Up, not North

A Clockwork Pac-Man: introducing Pac Machina and the Pactuator

February 9th, 2011

Playing with old typewriters for the Automatypewriter left me enamoured of their amazing mechanical viscera. It inspired me to leave my comfort zone of digital bits and try playing with physical bits for a while. It’s been loads of fun, and I highly recommend it! Why restrict yourself to electrons, when you could be playing with the whole atom?

The experience has inspired me make to my next major project that much more ambitious: I’m working on a playable, mechanical Pac-Man cabinet, which I’m calling “Pac Machina.” My dream, if I can pull it off, is to auction the finished product to raise money for Child’s Play. I was initially planning on waiting to reveal it until it was done, but I’ve decided it’s much more fun to share. Consequently, I’m going to blog my work-in-progress. If you’re interested, be sure to check back for updates (or, better yet, subscribe to my RSS feed).
Obviously, Pac Machina will require a chomping Pac Man figure, hence this mechanism. I call it The Pactuator. It was only meant to be a prototype, but I liked it so much that I wanted a nice way to display and play with it on its own (perhaps to keep me motivated during the inevitably-long build process for the full game). So, I whipped up a little case for it, and here it is! For a brief description of how it works, along with a detailed description of the prototyping process, please read the project page!
(Incidentally, when I was working on the Automatypewriter, people started giving me their old typewriters, which was kind of cool. If people now want to give me Pac-Man merchandise, that would be awesome!)

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