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El Pulpo Mechanico – Machine Research Project

El Pulpo Mechanico

Last week I at­tended Burn­ing Man Fes­ti­val in Black Rock Desert in Nevada. There I’ve seen a lot of well made art mech­a­nism. When I got the as­sign­ment for this class to find a ma­chine that I like and think it is cool, I didn’t have any doubt what I will write about.

I want to share El Pulpo Me­chan­ico ma­chine with all of you. I love it! I was star­ing at this mech­a­nism many times last week, and it looks cool and well made at day time and at night time as well.

El Pulpo Mecanico is a 25-foot-tall piece of art built in Hum­boldt County, Cal­i­for­nia, cre­ated by artist Duane Flatmo.

Flatmo got the in­spi­ra­tion for El Pulpo Mecanico while vis­it­ing Mex­ico. Dur­ing his trav­els, he saw a small metal oc­to­pus or­na­ment.

“I brought it home and I de­cided I wanted to build a 25 foot one,” said Flatmo

El Pulpo Mecanico has been to four Burn­ing Man fes­ti­vals, as well as Las Vegas, San Fran­cisco and a cou­ple other tours.

The art piece is not com­put­er­ized at all. It is com­pletely me­chan­i­cal and is con­trolled by Flatmo him­self.
“The “El Pulpo” is a com­bi­na­tion of art and tech­nol­ogy melded to­gether. We built this know­ing that it would be fun to watch as the giant cam spun up through the cen­ter mov­ing the ten­ta­cles and eyes in and out while fire spewed from the ten­ta­cles and head. No hy­draulics or com­put­ers were used in this con­trap­tion. We built the sculp­ture pri­mar­ily out of re­cy­cled and used junk found at our local scrap yard.”- men­tioned on the of­fi­cial web­site of El Pulpo Me­chan­ico. (http://​www.​elp​ulpo​meca​nico.​com/​project.​html)

Pro­to­type model:

el pulpo mecanico

The mech­a­nism of this ma­chine you can see on fol­low­ing videos:

on this video we see wheel and axle mech­a­nism maks ten­ta­cles move

El Pulpo Me­chan­ico is rep­re­sen­ta­tion of sim­ple ma­chines, such as levers, pul­leys, wheels and axles, and gears. Cre­ators made this ma­chine sim­ple to op­er­ate and beau­ti­ful for gapers.


Picture Prototype

frame project

I’ve de­cided to make a pro­to­type of a mov­ing pic­ture on a wall.
While I was draw­ing the idea on paper, I was try­ing to de­cide how I’m going to build this pro­ject. When I had an an­swer in my head, I started look­ing for sources in in­ter­net that could match my idea. My thought was to build a “slid­ing door” with two pic­tures on it using pneu­mat­ics. So, I started look­ing on­line how peo­ple build slid­ing door, and found a blog that helped me to build my pro­to­type.


I chose pneu­mat­ics to move my pic­ture, I think this is more of­fi­ciant way to build the­atre re­lated prod­ucts and also I wanted to test my­self. Work­ing on pneu­mat­ics on paper (and not only pneu­mat­ics, al­most every­thing) doesn’t give you enough un­der­stand­ing. TEST­ING is a main key!

When I had an an­swer how to build mov­ing pic­ture I started look­ing for ac­ces­si­ble ma­te­ri­als: mount­ing brack­ets, tracks, cylin­ders, etc. Most of the ma­te­ri­als I found at Mc­MAs­ter.com.

I started a process from build­ing the mov­ing part in my pro­ject, test­ing it (had some mis­un­der­stand­ing which way cylin­der goes, while it’s ac­ti­vated ), and then cre­at­ing a frame for it.

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I think my over­all process went smooth, I had good sources at the be­gin­ning. For my first pneu­matic ex­pe­ri­ence I’m happy with the re­sult, my model is ac­cu­rate enough – it works!

In real life things de­pended on a com­ple­tion of over­all pro­duc­tion with tones of pro­jects like this one, and things can change by a spe­cific task, like weight, po­si­tion, noise, speed, size, etc. And I’m sure my pro­ject will be dif­fer­ent in a way in a real pro­duc­tion.