Here's some more info about Cabaret Mechanical Theatre.
It looks like they have a book on creating automata.
Here's a video from their blog, which has some useful tidbits on it as well.
There are many more videos with close-ups of the gears on their website as well. Check it out. It could be of great use.
And here's the 1988 Joe Jones documentation, just because!
And here's the patch:
Here, a very simple circuit for controlling a DC actuator (e.g. motor, solenoid) with a MOSFET.
This allows your microcontroller to drive actuators that need much more power than what the microcontroller itself can provide.
Our MOSFET of choice is the IRF540. Find its datasheet here.
Note that this circuit provides NO opto-isolation for your microcontroller; in-other words, if you make mistakes, you could potentially hurt your microcontroller or even your computer! For a more secure solutions consider a solution like Futurlec's DC Opto-Isolated output board.
This is the article on bionics I mentioned last week when we talked about nerve stimulus and memory. Although bionics is somewhat removed from our subject matter, its concern with motor control in humans is a relevant insight into the mechanics of human gesture. Check it out.
Also, Bionics' wiki page