Electric Rooster

In 2010 I was invited to submit a rooster to the annual Cock Show at Atomic Rooster pub in Ottawa. I decided to make an electromechanical kinetic sculpture.

The original idea was a crank-generator and battery system to make the rooster dance/run etc. You use the generator to charge the battery and then connect the battery to the rooster. Or just crank the rooster directly with the generator. This would add an educational payload about electricity storage and usage. I decided that was too complicated and just went with the generator.


The mechanical was a bunch of pulleys I made from scrap balsa wood from my Squirrel model plane project.

The rest of the wood was found on the side of the road. The motors, generator and other small parts were out of old printers. So this piece cost zero dollars. It took a fair amount of time to plan and construct all the parts though.

I made the generator from a DC motor from a printer. This is the motor that moves the paper through the printer. I attached a timing belt by mounting the whole thing to a chunk of acrylic. I made a crank by taking a piece of plastic and tying it like a pen tied to the counter at the bank (this is my favorite part).

I fastened the generator with wires that were twisted together. This makes it fidgety and makes people aware that it takes two wires to transmit electrical power. Also if someone drops the generator it pulls apart. The timing belt on the generator is unreliable and the crank system is also fidgety. I really liked that aspect of it and wanted to see how people would deal with it.

The result was quite interesting. Some people were able to understand the “maintenance” of the generator. Others would do things like remove and hide the generator and pretend nothing’s happening if they couldn’t cope with it. It gave rise to lots of interesting interactions with staff and observers.

I had initially wanted for the use of the generator to travel by word of mouth. I’d show a few people and then they would share that with others and I could observe the viral nature of it.

The Motion

Head and Tail bobbing, wing spinning, left leg a compound pendulum and right leg is a simple pendulum.




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