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IAT 106 Spring 2016

Project Overview

Project Automated Mechanical Toy (AMT)

Project Overview

In this project, you will design and build a simple automated mechanical toy (AMT) that will embody two main
components: a simple mechanical box and an animated figure integrated with it. The figure below illustrates
three examples of AMTs that show a figure connected to a mechanical box.
The mechanical box contains mechanisms that change direction or transform one type of movement to another;
such as linear movement to circular or circular movement to linear. When activated by a handle the mechanism
animates the figure attached. For example, the Bread Chopper (Figure 1a) has a mechanical box with two cranks
moving up and down following the rotation of a shaft causing the Choppers hands to move in synch with the cams.
AMTs are fun to watch and play with, but, more importantly, designing and making such toys requires knowledge
and skills similar to those you are studying and developing in this course.
AMTs can be found in different sizes with various complexities. For this project, we want you to make a simple but
functional AMT. For this purpose, we prefer that you use select mechanisms that we discuss in lectures and labs to
complete your AMTs in the given time.
We intend that you use only simple, easy-to-work and cheap materials such as cardstock, corrugated cardboard,
foamcore, Styrofoam and simple wood dowels as materials (the bread chopper shown below uses wood as a
construction material). Connectors are less restricted, for example, wire, string, screws & glue. We will provide the
opportunity for two laser cutting jobs for each team, each of a relatively small amount of material.

A furious bread chopper (made of wood, which is

heavy for this project!) from

A biting, tail-waving crocodile (the box is

the body).
from IAT 106 Spring 2015

An ambush-predatory turtle (with a beautifully

simple and robust mechanism; and a surprising
action). from IAT 106 Spring 2013

A suspenseful hand (with a very robust

and well-made mechanism).
from IAT 106 Spring 2015

IAT106 Spring 2016

Main Project Project Overview

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IAT 106 Spring 2016

Project Overview

AMTs and similar systems have been built for centuries; sometimes to imitate nature, sometimes to impress a king,
or sometimes to entertain children [1, History section]. Today, they are built by curious puzzle solvers, artists,
educators, engineers and scientists [1-7]. It has even become such a business that designs and ready-to-build kits
are being marketed online and in specialized shops. Yes, it would be easy to purchase and assemble one; but you
would miss the fun of making your own and you would lose the opportunity of testing your knowledge and skills in
spatial thinking and communicating. Still, you can learn a lot from these examples.
This is a more advanced project than your first and second creations, the object you sketched, built in cardboard
and modeled in SOLIDWORKS and the four bar linkage. In this project, you will create and combine several
different parts into a working assembly. It is designed to advance your awareness of spatial thinking while
improving your skills in creating and using different kinds of representations (sketches, SOLIDWORKS models,
physical models). This project integrates and makes use of the individual lab exercises you have been doing. You
will carry out this in groups of two students (see Format section).

To assist you in thinking about your project, everyone will do an individual reflective journal or blog (see below).
Finally, each group will create a poster providing an overview of their project, and will present this with a demo of
their AMT during the last lab of the course.
The most relevant spatial thinking issues you explore in this project are
Defining individual objects as part of an assembly,
Determining objects properties--dimensions and shape,
Spatially relating their relationships and interaction with each other in the assembly, and
Describing the functions of each part and the complete assembly when taken as a whole.
As you practice and learn about spatial thinking, you will begin to see that it both requires and helps with
communicating ideas about spatial objects, both 2D and 3D. You will use the representation techniques and tools
you learned and practiced earlier in the course to explore your ideas individually, to share these ideas with others,
and to demonstrate what you have learned. These techniques include sketching, digital modeling, physical
modeling, and composing different representations to market your designs! The TA and instructor will help groups
as they make progress. This project is designed to help you learn how to work in a group while following a plan
from the conceptualization stage to the final product.


The projects overall objectives are:

1. Analyze existing AMTs with respect to their structure, parts, and assemblies, in order to infer their functionality.
2. Communicate your ideas about AMTs with your other team member in order to create concepts for a new AMT.
3. Refine your AMT design using sketching techniques, such as multiview and isometric drawings.
4. Using your sketches, persuade your TA, instructor, and classmates that your idea will work.
5. Using your sketches, model the parts in SOLIDWORKS and then create a working assembly that demonstrates
your AMTs functionality. Create a mechanism with multiple motions.
6. Create a physical model of your AMT using your sketches and SOLIDWORKS model as a blueprint.
7. Present and demonstrate your AMT to the class using sketches and a rich variety of design media.
8. Prepare an individual sketchbook recording your thoughts and work about the project.
9. Prepare a detailed poster overviewing your project.
10. Prepare a short video demonstrating your physical AMT.

IAT106 Spring 2016

Main Project Project Overview

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IAT 106 Spring 2016

Project Overview

You will complete the project through incremental and iterative phases. Each week, we will provide instructions
describing the objectives, deliverables, and assessment for that week. The overall project is divided as follows:


(3 & 7 Mar)

Study and analyze existing AMTs, sketch your own AMT in several ways,
present your AMT to the class. Make individual sketchbook entries.

(10 & 14 Mar)

Create the AMT parts in SOLIDWORKS based on your sketches. Make

individual sketchbook entries.

(17 & 21 Mar)

Start creating AMT assembly in SOLIDWORKS. Start working on physical

model. Submit first sheet for lasercutting by midnight Wednesday 25 March.

(24 & 28 Mar)

Easter Monday. No labs.

(31 Mar & 3 Apr)

Continue working on SOLIDWORKS assembly. Continue working on physical

model. Make individual sketchbook entries. Submit second sheet for
lasercutting by midnight Wednesday 2 April.

