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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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Crab-ble – A Table That Walks

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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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Tweaking designs for [Theo Jansen] walking machines

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We love the look, and most especially the gait, of [Theo Jansen's] walker designs. We don’t fully understand them or the math behind them. But that could change if we spend enough time studying [Aaron Birenboim's] body of work. He wants to incorporate the legs in a project so he’s been trying to optimize the Jansen leg design.

The calculations are delivered in a source code package available from his site. To make heads or trails out of the numbers you need a way to visualize them. He has provided that as well in the form of a MATLAB script which shows leg piece design and can even spit out an animated .gif file of the virtual legs in motion.

If you have no idea what we’re talking about make sure to check out [Jansen's] original creations. We’re also excited to read more about the Klann and Ghassaei linkage designs which [Aaron] talks about in his post.

Dodecapod to offset Segway as futuristic transport

Who doesn’t love a 12-legged robot, especially if you can ride it around work? You can watch this one running around the patio with rider perched atop it. The machine translation is a bit crude, but it seem this is based on the wicked walking sculptures of [Theo Jansen]. The rider can shift their center of gravity to control the walker, much like a Segway. We’d bet this makes for a rough ride on anything but a smooth level surface, but we’re fine with indoor use only. After all, you’ll need to be close to a charging station as this boasts 45 minutes of juice when transporting a 165 pound operator. See it scurry after the break.

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