Sand-powered automata of yesteryear

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Here’s a video for curious sorts who want to see the mechanism inside. Think water wheel but with sand. What’s impressive is the sand (which “…gets everywhere”) doesn’t get into the axle area and have it grind to a halt. (“special sand?”)


Here’s a great video talking about their history and mechanism.

The erratic randomness makes this an appropriate clockwork mechanism to mark time in 2020.


Thank you. Three videos and nobody thought that a viewer might want to know how they worked.

ETA and even in that video, too many stills of the mechanism, and they still think that once they’ve filled the hopper we’re more interested in seeing the acrobat than seeing how the wheel works and/or changes direction.


These are super neat! I’d love to see more on the mechanisms too… it seems like they’re all a simple cam/follower setup.
And of course I really wanna make modern versions with some trick gearing and really have some cool movement. Great, another project!

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I am always thinking about ways that we could do modern things if we were suddenly transported back in time and had only archaic materials to work with. It seems like a large hopper full of sand would make a good “fuel” for powering devices that need to move at a steady pace for a long period of time such as a tumbler that could be used to make gunpowder or polish stones.

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