Bird Song Prototype

Wed, 2 Mar 2016

I'm trying to make you a paper version of one of those Victorian bird boxes where the bird moves and sings. Obviously I won't be able to make anything as sophisticated as the Victorian model but there is still quite a bit that we can do.

First step is to make the bellows and pipes. In the Victorian models a single pipe is used with a cam controlling the tuning. Making a tune-able pipe is possible but the tight tolerances needed mean that it would be really hard to construct and probably not very reliable. Instead, I've decided to go with two pipes and two bellows to give the bird song some variation. I can then use a cam shaft to drive the bellows. I've made the bellows narrow so that I can fit two next to each other in the box.

Two bellows fitted to the underside of the box top.

A cam shaft and cams finish off the prototype.

Briskly turning the handle operate and the pipes tweet. Not bad for a first draft. I have a few small changes then I'll be looking at how I can fit a bird to the box top and bring it to life.

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Comments (4)

  • JohnW March 3, 2016 at 1:53 am

    Just looking at the last two

    Just looking at the last two pictures has got me reminiscing… I don't recall the first time I visited your website back in the 1990's. But, over the years I have been treated to witness your growth as an animator and professor emeritus of paper engineering. Not to sound like a fan boy, but, I’m really impressed by how everything is well crafted and designed right down to how solid the base is. The evolution of rolled paper inside the crank shaft tubes over the “Z” shaped diagonal tubes excites me to see what you might come up with next. Everything below the base top is just as interesting to see as what is above it. I just finished the caterpillar model and I’m telling myself this is so awesome. I love these things and it's so cool to watch their development.

    • robives March 4, 2016 at 7:58 am

      Thanks John! It is lovely to

      Thanks John! It is lovely to have you back with us 🙂 I'm glad you enjoyed the caterpillar, I was pleased with how that came out.

      I try to keep looking back at how I make things and trying to challenge my own assumptions. The evolution of box design is probably a good example of how things have changed over the years. I must look again at the crank handle, I've been using the same design for ages, I wonder how I could improve that?

      • JohnW March 5, 2016 at 12:31 pm

        If anyone can improve on the
        If anyone can improve on the current handle it would be you. I remember when you introduced it. Not being a fan of flimsy round disks with finger holes (I had five children) I started putting the current version on all models that had square crankshafts.

  • maxlrainer March 3, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Hi Rob,
    nice to see, that you

    Hi Rob,

    nice to see, that you pick up the bird automaton again. Looks promising so far. I already did the Bird Bellows last year and it works and sounds quite good. So, I'm pretty curios about your progress in this project.


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