About
As a child I loved making things out of old electronic and mechanical scrap. It was the time when people were replacing their huge valve driven TVs, gramophones and cast iron household gadgets with new brightly coloured compact plastic transistorised versions. I provided the neighbours with a popular alternative to the council dump. Thank goodness for understanding parents. I continued developing my knowledge of design and electronics in school and went on to study Industrial Design and Engineering at degree level, which the careers advisor thought to be the most appropriate choice for someone with so many interests. Having completed the degree, I set up a small design consultancy and quickly found myself very popular with inventors who wanted their rough ideas worked out and presented as drawings and prototypes. Whilst this was very enjoyable, the common theme was “I can’t pay you now, but I will when it takes off.” Not a sound business model, hence the next amazing twenty seven years spent teaching Design & Technology. A few years ago I gave up teaching and returned to designing and making things (having first taken the kids to school and completed filling the dishwasher). Since then I have devoted more of my time to designing and making steampunk ‘machines’. Steampunk is brilliant, as it combines my love of old machinery, especially innovative Victorian inventions, with my hobbies of making Gothic styled furniture, engineering, electronics and computing. Having made a couple of bespoke steampunk creations, I realised there were no actual working steampunk machines that could be bought by enthusiasts. To address this I designed the Barometric Prognosticator III which proved popular and spurred me on to design the other inventions on the website.
Sepia photo of website author
Not Enough Hours
Unfortunately there are not enough hours in the day to keep up with new ideas. Steampunk provides so many exciting design opportunities, that I have to try to remain focused on developing one idea at a time into a working product. I thought I’d share a couple of the other ideas I’m going to work on at some point. I’d love to know your thoughts on them or any ideas you may have for steampunk machines you’d like to see developed.
The Reciprocating Chronometer
A steampunk clock that uses gears and levers to turn rotary motion into a ‘sweeping’ time display similar to the movement of old fashioned gauges. I’m particularly pleased with the AM/PM display as it uses a lovely lens and a ratchet and pawl to stay up to date. Having to rely on gravity and balanced parts to achieve the desired result has been a real challenge. So much easier with an electric motor! Now I have to stop myself from adding a date and month display, let alone an hourly striking mechanism using ball bearings!
CAD drawing of mechanical steampunk clock design
The Gregorian Scribulator
A wall mounted steampunk writing/drawing machine which uses magnetism to create images on revolving screens, initially the date, but then things like graphs of weather readings. This will be more like the Barometric Prognosticator III both in size, and in using an Arduino and electrically driven mechanisms to achieve the necessary movement. I’m looking forward to the challenge of writing the software that will turn standard CAD files into the variety of rotary motions necessary to draw stuff. Another voyage of discovery, as I don’t know anything about trigonometry!
Sketch of other mechanisms for steampunk clock Sketch of steampunk drawing machine mechanisms Experimental prototype parts for a steampunk clock Prototype model of mechanical steampunk clock Computer visualisation of steampunk clock Done It now writes the day and date which proved to be far more difficult than drawing circular graphs. Id like to think my understanding of geometry has improved, but what seemed vaguely clear after several hours on Google made no sense after several hours of sleep. Almost Relying on gravity to move mechanisms has been very challenging - forces low enough to run from the clock movement, but high enough to function reliably. That and taking up the slack within the gears.
Not Enough Hours Unfortunately there are not enough hours in the day to keep up with my new ideas. Steampunk provides so many exciting design opportunities, that I have to try to remain focused on developing one idea at a time into a working product. I thought I’d share a couple of the other ideas I’m going to work on at some point. I’d love to know any thoughts you may have on them. Hopefully they will appear for sale on the website at some stage. The Reciprocating Chronometer A steampunk clock that uses gears and levers to turn rotary motion into a ‘sweeping’ time display similar to the movement of old fashioned gauges. I’m particularly pleased with the AM/PM display as it uses a lovely lens and a ratchet and pawl to stay up to date. Having to rely on gravity and balanced parts to achieve the desired result has been a real challenge. So much easier with an electric motor! Now I have to stop myself from adding a date and month display, let alone an hourly striking mechanism using ball bearings! The Gregorian Scribulator A wall mounted steampunk writing/drawing machine which uses magnetism to create images on revolving screens, initially the date, but then things like graphs of weather readings. This will be more like the Barometric Prognosticator III both in size, and in using an Arduino and electrically driven mechanisms to achieve the necessary movement. I’m looking forward to the challenge of writing the software that will turn standard CAD files into the variety of rotary motions necessary to draw stuff. Another voyage of discovery, as I don’t know anything about trigonometry!
About As a child I loved making things out of old electronic and mechanical scrap. It was the time when people were replacing their huge valve driven TVs, gramophones and cast iron household gadgets with new brightly coloured compact plastic transistorised versions. I provided the neighbours with a popular alternative to the council dump. Thank goodness for understanding parents. I continued developing my knowledge of design and electronics in school and went on to study Industrial Design and Engineering at degree level, which the careers advisor thought to be the most appropriate choice for someone with so many interests. Having completed the degree, I set up a small design consultancy and quickly found myself very popular with inventors who wanted their rough ideas worked out and presented as drawings and prototypes. Whilst this was very enjoyable, the common theme was “I can’t pay you now, but I will when it takes off.” Not a sound business model, hence the next amazing twenty seven years spent teaching Design & Technology. A few years ago I gave up teaching and returned to designing and making things (having first taken the kids to school and completed filling the dishwasher). Since then I have devoted more of my time to designing and making steampunk ‘machines’. Steampunk is brilliant, as it combines my love of old machinery, especially innovative Victorian inventions, with my hobbies of making Gothic styled furniture, engineering, electronics and computing. Having made a couple of bespoke steampunk creations, I realised there were no actual working steampunk machines that could be bought by enthusiasts. To address this I designed the Barometric Prognosticator III which proved popular and spurred me on to design the other inventions on the website.
Sepia photo of website author CAD drawing of mechanical steampunk clock design Experimental prototype parts for a steampunk clock Prototype model of mechanical steampunk clock Computer visualisation of steampunk clock Sketch of other steampunk drawing machine mechanisms Sketch of steampunk drawing machine mechanisms Almost Relying on gravity to move mechanisms has been very challenging - forces low enough to run from the clock movement, but high enough to function reliably. That and taking up the slack within the gears. Done It now writes the day and date which proved to be far more difficult than drawing circular graphs. Id like to think my understanding of geometry has improved, but what seemed vaguely clear after several hours on Google made no sense after several hours of sleep.