Theatres of Machines
August 15, 2008 12:39 AM   Subscribe

Database Machine Drawings - Early modern machine drawings from the late Middle Ages up to 1650. Traced by engineers (or by their order), some are inscrutable, others Escherian.
posted by tellurian (18 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
This is great. Just reading the list of categories started my mouth watering (Adjustable ladder. Amalgamation Mill. Amphibious Vehicle. Aqueduct. Archimedean Screw. Astrolabe. Automaton. Balance. Bar-breaking tool. Battle Wagon...)

*daydreams about invincible army of early modern automata driving amphibious battle wagons powered by Archimedean screws and directed by astrolabes, climbing ruthlessly up their adjustable ladders to break the bars of hostile amalgamation mills...*
posted by Phanx at 2:04 AM on August 15, 2008

These are much better than what I could come up with, so they've got that going for them.
posted by nudar at 2:17 AM on August 15, 2008

This is very cool. The "counterweight catapult" section was particularly nice.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:07 AM on August 15, 2008

posted by DU at 4:35 AM on August 15, 2008

I want to lick this post. But that would be rude. So I will just say 'THANK YOU'.
posted by The Salaryman at 4:51 AM on August 15, 2008

These are amazing. How can I learn to draw like this?
posted by JDHarper at 5:44 AM on August 15, 2008

How can I learn to draw like this?

I've long been interested in technical drawing, so I understand where this question is coming from. But unless you are deliberately going for an effect, I wouldn't draw like most of these guys. Their perspective and proportion are whack and in some cases the artist clearly didn't know how the machine worked. (I don't have a linked example, but from other sources I've seen drawing with threads going the wrong direction, weights in the wrong place, etc.)

Even my half-assed sketches for my own projects are, technically, better than this. But they have a good imagination.
posted by DU at 5:49 AM on August 15, 2008

Thanks, Tellurian, this is really good!
posted by carter at 6:12 AM on August 15, 2008

I propose a draw- and/or machine-off between your drawings of machines and these machines of drawing.
posted by No-sword at 6:30 AM on August 15, 2008

Jean Errard de Bar-le-Duc would win [after he sketched in the sidecar].
posted by tellurian at 7:26 AM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well after browsing this for about 4 minutes, I already want to print a ton of these at high quality and decorate my entire apartment with this.

This Flame-Thrower is wonderfully insane.

Igniferum instrumentum est artifitiosum, hoc nomine dictum quasi ignem ferrens, quod cum, semel acensum, hostibus vel hedifitijs aplicitum fuerit, sua flama omnia cremabit. Ellevatur cum hoc artifitio
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:31 AM on August 15, 2008

DU: Some of these are terrible, but others have that renaissance-style art quality that I've always admired but never had the skill to imitate. The background image on the first link is a good example. I don't know what this is called, but I like it.
posted by JDHarper at 8:51 AM on August 15, 2008

You are right, I just happened to find a bunch of more-enthusiasm-than-skill ones at first.

I wonder why there are no books/courses that focus on machine/engineering drawing. Not drafting. Something between a still-life and a blueprint. Or am I wrong and I've just been unable to find such a thing?
posted by DU at 9:06 AM on August 15, 2008

This Flame-Thrower is wonderfully insane.
Because your link is munged I looked up Flame Thrower. There is only one device. I agree, it is wonderfully insane. I see the bright red flame coming out of the funnel [what is that emblem on the side?], but how the hell does it get there via a frayed piece of rope (fuse?) attached to a cogged rod from a top floor spiked tower that has some sort of rope connection to the lower floor pulley and screw connection devices?
As an aside: Can I also say that this is one of the best implementations of magnified views that I have encountered.
posted by tellurian at 9:22 AM on August 15, 2008

Technical/mechanical drawing has always interested me as well. A while back I came across this page; it's the best introduction I've found online to mechanical drawing. The text is taken from an introductory text written in around 1960, I think, so it represents the state of the art right before CAD started to enter the picture. You need to have a drafting board with either a sliding parallel or a T-square to be able to do the exercises, though. (Small boards are under $50, or very cheap if you scout yard/estate sales.)

This won't necessarily teach you how to approximate the historic illustrations, though, since they're in many ways more sketches than mechanical drawings, and many were made before the "modern" methods of mechanical drawing became standardized (the mid 19th century or so, I think).
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:19 PM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ooooooooh! I like this! Great link, thank you.

I love it that you can embiggen the drawings, too...
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:32 PM on August 15, 2008

Oh, wow. This is great. It's like a really fucked up Sears & Roebuck catalog.
posted by brundlefly at 6:52 PM on August 15, 2008

I'm not the only one that was expecting a "Database Machine", am I? Some combination of gears/ropes/pulleys that accepts SQL queries...
posted by BaxterG4 at 11:21 AM on August 16, 2008

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