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Automata – 507 Mechanical Movements

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Finally bringing together all of my old files over the years, for a final collating of important notes versus doodles, and came across a thin dusty file call “Automata”.

In it an advertisement for the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, 1994. “Making automata is hard. It requires a very wide range of construction skills and an understanding of mechanical and engineering principles. This can be very frustrating for the beginner but help is here now with this inspiring video which features the work of Keith Newstead.” In fact, they’re still going strong – and check out the prices one might ask for in this market – at Cabaret Mechanical Theatre. Their DVD is a resource: “How to Make Automata – “Mechanisms and Methods”.


But that wasn’t the reason for this post. The reason is to point you toward a compilation of mechanical movements, the classic resource book 507 Mechanical Movements” by Henry T. Brown, published in 1868: “…embracing all those which are most important in dynamics, hydraulics, hydrostatics, pneumatics, steam engines, mill and other gearing, presses, horology, and miscellaneous machinery.”

I once had a copy, but soon lost it in lending, and for the longest time couldn’t replace it. Now, I find it is entirely free on-line, with many of the movements animated. There are down-loadable pdf’s of the original book on-line as well.


Worm Gear

There are also good animation of many elementary mechanical movements at, Designing Paper Animations.