OK, so, I’m still just a bit fuzzy on how Oklahama City resident Mike Koehler’s delightfully hare-brained scheme is “for America,” but I’m prepared to get behind pretty much any initiative to build a “fully functional, full-scale” model of the original Imperial Walker. The initiative could be called “AT-AT for Azerbaijan,” and the only really important question, to me, would remain: “We’re going to build a life-size working AT-AT, right?” Also: “Does fully functional include the head-mounted laser blasters?” From Mike’s manifesto:


We were once a country that made things: giantmetal cars, Hoover Dams, non-AutoTuned popular music.

But now we are stuck in an economy in limbo, surrounded by our Internets, our hipsters and our arguing politicians.

Nerds, I have a great idea to make America great again. We can show our brain power, our manufacturing prowess, our organizational skills and our geek-fueled eye for detail.

That idea: an AT-AT for America.

Now I have an idea, but no money and a total lack of mechanical aptitude.

That’s why I am hoping this project spreads like wildfire, inspiring the nerds, makers, geeks, motorheads, sportos, dudes, steampunks, Jedis, halfwits, greasers and geniuses to band together for one goal.

Excelsior to you, Mike Koehler. Excelsior and Godspeed. [Thanks, Rachel!]

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

  • http://profiles.google.com/danbert8 Daniel Fleck

    Umm, not to be a pedant, but the scanned image above is titled, “AT-AT-plan-view.jpg”. Wouldn’t that be the elevation view? Ok, I’ve made my contribution to the project. Please proceed.

    • http://smragan.com Sean Michael Ragan

      Quite right! You’ve educated me. Made that image myself, BTW, using SketchUp. I downloaded the model from their 3D warehouse (by their user “Russ”), but the positioning and the perspective styling and adding the dimensions and stuff I did. So I dunno 100%, but I think the image itself is thus legally mine to give away. Which I hereby do. Anybody who wants to should feel free to use it, the only license term being that you have to describe it as an “elevation” and not a “plan.” =]

  • http://profiles.google.com/joetalbott Joe Talbott

    Halfwits and geniuses working together; that’ll be the day.

    • http://profiles.google.com/rallen71366 Russell Allen

      Sounds like most governmental agencies, to me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V32DQNET4GZYQLI6SWZUZ2KM2M TotalMonkey

    For as much money as that thing would cost (in time AND money), I think I’d prefer to see something that does a little more than provide late-night satisfaction material for a bunch of fanboys.

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t 5 5′ a little short to be a storm trooper?

  • http://twitter.com/gavinskio Gavin Crosby

    Tips hat to dagobahsystem – that comment has made my parsec (using the han solo excuse of using a unit of distance to measure time)

    • Anonymous

      Nice! It will be light-years from now before people stop mistaking distance and time measurements (see what I did there?).

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brandon-Roe/623321064 Brandon Roe

        actually he used parsec correctly, the kessel run is a run where you must go around a black hole to get to a destination, and you have to be able to go fast to get closer to the black hole without getting sucked in, so when he said he was able to do the run in under 12 parsecs he ment that he was able to go fast enough to get closer to the black hole and had to travel only 12 parsecs instead of the usual 18 that other ships were forced to travel.


        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1532820481 Andrew Brannan

          Or, you know, it’s a retconned justification for misuse of a term.

        • http://www.facebook.com/erik.a.schuessler Erik Schuessler

          You were in a 4g inverted dive with a MiG28? At what range? Um, about two meters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dreg604 Andre Gagnon

    I made an At- At costume once for the episode 3 premiere. The reaction was pretty wild. It has a built in cd player with stereo speaker. I suggest they do the same :D

    Here’s the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kji_bLjq_Xc

    I’m the working guy from the video, not the dancing one btw ;)

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6JDK7ECCK5BWXCB6CI2U4TJ6HU Dan

      Fantastic costume, well done! You shall be chief engineer.

      • http://www.facebook.com/dreg604 Andre Gagnon

        Of course! My first innovation would be ceramic legs. That should repell the infamous “Snowspeeder’s grappling hook maneuver”

  • http://twitter.com/hopelessrobotic jon bohren

    I’d just like to highlight that, ironically, the AT-AT (all-terrain armored-transport) as designed, does not have the necessary degrees of freedom to walk on anything but perfectly level terrain with no external disturbances.

