Athena’s Mechanical Owl

As a child I absolutely loved Clash of the Titans (the original 1981 film, not the awful recent remake obviously) and more than anything I wanted to ride the wild Pegasus and look after the goddess Athena’s mechanical owl Bubo that she sends to Perseus to help him on his quest.

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Unfortunately as I got older I soon realised that catching and riding a wild Pegasus was not the most feasible of options but there has never been anything to take away my childhood dream of looking after the mechanical owl. In fact, I have ended up pursuing engineering (electrical and mechanical) and therefore feel I could be especially qualified to look after him, confident that I could figure out and fix any problems he may have in his clockwork body.

The only problem is that he doesn’t actually exist. Well not yet anyway.

I have often wondered how Bubo would work, or rather how he could be made to work if someone was to actually make him. One day, I will be able to dedicate time and money towards this project and produce finer details and of course, an actual working Bubo to take care of, but for now, he remains just a collection of ideas in my head.

Here are some ideas and discussions about how he could potentially be developed – feel free to comment and make further suggestions!

FLIGHT

He’s never going to be a particularly aerodynamic little thing but that shouldn’t be a problem as no one is expecting more than slow, quirky, awkward flight from him. My suggestion would be some form of mini copter underneath a shell of body? I’m aware that this is a very precarious and fragile arrangement as not only do I have no idea how successful copters are on such a small scale but as far as I’m aware, this would make a very top heavy, therefore unstable, setup. BUT it could just mean no one’s developed something working like it yet, not that some flight is impossible.

Of course there are widely available methods of flight that could easily be attached to the outside of a light shell and make Bubo fly such as a large quad copter or fast moving wings but I feel these would not be true to Bubo’s design and ruin the plan.

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BODY

Could quite easily be made by a number of different means. I reckon (knowing nothing about these things) that making a wire mesh frame could be made around the mechanisms for the body, a separate one for the head and a further 2 for the wings. Then aesthetic components like metallic feathers/scales can be glued (too messy?) onto and around the meshes.

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FACE & EYES

I’ve long thought that Furbies have beaks the same as Bubo did though maybe that’s just me?

Making a beak that opens and closes and spinning eyes could be done back in 1981 so it can be done again now. Simple little circuits, nothing drastically new here. Similarly, a speaker could quite easily be placed behind the face to make Bubo’s “clicks and noises”.

WINGS

Assuming these are not playing a genuine role in Bubo’s flight then these should be simpler to design and build. Mechanical wings that spread can be made in a variety of ways though I like the idea of creating a miniature version of those made over at Flapping Sprocket.

POWER SUPPLY

This depends both upon the physical limitations of space left inside the body once all the other components are included inside and the rate of power use by all the components. Presumably some form of rechargeable batteries inside.

REACTIONS

This is the bit that could be the most fun to design as their are so many options here depending on the sensors that are chosen to provoke reactions – light, movement, sound, centre of mass etc. I’m not a brilliant programmer but if there is one out there who was willing to work on this project with me one day and we can find the way to pack all the relevant hardware in then there would be no limits… “Bubo! Take me to the shrine!” *Bubo calculates route to McDonalds/bed/laboratory and flies in that direction*

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One thought on “Athena’s Mechanical Owl

  1. for the body i would recommend a wire mesh as you have suggested but would use paper mache and a light weigh metallic looking plastic. this should work to keep the wight down making flight more feasible.

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