For more than 15 years, we've been writing about the strandbeests, Theo Jansen's incredibly, multilegged windwalking machines that clatter their way along in eerily lifelike fashion (I even wrote them into my fiction). Read the rest
Theo Jansen's amazing, wind-walking Strandbeest (featured in my story the Man Who Sold the Moon) can be had as a 6-inch-cubed snap-together, 80-piece, chunky "rhino" kit: assemble and blow on it and it will walk across your desk with the odd majesty of the Strandbeest. Read the rest
Wired visited the garage of my friend I-Wei Huang, which is loaded with his delightful little creations, including a Strandbeest-style hamster ball walker. (For his day job, I-Wei designs the characters for the Skylanders games.)
Though we're delighted to have our own online toystore up this holiday season, there are a thousand things we could recommend from elsewhere. Cutting it down to a couple of hundred, for our fourth annual gift guide, wasn't easy; this year was a fantastic one for books, games, gadgets and much else besides. From stocking stuffers to silly cars, take yer pick.
Metrod's Panterragaffe is a rideable strandbeest (Theo Jansen's wonderful kinetic sculpture). There've been strandeests for hamsters and 3D printed strandbeests, but none are as sweet as perching on the seat of a strandbeest built for two. It was created by Metrods, in West Vancouver, a studio that does work for hire. They previewed it last month at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire.
In this configuration it requires smooth hard ground, but we're working on a modification to the mechanism to pick the feet up higher with each step. We should then be able to walk on grass and slightly irregular ground.
It's made entirely of mild steel, with ball bearing joints and pivots. The bench and two leg boxes are three separate pieces, held together with hitch pins for easy transport. It weighs nearly 700 pounds loaded without passengers.
The legs are only 1/2 inch square tubing with 1/16 inch wall thickness. This material bends very easily, but with careful leg design we were able to use this extremely small tubing to reduce weight and present a lighter appearance.
I've written here before about Theo Jansen's marvellous walking mechanical Strandbeests (and the glorious hamster-powered version). Now Jansen's set up shop on Shapeways, the 3D printing place, and he's selling 3D printed versions of the eerie walkers for $105.
Designing the Beests this way proved quite the challenge. They consist of at least 76 separate moving interlocking parts. Multiple prototypes were used to come to the first viable solution, "Animaris Geneticus Parvus" #5. But the evolution process continues with evolutions #6 with lightweight bone structure and #7 with pointy feet.
The mad genius at Crafbuartworks created a miniature, hamster-powered strandbeest walker. The walker is hamstered by the intrepid Princess, who is a champ.
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The hamster powered? that's just stupid, which is the exact reason why I did it. It's different, hasn't been done before, yet it's in so many what's-under-the-hood jokes. It also had a high likelyhood of working, so I had to attempt it. Only problem: I don't have a hamster, I don't want a hamster for a pet, and I don't know what sort of power and weight a little critter like that has. All I know is that I've seen them go ballistic on the hamster wheel, and so they must have great weight to power ratio.
I quickly removed the gearing and windmill, cut some plastic and mounted a hamster ball to this contraption. I used ball bearings on the hamster ball axels, and mecanno sprockets/chain to transfer the power from the hamster ball to the main crank. I did some initial testing with my son's motorized train inside of the hamster ball, so I had fair confidence on the gear ratio needed for it to work.
Then my sister in law (who runs a great craft blog, Crafty Carnival) came to the rescue, and was able to borrow one of her friend's pet hamster. Enter Princess the Hamster. Princess is a tiny little thing, much smaller than what I had imagined and prepared for. I was afriad that her weight wouldn't be enough to get the ball going.