to learn more about them... Google is great but it is hard to find them performing magic!
Dave Fiscus
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New user
94 Posts

Profile of Dave Fiscus
I made two automatons last year, one magical, and the other a crank-type toy. I remember mentioning the magical one in a thread on radio control either here or on the PMZZ forum . That piece ran with a hidden motor and it looked like the automaton was turning the crank on his own machine. Both this piece and my crank-toy were made of polished aluminum and brass with gears, cams, etc. The toy was especially elaborate and had three figures doing exercises in a gymnasium. It was featured in a cover article in the April, 2005 issue of Machinist's Workshop magazine.

My source of inspiration for making automatons was a delightful book, Automata and Mechanical Toys by Roger Peppe (ISBN 1 86126 5107). That book describes automatons you can make and has wonderful photos of the leading artist's work in this field. The Cabaret Mechanical Theater used to have a web site describing beginner books for those interested in making simple automatons. It may still be around.

Good luck!
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Regular user
Mountain View, CA
140 Posts

Profile of williamHerrick
Hi Bryan,

Don't have much to add here as far as technical info on making automata is concerned, but I was as fascinated as you by "The Remarkable Little Man" article in Genii (in fact I cut it out and its sitting on my deck as I write this.)

For what it's worth, here are some links I found re: automata while searching on the net:

Hope these help!

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