Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What does A Toy Robot Spy Spider Have In Common With A Skyscraper?

  Sitting here at my computer today and planning my next big project I came across an old TV show online that I watched as a kid.  The show was named "Johnny Quest".  This was an action adventure animated TV show in the late 1960's for those of you to young to remember.  In one of the episodes there was a robot spider that a villain had built to spy on Johnny Quest's scientist/inventor father.  I remember the episode well and liked the robot spider so much that I decided to make one on my Makerbot 3D printer. This is what I came up with.

I think this little project turned out very well in only a few hours of design and making parts.  The little model only has one metal part in it.  This is a 1/4 inch bolt that holds the body of the spider to the leg mounts in the middle.  It is pretty well hidden in this photo and that is the way I wanted it to turn out.  The model stands 4.5 inches tall and 8.5 inches diagonally from foot to foot.  The body of the spider is 2.25 inches in diameter. 
  What does this have to do with a skyscraper?  It all turned out to be built exactly like an old time skyscraper in the way it was constructed.  In skyscrapers girders are put together with steel rivets that are flattened out to join pieces together.  I originally was going to make all of the joints in the spider metal and had the pins all cut only to find that they were more than a little difficult to install without breaking the legs in the process. A brainstorm occurred and I thought why not rivet the legs together.  

I used some of the plastic filament that the Makerbot 3D printer uses to make the parts as material for the rivets.  I inserted the plastic easily through the mounting holes of the parts and took a hot soldering iron and melted the tip of each end of the inserted filament to flatten it out to make the completed rivet. This worked out perfectly as the joints are still movable and the flattened ends hold the rivet in place.  This also gives the spider a good look and is cheap to make or repair if needed. 
  This little spy spider will make a nice little knick-knack for my computer desk to remind me of years gone by when I dreamed of adventure, inventions, and tech stuff yet to be created. Now being in the 21st century a lot of the things I dreamed about are sitting in my workshop or being created by designers like me in our spare time. Thank you Johnny Quest! I'll remember the inspiration that you've given me every time I see my spy spider on my computer desk.


  1. HI Dave this is cool!!, a little bigger, some stepper motor and arduino inside the body..and you'll make it come alive!!

  2. That's excellent. Can you recommend a specific temperature for the soldering iron? I'd love to try this.

    I think they may call this "heat staking" in the plastic stuffs manufacturing industry.

    Nice work!