Tin Spider Marches On Massive Mechanical Legs

Craft & Design
Tin Spider Marches On Massive Mechanical Legs

Featured at the 10th annual Maker Faire Bay Area.

While planning his first trip to Burning Man, Scott Parenteau wanted to have something really cool. He wanted to have something that people would stop and stare at as it traveled by. The “Tin Spider” pulls this off nicely as you can see, with a crowd gathering just to see it take a few strides.


His initial concept started with a geodesic dome. He wanted a way to ride in a dome, gliding smoothly over the desert surface. A bit of research brought him to the fantastic mechanical leg systems created by Theo Jansen. Three months of hard work and some experimenting resulted in the mesmerizing 8-legged system you see now.

Initial speeds were fairly slow, at roughly .2 miles an hour. Recent motor upgrades have added some pep to this giant spider’s step, bumping it closer to 2 miles an hour. You may not win any races with this creation, but you’ll get where you’re going in style!

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At any speed you might initially expect a clunking and banging from those massive legs, but the specific geometry used means that locomotion is completely fluid and nearly silent. The pilot enters the cockpit by sitting on a chair that raises or lowers out of the bottom of the beast, adding to the visual experience of the tin spider.


This year Parenteau also brought along his idea for the smallest possible dome house. This little home is so small that you have to physically rotate the entire structure 90 degrees to lay down on your bed, previously a wall. While two people could theoretically fit in the 20″×20″ floor space, it may be a bit cramped for a dinner party.

The tiny home isn’t just a capsule that can rotate. He’s gone much further than that. The interior includes some pleasant wood work, a kitchen sink, and seating. The transition to nighttime sleeping quarters involves not only turning 90° to create a bed surface, but the entire structure is capable of adjusting on 2 axes to ensure that you’re nice, level, and comfortable.

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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. find me at CalebKraft.com

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