Bourdon Tube Air-powered Toys

[Sourced from: Mechanical Toys: How Old Toys Work, by Athelstan and Kathleen Spilhaus (New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1989)]

The principle of the Bourdon tube, a flattened, flexible tube that straightens out under pressure, was used in pneumatic toys such as the rubber monkey that plays a drum when a rubber bulb is squeezed by hand.

This simple principle can be utilised to provide pneumatic muscles for robots.  Jim Whiting uses this principle for his air-powered robot sculptures and performance robots.


The jumping frog is another example.


An early ornithopter was powered utilising a Bourdon tube.

1870. In this ornithopter constructed by Gustave Trouvé, twelve gunpowder charges were fired successively into a bourdon tube to flap the wings, an unusual type of internal combustion engine. It flew 70 meters in a demonstration to the French Academy of Sciences.


Related devices:

Air Pulse Vehicle

Vehicle powered using expanding air tube exhausting on each rotation.  The bubble forces a forward force making the wheel rotate.


Peter Holland's Bourdon tube principled toy , the "Bubble Pulser".

See Full construction article pdf here.


Inflatable Hoists

A Pneumatic, inflatable hoist patent.


See other Pneumatic, Fluidic, and Inflatable robots here.


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 at 11:15 pm and is filed under Early Robot Enabling Technologies, Not Quite Robots, Pneumatics in Robots. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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