I’d like to announce a project I’ve been trying to organise for a while. I’ve been working with a couple of organisations including Brookes University and Oxforshire Libraries Makerspace to recreate Bob Brown’s Reading Machines and to inspire makers and explorers to imagine the future of reading. We’re aiming to have something on display for 23rd of May at the Ashmolean, or if we can’t make it, sometime in autumn.
Jason, the Ashmolean’s fabricator, has a design for the wooden box and will give me exact dimensions when we meet in a few weeks. However, I wondered if Makerspace or Hackspace would be interested in accepting a commission for the job of retro-engineering the mechanical parts of the reading machine (see the link to the TED talk)? These could then be fitted to the Ashmolean model in time for the exhibit on 25 May, but if that’s not possible, it could also be ready for exhibition in the August/September events we’re planning at MakerSpace and the Ashmolean.
Jason suggested that this could potentially be done with Mechano components - and as it turns out, that is absolutely historically viable, since sets with clockwork motors were widely available in the 20s and 30s (in fact, the University of Manchester built a difference engine out of mechano parts in the 30s!).
I’ll be working on some of the design, but probably won’t have time to work out all the kinks in the machine. There’s a bit of money on the table. Barring anyone wanting to pick it up (or actually having the time to do it myself) I might talk to the SO prototyping service about their availability.