Now, this may look like just another steampunk-influenced design, but it goes above and beyond the scope of typical steampunk art in one particular way – it’s functional. This is a clockwork Pac-Man – nicknamed “Pactuator” by its creator, Jonathan Guberman – that chomps away when you turn the crank on its mount.
To get this Pac-Man device to continuously open and close its mouth while the crank is turned, Guberman crafted a mechanism with a five-gear loop that alternates opening and closing. The alternating motion comes from a gear in the middle that has teeth on one side of the gear; for half the turn, it drives the mouth-opening gear and for the other half, it drives the mouth-closing gear. It’s a pretty neat idea, and it means that the crank never has to be turned the opposite way for the closing motion.
The mechanism itself isn’t the only neat thing about the Pactuator, though – I’m also very impressed with the intricate details on the laser-engraved frame. The frame is meant to look like a Victorian picture frame, except that all of the details are Pac-Man-related. The design features vignettes of all the ghosts in the corners of the frame, power pellets and pac-dots, and there are even cherries adorning this neat work of art.
The only possible way to improve upon this neat gadget would be to add a spring that could be wound up and left to run on its own, like a metronome or a music box. As it stands, it’s still a really cool and innovative little gadget. It’s always interesting to see how different artists will modify a simple concept and turn it into something completely different.