Dancing automaton powered by falling sand

Fun & Games Robotics

Although the “look” of this dancing-girl automaton by English toymaker Ron Fuller is not personally to my taste, I could not resist the fact that it is powered by a stream of falling sand, which is a trick I’ve never seen before. Thanks to YouTuber greninmotion for the video. [via The Automata / Automaton Blog]

10 thoughts on “Dancing automaton powered by falling sand

  1. Simon says:

    Is there a link somewhere that shows the mechanism I am missing? It mentions it uses falling sand but doesn’t show it. So it’s a trick you still haven’t ‘seen’ :)

    I thought at first the automaton was playing the sound too but is is just on the video right?

    1. Pocket-Sized says:

      I was wondering the exact same thing. I always like to draw the mechanics involved in such strange contraptions in my notebook.
      I found a video of a similar sand toy (by Ron Fuller) here. Along with a video of the mechanics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmL9YWq85No

    2. jeff-o says:

      I suspect the mechanism uses some sort of waterwheel, but perhaps it’s more clever than that…

      1. Dug North says:

        @jeff-o:
        You and Pocket-Sized are right on the mark. This technique of using a hopper full of sand to power a water-wheel-like device has been used in automata for hundreds of years. Sometimes the sand it caught in a tray so it can be easily fed back into the hopper without the need to turn it over to reload. I once had the pleasure of operating an automaton from the 1700s that used this principle.

        @Simon:
        Right, the music was added to the video. This automaton doesn’t have any musical element built in.

        Best,

        -Dug North

  2. Simon says:

    I thought I posted this yesterday but it didn’t show up. I found this about one of the old automatons someone found and restored. It is indeed a little paddle wheel type thing.

    http://ladysrepositorymuseum.blogspot.com/2009/12/wonderful-1850-sand-toy-diamond-in.html

Comments are closed.

Tagged

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan
FEEDBACK