Cams act like small computers which store information that can be turned into movement. They can be very simple or complex and the only limitation is their size. Cams normally work in conjunction with a "Cam Follower". As the name implies this follows the movement of the Cam and transfers the movement to the working area. The Cam follower is normally a rod made of wood or metal which is supported by a shaft that limits the movement and direction. The Cam follower is designed with a smooth end that can easily follow the Cams movement. This is a very important as the Cam and follower will jam if not properly designed.

The Basic principle of the Cam is to turn a circular motion in to one that moves up and down. This is referred to as reciprocating movement.

In automata this is very useful and is probably the most commonly used mechanical action. As you will see, the Cam is simple to make and very versatile.


This block supports the cam follower and stops it from wobbling from side to side. This helps the push rod to only move up and down. In order for the Follower to rise and fall without jamming it is important to make this block fairly thick and reasonably close to the cam.
How the cams wotk
cam block used with automata
caterpillar automata
This automata makes use of a long row of cams.
This cam is turning a circular motion into an up and down one. This is referred to as reciprocating motion. As you can see in stages 1-5, the cam follower steadily drops before rising up again. The whole process repeats as long as the cam keeps rotating clockwise.
simple cam for automata
WORKING AREA : This end delivers the power in the form of up and down motion
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Rusty automata cam