For years — since 2013 in fact — I’ve been fascinated with Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests, so much so that I decided to make my own version. Then another and another, until at this point I’ve nearly lost track. Unlike Jansen’s beests, mine tend to be smaller and “more” electrically powered than his wind contraptions.
For my latest ‘beest, dubbed the ClearCrawler, I decided to make it out of clear polycarbonate as with a previous version, but keep it fairly small at 15.5 inches tall. I’ve found with earlier models that the weight and cost of proper motors and bearings tends to be prohibitive.
The little ‘beest uses a total of 88 thrust bearings, and is powered by a pair of 150 RPM 12VDC gearmotors and a LiPo battery. It uses an Arduino Nano for control, along with an L298N motor driver board. The head is mounted to a servo pan/tilt assembly, and features a pair of 8×8 MAX7219-based LED matrix displays, as well as a small piezo speaker for beeping at bystanders.
While I originally intended to make things more elegant, the control unit is simply an Arduino Uno with a joystick shield attached, plus a USB battery literally strapped on with zip ties. A pair of nRF24L01+ modules provide a wireless link between the controller and the robot.
Arduino code for the ClearCrawler can be found on GitHub, and the build process is outlined in the videos below.