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Fish Automata

15 steps on how to make a fish automata

Make a Base

I found a small box that I could put a dowel through, but if you do not have a small box, you can cut pieces of cardboard to make a box.

Dowel Placement

Make two holes the size of your dowel on opposite sides of your box. Make sure they are level.

Viewing Space

Cut out an area of the box so you can see the dowel, and so you can put in the pieces of cardboard that act as gears.

Holes for Dowels

Poke three holes on top of your box evenly spaced. These are for the dowels, so they can move up and down easily. Make sure they are not tight, because the dowels need to fall freely.

Another Layer of Holes

Poke three holes with the same spacing as before into another piece of cardboard. Glue that piece of cardboard a couple inches above the box, so the dowels will stay vertical when they move up and down.

Make Circles

Cut 9 circles, all the same size. Then cut holes on the edge of each circle and try to make them the same distance away from the edge.

Cardboard Gears

Glue 3 circles together with the all three holes aligned. Make sure the dowel can slide through it. Then take the outer part of cardboard and glue it to the outside of the gears. This makes them have a smooth surface, so the mechanism can operate smoothly. Do this three times in total, so you end up with three gears.

Putting the Moving Parts Together

Put the three gears onto the horizontal dowel and make the longer parts face different directions, so the fish move up and down at different times. Glue those in place and make sure they are spaced the same as the holes above. Then take a small square of cardboard and glue a bolt to it. Put the dowel inside the bold and glue that too. This gives it extra weight, so it does not get stuck and runs smoothly. Do this for all three dowels.

Keep the Dowel in Place

Cut out a small cardboard cirlce and put a hole in the center of it that fits the dowel. Glue this to the dowel while making sure that the alignment of the cardboard gears and the vertical dowels are still correct.

Paint Job

Paint the outside of the box whatever you want. I made mine blue to mimic the color of the ocean.

Handle

Cut another small cardboard circle and cut a hole in that that fits the dowel. Glue that as close as you can to the wall of the cardboard box onto the dowel. Then, cut out an oval piece of cardboard to use as a handle. Cut a hole in the end of the oval so that it can fit the dowel. Glue this to the dowel as well.

Make Fish

Cut out pieces of cardboard that look like fish and a wave. Then color them.

Alignment of Fish

Since the dowels are all in the same line, the fish would hit each other if they were glued straight onto the dowels. So on the middle fish, glue a couple layers of cardboard to give the fish some space, so they do not hit.

The Wave

I had to put some pieces of cardboard underneath my wave to raise it high enough. This also made the wave more stable and let it stand up straight. I put the wave in between the front fish and the back two fish for two reasons. I thought it looked cooler this way, but I also found that the fish would spin. By putting the wave there, it acted as a barrier, keeping them straight.

Finished Product

This is the finished product.

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