Animaris Pengi

One of the things about the Otona no Kagaku kits is that if you don’t want to keep them anymore, you can always cannibalize them for parts. I never got around to adjusting the Edison recorder so that it would cut the wax cylinders properly, and the sound horn was slowly eroding because of excessive sunlight and humidity build-up in the apartment. Finally, I figured that I’d free up the storage space and pulled the motor and battery leads out before discarding it. The Twister entomopter, on the other hand, was still hanging from a hook along the wall, also unused. I’d put the micro-motor and capacitor on it, and the additional weight prevented it from flying as advertised. So, I took the motor back off and put the rubber band holder and crank arm back on.

Then I took a long look at the Animaris Imperio. The mook for the Imperio kit suggested putting a micro-motor on it, and it just so happens that the motor from the Twister is the right size. Even better, the gear used on the Imperio fan blade also fits perfectly on the micro-motor spindle. It’s just a tiny fraction too small – the motor body rubs against the Imperio gear shaft, even with some spacer material used as part of the mounting (pieces of cardboard cut out of the kit box) but not so much as to affect anything. I tried using tie wraps to hold the motor in place, but they kept slipping off the frame body, which is why I switched to electrical tape. I started out using the battery pack from the Twister, but at 3V, the micro-motor spun so fast as to make the Imperio jump up and down in place. I had an extra mouse pad on hand, and I cut sections out and taped them to the bottom of the Imperio’s feet for traction. It didn’t help, so I tried using a single 1.5 volt AA battery, and the resulting drop in speed was enough to let the kit walk forward much better, although still a bit fast. When everything was confirmed to work right, I wired in the power switch from the Edison recorder, and a single cell battery holder I bought from my local supply house. The tape, mouse pad and battery holder came from outside sources – everything else came from Gakken kits.

Finally, when I was showing off the modded kit to some students, one suggested giving it a housing of some kind. This led to the idea of making it look like an actual penguin. Since I had a lot of leftover construction paper from other projects, I decided to tackle that next. The result isn’t anywhere near as cute as what I imagined, but it does fit properly, anyway.

One thing that I discovered as I was making the mods is that the Imperio requires a couple ounces of weight at the nose end to assist it in the forward motion as it shifts weight during each step. If you don’t have the fan attached, you need something else to take its place. A single cell battery pack works just fine, but a double cell pack is way too much weight – the kit will overbalance and topple nose first. But, as you add weight, it slows the kit down, so that needs to be a consideration, too. An alternative would be to glue toothpicks flat along the back of the feet to make it lean forward a bit, like heels on a shoe.

Youtube video direct link.

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