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
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
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.
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
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
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!