There’s this great scene in Toy Story 1 where a giant claw machine picks up Buzz lightyear.

There’s also this great scene in real-life where a real-life giant claw machine annoys people in my dorm’s lounge.

Meet skycrane, a 10ft by 10ft 3-axis cartesian motion platform made out of $10 of parts. I built this in a weekend as a project for HackMIT (a hackathon). The idea was to have a giant room-sized claw machine that could be controlled by strangers on the internet. A small camera streams footage of the crane to Twitch; commands inputted into Twitch are parsed by a script and move the crane.

The rails of the system are just off-the-shelf EMT conduit; the linear slides are made out of repurposed chinese fidget spinner bearings. A Core-XY style capstan drive gets the whole thing moving in a robust and cheap fashion.

The electronics are duct-taped to a piece of cardboard. Why am I showing you this?

In a confusing twist, this project ended up winning a sponsored prize put out by QVC. My friends and I got to visit the QVC headquarters and pitch our crane idea to a team of executives. Much like the Toy Story scene, it was a pretty alien experience.