Thursday, 20 November 2014

Movement and Mechanisms

20 November 2014, 9.30am - 4.30pm
Instructor’s name: David McGoran

A full day workshop as an introduction to the Kinetic Arts. Think animatronics, popup books, automata and dynamic sculpture which all share the same fundamental mechanics and dynamics of movement.

As usual the workshop was a good balance between being talked at (theory) and hands on work (practice). The theory side of things started with a powerpoint of some great examples of kintetic artwork, some of the most impressive was the animatronics and puppetry. Dave brought our attention to Royale Deluxe - a French mechanical marionette street theatre company I'd love to see these pieces in person.

This continued into an introduction to numerous mechanisms that we could perhaps use in our work. Gears and leavers, mass and inertia, mechanical transference and passive dynamics were all briefly explained with examples.

After this it was time to put some of the theory to practice with use of the laser cut prototyping kit for this workshop. The kit was basically a peg board which we could bolt in the different gears and levers to start playing with out own mechanical systems. We were encouraged to start simple but start building to make more complex pieces.

Following lunch we started out own prototypes with the bits and pieces available in the tech lab. As with the interaction workshop we were encouraged to prototype using cardboard and tape to make quick versions and proof of concepts.

I decided to take the opportunity again to explore pinball flippers, as it ties into my main project.  I wanted to start simple with the project and make something like mechanical flippers so I set about using some of the workshop kit and some cardboard. 

After a few trial attempts I got a basic working flipper - the addition of elastic to make it spring back into its original place made me realise the flipper was not powerful enough to make the ball go very far. So after some explanation by Dave I realised the linkage from the lever to the flipper was too big and that I was exerting lots of force but not getting a strong output when it should be the other way around.

Some tinkering later I put together the two flippers and had a working version. Great to see what can be done in an afternoon. Plenty more prototyping to be done by the looks of it.

Mechanical flippers prototype #pinball

A video posted by Jono Sandilands (@jonosandilands) on