Unlike so many other builds today, this one features some good old fashioned craft techniques. The build uses popsicle sticks for the legs, what appear to be toothpicks for the joints, and a cardboard box for the main body. A small brushed DC motor is used for propulsion to keep things easy, which runs off a few AA batteries. It’s a gearmotor, which gives it plenty of torque to propel the walking mechanism without undue strain.
Once you’ve seen a strandbeest, it’s hard to forget the mesmerizing movement of its mechanical limbs. [Adam Savage] built a pedal-powered strandbeest in (more than) one day in full view of the public at the San Francisco Exploratorium.
One of the biggest challenges with building strandbeests is the sheer number of parts required to build a walking machine. It becomes clear rather quickly how big of an advantage the wheel is for part count on a device. Add in a few seemingly small design errors, and you might not have any forward motion at all.
[Savage]’s build takes us through all the ups and downs of this process, including lots of wrenching, welding, and more sneakers than Squitter the Spider could wear. The final product is unwieldy, impractical, and beautiful. What more could a maker ask for?
[James Bruton] is on a quest to explore all the weird and wonderful methods of robot locomotion, and in his latest project created an omnidirectional walker that can move in any direction instantaneously.
The walker actually makes use of three independent four-legged Strider mechanisms, connected in a triangle at 120deg. Wheels are attached to the bottom of each leg, oriented at a right angle to the leg’s plane of motion to allow the foot to slide. Varying the relative speed and direction of each of the mechanisms lets the robot move in any direction, similar to his ball-wheeled robot. Each strider mechanism uses a single motor and looks similar to Strandbeest walkers, but it lifts its feet to traverse rougher terrain. [James] demonstrates this with some obstacles, and found that moving in such an orientation that all three sets of legs provide the best results.
[James] planes to build a larger rideable version, but we think he should mount a chest of Sapient Pearwood to carry all his stuff and name it The Luggage.
The steampunk aesthetic can take on many forms, and while pipes, valves, and boilers can look great, having complicated machinery with lots of moving parts really makes your project shine. A team of steampunk enthusiasts over at Tampere Hacklab did this by building a vehicle named Maakrapu. It’s a two-wheeled buggy that looks like it’s being pulled forward by some kind of five-legged creature. The extremely smooth motion of its legs conjures up images of lobsters or crabs (“Maakrapu” means “land crab” in Finnish), and is also reminiscent of Theo Jansen’s Strandbeesten.
The wooden legs are linked together with a metal crankshaft, which was welded together from plasma-cut parts. A steering wheel is included to orient the legs in the direction of travel, although the actual steering of the vehicle is done through differential braking. An earlier version had no propulsion and was meant for downhill riding only, but this latest model comes with an electric motor and a battery, making it actually somewhat useful as an urban runabout.
The video embedded below shows the design of the Maakrapu as well as a long drive from the center of Tampere back to the Hacklab. If you like vehicles with lots of little moving legs like this, check out the Strandbeest Bicycle. For a more literal “steam”-punk experience, try this steam-powered bike.
The Strider mechanism might look similar to Strandbeest walkers, but it lifts its feet higher, allowing it to traverse rougher terrain. [Chen]’s little 3D printed version is driven by a pair of geared N20 motors, with three legs on each side. The ESP32 camera board allows for control and an FPV video feed using WiFi, with power coming from a 14500 LiFePO4 battery. The width required by the motors, leg mechanisms, and bearings means the robot is quite wide, to the point that it could get stuck on something that’s outside the camera’s field of view. [Chen] is working to make it narrower by using continuous rotation servos and a wire drive shaft.
We’ve seen no shortage or riffs on the many-legged walkers, like the TrotBot and Strider mechanism developed by [Wade] and [Ben Vagle], and their website is an excellent resource for prospective builders.
Multiple rows of intricately articulated legs are the defining characteristic of the Strandbeest, but [James Bruton] wondered if he could reduce that down to a single row using the same principles at work in a self-balancing two wheeled robot. While it’s perhaps a bit early to call his experiments a complete success, the first tentative steps taken by his (relatively) svelte Strandbeest certainly look promising.
Initially the robot only had two pairs of legs, but in testing [James] found this arrangement to be a bit unstable. By bringing the total count to four legs per side and improving the counterweight arrangement, the bot has been able to walk the length of the workshop. Unfortunately, an issue with the leg design seems to be preventing the Strandbeest from taking any backward steps.
Normally this wouldn’t be that big of a problem, but in this case it’s keeping the Strandbeest from being able to self-balance while standing still. In other words, the robot needs to keep moving forward or it will fall over. Still, [James] thinks the idea has promise and wants to continue experimenting with the bot in a larger area.
Specifically, he wants to see if the dual-motor robot can turn by varying the speed the two sets of legs are running at. If it can walk in a tight enough circle, it could keep right on marching until the power runs down. Sounds more than a little nightmarish to us, but we’d still like to see it.
Reader’s may recall [James] from this other another robotic projects, such as the phenomenal OpenDog. We don’t know where his obsession of legged robots comes from, but we certainly aren’t complaining.
The first thing Jeremy Cook thought when he saw a video of Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest walking across the beach was how incredible the machine looked. His second thought was that there was no way he’d ever be able to build something like that himself. It’s a feeling that most of us have had at one time or another, especially when starting down a path we’ve never been on before.
But those doubts didn’t keep him from researching how the Strandbeest worked, or stop him from taking the first tentative steps towards building his own version. It certainly didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen over a month or even a year, either.
His first builds could barely move, and when they did, it wasn’t for long. But the latest version, which he demonstrated live in front of a packed audience at the LA College of Music, trotted across the stage with an almost otherworldly smoothness. To say that he’s gotten good at building these machines would be something of an understatement.
Jeremy’s talk is primarily focused on his Strandbeest creations, but it’s also a fascinating look at how a person can gradually move from inspiration to mastery through incremental improvements. He could have stopped after the first, second, or even third failure. But instead he persisted to the point he’s an expert at something he once believed was out of his reach.