Swinging Elf, Santa's Shop 2016




About: I am an author and a maker. My current project is Santa's Shop. I'm working on a science fiction type book--more later. @EngineerRigsby

This hand made elf swings on a custom servo operated swing. My wife, Annelle, did the artistic elf work whlle I managed the mechanics.

Step 1: Parts

The elf is designed using Sculpy clay and he is dressed in clothes made using felt. The legs and arms are made with pipe cleaners.

Although I scanned and 3d printed the elf (to make it light weight), you could bake the clay and proceed from there.

The swing is made using wood, a standard servo motor, 3d printed parts, two 1/4 inch id (3/4 inch od) bearings and an Arduino Uno.

Step 2:

I scanned the elf using a MakerBot Digitizer, then in TinkerCad I added a 4mm hole (left to right) for the arm/shoulder and two 4mm holes (front to back) for the legs.

If you bake the clay model, don't forget to make these holes before it goes into the oven,

Step 3:

Paint the head to suit your whim.

Step 4:

Cut the pieces from felt.

Step 5:

Create the arms and legs. Two pipe cleaners were twisted together for each leg and the arm combination.

Step 6:

Sew the clothes together and glue on the hat.

Step 7:

The elf should look something like this.

Step 8:

Print out a number of 3d parts. The "top" pieces will slide on the end of 1 x 2 lumber (about 7 inches long). The base is 1" x 5.5" x5.5".

Step 9:

Using 2-56 machine screws, connect the servo horn to the rod connector.

Step 10:

Slide the servo/horn assembly into the servo pole top bracket.

Step 11:

Slide the rod (end with a hole) through a bearing and slide this into the servo top assembly. Slide the swing assembly onto the rod. Slide a bearing onto the end of the rod.

Step 12:

Slide the assembly onto the top of the 1 x 2 wood frame. Fasten the rod to the servo assembly by inserting a 2-56 machine screw through the rod/connector holes. Secure with a 2-56 nut.

Step 13:

Secure the swing to the rod by melting the plastic (using a soldering iron) or super glue.

Step 14:

From the servo motor, attach the yellow wire to digital pin 2 of the Arduino. Red should go to the 5v pin and black to gnd. Install the sketch included in this step and your little elf should be swinging.



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    3 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Just have to comment again...such nice work! You are a highly skilled and talented man.I know that the Mrs. help as well, and your creations together are so unique!

    Hats off to you both!


    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you--it's always great to hear words of encouragement from you! A video of the entire project can be seen here

    I have kept up with most of the steps at this location:


    It looks like we'll get the thing into a display window in a local business in December--keeping our fingers crossed.

    We have enjoyed this, seeing what we could put together just for fun (no commercial benefit at all).


    2 years ago

    Hi Mike,

    Great to see your projects. It is getting so that I can spot your work before I read the title or the maker. As always, great job! Thanks so much for sharing.