Category Archives: making

Mood-O-Meter Math

Even as I posted it I wasn’t satisfied with my Mood-O-Meter post from a few days ago. I knew intuitively that in order for the gears to display all possible “moods” the ratio of eye expressions to mouth expressions must be in its simplest form but I couldn’t quite describe mathematically why this was the case. The images below attempt to convey this relationship between the expression ratio and the gear ratio both mathematically and visually.

Essentially, to find how many “moods” will be displayed the numerator is multiplied by the simplified denominator. If the ratio is already in its simplest form, then this is obvious. For the ratio of 6:5, the viewable moods will be 6 x 5 = 30. But in the case of 6:4 (which can be reduced to 3:2), the viewable moods will be 6 x 2 = 12. In the more extreme example a ratio of 4:4, this is reduced to 1:1 so the viewable moods are limited to 4 x 1 = 4.

Now I’m satisfied.

Mood-O-Meter_math_18-15

Mood-O-Meter_math_18-12

Mood-O-Meter_math_12-12

Mood-O-Meter

6 mouths x 5 pairs of eyes = 30 different moods.

6 mouths x 5 pairs of eyes = 30 different moods.


A few weeks ago I volunteered to lead a make and do session for a staff team building “fun day.” Two nights before the event I started prototyping this “Mood-O-Meter” which actually presented an interesting mathematical problem: what combination of gear teeth and multiples of eye and mouth expressions will display all possible mood options?

For example if I had two 12 tooth gears it wouldn’t matter if I put four eye expressions on one and four mouth expressions on the other because only four expressions out of a possible of sixteen would ever display.

If I printed four expressions on one 12 tooth gear and three on the other this would be even worse as only one mood would be displayed. The other eleven options would always be out of sync.

I settled upon a 18 tooth and 15 tooth with six eye expressions and five mouth expressions respectively to produce 30 individual moods.

My colleagues at Texas Performing Arts cutting out gears to make their Mood-O-Meters. They may have lacked the exuberance of my elementary aged students but when they meshed their gears for the first time they were positively giddy.

My colleagues at Texas Performing Arts cutting out gears to make their Mood-O-Meters. They may have lacked the exuberance of my elementary aged students but when they meshed their gears for the first time they were positively giddy.

Cereal Box Clock: Working Prototype

I’ve spent perhaps 150 hours working on this in CAD and less than 30 in the studio prototyping. Once all the patterns are printed and stuck to the double thick cereal boxes I think my students will have a shot at building their own in 12 hours of class time.

Materials include cereal box chip board, corrugated cardboard, wood dowel, hand-rolled paper tubes, recycled #1 plastic sheet, and brass grommets. Hot glue and quick set white glue are used for bonding as well as spray adhesive to mount the patterns. Tools include scissors, utility shears, snap blades, flush trim side cutters, sand paper, and a pull saw to cut dowels and paper tube. Class begins on Monday.

Cereal Box Clock

I finally have a complete design. There has been a lot of back and fourth between CAD and studio: design an element, build a prototype, redesign, tinker, second prototype, sketch, think about it for a while, third prototype. So even though I have yet to build a complete clock I do have some confidence that it will work.

But first a vacation back to the Fatherland to celebrate my Dad’s 70th Birthday!

Clock-Iso-20130523

Clock-Iso-noplate-2013123

Clock-Front-20130523

Clock-Top-20130523

Cardboard Gears Go

It worked in theory and it seems to work in practice too.

Work continues on the Super Simple Clock.

I had been pondering the best way insert bushings into cardboard for days when it came to me while I was putting on my daughter’s shoes — grommets! A little sanding with 220 grit on the 1/4″ dowel and it runs quite nicely. I’d didn’t have any 1/8″ dowel on hand but to my delight, I found that bamboo skewers are a remarkably consistent 0.005″ less than 1/8″.

The double thickness of Cheerios box may be a bit of challenge to cut for 10-year-olds, but with sharp scissors and some determination I really think they can do it. They’re too young for carpal tunnel syndrome right?

Inverted Geneva Wheel Mechanism

inverted-geneva_new-gottland

Over a year ago I created this lively little mechanism and just tonight got around to drawing up the plans for it. In addition to the jpg above I have also uploaded a PDF to my public Google Drive.

My first escapement

For some reason this video remains the most popular on my YouTube channel.