For the past six years, Jaimie Mantzel has been working on a massive robot spider in his laboratory, on a mountainside in Vermont. Next week he takes the arachnid out for its first creepy crawl.
Up until 2007, Jaimie Mantzel was making relatively small radio-controlled robots, but he wanted to scale up his design to a size big enough to ride. As you can see in his very first video, he starts completely from scratch. Before he can build his robot, he first has to get power to his land, so he buys a generator. Then, he goes out and buys the necessary welding equipment. After aquiring the tools, he realizes his home isn't going to suffice as a shop, so -- what the heck -- he decides to build one of those, too. Of course to build his shop, he needs lumber, so he builds a small mill.
In case you haven't figured it out already, this isn't your traditional engineering project. Mantzel is not only setting out to make this wonderfully interesting mechanical beast, along the way he's also making the tools he needs. In fact, he's chronicling his entire life on camera in between glimpses of the giant robot. Watch him as he builds his shop, brings some adorable-looking children into the world, launches a toy line, has successes and failures, and somehow stays optimistic and energetic. Yes, he builds that giant robot, too.
And, of course, there isn't any typical documentation -- no detailed parts lists or anything like that -- for the project. Each video is a glimpse into Jaimie's process. He usually has a problem, and you get to watch him fix it. You may cringe at some of his methods and results. There are sharp edges everywhere, pinch points are the norm, and his test procedures usually involve close visual inspection while at the same time applying power.
Mantzel's passion and energy can't simply be contained in one project. Aside from building this massive robot and all the things that go with it, he recently created a very cool toy. Already in retail stores, it's the Attacknid. It is based on the same mechanical design as the massive bot he's building, with the addition of interchangeable weaponry for robot dueling.
Jaimie wanted to take things a step further with a do-it-yourself kit that would be customizable. To do this, he turned to Kickstarter to raise funds. Labeled "The Greatest Toy KIT in the Universe!," it comes with the robot and every item needed to built it, even a soldering iron (crazy workshop in the woods sold separately).
In his latest video, Jaimie announced a date (August 6) that his giant robot will take its first real steps. We're eagerly waiting to see how it turns out. It has been a long and interesting journey, and those first steps of the robot will undoubtedly lead to many more years of creative inventions from Jaimie Mantzel.
@kfield: ...this is the first I've seen an engineer working with a toddler in his lap!! Totally cute.
I loved my dad, but he didn;t have an engineering bone in his body. When I saw thsi video with the kid helping build the robot I was thinking "that woudl be totally awesome as a kid to have a dad like that"
I can't wait to see this thing walk, either. But can you imagine if you happened to be out walking in the woods and didn't have any idea about this project and suddenly you saw a giant robot spider walking toward you? Freaky.
@Caleb: My first thought when I saw the picture "Like this, but bigger" was "Shades of the Incredibles" -- I'm sort of tempted to his smaller spider robot ... but then I think "what would I actually do with it?"
Yeah, I can't wait to see this thing walk. He actually tried to take a step some time last year and a beam snapped. There's no telling if this thing will stand up to the pressures exerted by its own movement.
Of course I do have a brother -- my little bro' Andrew -- and I wouldn't trad ehim for the world -- but this guy is like the brother I don't have -- I can't wait to see the final giant robot -- please keep us posted Caleb