    It simply does not have the actuators to right itself and remain stable ( see: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ledbx8U3GJ1qffhjfo1_500.jpg ). And that’s even dynamic stability, If you recall, the legs have a paper thin cross-section, and would not support very large bending moments (in the axis along the body), so it would probably fail statically, too ( see: http://www.the-blueprints.com/modules/gallery/originals/03342-06935.jpg ).

    When it comes down to it, you’re trying to build a very large version of BigDog ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1czBcnX1Ww ) and this is really a non-trivial task. I think the effort needed to design such a thing as a functional AT-AT would probably eclipse the cost of actually building it.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve always wondered how they turn.

    • http://profiles.google.com/rallen71366 Russell Allen

      Hmmm… AT-AT is doomed on the drawing board. Then we need to advocate a design that will work. Giant mech hexapod? No… We have enough nightmares about spiders already. A giant Asimo? With samurai armor? We could call him ‘Voltron’…?….It’s ludicrous, yes, but strangely compelling…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1815174 Nathan Dingley

    All he needs to do is come up with a solid plan and Kickstarter it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1532820481 Andrew Brannan

    “Now I have an idea, but no money and a total lack of mechanical aptitude. ”

    America is full of people like that, and that’s the problem. We somehow believe that all it takes is an idea, and someone else will do the hard work. Well, simply put, that’s bulls–t. You know how we made “giantmetal cars, Hoover Dams, and non-autoTuned Popular music”(sic)? By working our asses off. You want us to build an AT-AT? Lead from the front. Learn some skills, put together a plan, and be prepared to go it alone.

  • http://twitter.com/MahoneyRed Matthew Mahoney

    I fully support this initiative. Maximum power!

  • Anonymous

    Well, I kinda see the for America part, the desire for a focus for national effort, or hell, a focus of any sort.

    The problem is that the potential greatness is undermined by the “silly factor” of doing something totally pointless. What are you going to *do* with a fully functional AT-AT? I mean, besides charge a small fortune to every Star Wars fan who wants to drive it to their prom or wedding or former place of employment?

    Don’t get me wrong here, I’d totally show up for that, but I fail to see real greatness here. Unfortunately. Because I have to admit it’s a fairly attractive idea to burn a few thousand nerd-hours. But how about burning those hours on something that might actually be great?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joshua-Morgan/510780669 Joshua Morgan

    I have an idea, I’m gonna reply to this idea declaring why its so flawed but I don’t have the time nor can I type well.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5NVZ73HM3UHDER2GFEDIQONJ3M Garrett Mace

    I bet if this ever really happens he will claim it’s “his” regardless of how little work he personally put into it because “he thought of it first”. He’ll have to get to the back of the line, behind George Lucas and then every adolescent kid ever.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2Z7JGV5V2RACZXKZ26PTO5AEJM Kris

    I’m sorry but why should anyone build one more war maschine? And specially a war maschine of the evil galactical empire? What is wrong with you?

  • http://twitter.com/restifo Christian Restifo

    Just remember to reinforce the underside. You don’t want it taken down by some whiny punk with an ascension cable, lightsaber, and grenade.

    And knives! Knives on the legs to cut tow cables! Important stuff.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JIHRRCNXQ6DX3LKK77EZDGAWEU Tornike Kublashvili

    Möchte nur sagen, ich danke
    Ihnen für die selektive Informationen,
    die Sie verteilt haben. Nur weiter komponieren diese Art von Post.
    Ich werde Ihre patriotische Leser. Dankt immer wieder.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1652270629 Leroy Hall

    I have done some figures on the feasibility of this proposed project and I think it could work. Top speed would be a max of maybe 5 mph due to it’s size and mechanical nature, not to mention it’s inability to turn. The cost would be prohibitive to say the least, but it would be a marvel of engineering. Lots of servos, relays, electric motors and actuators would be needed, as well as a gyroscopic stability device to keep it upright. I would probably use either steel or titanium for the legs and aluminum for the rest. Or maybe some lightweight plastic body panels to reduce weight. That said, where would this thing operate? city streets likely wouldn’t support the weight of such a vehicle