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Animating Xmas Parade Float Answered

Below are some pics of the Xmas parade float that a few of the other dads and I put together for last year's town Xmas parade. We are planning on keeping the same theme this year but wanted to upgrade a bit. Our goal is to automate the reindeer to give them some linear action that will give them the appearance of flying.

When reviewing the pics, please note that the frame that the reindeer are attached to will be completely rebuilt. I was thinking of a frame with a double 2x3 side. Where one of the 2x's will have a channel routed out in it and the other one with the reindeers attached will then be able to slide back and forth by it.

Another note is that Rudolph will not move.

I have included some rough sketches of my initial thoughts using a motor and a cam. My problem is in finding the right motor for the job. I would need a high torque, low rpm (about 20) motor to do the job and I can't seem to find one. I have thought of using a mixing drill and a speed controller, but the mixing drill has an rpm from 0 - 550 and I am not sure the speed control will be able to slow it just 20 and even if it does, I am not sure there will be enough torque at that reduced rpm.

I am certainly open to other suggestions. Thanks in advance for any thoughts or comment you may have.



5 weeks ago

You could set up a rotating belt running from Rudolph back to the last reindeer on both sides with say cloud images attached to give the impression they are flying. Nice float by the way.


5 weeks ago

Find a scrap metal yard and ask for an old roller door or garage door motor.
Just get entire electronics box and the ring with the gears that attaches to the roller door.
These things already come with limit switches included and the actual driving part is easy to remove.
All you need is get some basic electronis or relays to connect to the limit switches for and ongoing back and forth movement of the motor.
24V is the standard voltage here so should be fine tobe powered from you truck.
If the speed of the motor is too fast for a direct crank shaft movement use the gear ring for the door - the speed reduction is about 20:1 and the torque goes up accordingly as well.
Like that that is shouldn't be a problem to get 50-75kg of linear force on a crank output.


5 weeks ago

I don't have a suggestion, I just want to say that float is awesome! :D