The Mechanicals
The Mechanicals is an exhibition of two parts. Witty, beautifully hand-crafted automata are displayed alongside hands-on exhibits that show the basic mechanisms involved in making the automata work. These exhibits simplify and show the basic principles behind drives, pulleys, ratchets and levers that underpin our lives in so many ways.
The Mechanicals is a collaborative project between Science Projects Ltd and the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, famous for its collection of beautiful, humorous hand-made automata.
Exhibition requirements

• A gallery with about 100 sq metres of open floor space.
• Electrical power – twelve plug sockets.
• The exhibition must be supervised at all times when in use, preferably by staff accustomed to working in an interactive environment.

Exhibit list

The Interactives:
Cams – This exhibit explores what cam shafts can be used for. Turn the wheels on each of the three different cam shafts and watch what happens to the three mechanical cat figures.
Gears – This older style use of cogs employs a pinwheel gearing mechanism. Turn the black wheel to see what happens to the legs and arms of the mechanical cat figure. What happens if you turn it faster?
Linkages – Use the black knob to move the first link. Look what happens to the other two links and see if you can ring the bell.
Drives – Turn the bottom wheel to see what happens to the other two wheels. Look which way round they turn. Alter the position of the belt. Is it easier or more difficult to turn? What happens if you wrap the belt in a figure of eight?
Ratchets – Keep turning the blue wheel and watch what happens to the gavel that the mechanical cat judge is holding.
Levers – Move the bottom lever and see if the mechanical cat figure lifts the dumbbell over its head. Now move the position of the lever and try again. Work out which position is the easiest to move.
Cranks – Turn each of the wheels using the black handle and see what happens to the legs and arms of the mechanical cat figure. Pull on the black handle to change the position of the connection to be more or less off centre. What happens when you turn the wheels now?
Bi-directional Gear – This exhibit demonstrates an interesting but mostly useless mechanism to translate uni-directional rotary motion into bi-directional rotary motion. Turn the outer wheel and watch the inner gear change direction and speed.
Geneva Wheel – this exhibit demonstrates a mechanism to turn continuous rotary motion into intermittent motion. Commonly used in old film based movie projectors to pause each frame of the film in front of the bulb for the required time.

 

Example Automata:
(Automata are exchanged periodically for repair and review)
The Birth of Fast Food – Pegasus – What mechanisms are making his legs and wings move?
Capture your own U-Boat – Look carefully and be patient! How does the submarine appear in the bathtub?
How to Live: Spaghetti Man – There is a lot going on here! Work out the mechanisms behind each movement.
How to Swim – Look carefully and work out how the swimmer moves his limbs and head.
The Barecats – Patience is needed for this one! What is he looking at?
Poisoned Milk – Keep your finger on the button to see the unfortunate demise of the poisoned cat.
Camel Simulator – Look carefully! Why is Anubis bouncing up and down?
Sleeping Musculature – What allows Anubis to do a sit up?
Three Physical Jerks – How are they all exercising together?
Sheep Shearing Man – Be patient and you will see the tragic outcome when the sheep is holding the shears!
Lion Tamer – Different mechanisms help the lion tamer avoid a sticky end! Find out what they are.
Allegory of Love – There is so much going on here as the hammer keeps failing to hit the nail on the head.