Monday, August 30, 2010

SKETCHBOOK - "Yosemite and Lake Tahoe"

My trip out to see my daughter Jenni and her boyfriend Brad was outstanding!! I hate to be one of those guys that forces you to look at hundreds of slides from my summer vacation. But I did want to share a few of my favorite photos (out of the near 300 that I took). But first...the only sketches I managed to draw during the trip.

Above is a little bridge near a beach in Yosemite National Park. Some folks were swimming in the really cold water...I left them out. You can see the granite mountain called "Half Dome" in the background.

Below is our campsite. It was near a huge boulder. Brad's swimsuit is hanging from a tree limb. I slept pretty well, considering all night long you could hear people shouting, "Get out of here, bear!" when one of the locals made it's way down into camp to forage. Brad was out running late that night and saw a black bear nosing around the trashcans. I did hear a shotgun go off, when a ranger fired a shell loaded with a small beanbag, to deter the bear. That's why we have to put everything that has perfume (deodorant, toothpaste, etc.) or any food in the "bear boxes" that are all over Yosemite. The bears will rip up your car, even if you have stuff in the trunk. Fun sleeping!

Below are some drawings I did on Saturday morning and evening around the beach at Lake Tahoe, a couple of blocks from Jenni and Brad's house.

That's it for the sketches...time for some photos. Here's the gorgeous sunrise we saw while driving from Tahoe to Yosemite. Delicious.

I'd like to introduce you to our campsite's giant boulder. Note our designated "bear box 7C" in the right corner.

Below is the magnificent valley view...each of these granite formations have names, but I forget them. My terrific tour guides, Brad and Jenni, have both worked at Yosemite a few summers ago.

Right by the valley above, there is a tunnel for cars to pass through a mountain. Inside that tunnel is a very thin sidewalk next to the road. Up that sidewalk is another smaller tunnel, that shoots out the side of the mountain. Of course we had to investigate. Spooky!!

The tunnel opens to a different mountain view. It didn't take long for Brad to "do what he does"...look for rocks to climb...climb them...look for more rocks to climb. I made a little composite below.

We made our way to Meriposa Grove to see the giant Sequoia trees. Amazing.

Here's Jenni and Brad waiting for someone to turn on the faucet to a waterfall. Earlier in the season, when the snow is melting, the water shoots off the rocks in torrents.

On our trip back to Lake Tahoe, we took a little detour to a spectacular site...Tenaya Lake. I got pretty choked up by the beauty, and wishing my wife Cat could've been there with me to see such incredible scenery. The water is crystal clear, and was made of a rainbow of blues...indigo, aqua, green. We spent a good bit of time there...Brad and Jen napping on the beach, while I wandered the trails with camera in hand.
Around the lake, I came upon this cool little curly corkscrew tree.

As we were leaving Tenaya Lake, we drove by this huge granite mound. I was attracted to the lonely little tree on the right side of the slope. Then Jenni and Brad noticed there were climbers on the face nearest to the road. Can you spot them?
Here's a little help!

When we were driving through Sierra Nevada, we went to a little place off the main highway on a dirt road to visit some hot sulpher springs. Brad is still recovering from an injury on his bike, when he got hit by a car, and I had pulled a muscle in my lower back before the trip, so a soak in the rejuvenating waters really helped us both.

Here's Jenni and Brad's little "home sweet home" in South Lake Tahoe.

I did a patchwork panarama of the beach view that is a 5 minute walk from Jenni's house. Note the piers on the right side that I sketched (scroll back to the top of this post).

The morning before I was to fly home, Jenni and I visited Emerald Bay. made it through the whole post...I leave you with one last photo of Lake Tahoe! A lone little yellow sail boat on a gorgeous day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

AUTOMATA - "DiggerBot" Pt.2

Pretty darn exciting looking, isn't it?!! This is what you were all waiting for, since my last post. Life has been pretty crazy for the last couple of a good way. But I've been preoccupied with other stuff, and hadn't gotten as much done on this little "Digger Bot" as I'd expected to. But the point is to show you the process as I go, right? Well...livin' life is part of that process.

Below is some of the research that I pulled off the internet as inspiration for this project. I have kept it as a low-rez image, 'cause I don't own the rights to use any of these...but you know what they say...once you put it out there on the internet! Anyway...the main thing I was looking for were how real digging machines actually work. Also, there were some really cool toy ideas I found that help to break things down to the simplest shapes. As I said last time...I'm NOT an engineer, so it takes me a while to understand the basic principles of how to build this thing.

Next, I procrastinated a bit more, and cleaned my work area...then finally made myself go buy some basswood from the hobby shop.

I started out with some little bits and pieces that I could modify and rearrange, to have a "real time" working model to play with. Some of the things to consider is not only the functionality of the toy (how I want it to be animated), but I've got to think about the driving mechanisms that will be underneath the "Digger" it all works together.

These are a few of the early variations of how an arm might extend to reach out and grab "dirt".

After goofing around with many more variations than I will show here, I eventually added the "scoop" part of the robot's digging arm. I wanted to have the scoop extend, and then pull inwards, as the arm movement reaches out.

This is where I ended up...I have the basic animation I wanted. I've incorporated a device on one of the lever bars that acts like a "bike pedal" movement. It will rotate around in a circular loop, and extends the scoop outward, then back inwards. Since I will have two arms on the robot, this will allow me to make the arm on the other side go counter in movement to the first (like pedaling a bike).
I'm going to have to take a break from this little project for a week, since I will be traveling out to South Lake Tahoe, CA and Yosemite National Park, to see my daughter and her boyfriend. I plan to take the sketchbook and camera and will post my adventures when I return!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

AUTOMATA - "DiggerBot" Pt.1

I'm starting a new project and returning to the very first topic I ever posted on this blog...AUTOMATA! (For you newbies, it's basically a mechanical toy with cranks, gears, cams...whatever creates movement.) Today at work, I had an unexpected email exchange with a product engineer I met just yesterday. I had commented on a fun little crank toy on her desk, then ended up referring her to my blog to see what I've made over the years. That exchange just reminded me of how ridiculously long it's been since I've made one of my toys. Unlike previous posts of finished automata, this time I'll show you the "making of" process as I build it.

The sketches above of the "Digger Bot" were done last year sometime, but they were intended to represent a Sculpey piece, not a "kinetic" sculpture. I just put them in a folder, thinking I'd eventually get back to it. Now, the idea of turning it into a moving mechanical thing seems like a natural. I may still use Sculpey for some detailing, but it'll mostly be out of wood.
This sketch shows where things starting heading today. I'm sure this will go through several variations before I figure out how to make it work. Since I'm not an engineer, I'll have to look at some books I have on machines, and gears, etc. I haven't decided which way the "arms" will a human elbow, or like a modern earth mover on a construction site. I'm pretty sure I'm leaning towards a "steam-punk" approach (think Jules Verne era), with boilers and rivets, etc. Stay tuned! You can click on the "Automata-Handmade Toys" Label to see past projects.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

SKETCHBOOK - "Drillers"

There's a lot of construction going on near my house. New upgrades to the highway means that some of my favorite things to draw are strewn about for miles and miles. These big boys move around a lot from day to day, so I took several photographs of them a few evenings after work. Usually I like to draw stuff "live", but tonight I worked from the photos I'd taken, and put up on my computer screen. Actually, it lets me see a bit more detail...and it's certainly safer than sketching when the cars are whizzing by! Here are two giant "drillers" that make some big ol' holes.