Art Deco Majesty
A Clockwork Folly
An Old Brownie Movie Camera Put To Bad Use
The Zig-Zagging Rolling Ball Machine
Ballet With Three Pendulums
Art Deco Elegance And The Mystery Arm
Victor Rat Trap No. 1
Victor Rat Trap No. 2
Victor Rat Trap No. 3
Wimshurst Electrical Discharge Machine
Up One Spiral And Down The Other
Mechanical Snakedance
The Altar Of Complexity
La Grande Machine: A Towering Mechanical Symphony
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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