The students in the automata workshop were provided the supplies necessary to build a simple automata along with the Exploratorium's invaluable guide to building automata. Each chose a motion that they wanted the machinery to produce. I chose to use an oblong cam that would make a cam follower rise and fall.
After deciding that I would transform the lowly Josh automata into something far more sinister, I started with the wings. I constructed a simple frame using bamboo skewers and masking tape. I covered the frame with a piece of paper my son scribbled on with a ballpoint pen cut to size.
The flapping mechanism was constructed around a drinking straw. Flexing and releasing the straw caused the wings to flap.
As the automata progressed, the simple wing mechanism began to fail as the masking tape and drinking straw aged and were stressed by the movement and Cthulhu's evilness. I decided to upgrade the automata and start replacing key components with 3D printed parts. The drinking straw was the first part to be replaced. I took advantage of the flexibility of ABS plastic, which my MakerBot Thing-O-Matic uses, and was able to maintain the same flex that the drinking straw exhibited but with more durable results. The design also allowed me to move from round bamboo skewers to 1/8" bass wood dowels.
Cthulhu's head was constructed using strips of cardboard cut from paper towel rolls. The strips were originally shaped around a partially inflated balloon. Once the skull came into shape the balloon was deflated and removed. Additional strips, affixed to one another with masking tape, conjured the disgusting visage into shape.
Cthulhu's eyes were built in upcycled egg carton cups. Chibitronic LED stickers provide light, while copper tape with conductive adhesive serves as the wiring.
The wiring was routed through the skull, similar in a creepy way to the optic nerve. The copper tape emerged from the base of the skull and was routed through holes cut in the wood cigar box.
The Second Cam Follower
Overtaken, perhaps, by the terrible flapping of Cthulhu's wings, I constructed a second cam follower on the front of the box on which Cthulhu perched. This cam follower would move Cthulhu's tentacles as the automata was cranked.
Cthulhu's tentacles started as foam pipe insulation, cut into crude tentacle shapes by hands shaking in fear.
As the automata grew in design and intensity, replacement tentacles were located on Amazon.
An octopus model was located on Thingiverse. Using a combination of Meshmixer and Tinkercad, all but four tentacle stubs were removed from the model. The resulting monstrosity was 3D printed in a test size first, then full sized.
The Completed Model
All of this brings us, brave reader, to the conclusion, with the various malformed, 3D printed parts combined to form an unholy monster.
3D modeled in Tinkercad and Meshmixer
3D printed on a MakerBot Thing-O-Matic and a Replicator 2
3D printed in Inventables 3mm Gray ABS, MakerBot Red ABS, and MakerBot Warm Gray PLA filaments
Thanks to Joseph Schott for guidance, tools, and workshop space.
This work and images copyright 2015 Josh Burker