Perpetually Burping Pac-Man Verge-Escapement Project

Original sketch ideas for V.E.

My first idea was to use a fan to turn a pinwheel with metal contacts on its fins which in turn would hit another contact attached to a light-bulb, making it flicker- thereby segmenting the continuous motion of the fan blowing into the pulsing flicker of the light. Upon further reflection I thought of another source of continuous air that I already possessed: an air-pump for a fishtank.


For some reason I kept this old, broken box.. I had some rocks in it. I thought I could use the hinge to create a lid that could release air bubbles under water and fall again until filling up.


I destroyed what was left of the box and ended up badly damaging both hinges in the process rendering them completely useless.

Curiously strong.

What else has a hinge that doesn’t need to be destroyed and pieced back together? Altoids box! I hammered a nail into it, then a screw- enough room to fit the hose.


Yeah.. that’s a start. It might work. But now I have to stabilize it.

Phase 2

Ok- I can maybe balance it on a tin-can somehow. Its cylindrical, it’s tall, it’s.. tin.

Primitive Scuba?

I decided to run the hose through the can.. maybe I won’t need the Altoids box, maybe I can hinge something on the can..

Graveyard of crushed dreams

I tried a shell, a jar lid, there’s the Altoids box.. moral is running low.


For some reason I did this in a moment of desperation. It really accomplished nothing. I figured that tin-foil is sometimes helpful in desperate situations.. I was hoping that something illogically amazing and unexpected might happen.. it didn’t.

Return of the King

I realized that I had a good thing going with the Altoids box. The trick was getting it to close again once the bubbles blew it open. I found some magnets and fixed them ontop. IT WORKED! But… it was not a regular portion of time. I went to the gym.


All I needed was a LARGE Altoids box. Previously I had been using a MINI Altoids box which didn’t allow for a big enough air pocket to accumulate. I saddled this bad boy up, rigged it with some extra magnets and BAM! I got me a rhythmically burping pac-man inspired verge escapement mechanism. Kind of handsome, no?

Go big or.. go back to relying on nature for questionable time measurements..

Maybe it’s the loose animatronic quality of my creation, but I have to admit a certain sense of affection for this mechanical burping-clock mechanism. Even in its rudimentary state, there is something familiar about its movements- how could I ever part with it now that we’ve found each other? I think I’ll name it “Bubble Bobble.”