Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Pneumatic Clock

  [vote for,

Three spheres sit atop the base: a large one with a pressure gauge poking out the upper right side; next to it a slightly smaller one, gauge protruding to the upper left, and in the middle fronting both, a small finned orb, gauge on top. Next to the smallest sphere a concatenage of mechanistry: cylinder, piston, flywheel, gears, motor... and a barometer and thermometer.

As you've probably surmised, the gauges, which are clustered together in the middle of the contraption, are marked 0-12, 0-60 and 0-60 respectively.

How it works:

The AC synchronous motor runs the flywheel which runs the piston (exact displacement regulated by the barometer), forcing a metered volume of air into the fan-cooled smallest sphere once per second. When the pressure inside is high enough that the gauge reads"60", a valve opens between it and the next sphere equalizing the pressure. Once equalized, the valve is closed and the small sphere vented to the atmosphere, just to start over again. Ditto from the next sphere to the largest. The largest vents to the atmosphere every 12 hours.


- optional lowbrow air-operated 'chimes' for the vents; keep in mind though that the smallest sphere has to equalize then depressurize all in the space of one second (the larger ones can take their time about venting).

- motive power could also be a small steam or ICE engine, speed mechanically governed.

- so you can see what the temperature is.

FlyingToaster, Aug 29 2011


       Presumably, brass spheres on a varnished mahogany or teak base ? Brass Bourdon-tube gauges, with beveled edges to the glass fronts, black-on-white enamel dials ?   

       [+] for Steampunk.   

       The barometer could also link to a Barograph drum.
8th of 7, Aug 29 2011

You presume correctly. The face of the gauges would be either circular glass, or brass with a 60º arc of glass.

       Gauge innards would be standard for the smallest sphere; the two larger spheres are stepped non-linearly, so a bit more doohickery inside is required to make them appear so on the gauges.
FlyingToaster, Aug 29 2011

       Yes, we were going to draw that point to your attention.   

       We suggest it is addressed by making the back of the gauges out of glass too, so that the complex clockwork required to linearise the scale is also visible.   

       Presumably, included in the purchase price of the device will be a leather case containing a brass oil bottle, various steel-and-brass tools with turned ebony handles, and the book of care and maintenance instructions printed on very thin paper, bound in blue morocco with gold-block lettering, with marbled endpapers ?   

       The device must, of course, be priced in guineas.
8th of 7, Aug 29 2011

       Great concept and description. I'd hate to see all that accumulated energy wasted though. Could you hook up the release vent on the largest sphere to some sort of contraption which performs useful work every 12 hours? The best I can come up with is opening then closing the curtains every day.   

       You'd get my bun just for the best use of the word 'concatenage' in a short story alone. [+]
AusCan531, Aug 29 2011

       Let sanity be your guide as to the best use of a stream of air that goes off once every minute, once per hour, and twice a day... fish tank oxygenator would be a quick fill.
FlyingToaster, Aug 29 2011

       If sanity is going to be a prerequisite I'm going to have to re-think my whole approach to a lot of things.   

       Fish tank oxygenator for the little and medium spheres is perfect - although the little dears may learn to dread being effectively depthcharged at noon and midnight if the big sphere's contents are regularly discharged into their tank.   

       I knew the curtains idea wasn't very good because who wants them opened and closed at those times of the day anyway. All I said was that was that "this was best I could come up with" which, as I've ruefully learned in life, is not synonomous with "good".
AusCan531, Aug 30 2011

       But the bigger spheres can take their time venting; not *too* long of course because you want their dials to reset to zero in a timely fashion.   

       "Sanity" in respect that listening to a whistling or farting sound once every minute is going to get real old real fast.   

       Wind chimes on the hour perhaps, and a second set added for the 12o'clockers.
FlyingToaster, Aug 30 2011

       It would be natural to have the 'chimes' arranged as a mini pipe-organ, so that behind the orbs, a fan of pipes of different lengths, covering at least 2 octaves radiates out from the base. Upon the quater, half and full hours, predefined musical icons are played to sound the moment. The deluxe version might sport replacable punch-reels, allowing the gifted enthusiast to define their own chime arrangements.   

       Have we done "Compressed Air Outlets Throughout the House" yet?
zen_tom, Aug 30 2011

       I can almost smell the hot oil and steam.
hippo, Aug 30 2011

       //Upon the quater, half and full hours// needs more spheres.   

       Despite the default steampunk motif, I can also see it in dieselpunk, modern chrome & glass and, with cylinders instead of spheres featuring a model air compressor, as a compressed-gases' company executive model.
FlyingToaster, Aug 30 2011

       Continuously running a small steam engine is problematic, due to problems with TDS, blowdown and makeup.   

       However, a tiny Otto engine - perhaps running on gas - would be acceptable, particularly if it had flame-carrier or hot-tube ignition.
8th of 7, Aug 30 2011


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