In 2014, Sarah and I were invited to participate in the Puppetry track of DragonCon. The whole week was a blast. We were asked to lead, or help participate in, a few workshops or panel discussions. The automata above was one that I built to use as a demonstration of mechanics for a "Designing Simple Handcranked Automata" panel that I led.
The basis of most mechanisms are simple machines, such as the lever and the inclined plane. Almost all other analog machines are based around those two simple machines.
While building shadow puppets for a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (in which all the fairy folk were portrayed as Wayang Kulit style shadow puppets), I thought it would be interesting to make a small lobby display showing how some of the mechanisms worked, and how they were rooted in the Lever.
Did a little experimenting with a head control based on an illustration in Rod Puppets and Table-top Puppets by Hansjürgen Fettig. I really like the smooth movements the thumb control has (helped in part by press fitting a short piece of brass tubing in the control to act as a bushing.)
As you may be able to tell from the video, the original plan was to control it turned around 180 degrees. The little semi-circle cut was to rest your thumb in. In that position, though, moving the thumb pad down makes the puppet look down. This seems like it would make it more intuitive, but since you're controlling from the back end of the rotational point left and right motion is reversed. It seemed weird to me, so I just flipped the head around and operate it backwards.