If you’ve seen any of my previous work, there’s a good chance you’d stumbled across my strandbeest builds. Originally conceived as wind-powered creatures by Theo Jansen, my versions tend to instead be motorized, and capable of remote control steering in a tank-like arrangement. That is when they work at least, and after ~six tries at varying success levels, my latest “ClearCrawler” actually walks quite well, and even features an illuminated head seen below.
The linkage design is an evolution of previous versions, combining the clear polycarbonate of my ClearWalker beest with a slightly modified frame of a smaller version that I called the FPV StrandMaus. The StrandMaus was the first design that I got to walk consistently. With a few tweaks of that design, and a new clear polycarbonate body, the ClearCrawler moves around nicely and should hold up for the foreseeable future. Of course, key to this is the 88 thrust bearings used in the design, allowing the legs to be clamped securely, while still producing relatively low friction.
The walker uses an Arduino Nano onboard, along with an L298N motor driver board. The Nano also sends signals to the head assembly, which can pan and tilt, as well as control its two MAX7219-based 8x8 LED matrix eyes. A pair of nRF24L01 modules provide communication between an Arduino Uno-equipped remote and the bot, enabling it to walk around under human control.
I plan to do a series of videos explaining more about how I actually built this ’beest, and the transmitter and receiver code, is available on GitHub. If you’s like to see it in person, I’ll be showing it off at the Tampa Mini Maker Faire this Saturday, July 27th. I’d love to see you there!