Alcohol Running Time: 15 min Arm: Tandy Armatron
After having some success hacking
together complex r/c
many people have called my creations
robots, while others say they are not
true robots..... I really don't care what people call them, as long as
they get a kick
out of my silly hobby. But this one would be hard to define other than
Steam Powered Robotic Arm.
Armatron was my favorite toy as a kid, it was made by Tandy, and
Radio Shack in the 80's. It was made with ONE electric motor, with
and clutches throughout
the entire base and arm, controlled by 2 joysticks that
engages and disengages
gears for 6 degrees of movement (the joy stick
each move in 2 axis, plus they twist
for closing/opening of the jaw, and rotating
of the hand). This complex machine is a marvel
of engineering, the amazing
control and ease to operation made this toy amazingly fun
to play. This particular
one was found at a flea market, haggled down to half price, from two
bucks down to
one dollar.... the best deal I've ever gotten at a flea market!
Jensen donated this model 75 to me after seeing some of my creations.
sponsored me to make whatever I can come up with using their
engines - how cool
is that?!!! I'd like to give thanks to everyone at Jensen for this
supporting the arts.
( There are no electronics or batteries! ) This is a pretty simple hack job
compared to most of my creations. I simply
removed the single motor, and other gears not related to the actual
of the arm, and attached a drive shaft with a pulley. Holes were
cut on the side
of the base to allow a steam engine to power it. I first used
sprockets, but it
proved to derail too easily, due to the length of chain that it was
I ended up using a pulley and rubber band and it worked like a charm.
Sprocket and drive shaft where the motor used to be
Jensen #75 is a beast, providing super high RPM and torque to move the
arm at a fast pace. I usually have to gear down engines to move itself
but being stationary and having the robotic arm already geared for a
motor, I was able to gear the Jensen for super fast RPM - as seen on
large pulley attached to the engine.
Rubber band and pulley test
Final Jensen Armatron: I
attached the Armatron and Jensen to a wood base, and painted them
heat resistant, and plastic paint. I also routed the steam exhaust
into the chimney
under the Jensen base.
The technology in this Steam Armatron is completley mechanical:
gears, clutches, pulleys, steam power... Victorian technology
that could have
developed a couple of hundred years ago. You've seen enough Steampunk
movies, but this is a real working steampunk robot.