Posts Tagged ‘Pneumatic Puppet’

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.


1980-1 – “Teacher” Inflatable Puppet from “The Wall” – Mark Fisher & Jonathan Park (British)

1980-1 – Mark Fisher – Teacher – "The Wall"

The Architects' journal: Volume 196, Issues 14-21 – 1992

The work of mechanical engineer Jonathan Park and architect Mark Fisher, who together form the rock set specialists Fisher Park. This pair met as teachers at the Architectural Association in 1976, a time of radical experimentation. Among their early influences were avant-garde, Situationist-style installations – temporary structures made of cheap materials to  dramatic effect. Inflatables were the most successful and impressive of these.


Cross-overs: art into pop/pop into art by John Albert Walker – 1987 

'Teacher' by Gerald Scarfe and subsequent disillusionment of a rock star – was based on Waters' own experience.  During the performance an enormous wall ( 210 feet wide. 35 feet high) made from 340 cardboard bricks was gradually erected on stage until the Floyd were separated from their audience. A team of eighty men working with the aid of hydraulic lifts was needed to build the wall and seeing it rise was one of the impressive features of the show.

It was designed and constructed by Mark Fisher and his assistants at Britannia Row. (The figures in The Wall contained electric fans so that they inflated rapidly; they were also suspended on wires like puppets so that they moved convincingly.) Two spotlights were inserted as eyes in the teacher's fibreglass head to make his glare a literal one. Other inflatable figures included a mother, an insect- like woman, a victim and a black pig.


See other Pneumatic, Fluidic, and Inflatable robots here.