My 123D Jansen Strandbeest Mechanism





Introduction: My 123D Jansen Strandbeest Mechanism

So this is a Strandbeest mechanism, a mechanism invented by Theo Jansen, a Dutch artist. This kinetic sculpture moves when on a slope, or as in Theo Jansen's creations, harnessing the wind's energy. I designed this kinetic sculpture using the complex but very accurate ratios of the original design. I used  Autodesk 123D, and later on tested and tweaked my creation in Autodesk Inventor's dynamic simulation program, but i created it using 123D. This contraption doesn't need any screw, bolt or anything, just to be printed out. I purposely did not include dimensions in my Intsructable, as not to constrain people's imaginations and ideas. As long as you follow the ratios and concepts from the following site, you should have a great, perfectly working, awesome Strandbeest.

Step 1: Leg

We'll start out with the leg. First like every part, we start with the sketch. The sketch is made to the original proportions of Jansen's original design, like all of the other parts. The image sketch is one of my first attempts, so it's slightly different from the final piece. Once you've finished with the sketch, you need to extrude the body, and give the two pivot points a little bit of height, above the main body, on both sides. After everything is to your liking, it would be better to fillet the edges on the main body parts, but not the pivot points.

Step 2: Structural Limbs

The mechanism has a couple of limbs, each one having a different length, but the procedure is very similar. First you want to make the two pivot points, from which limb will be attached to the rest of the mechanism. What you want to do is connect the two pivot points with an arc of whose radius is sufficient to hold the load and yet not disrupt the motion of the other parts. After making the sketch, as in the example below, you need to revolve the area between the arch and the line connecting the two pivot points (the axis line). After revolving the limb, you need to cut off, in both directions, the excess material that will impede with the two pivot points (as marked in drawing 3). After cutting, extrude the pivot points in both directions, again slightly higher than the main body. Once you've done that, you need to again cut a little depression in one of the sides of the pivot point, which later on will be used for the connectors. repeat the same procedure for each different limb.

Step 3: Upper Triangle

You can make the upper triangle the same way as the leg, except the time there are three pivot points. you also need to cut out a depression in the upper point. 

Step 4: Disk

The disks are the ones who enable the motion of the legs, and each axis point as shown in the sketch), need to be to be at a 60 degree angle from each pair of disks. This is the reason the shaft connecting points are a six point 'star', with each groove at exactly 60 degrees from the next one.
As long as you follow the main concept while making your sketch, just extrude the part to a thick enough width to handle the load. On one side, make again the same depression for the connector, at the axis point.

Step 5: Shaft

The shaft is connected to each wheel through main body, to allow simultaneous motion, through the mechanism. While building the shaft, you need to make grooves on the top and bottom parts, as shown in the image, that will be mated with the disks at the connecting points, with the groove being the same width of the connectors, and the distance between them being the same as two disks plus the body between them. 

Step 6:

The shaft closer is something that's supposed to close the edge of the disks. They basically just snap on. You need the inner radius of the closer to be only a slightly bit larger the shaft's outer radius, and the closer's outer radius to match the disk's.

Step 7: Connector

Like the limbs,  each connector is is of a different size, depending on what pieces it connects. The connector is also made using the same revolving tactic as the limbs. Follow the images below, they are pretty much self explanatory.

Step 8: Base

The base is built in a way, which makes it one parts, that is repeated several times. With each side of the triangle, use the same procedure as the limb, revolving, cutting and extruding. On the bottom middle pivot point, is the main axis point, from which the shaft that connects the disks together goes through. Next, extrude all three points on the triangle, with the two bottom ones shorter than the top one (as shown in image). The two bottom protruding struts are where the upper triangles will be connected. When you finish, mirror the part with the mirror plane being the end of the tallest protrusion made earlier (top one). After you mirror the parts, you need to use the rectangular pattern tool, to repeat the part you just made as many times as the amount of legs you want. 

Step 9: BOM

Bill of Materials, as JPEGS.

Step 10: Video

Sorry for lags, the dynamic simulation barely handled the all of the parameters...

Step 11: NXT!

My next goal is to build an NXT powered Strandbeest, but since exam week is starting, I won't have the time to finish it currently. this is as far as I got.

Autodesk 123D Design Challenge

Runner Up in the
Autodesk 123D Design Challenge



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    29 Discussions

    Hi! I was wondering what you used to do the motion simulation, I cant seem to find an option in 123d design

    1 reply

    Wow it looks really awesome, I hope that everything will work fine. Can you please upload the changes that you made?

    I've now printed all the parts, and am seeing two issues:

    1) You seem to have allowed little or no clearance for the fit of many parts. In real life machinery there must always be clearance; you cannot have "line-to-line" fits. For the "connectors" (they are really shafts) in the bushings it's not a big deal because I can either drill out the bushings or design new connector shafts. But for the hex splined shaft that connects the centers of the wheels it is more of a problem; I think I'm going to have to edit the wheel file to add clearance for the spline.
    2) Your BOM has one splined shaft part, which is about 24mm long. This is the correct length when it's connecting two wheels through a frame bushing. But for the two end ones I think it is too long, since the end ones only connect one wheel and a frame bushing.

    Thanks for sharing your work on this project, I am looking forward to assembling this Beest and showing it off!

    2 replies

    I am so happy to hear that you are working on improving my work. I am new to this awesome world of engineering, and well be very happy if you updated me with the changes you made so ill learn them for my next projects. I knew that you cant have a "line to line" fits but I thought it was not that off a big problem (thanks for letting me know that it is), my plan was to use some sand paper. I think that I solved the the problem of the bigger hex shaft but, have it only in the final version in the thingiverse web site. If there is any way I can help I will be very glad too. Please upload me the final version your print. And really thanks a lot, I have gotten two comments that have really gotten my mode down, but seeing that some one is working and improving my work, for it to be printed out really made my day :)

    I've enjoyed Theo Jansen's work since learning of it years ago, and was excited to see your model appear on Thingiverse recently. I was unaware at the time that other 3D-printable models had been published. I wouldn't listen to anyone who says you "copied" anything; you obviously did a lot of work on this, and the differences between your interpretation of Jansen and others' are significant and readily apparent. When Thingiverse user "cyclone" stated that your model is "unprintable", that settled it for me: I had to print it :)

    All you really did was copy the project from cguin, i really like your design and all but you really just copied it from cguin. You should at least have cited him. I don't mean to be rude or anything, but it seems like someone beat you to it. You seem like you didn't mean to do this. I hope to see other instructables from you, you seem very intelligent, and creative.

    1 reply

    I don't care if there are stuff that may look the same, I worked hard on this piece for a long time. So please don't say that i copped it from some one else, I can promise you that I did not.

    Actually I did not use it. Any ideas and design inspiration I used was from looking throw Google pic, and the link that i cited.

    Simply awesome! I really wish I had the resources to build this. I love those kinetic sculptures.

    3 replies

    My love for kinetic sculptures is why i made it and put so much time and detail in it so every thing will work nice and smooth. I really hope I’ll find a way to print it out!

    Well a vote from me should get you a little closer to doing that! Keep making awesome stuff!

    Jonny, costs should not be a problem though. Janssen built the strandbeest (=beach beast) from electric conduit pipe that costs pennies per metre

    I tried to upload the STL but there was a problem with Instructables, and I'll try to upload it again as a ZIP file. No, i haven't tried to print it out but i currently don't have the means...