How to build a whole room crane game.  Based on the arcade style 'Crane Game' or 'Claw Machine'.  This is a continuation of a previus instructable titled CRANE GAME in which we built a 2-axis crane game in a door frame.  We have now added a third axis and wireless control.  And made it big.

October 2013
real arcade machine claw 

*** September 2013  **
I have a project running on tindie.com   for a real claw machine kit.

A few technical and functional improvements:
  • Less wires - controllers and batteries move with the motors and are signaled with IR light.
  • Precision not needed - I was able to set-up a 8x10ft track without measuring anything
  • Reproducible - used standard parts, used the same components in many spots
  • Expandable - use longer tracks to make it bigger - track cost is about 50cents a foot.
  • Removable - hangs from the ceiling by 4 small hooks
  • Future?  Could be used as basis for a big 3D printer


  1. Materials
  2. Frame
  3. X-Axis Mechanical
  4. Y-Axis Mechanical
  5. Z-Axis Mechanical
  6. X-Axis Electronics
  7. Y-Axis Electronics
  8. Z-Axis Electronics
  9. IR Control Overview
  10. IR Receive Circuit
  11. IR Transmitter (TV remote)
  12. IR Decode Process
  13. X-Axis Control Code
  14. Y/Z - Axis Control Code
  15. What's next?
  16. Complete Wiring
  17. Complete Code
note: this still has some holes in it, feel free to ask for stuff

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
6 -  8' J channel
7 - Big continous servo motors  -- HobbyPartz  --- EXI-Servo-B1226
1 - Roll of electrical tape
2 - Arduino UNO boards
3 - Small peices of perferatored board
2 - IR de-modulator
1 - Universal TV remote control
1 - 25' coiled phone chord
1 - 15' straight phone chord
1 - Roll packing tape
1 - Pre-made claw with servo  -- Spark Fun ROB-10332
2 - 4 AA battery packs, rechargeable -- eneloop AA,  
6 - screw hooks
3 - Peice plywood - 2x6" each
1 - roll metal plumbers strap

- Drill
- Computer
- Soldering iron
aaronXtreme2 years ago
how many continous servos did you use?
And what is the IR de-modulator? could you
send a picture of it separatly?

Tangoforce2 years ago
Ok I gotta say that is absolutely brilliant. I was fascinated by them things as a kid lol
Fingermouse3 years ago
Awesome. Big man-points score right there.
I haven't got my head around arduinos yet, but, I'm thinking about using worm driven wheels controlled by multi channel proportional radio -so does not matter.
Again, fantastic stuff. Did you ever try this set up with a more powerful claw servo by the way, how does it wok out?
marc.cryan (author)  Fingermouse2 years ago
late replay -- I haven't gotten around to adding a larger claw to the big crane game. I am expecting a giant motorized cardboard crane robot kit from kickstarter, if the claw is good I will try that.
I have my claw now and a heavy duty servo which I will need to fab up some brackets to fit it all together. It will fit -eventually :)
marc.cryan (author) 2 years ago
Awesome! Build a crane machine!

I used the servo motors because I already had them. I disabled the position feedback, so they are just small DC motors with gearboxes and control boards, in a plastic case. My thought was "What can I do with all these servo motors? Maybe I can just tape them together...."

All the Arduino stuff and IR is not really needed either. You could do this with no micros, just physical switches and wires.

I still have the thing up on the ceiling, but I made it hard to replace the batteries, and did not include an off switch, so they die over a few days even if not used.
mcsk8rg2 years ago
i had this idea since long ! m really happy to see someone else do it . i can actually see how it looks like . now i got inspiration to actually get down to make one finally.

but one question . i had normal dc motors in mind which i was going to use . i notice u used servo motors . but why is that ? what was the necessity to use servo motors
? can't accomplish the same objective by normal dc motors?
oRelyTo3 years ago
Amazing! :D
SPGWhistler3 years ago
This looks amazing. Got any video?
marc.cryan (author)  SPGWhistler3 years ago
crane game video is up
marc.cryan (author)  SPGWhistler3 years ago
Thanks! -- video should be up tonight.
Nolroz3 years ago
I've been thinking that a ceiling mounted track like this could make a great foundation for a robot meant to clean a room or fold clothes.
CarlS3 years ago
Very cool!

I don't see the code or the wiring
tinker2343 years ago
very nice i saw the teddy bear pacl thing on amzon 20 dollars for5o of them
marc.cryan (author) 3 years ago
ToDo: add something so this qualifies for miss pacman contenst....
awesome build I always wanted to build one of these but I have no kids....
marc.cryan (author)  Notquitepinoy3 years ago
Maybe the next version will be able to grab beer bottles....
GRobots3 years ago
Will build this for my younger brother and marc thank you for a great pdf.
marc.cryan (author)  GRobots3 years ago
Great! Check back for updates. I'm trying to make the electronics easeir to build.