Four Leg Machine using Theo Jansen Mechanism

Four Leg Machine using Theo Jansen Mechanism

Theo Jansen devices are built by the Dutch artist and kinetic sculptor, Theo Jansen, which resemble skeletons of animals and are able to walk on the wind. The basic Theo Jansen device is a 13-bar linkage system that “walks” when a crank is turned (Fig. 1). The “Strand beest”, one of Theo Jansen’s most famous models, is basically a collection of many of the basic devices and it is these devices that offer walking mobility that wheels may struggle with (Fig. 2). In this project, students were required to design an “extreme” version of the basic Theo Jansen device, where they have to first build a basic Theo Jansen device which can walk when a human turns a crank, and then make the device extreme by making it especially large or small, radio-controlled, motorized, wind-powered, etc. This project was worth 10% of the overall grade for the Engineering Design class.
In our class, students were organized into groups of 3 or 4 members to work on the team-based project, in which they will choose appropriate specification and linkage lengths to design their Theo Jansen device; perform a complete 2D kinematic analysis of both legs of the planar device; plot the x and y position of each foot with respect to the input crank angle; and make the project “extreme” in some way. This project was assigned early in a semester so that students can timely apply the knowledge they learned from the class on this project. Each team consists of 3 to 4 students and the team leader was selected by the team members, who took responsible for calling group meetings and distributing job duties. Deliverables of this project include a one-page project proposal, a Theo Jansen model with excellent craftsmanship, a final report that includes description of the design procedure, kinematic analysis results and calculation steps, and a complete set of engineering drawings. Each group will also make an oral presentation of their works.

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