Bring the crane game home

Everyone’s familiar with the quarter gobbling crane games. More often than not there’s a child nearby begging a parent for more quarters so they can try their hand at the toy-snatching claw. [Marc.Cryan] put his quarters to a better use by building a home version of the crane game.

[Marc] installed a gantry in an archway of his house.  The crane trolley rides on this gantry and uses a spool to raise or lower the tether for the claw. Winning copious style-points, he used the case of an old mouse to form the claw. An Arduino controls the different motors in the system and a toy was repurposed to act as the controller. As you can see after the break, it’s more fun than the cinema-lobby version of the game and your kids can play with it for free.


  1. jeff-o says:

    Well great. ANOTHER thing I need to build for my kids!

  2. o-yeah says:

    lol, for the kids, eh?

    More like for the living room. Too lazy to pick up the remote? Get the crane to do it.

    Too lazy to grab a pillow? Crane.

    Drink? Crane.

    Awww, yeah.

  3. Marc Cryan says:

    Hi Mike –

    Thanks for the nice right-up!


  4. jeff-o says:

    @o-yeah: You’re right! It needs iPod Touch controls too. That would kick ass!

  5. supershwa says:

    Heh, the mouse-based claw works better than the wobbly aluminum twigs at the movie theater…

  6. walt says:

    has anyone found an alternative to instructables?
    cool crane hack, though.

  7. lowlysoundtech says:

    awesome work.

    I was working on a similar device, except it was a gondola that was pulled along a track.

    Anxiously awaiting the Arduino flame artists to come out of the woodwork.

  8. googfan says:

    i hate those things

  9. Jac says:

    A claw that actually picks stuff up? I thought the point of that claw was to just brush up against stuff so the user would keep inserting more quarters until he/she runs out… ;-)

    Awesome stuff!

  10. jake says:

    he needs to use more spools to make it stable when it moves so the prize will not swing around.

  11. drn says:


  12. j says:

    @o-yeah: that make me laugh, attach it to the ceiling in your living room, maybe run it into the kitchen. too buff.

  13. Bizzy says:

    Heck yeah run that badboy all around the house like kitchen bedroom and on the crane put a cam and on the hand held control put a display so you know where the claw is you never have to leave your sofa

  14. inexplicablyNic says:

    The neighbours will LOVE it. “REeeeaarrrrrrrrrrr ahhhhnnnnnngnnngnnnngnnnnnnnnnnn” telegraphed directly through the wall.

  15. everlong says:

    Actually, the real thing is set to only grab properly every five times or so.
    All of the other attempts, it only grabs halfway shut and then loses most of its pneumatic strength, so catching anything is virtually impossible.
    (heard from a guy that works at a company repairing the machines)

  16. Agent420 says:

    ^ indeed – they are nearly grouped with other games of chance such as slot machines. The operator has several adjustment parameters that allow setting the payout ratio.

    There’s a pdf manual for a modern crane game here that details many of these settings:

  17. therian says:

    Author miss most important point: claw should not pick up

  18. markii says:

    put a coin acceptor there, and invite friends with their kids :)
    money money moneeyyy

  19. raja95 says:

    Reminds me of a chopper trying to pick up heli bags on the ground with a longline

  20. Sam says:

    For the kids? Hell, my wife is addicted to these things (though fortunately there aren’t that many of them around otherwise we’d bleed quarters).

    For her it’s not much about the winning of cute little fuzzy animals (or whatever), it’s about actually beating the machine and winning anything at all. I think she just enjoys getting stuff out of these things when they’re so clearly designed to rip people off.

    I think this project might be interesting to be done in 2-D. Maybe use the track designed for track lighting? Then one just needs to teach the thing how to open a refrigerator door and grab a beverage to return to the operator. There must be some law of physics which would describe perfectly why seemingly all technological devices end up tending toward beer retrieval.

    “As technical complexity of a given invention approaches infinity, the likelihood that someone will think ‘hey, that thing might be able to bring me a beer’ approaches 1.”

  21. Squirrel says:

    No what it really needs is to have magnets on a track in the ceiling and supply power to the claw via witricity and then the claw just rolls around on the ceiling and picks up all of your stuff for you xD

  22. M4CGYV3R says:

    It could be cool, except for the toddler walking under the serious strangling hazard of wire loops.

  23. robomonkey says:

    Okay, why any processor to operate this? A simple old two fire button digital joystick could actuate relays and make it go up and down, and use one fire button to open the claw, another to close. If you added another axis, two joysticks. Now if you want to control it wirelessly, then yeah, a processor, but this setup it a bit overkill (a word and observation that I know is overused on this site)

  24. Mikey says:

    Ok, except nothing like an actual crane game.

    First off it’s way easier, with the claws not sucking (he’s using a mouse shell instead of 3 metal wire fingers), and he has control of when to grab and let go, and when to lower and raise and can stop at any point, also it only moves left and right and not forward and back.

    A real claw has a time limit, you move it where you want it to go, you press one button (or wait for the time to expire) and it drops and it grabs when it wants to grab, you don’t get two tries to grab with one drop, and you don’t get to readjust if you’re a little off — you lose your WHOLE position every time because it automatically moves to the drop shoot to drop whatever you didn’t grab.

    This is bogus.

  25. Gigi green says:

    “Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so! really nice post. Thanks.”

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