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The awesome automata artist Dug North does a quarterly column, “Dug’s Automata Tips, Techniques and Tricks,” on the Cabaret Mechanical Theater website. His latest installment outlines two different methods for making paper patterns for pinwheel gears. Pinwheel gears are relatively easy and fun to make and have various applications, such as above where they’re used in a bevel gear configuration to change the axis of rotation. Be sure to also check out Dug’s previous column on making wooden circles which can be used as the basis for these pinwheels.

Dug’s Automata Tips, Techniques and Tricks No.3

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Cabaret Mechanical Movement
124 pages of diagrams, information, and useful tips on making your own automata. Using the machines and automata from CMT to explain levers, shafts, cranks, cams, springs, linkages, ratchets, drives and gearing, and even coin-op control, this is a great introduction for those inspired to make their own automata. The book ends with a helpful checklist to keep you going. If you don’t even know what a cam is, not to worry, this book is for you as well.

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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