The Mechanicals is a collaborative project between Science Projects Ltd and the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre. It is an interactive exhibition of comical, beautifully made automata that will give fun and knowledge to old and young alike. The aim of this witty combination of art and science is to inspire and help you understand the basic mechanisms involved in how the automata work. The figures are each busy with a zany activity. An interactive board allows you to play and understand the relevant mechanical principle involved. The drives, pulleys, ratchets and levers that make these machines work underpin our lives in so many ways. This exhibition is made up of eight interactive boards and twelve automata.
What do I need to hire The Mechanicals?
- A gallery with about 100 sq metres of open floor space.
- Electrical power - 12 plug sockets.
- The exhibition must be supervised at all times when in use, preferably by staff accustomed to working in an interactive environment.
The Interactive Boards
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.
Gearing - Pull and twist the rod which holds the cogs in place to select a gear (high, medium or low). Turn the wheel on the left hand side to find out how easy or difficult it is to move the gears around.
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?
Push the button on each exhibit to see what they do. All movement is governed by certain mechanical principles. Have a good look inside each model as they move. Your challenge is to find out what mechanism the automata is using to make it work the way it does. (Note, three of the automata use the Egyptian god Anubis to demonstrate the motion.)
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.