With a knack for bringing inanimate objects to life, Los Angeles–based multimedia artist Neil Mendoza knows a thing or two about leveraging modern digital and mechanical technologies to his advantage.
While previous projects include programming an orchestra of sixteen knives to perform the Bee Gees’ 1977 hit Stayin’ Alive and repurposing discarded mobile phones as robotic birds, his latest is perhaps the most useful – if you’re a hamster that is.
With his ‘Hamster Powered Hamster Drawing Machine’, the artist finally brings workout–powered selfies to the animal kingdom with a little bit of DIY ingenuity and a Raspberry Pi.
Starting with a simulation of the machine created in openFrameworks and Box2D, Mendoza exported the large cams as vector files and CNC milled them from plywood. He then milled the drawing arms and two aluminum circles with a groove in each for a roller chain that sits on sprockets around the edges of a back part of the machine.
“The hamster is displayed on a small LCD screen connected to a Raspberry Pi hidden behind the screen,” explains Mendoza. “The Raspberry Pi is running software written in openFrameworks that sends ASCII commands to an Applied Motion STM23IP-3EE stepper motor over ethernet to control its speed.”
As far as we know, no hamsters were harmed in the making of this drawing machine.