In 1981, Dr. John Jameson created a unique walking toy which made use of a metal flywheel and pivoting legs. That combination created forward motion, and the design won him a Mattel toy competition. Mattel went on to patent the design, but then decided to shelve the idea and it never debuted in the U.S. market. The original Walking Gyro relied on a classic spinning flywheel design to create the centrifugal forces necessary to drive it forward one step at a time.
Jameson now specializes in mechanical engineering such as dynamics, simulation and control and mechanism design. He has also served as an expert witness for robotics, control systems, and mechanical engineering trials, and his work on neural networks, machine learning and robotics has led him to license voice control musical instrument technology to Yamaha (the EZ Trumpet), Sharper Image (Saxxy) and many other companies as well.
With the original patent for his first flywheel toy now expired, Jameson’s friend Jeffrey Kerr decided to update the design and make it 3D printing ready as a tribute to his pal’s ingenuity.
It’s now a fully open-sourced, 3D printed toy design that can be downloaded in a variety of iterations from Thingiverse.
“I’m a long time maker who’s been making things long before we were called makers,” Kerr says. “I’m on my sixth, self-designed 3D printer. I think I might have a problem.”
Kerr calls the original design a “fiendishly clever walking toy” which mechanically couples a spinning gyroscope, gearing and a pair of feet that stomp up and down.
At the heart of Kerr’s re-imagining of the toy is a flywheel which provides the necessary centrifugal energy. But it doesn’t come cheap. Well, yes it does, $1.04 to be exact. Rather than use a metal flywheel, Kerr designed a novel 3D printed frame which holds exactly 104 pennies, and it’s the significant amount of energy stored in this flywheel which drives the GyroMan on his way.
While Kerr’s 3D printable may be a touch different than the original, it does serve as a very accurate homage. You can read the whole history of Jameson’s original version here…
You can find Kerr’s assembly instructions and a BOM on Instructables or download them from Thingiverse. Let us know if you will be printing out a version of GyroMan to amuse your friends and family? Discuss in the GyroMan forum thread on 3DPB.com.