Wind Powered Strandbeest Could Roam the Land Indefinitely

3d printed strandbeest

We have to admit, Strandbeests are one of our favorite mechanical inventions of recent years — many-legged, life-like mechanisms that walk around? Awesome. [Eric] wanted to design something really cool — so he decided to build a turbine attachment for [Theo Jansen’s] Strandbeest — the AG5 & AG7 models specifically.

If you’re not familiar, the Strandbeest is a mechanical contraption that actually walks around. It’s been developed by [Theo Jansen] for years and has been built in many variations by other people over the years. [Theo] even gave a TED talk on it back in 2007.

The very idea of the Strandbeest is to have it move by itself with autonomy — no electronics allowed! [Theo] has designed a propeller attachment for one of his 3D printable Strandbeests to do this, but [Eric] wanted to take it a step further. He’s designed a more functional wind turbine that sits on top of the Strandbeest, allowing wind from any direction to cause it to walk.

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MountainBeest – A Theo Jansen Creature Comes Alive in My Garage

About a year ago, a member of my family sent me a video featuring [Theo Jansen’s] StrandBeest, knowing that I was interested in all kinds of wacky and hackish inventions. My initial reaction was something to the effect of “wow that’s a neat device, but that guy is a little crazy.” For better or worse, the idea that this was an incredible invention turned over in my head for some time. Eventually, I decided that I needed to build one myself.  Apparently I’m a little crazy as well.

Theo’s original beest runs on a complicated linkage system powered by wind. He was nice enough to publish the linkage lengths or “eleven holy numbers,” as he calls him at the bottom of this page. He doesn’t, however, really explain how the connections on his PVC power transmission system work, so I was left to try to figure it out from his videos.  As you’ll see from build details and video to follow, this isn’t trivial. Keep reading past the jump to learn the adversity that I encountered, and how it was overcome in the end.

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Fixing Misaligned PVC With Kerf Bends


Our old pal [Jeremy Cook] is doing his own remix of [Theo Jansen]’s Strandbeest, and like the original, he’s using PVC pipe. Unlike the originals, he’s powering it with motors, not wind, and this has caused a few problems in transmitting mechanical power through a piece of PVC. Nothing is perfect, and in a few points in the legs movement the shaft shakes violently. One motor was lost and another nearly so before [Jeremy] came up with a flex coupler made from PVC.

The technique [Jeremy] is using has seen a lot of use with people building laser cut enclosures. It’s called kerf bending, and it works simply by cutting a few slits in a panel that allow it to bend slightly. This technique was replicated by [Jeremy] on a miter saw, cutting eight slots halfway through a one inch PVC pipe, with each successive cut offset 90 degrees.

The new design works well for transmitting power, and he’s not ruining motors any more. Check out the video below.

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Building The Mountainbeest


Builder extraordinaire and Hackaday alum [Jeremy] was asked by a friend about “doing something really crazy” for his local Makerfaire this year. That Makerfaire clock is ticking down, and not wanting to build awesome from scratch, referred his friend to a few of the temporarily shelved projects from the last year. The winning incomplete build was the Mountainbeest, a four-legged mechanical walker inspired by [Theo Jansen]’s Strandbeest.

We’ve seen the beginnings of the Mountainbeest before, starting with [Jeremy] building the linkages for one leg. This build turned into two legs and now it’s a full-on quadruped, theoretically capable of rambling over the lush mountains in [Jeremy]’s backyard.

The plan now is for [Jeremy] to get is Beest walking with the help of windshield wiper motors left over from a failed hexapod build. He’s not ging all the details yet, but it looks like the power train will be made out of bike parts. Video of the current state of the project below.

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Crab-ble – A Table That Walks


Do you have a heavy kitchen table? Wish you could move it all by yourself? [Ekaggrat] set out to design one for this year’s Beijing Design Week back in September.

It’s based off of the awesome Strandbeest design by [Theo Jansen], and it looks great. [Ekaggrat] made several prototypes of the “Crab Table” out of ABS plastic, and was planning to make a full size one using bamboo rods, which were the theme of the design week. Unfortunately the team ran out of time and was not able to make the full scale model. The prototypes walk around all by themselves with geared DC motors, but the plan for the full size one was to simply be able to push it.

We’ve seen lots of walking tables before, but there’s just something about the mechanical beauty of this design that we love. It’d be heavy — but imagine it in chrome! Maybe just the plastic could be plated… Stick around after the break to see it scuttle about!

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Building a Strandbeest


[Jeremy] may have given up on his big hexapod project, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of the world of legged robots just yet. He’s embarked on another project, much more elegant and beautiful than a simple hexapod. This time, he’s building a Strandbeest, the same machine designed by walking machine extraordinaire [Theo Jansen].

Coming up with the correct lengths and joints of a Strandbeest leg linkage isn’t something you can just pull out of your head, so after [Jeremy] found the inspiration for his new project he dug into the related literature on Strandbeest legs. He found the work of [Dominique Studer] and set to work making his own mechanical legs.

Right now, [Jeremy] has a prototype of the Strandbeest leg linkage made out of wood. It still needs a little bit of work, but soon enough there will be a PVC pipe Mountainbeest trolling the backwoods near [Jeremy]’s house.

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3D printed Strandbeests made to order


If you love Strandbeests but don’t have the patience to build your own, Dutch artist [Theo Jansen] has you covered. You might remember him from a story we ran last year, detailing his awesome beach-going strandbeest creations.

His beach walkers are typically built out of PVC conduit and plastic tubing, towering over their creator. For the time being however, he is focusing his work on a much smaller scale. [Theo] has recently teamed up with a 3D printing shop in order to offer miniature working replicas of his creations to the public. The current models can be had for $105, which seems like a pretty steep price to us. Then again, these models come fully assembled and are composed of 76 individual pieces, which is nothing to sneeze at.

That said, considering how easily a Strandbeest can be created with a stack of thick paper and some free time, we imagine that an enterprising individual could build one using readily available plastics at a fraction of the cost. Anyone out there up for giving it a shot?

Continue reading to see a video of the Strandbeest creation process.

[via Gizmodo]

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