A man riding a buggy pulled by a wooden contraption

Maakrapu Is A Buggy Drawn By A Five-Legged Beast

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.

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Tiny ESP32 Strider Walks The Walk

Wheels might be the simplest method of locomotion for robots, but walkers are infinitely more satisfying to watch. This is certainly the case for [Chen Liang’s] tiny Strider walker¬†controlled by a ESP32 camera board.

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.

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Unique Strandbeest Stands Tall With Line Of Legs

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.

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Jeremy Cook Is Living His Strandbeest Dream

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.

ClearCrawler at the 2019 Hackaday Superconference

For those keeping score, his talk at the 2019 Hackaday Superconference, “Strandbeests: From Impossible Build to Dominating My Garage” is the culmination of over six years of experimentation and iteration.

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.

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RC Strandbeest Is A Head Above The Rest

Prolific maker [Jeremy Cook] recently put the finishing touches (at least, for now) on his impressive ClearCrawler remote controlled Strandbeest, which includes among other things a surprisingly expressive “head” complete with LED matrix eyes. For anyone in the audience who was only mildly terrified of these multi-legged robotic beasties before, you may want to avert your eyes from the video after the break.

The clever locomotive design of [Theo Jansen] known as Strandbeest is a legged walker. What makes it special is that the legs themselves are not independent, but work together for a gliding action more akin to wheeled bots. [Jeremy’s] work with ClearCrawler has taken this to another level of precision and mechanization.

Before installation of the electronics, the ClearCrawler had to be tethered to a bench power supply, and could only move forward and backward. Once the locomotion was working as expected, [Jeremy] was ready to install some brains into the beast.

The robot is controlled by a dual motor driver and an Arduino Nano socketed in an I/O expansion board. Communication between the Nano onboard the walker and the hand-held remote control is provided by of a pair of nRF24L01 modules. The controller itself is a simple affair, comprised of a joystick shield plugged into an Arduino Uno.

The robot’s head is made up of a chunk of clear polycarbonate tube with a 3D printed internal frame to hold the dual 8×8 LED matrices that serve as its animated eyes. This arrangement is mounted on a servo pan and tilt mount, which is controlled by an analog stick on the controller. While the head doesn’t currently serve any practical function, it does give [Jeremy] a chance to emote a bit with his creation; a popular trick when he shows the ClearCrawler off.

A few years ago we covered this robot’s predecessor, the considerably larger ClearWalker. While that machine was surely a beauty to behold, this smaller and more agile iteration of the concept is quite a bit more practical.

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Landbeest, A Single Servo Walking Robot

Walking robots have a rich history both on and off the storied pages of Hackaday, but if you will pardon the expression, theirs is not a field that’s standing still. It’s always pleasing to see new approaches to old problems, and the Landbeest built by¬†[Dejan Ristic] is a great example.

It’s a four-legged walker with a gait dictated by a cam-and-follower mechanism that allows it to perform the full range of leg movement with only one motor. Each cam can control more than one leg in synchronisation, and in his most recent prototype, there are two such mechanisms that work on opposite corners of a four-legged machine. The legs are arranged in such a way that the two corner-to-corner pairs pivot at their centres in a similar manner to a pair of scissors; allowing a servo to steer the robot as it walks.

The result certainly isn’t as graceful as [Theo Janssen]’s Strandbeest, from which it evidently takes inspiration for its name, but it’s no less capable for it. After the break you can see a video he’s posted which clearly illustrates its operation and demonstrates its ability to traverse obstacles.

The only thing that’s missing are the files and software should you wish to create your own. He’s unapologetic about this, pointing out that he’d prefer to wait until he is satisfied with it before letting it go. Since he’s put a lot of work in so far and shows no sign of stopping, we’re sure he’ll reach that point soon enough.

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Paper Strandbeest Is Strong Enough To Walk

Most readers will be familiar with the work of the Dutch artist Theo Jansen, whose Strandbeest wind-powered mechanical walking sculptures prowl the beaches of the Netherlands. The Jansen linkage provides a method of making machines with a curious but efficient walking gait from a rotational input, and has been enthusiastically copied on everything from desktop toys to bicycles.

One might think that a Jansen linkage would be beyond some materials, and you might be surprised to see a paper one. Step forward [Luis Craft] then, with a paper walking Strandbeest. Designed in Blender, cut on a desktop CNC paper cutter, and driven by a pair of small robots linked to an Arduino and controlled by a Bluetooth link, it has four sets of legs and can push around desktop items. We wouldn’t have thought it possible, but there it is.

He claims that it’s an origami Strandbeest, but we’re not so sure. We’re not papercraft experts here at Hackaday, but when we put on our pedantic hat, we insist that origami must be made of folded paper in the Japanese style rather than the cut-and-glue used here. This doesn’t detract from the quality of the work though, as you can see in the video below.

We think this is the first paper Strandbeest we’ve seen, but we’ve brought you countless others over the years. Here’s [Jansen]’s latest, wave-like take on the idea.

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