The Yellow Earl. Mechanism Prototyping

Cumbria Archive Service is the repository for  historical documents of all Cumbria. I’ve been commissioned by them to produce twenty automata depicting a span of historical characters from across Cumbria’s rich history. Today, the Yellow Earl of Lonsdale!

One of his many adventures was an abortive expedition to the Arctic where he hoped to escape the scandal of his affairs including his fling with Violet Cameron.

First draft: Earl Lonsdale shuffles across the Arctic tundra whilst thinking about the various women in his life. In the thought bubble window above his head pictures of various women rotate into view one after the other.YellowEarl-a03

YellowEarl-a02In the original design I had planned to  use a crank mechanism to drive the legs back and forth via a pair of linkages. In the background there are two layers of hill which rotate, the front one slightly faster than the rear to give the effect of parallax.

Worried that the hill disks would be huge I’ve changed the layout of the model.
In the latest version the legs are driven via slots in a pair of vertical shafts. The box top is slightly more curved so that the curve matches the radius defined by the two leg drive shafts. The whole thing is about half the width, concentrating the eye on the character.

YellowEarl-a01I know what I’m doing with paper models. I can make prototypes, I can transition from rough models to finished design, I can mentally unwrap a 3D shape, in short, I’ve developed a work-flow.

Not so much with laser cut wood models. I’m on new ground here. For this project I’m trying out a new work-flow idea. I’m making up the rough layout in corrugated card. This lets me try out the 3D shapes before I commit designs to the computer. Here’s my first prototype.  Now that I have the approximate sizes of parts it should be easier to transfer these to the computer. That’ll be my next step.


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