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Mechanical Snakedance
As the crank turns, five wooden snakes
dance to the music of mechanical chaos.
How It WorksHow It's MadeHow It Went

This machine is designed to portray mechanical disorder in such a way that it seems like a beautifully choreographed dance.

At the heart of this piece are three horizontal shafts suspended between fixed supports. The central shaft, which is manually turned by a hand crank, is connected to the right shaft by a pair of gears, and to the left shaft by a 'Geneva stop'. While one full turn causes the right shaft to rotate several times, it causes the left shaft to rotate only 1/7th of a turn.

Attached to this left shaft are five staggered cams, which each operate a gracefully curved "snake" that moves in a seemingly random pattern. On the right shaft are five crescent-shaped "tails" that are free to rotate in an odd, tumbling manner. To complicate things, the "snakes" not only move back and forth, their position also influences the random tumbling of the "tails".

Since this machine has adjustable parts, many interesting movements can be explored. Indeed, some people find themselves pleasantly hypnotized while turning the crank over and over again. This is one set of snakes that charm back!

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