Mechanical Monkey

by Anthony Ashe

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Buskers' Animated Monkey
Company at last when I go busking with my hand cranked 26-note organ at the Model Engineering railway track in the park; for I now have a Monkey to go with me.

As commercial animated monkeys are so expensive I had been wondering what to use until, during a shopping trip to Birkenhead, I came across a monkey in the toy department of a local store. He was very young, had a bib and dummy and had a banana in his hand which, if placed to his mouth, he sucked making loud slurping sounds and saying "Oh! A banana!". I did not need any of these extras but with a bit of alteration he looked as if he was suitable for the job and only cost £15.

First I had to do quite a lot of surgical work on the poor fellow, removing his bib, banana, voice box mechanism and sufficient stuffing to insert a hinged strut in his arm which was operated by a crank pulling on the elbow with a Bowden type cable and this enabled him to raise the red hat that I had made for him. His arms were sewn across at the top so I had to unpick the stitches and alter them to get through and although my sewing skills are very basic it is amazing what fur covers up.

As you can see in the photo of the monkey under construction he sits on a circular ply board that is attached to a bar the other end of which runs in a gear-driven eccentric self-aligning bearing which rocks him with a circular motion. This motion is continuous and draws attention to him. If a coin is inserted into the slot he raises his hat, wiggles his feet and raises a notice from a slot in the base which says 'Thank You'.

A look at the short video clip will demonstrate this.

All the movements are motor driven using three motors removed from old computer floppy drives. These are supplied with 12 volts from a small rechargeable battery. They have added gearing to slow them down and each has its own limit switch.

A coin mechanism had to be constructed which would take any coin and overrun the limit switches. The impulse from a micro switch in the path of the coin was too short so it was used to operate a relay that was slugged with a large capacitor to slow it down. This system works nicely and drops out before the motors reach their limit switches again.

A plywood box was constructed around the mechanism, the monkey appears to sit on top as you can see in the finished photo and the whole thing slots into two brackets on the side of the organ.

I am sure that the music is appreciated by all, but the Glockenspiel and Monkey are the biggest attraction for the kids.

See the video clip (1.5Mb)

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