21 Apr 2021

The Flower Automaton

Hello, puzzle and automaton lovers! It has been a long time since I updated the last blog post. I had been struggling with an automaton.

In November last year, one idea of a flower shaped automaton popped up in my mind. It was a flower facing upward. I thought it would be good, however, when I searched the key words, "automata" and "flower" on YouTube, I found some flower automata that bloom upwards. If I could, I wanted to avoid making something similar to others. Therefore, I have decided to make a flower automaton that blooms horizontally.

Then, I started thinking of the structures of the automaton. I realized that a vertical bloom automaton could use gravity to open petals which is convenient. On the other hand, an automaton that blooms horizontally can be obstructed with gravity. It depends on structures, the upper petal would easily face down by gravity.

Hmm, it seems a bit awkward.

If it is alright having big linkage structures behind the flower, I thought it would not be difficult to make. I tried to imagine how it would look. No, no. It makes no sense if the structure is more conspicuous than the flower.

In the meantime, November was over. December passed very quickly having no good ideas. Then, January and February passed wastefully, and I was getting a bit anxious. I thought that I might have not been able to come up with any good ideas. When I was almost giving up, I picked up a book, "507 Mechanical Movements" and finally got an idea. The book gave me a hint! 

After many trials and errors, also having kind help of woodworking by Juno, I finally finished making the flower automaton yesterday.

Here it is, this is my flower automaton.

I named it "Columbine" because it happened to look like a Columbine flower. This is a double flower, and it caused many mistakes while I was making it. I guess that it would be much easier if I made a single flower. 

The petals are made from PNG Rosewood. Probably, you may notice that I used the rest of the timber that was used for the sequential discovery puzzle, "SDBB Master." The stem and the calyx are made from plywood that I bought at a hardware shop, the base is made from the off cut of American Black Walnut which has been used for Coin Case, Juno's Arrow, SDBB Master and so on. 

Before I started making this automaton, I had made a prototype. This prototype faces upward. The feature of this flower automaton is moving any angles. It moves regardless of the force of gravity. I am happy with the idea. Having said that, if I make another one, I will change some parts of the design because I have found some improvements. Sometimes you cannot tell shortcomings just by making it once, you know?


This automaton was 7th creation of mine including prototypes. The first one had quite a simple structure, it had only two cams. It is deeply moving to see the improvement and complexity of the design from only two cams automaton to the latest one.

I already have a next new idea for automaton. I will show you my next automaton someday on this blog.
See you then!


20 Nov 2020

A Mathematician and Performer, Yosuke Ikeda

Time flies like SpaceX, it is already mid-November. At least five automata were supposed to be done in the plan this year, but I have made only two and I have been racking my brains and thinking of a new linkage system. On such an occasion, one interesting video that was tweeted caught my eye. It was "Stone Circle Mystery" by Yosuke Ikeda.

Yosuke Ikeda
It is not exactly an automaton, it is not a puzzle, and even more, it is not magic, yet it has fun elements related to puzzles with a mathematics' flavour. I thought puzzle lovers would love his creations.

Yosuke Ikeda is also famous as a performer. He has lots of performing experiences overseas, including Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Taiwan, and so on. This is one of his popular performances, "Hello Goodbye" which made him well known.

Firstly, I assumed that he is a designer and a street performer, and I was surprised to know that he is a mathematics teacher at a prep school and the author of math books too. As the saying goes, God does not give two gifts to one person, but it seems like there is an exception.

The creations that such a talented guy has come up with are amazing. Probably, it is because I like gears, but this video,"Marble Machine "Penrose Stairs"" is fantastic. Especially, I like the three cubes that rotate. I cannot understand why it got only 126 clicks on the "Like" icon as of today.

The latest project he is carrying is AlgoLoop. It looks like a small propeller or fan. He has put it on KICKSTARTER and is raising money toward production. There is a page that is written about the details of AlgoLoop on KICKSTARTER together with "Risks and challenges" written by Yosuke.

Most visitors to this blog are puzzle lovers. So, in the end, I will introduce his puzzle, "Square Puzzle." Yosuke says that this is a new variation of the Missing square puzzle. Since it has been well received, he is thinking of merchandising.

I have pasted several links of Yosuke below.
His website has explanations about his creations and performance in both English and Japanese, so I do not think I need to write a lot here. Please visit his website and his YouTube pages, you will find more fun there.
Yosuke Ikeda Are you looking for something different? THIS IS IT

Yosuke Ikeda Twitter : https://twitter.com/ikeikey

Facebook IDEA IKEDA : https://www.facebook.com/IDEAIkeda

YouTube IDEA Ikeda

12 Oct 2020

Akio Hizume, an architect of mathematics

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Roger Penrose. I believe that most puzzle lovers like, for example, the Penrose triangle. If you love what Roger Penrose has accomplished, I am very sure that you may be interested in a guy who designed lots of mathematical things. His name is Akio Hizume.

If you had attended the International Puzzle Party 30 (IPP Osaka + Hakone 2010) you might have met Akio. He was one of the lecturers in Osaka and held a workshop on "Pleiades." Pleiades had been displayed in various places. Here is one of the huge Pleiades hanging from the ceiling of a church in Switzerland. Unfortunately, it is not there now. 

Two pictures below were taken at Marunouchi Building which is in front of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo. It looks like a Christmas tree. The star is Pleiades and the Christmas tree part is Fibonacci Tower which is also designed by Akio.