(7 & 11 Apr)

Complete SOLIDWORKS assembly, complete physical model, complete your

individual sketchbook and prepare final presentation (poster and video) and
final team report.
Present and demo your AMT in the labs.

Although the process is listed linearly, we do expect that some aspects of your AMT will change throughout the
process. For example, while creating your assembly, you may discover that certain parts need to be modified.
Slight modifications throughout the process are accepted while major changes, such as a complete redesign, are
not. In general, significant changes after obtaining TA approval of your design are discouraged. If you run into
problems and feel change is required, you must obtain permission from both the TA and instructor.
You will do this project in groups of two, which you form on your own. Once you have formed your group, which
you will do in week 8, you may not make any changes. In Week 8, each group must submit a group charter, (draft
version is in Week8_FinalProject.doc) which outlines the rules of the group. Each group member must sign the
charter before submitting it to their lab TA.
The group members should work together in completing the project through each week because each member will
be equally responsible for assigned aspects of the AMT.
The groups work submitted throughout the project must be their own. In case of plagiarism, the procedure defined
in SFU policies as noted in the syllabus will be followed.

Each student is responsible for his or her own sketchbook. Sketchbooks record ideas; thoughts; notes; sketches; and
problems and their solutions (and lots of other things). A good sketchbook, rich in its record, is an absolute hallmark of
an effective designer. Show your sketchbook each week to your Lab TA and bring it to the final review. Improvement
from week to week will count!

IAT106 Spring 2016

Main Project Project Overview

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IAT 106 Spring 2016

Project Overview

Assessment & Deliverables

The AMT project is worth 15% of your final IAT106 grade. Each weeks handout will clearly list the assessment
marks. On the day of your final presentation, each group is required to submit all digital deliverables to Canvas,
a physical poster and the groups physical model. The overall distribution of marks is as follows:


Sketches of AMT, oral presentation




1st version of physical model


Physical model, SOLIDWORKS models, Poster, Video & Presentation




Assessment of Physical model

We will assess your physical model according to the following criteria. Each will be equally weighted.
Simplicity. If two mechanisms do the same thing, the simpler won will attract a higher mark. If we
can see a way to simplify your mechanism, we will deduct marks.
Weight. We will weigh each AMT. The lightest will receive full marks for this criterion. The heaviest
will receive zero. (Hints: (1) Paper is light. (2) Your mechanical box need not be fully
enclosed, nor need it be a box. It could be part of your figure!)
Cost. We will assign a cost to each model, based on the following:
Cardboard, foamcore, paper, wire, glue, string, elastic bands,
Junk for which you have sought prior approval
Wood dowels
Laser cut MDF within standard course allocation
Laser cut MDF outside of standard course allocation (per sq. inch)
3D printed objects (per cubic inch, min 1 cubic inch per part)
Evident use of power tools (per operation or part)
Wood other than dowels (per cubic inch)
Laser cut gears provided by the course
Manufactured gears (each)
Bevel gears (per pair)
Other (seek advice beforehand from instructors on cost)
As judged
The lowest cost AMT will receive full marks. The highest cost will receive zero. We will assign a zero
on this criterion to any project that uses bevel gears and not consider it in computing the other cost
Take the hint: Dont use bevel gears! A bevel gear is ANY gear pair that changes the
direction of the rotational axis.
Smoothness of operation. Does the AMT move smoothly and with little effort? Bevel gears are
difficult to make so that they run smoothly you run a big risk in using them here.

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Main Project Project Overview

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IAT 106 Spring 2016

Project Overview

Robustness. Is the AMT likely to break? Here are examples of some features that will, in and of
themselves, reduce your mark on this criterion:
Cantilevered axles (these are inherently weak)
Direct cam followers (use an intermediary lever)
Bevel gears (these earn an automatic zero on this criterion they are too hard to make well)
Your figure and its animation. There are two aspects heretechnical and visual. Each will be
weighted as a full criterion.
The visual. We expect you to be simple, clever, clear, simple and inventive in making your figure.
We want to be surprised and intrigued by what you do. There are many, many ways you can make
a great figure and we list only a few examples (we know that you are inventive and will find great
ideas for your figure). For example, your figure could be entirely kirigami (cut and folded paper). It
could reveal a geometric idea like the ones demonstrated in class. It could be a cartoon-like
rendering of a real-life or imagined scenariothis is in contrast to attempts at realism. Cartoons are
abstractions that eliminate detail yet are stylistically coherent. It could use a compliant strategy, in
which part of the figure is attached to a moving part and another part of the figure is attached to
the frame or another moving part (paper dragons can be well-modeled this way). It could play a
perspective trick or create an optical illusion. Be clever. Aim to surprise. Be simple dont dress
things up with decoration. Please, no superhero or game figuresthey usually come off as trite or
One good strategy would be to provide us an adjective or adjectival phrase that captures an
important quality of your AMT. Here are some of the thousands of possible descriptors: cool, crisp,
sharp, funny, ironic, spooky, silly, playful, modernist, baroque, medieval, ethereal, urban, This
adjective or adjectival phrase MUST occur prominently on your poster. If you do this, we will include
how well you meet this descriptor in evaluating the visual aspects of your AMT.
The technical. Your figure must have two distinct motions that combine to a unified overall effect.
It is best if these motions are spatially distinct--though there are many ways to achieve this. Your
figure motions must not be directly derived from your inputs, for instance a rotating input should
not directly drive a rotation in the figure about the same axis as the input.

References and Useful Links

1. :Commercial and educational AMT products



4. <News clip on Cabaret>

5. :Dog figure playing with ball>


7. : Japanese AMT Kit website

8. :Paper machines: exhibition and art of Walter Ruffle

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