The Lycoming Robotics Learning Resource LabMuseum of Unusual Devices
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The Lycoming Robotics Learning Resource Lab includes a collection of mechanisms, machines, toys, contrivances and dodads.
Some of our "Unusual Devices" are not very unusual, just old, unique or clever.

Why are these devices a part of the Lycoming Robotics Lab?
We find that students can be inspired by both modern and antequated engineering solutions, and they can sometimes find answers to their questions by observing and playing with unfamiliar devices. Like most museums, some of the items are definitely "hands off," but we also have a collection of items that students are welcomed to play with and experiment with.

Here is a sampling of the collection.
(photos and descriptions will be added)

Kinora Viewer, c. 1908


Regina Model A Pneumatic Cleaner, c. 1905
This early hand-pump vacuum cleaner required two people to operate: one person operated the pump handle while the other person vacuumed with a long "wand" and a nozzle that is only about 5 inches wide!


Organ Air Pump


4 Cylinder Air Compressor for early automobiles, c. 1912


Megatech Transparent 4-stroke Internal Combustion Engine, c 1976
This is a working 4-stroke cycle engine that is designed to run on a variety of fuels. This engine, engineered for educational facilities, is unique in a few ways. It features a tempered glass cylinder, so that the combustion inside the engine can be viewed. It will run on gasoline, alcohol, and other fuels. Air-fuel ratios, spark timing, and valve clearances are accessible and easily adjustable, allowing students to immediately see the results of their adjustments.


Working Model Steam Engines
Two working steam engine models.


Gasoline-Fired Irons
Prior to the widespread use of electric clothing irons, most irons were simply made of solid iron, and were heated on a stovetop. But some people used "self-heating" irons to iron their clothes.
We have a sizeable collection of these "self-heating" irons that need no external heat source. Produced in large volume from the late 1800's to the mid 1900's, self-heating irons included either a tank that held a fuel such as gasoline, kerosene or alcohol, or a chamber that held charcoal. In all cases, the burning fuel provided the heat for the iron.
The collection includes two German alcohol-fired irons, c. 1886, a wide array of gasoline-fired irons from 1908 to c. 1940, and one charcoal iron, c. 1910.

Coal Mine Lamp
In the 1800's and early 1900's, before the advent of the Mine Safety Administration (MSA) and a plethora of safety regulations, miners used lamps with open flames to illuminate the mines.

Early Indoor Gasoline and Kerosene Lamps and Lanterns


Chicken Brooder Lamp


Eight-line PRR Telegraph Repeater Relay


Early Radio Control Transmitter


Treadle-Powered Scroll Saw, New Rogers, c. 1920
Pump the foot-operated treadle to convert reciprocal motion to rotary motion via a pushrod to a flywheel. A leather belt from the large flywheel drives a small pulley, converting high torque to high speed. An eccentric cam, driven by the small pulley, powers the lower parallel arm of the saw, converting rotary motion back to reciprocal motion.
This saw is surprisingly effective, easy to use, and silent.

Coal Mining Hand Drill
Many thousands of these drills were used in coal mines worldwide, and were mostly unchanged for many decades. A miner would use this drill to create a deep hole in a coal seam. Dynamite would be inserted in the hole and blown, allowing "easy" access to the coal.

Many Robot-related toys