Fibonacci Tower

There is one interesting story. Akio put a bulb inside Pleiades and threw it from the 6th floor of the building (Depending on the countries, it would be the 5th floor due to there being no ground floor in Japan). The ground he threw on was covered by concrete, yet Pleiades and even the bulb did not break. Isn't it amazing?
According to Akio's guessing, the Pleiades itself became like feathers and worked as a parachute, falling at a constant speed, and cushioning the bulb to protect it.

He has designed so many things, so I present here Akio's other works. This is Sunflower Tower, 8 m high (26.25 ft). It is constructed with 150 bamboo stalks woven into a double spiral. 
Sunflower Tower

He attended the 9th Gathering for Martin Gardner (G4G9) and made Mumagari 600 and it was also displayed at the local library lobby in Atlanta, U.S.A.
Mumagari 600

Akio occasionally gave lectures at Musashino Art University in Tokyo and these pictures show what he had made there.

He is an architect, therefore, of course, has designed some buildings. Those small models are tea houses that he designed.

Akio designed an architectural prototype based on the plant's phyllotaxis spiral. This is my personal opinion, but some of his architectural models seem to have a similar concept as Islamic architectural design. What I mean is those designs have mathematical beauty.

In the last, I introduce the Fibonacci Turbine.

The paper of Origami Fibonacci Turbine

This time, my blog became longer because Akio has so many original designs. I reckon his keen insight into form and mathematical sense will lead him to create even more original designs in the future.

Like he attended the IPP30 as a lecturer, he has been attending many events worldwide. If you have any questions or would like to ask him to make something his originals, please contact him directly.

Akio Hizume

Inquiry: akio@starcage.org

Akio's website "Star Cage" : http://starcage.org/englishindex.html

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/starcage

6 Aug 2020

Automaton of a horse pedaling bicycle

I have finally finished making my third automaton.

I have been busy these days, but when the CNC router was not in use, I cut all the parts of an automaton. While the CNC router was cutting the parts, I could work for my regular work, making puzzles and it was very time efficient.

Same as before, I used plywood this time because this is a prototype. Plywood will not warp, and it is good for making gears. On the other hand, cheap plywood like I bought does not look very good. I bought plywood at the same shop, and unfortunately, there were variations in quality. Some top boards easily come off and it was a bit awkward.

At first, I drew pictures of the automaton using 3D software. It can be a help to understand each position and also it can export the data for the CNC router. I do not know how other automata creators do, but to me, this method is convenient. After exporting the data, there were several settings and work and then, it was the time for cutting. This is one of the exciting moments.
This is the picture of cutting parts with the CNC router.

I needed some tiny parts and I prepared more than I needed, because tiny parts might be inhaled by a dust extractor after cutting. This is the tiniest part that survived.

After cutting all the parts, I assembled them together. The picture below is gluing the jockey and holding it with a clamp.

I said that I used plywood, but there were two exceptions, one is the base and another one is a carrot. This prototype does not have any colour and looks bland, I wanted different colours. This carrot was made from Jarrah.

This automaton is based on my old online jigsaw puzzle design. A jockey and a horse are riding on a bicycle and the jockey is holding a fishing rod that has a carrot on the end, and the horse is pedaling the bicycle instead of running. The horse's eyes are, of course, chasing the carrot.

After I made this automaton, I thought that I could also make another version of this. The horse that sits on the bicycle can be replaced with a rabbit. Replace the carrot with a wad of bills and the horse can be changed to a human.

I am mostly satisfied with the result of the automaton. I made the jockey's leg so that it can be wagged, but the automaton does not vibrate as I thought, and it does not wag at all. It was a miscalculation.

Unexpectedly, there is one that is satisfied with the automaton more than I am, it is my cat. He loves punching the carrot very much. He is not interested in some toys I bought for him, but he loves the carrot. It was another of my miscalculations. I put the automaton out of reach of the cat for safety.

Thanks for reading and watching the video.

17 Jun 2020

The Puzzle for Parrots

I have been watching the YouTube video, Maker's Muse, which introduces models that are made with a 3D printer. This channel administrates by an industrial designer, Angus Deveson.
My favorite videos of his I used to watch are usually related to gears like Geneva mechanism, but the latest video that is not related to gears caught my eye. It was about a puzzle made for a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo named Popeye.

As he introduces the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo on the video, they have a destructive reputation and are intelligent. I have incurred numerous damage by them pulling and biting the plants I had grown, yet I do not hate them, or more than that, my curiosity for those tinker birds has increased.

There is another example that proves their intelligence. The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo that lives in Sydney seems they figured out how to open the garbage bin lid. They open the lid using their foot and beak.
Here is the link of the news article.
ABC News
Sulphur-crested cockatoos raiding wheelie bins are (annoying) examples of animal behavioural adaptation

Having a skillful beak, feet and strong curiosity, I would not be surprised if they solve puzzles, and here it is, a puzzle for the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.

Seeing is believing, please watch the video, "Can Wild Parrots Solve Puzzles?"

Even I knew they are intelligent birds I did not expect Popeye can solve the puzzle in such a short time. It seems like Popeye remembered pulling the dowel out. The second time the attempt took only under 30 seconds.

On the video, Angus says that he welcomes the new puzzle ideas for Popeye. I know there are puzzle lovers visiting this blog. You guys usually design puzzles for human beings, but why don't you try to think of a puzzle for parrots?

If you have got any ideas, please leave a comment, not here, on the YouTube page of the video.

Maker's Muse Website: https://www.makersmuse.com/