The Is It Time For Tea?’ Machine
Having set off on holiday, I received a message from a Facebook  follower suggesting I design and make an ‘Is it time for tea?’ decorative gauge. Two weeks away from the ‘office’ and I managed to take over-complication to new heights (or depths, depending on your love of simple, clean design). I had always wanted to build an automaton and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to create a sort of Victorian Alexa who couldn’t tell you anything, except whether it was time for tea! The Victorians loved automatons, automated mechanical creatures and humans that would carry out amazing tasks and movements such as Jaquet Droz’s The Writer. My central circular drive with cams around it is a homage to this. Having given it some thought, I realised the best way to construct a modern day automaton head, was to use 3D printing. I was completely unfamiliar with the process, but realised it could be used to create a hollow head shape reminiscent of porcelain that could include the necessary mechanisms to allow it to move. To cut a long story short; 5 months later Florence the automaton was complete. I have learnt so much. From how to design and print a 3D head and how to record an automaton’s voice, to lip syncing the audio with mouth movements and recreating a Victorian shell lamp footlight through the use of photogrammetry. It has been a delight, especially sharing everything I have learnt and all my mistakes on YouTube and Facebook. Many people have told me how useful they have found the videos which makes it all worth while! The next step is to develop a full sized automaton head, in which all the mechanisms and motors are contained. This could then be mounted on a simplified, but equally decorative, wooden base. The new version of Florence could then carry out a variety of duties, from telling diners which dish to choose from the menu in a restaurant, to suggesting the books they should select in a library. She could also undertake such duties as running a quiz, to telling fortunes. A thousand uses around the home and retail emporium! Watch this space… Having mispronounced automaton throughout the whole making process, despite having it explained by a kind person on FB, (I responded by finding a new way to mispronounce it!) here is the correct pronunciation which I have now learnt to use: ô-tŏm'ə-tən
Florence the automaton waiting to tell you if it is time for tea Florence the automaton waiting to tell you if it is time for tea Jaquet Drozís The Writer automaton (1774) that wrote words with a quill pen Jaquet Drozís The Writer automaton (1774) that wrote words with a quill pen A miniature test print of Florence - too thin in places A miniature test print of Florence - too thin in places Trying all sorts of ways to lipsync her mouth with speech Trying all sorts of ways to lipsync her mouth with speech The mind bending photogrammetry used to create a virtual footlight The mind bending photogrammetry used to create a virtual footlight Designing the inside of Florence's head on 3D Builder Designing the inside of Florence's head on 3D Builder Florence's finished head with wig! Florence's finished head with wig! Back in the office with access to CAD; a better rendition Back in the office with access to CAD; a better rendition Part way through the build and starting to experiment with an Arduino to control everything Part way through the build and starting to experiment with an Arduino to control everything Florence's machine body with loads of moving parts and even some bellows Florence's machine body with loads of moving parts and even some bellows Poor Florence after an issue with her mechanisms. Poor Florence after an issue with her mechanisms.
The Is It Time For Tea?’ Machine
Having set off on holiday, I received a message from a Facebook follower suggesting I design and make an ‘Is it time for tea?’ decorative gauge. Two weeks away from the ‘office’ and I managed to take over-complication to new heights (or depths, depending on your love of simple, clean design). I had always wanted to build an automaton and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to create a sort of Victorian Alexa, who couldn’t tell you anything, except whether it was time for tea! The Victorians loved automatons, automated mechanical creatures and humans that would carry out amazing tasks and movements such as Jaquet Droz’s The Writer. My central circular drive with cams around it is a homage to this. Having given it some thought, I realised the best way to construct a modern day automaton head, was to use 3D printing. I was completely unfamiliar with the process, but realised it could be used to create a hollow head shape reminiscent of porcelain that could include the necessary mechanisms to allow it to move. To cut a long story short; 5 months later Florence the automaton was complete. I have learnt so much. From how to design and print a 3D head and how to record an automaton’s voice, to lip syncing the audio with mouth movements and recreating a Victorian shell lamp footlight through the use of photogrammetry. It has been a delight, especially sharing everything I have learnt and all my mistakes on YouTube and Facebook. Many people have told me how useful they have found the videos which makes it all worth while! The next step is to develop a full sized automaton head, in which all the mechanisms and motors are contained. This could then be mounted on a simplified, but equally decorative, wooden base. The new version of Florence could then carry out a variety of duties, from telling diners which dish to choose from the menu in a restaurant, to suggesting the books they should select in a library. She could also undertake such duties as running a quiz, to telling fortunes. A thousand uses around the home and retail emporium! Watch this space… Having mispronounced automaton throughout the whole making process, despite having it explained by a kind person on FB, (I responded by finding a new way to mispronounce it!) here is the correct pronunciation which I have now learnt to use: ô-tŏm'ə-tən
Jaquet Drozís The Writer automaton (1774) that wrote words with a quill pen Jaquet Drozís The Writer automaton (1774) that wrote words with a quill pen A miniature test print of Florence - too thin in places A miniature test print of Florence - too thin in places Part way through the build and starting to experiment with an Arduino to control everything Part way through the build and starting to experiment with an Arduino to control everything The awful first sketch of the 'Is it time for tea?' machine. You have to start somewhere! The awful first sketch of the 'Is it time for tea?' machine. You have to start somewhere! Trying all sorts of ways to lipsync her mouth with speech Trying all sorts of ways to lipsync her mouth with speech Florence the automaton waiting to tell you if it is time for tea Florence the automaton waiting to tell you if it is time for tea The mind bending photogrammetry used to create a virtual footlight The mind bending photogrammetry used to create a virtual footlight Designing the inside of Florence's head on 3D Builder Designing the inside of Florence's head on 3D Builder Florence's machine body with loads of moving parts and even some bellows Florence's machine body with loads of moving parts and even some bellows Poor Florence after an issue with her mechanisms. Poor Florence after an issue with her mechanisms.