MountainBeest – Complete with a Remote Control and Video Capability!


A creation like this MountainBeest “kinetic sculpture” is never really done, but at this point it’s at least ready to display.  Here’s a video of it showing off the latest improvements, an onboard GoPro camera, and remote control of the legs.

This walking ‘Beest should be close to ready for it’s appearance at the Columbia Maker Faire on June 14th.  They’ve told me there will be some sort of winch there to hoist it up and down, so it should be pretty cool.  I’m glad I hooked it up at home so I would have all the rigging ready.

Hopefully it won’t fall apart and/or they make some sort of safety zone under the contraption when it’s under display.  If you happen to be in the area that weekend, be sure to come say “hi” and gawk at this contraption.  For the next best thing, follow the “read more” link for more videos of my progress, as well as some more descriptions and pictures.

Leg Remote Control

I’ve outlined the motor setup in this post, but control is now accomplished with a PWM switch from Servocity.  This particular model allows one to control a motor with an on-off signal, and reverse the direction.  Pretty neat, and simple to use, as I’d tried these before with windshield wiper motors in my failed “giant” hexapod.

GoPro Camera

Inspiration struck a few days ago, when I considered that my radio control transmitter was capable of controlling four channels, and I was only using two.  Flash back to last year, when I made this assembly/test video of Servocity’s SPT200 pan-tilt system.

I was never really sure what to do with it, but since it was sitting assembled on my shelf, I simply plugged the fixture into the spare RX servo ports, and it worked.  The GoPro camera looks really cool there, and I hopefully I can get more cool video out of it when the MountainBeest is on display.

Other Upgrades

polycarbonate-assemblyI had some left over 1/8 inch polycarbonate sheet, and bought some more off of Amazon to the electronics.  This worked nicely, and after a few cuts on a milling machine, made a nice base for the camera as well.  I also used a piece to secure the battery, as seen in the beginning of the first video on this page.

Cutoff switches were also added for the main battery and radio control receiver.  This should make things easier, considering I now don’t have to unscrew a cover and pull a plug to turn things off.  I should probably add a light for the main power switch, since there’s no easy way to confirm that it’s on.

First (maybe last) try at walking

beest-upside-downAlthough this ‘Beest was originally conceived as something that would wander the earth, it’s pretty obvious from my first test (not shown) that it’s not going to be crawling on the ground any time soon.  After cautiously putting the MountainBeest on the floor in the garage, I pushed the throttle forward on one of the legs.  I soon heard a cracking noise, and the right leg no longer worked.

After disassembling the motor, I found I’d cracked a gear again.  Fortunately, I was able to repair it with a part from another motor and get it running.

The idea when motorizing it this time was to have it hang from a rope and flail about on display.  Based on the video above, it should be able to do that quite well, and take some onboard video at the same time!  Maybe “MountainBeest 2” will come with a more powerful motor, and be able to walk, but I think this ‘beest is about complete!

Check out these other posts on my PVC misalignment coupler used to keep the motors from breaking so much, or maybe even this post about the inspiration for the project, the “StrandBeest,” nearly a year ago!

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