This week's update includes a major milestone. I've created an animated, full-sized, dimensional figure!
I took our Percy from last week, linked the pieces of his arms back together, built a cake, attached that to his paws, stuck everything on rods, and slipped a motorized cam under the cake. The motion is jerky at this point but seeing as the whole mechanism is made of cardboard, we can only improve from here.
After watching this for a while, I figured out a better way to design it. You'll see two vertical bars here: one holding up the main figure and one pushing the cake. I'm going to counterbalance the cake with a weight running down the former bar, which will minimize the footprint of the support structure and also allow me to limit the force on the motor, which can only reasonably lift about 2.5 pounds in this configuration. The resulting mechanism will also be more scalable, as future animations can use a nearly-identical part. This change comes next week, along with some more finished surfaces on all these show pieces, probably! (Also on my to-do list before next week: fetching my sandbags from storage so I don't have to weigh the mechanism down with tools in grocery bags.)
In book news, my manuscript is at 6500 words, with a solid projection of 10,000 words for the first draft, as I hoped. It still feels really good to record all of this stuff, and I’ve crystallized my goal: it’s not just a series of essays on the design elements of dark rides. It’s a guide for creating dark rides independently, outside of a theme park, as a successful standalone endeavor. It’s going to be the book I wish I had when I started doing all of this stuff. Maybe it will inspire you to make one of these too 👯