Final Project Constraints and Specifications

Mechanically Programmed Horse

For my final project, I decided that I am going to create a mechanically programmed buffalo running. My thought for this idea was to create a CU keepsake for when I graduate that I could show my family and kids one day.


  • It must be able to be used easily with the twist of a crank or with a stepper motor.
  • It must match the black and gold aesthetic of CU.
  • It must be minimalistic and not stick out like a sore thumb with my aesthetic.
  • It must be a display piece, so it needs to fit easily on a shelf or a desk.
  • I want to prioritize the mechanism’s function, but if I can, I would like to create a scene for the buffalo to run in or make the buffalo look more realistic than the horse above.
  • The materials must be able to last for years as I want to keep this for a long time to show my children later.


  • Time: As break approaches and school and senior projects ramp up, I feel I will be pressed for time to design the mechanism.
  • Tools: as I develop my project, I am going to need to find a time when the laser cutter is going to be open and when the finishing room will be open so I can make sure it looks the best it can be.
  • Design skills: I am afraid I will struggle with designing the camshafts correctly so that the animation of the buffalo running looks fluid and correct.
  • Material: I’ve been going back and forth on what type of material I would like to use, as I could laser-cut black Delrin or wood sheets that I would paint later to be closer to my CU aesthetic.
  •  Weight: It must not be too heavy and easily transportable.

I believe the toughest to deal with is my design skills, as I think I could struggle with getting all of the mechanisms to work together.

Previous Post
Top 5 Specifications & Constraints: Wood Bathymetric Map
Next Post
Upcycle vs Design

4 Comments. Leave new

  • Palmer Dick-Montez
    April 3, 2023 11:20 am

    Hi Hayden, I really like your idea! I am trying to create something somewhat similar by designing and fabricating an escapement mechanism. I agree with Riley that this sounds like it will be a very complex project to undertake, but I think it is very do-able within the constraints of this project! I have seen online from other organic motion kinetic sculptures that people have taken videos and imported them into an animation software to create wireframe versions of the animals or motion. How do you plan to incorporate the minimalist aesthetic with the mechanical programming as from what I have seen, mechanically programed sculptures are often quite complex and intricate which may clash with the minimalism aesthetic. I am looking forward to seeing how your project turns out!

    • Thanks for the comment, Palmer! Your idea of an escapement mechanism is super interesting. I believe this project is doable, too, I just need to put in the hours to do it. I’ve never seen those videos of wireframe animations of animals, but I have to check them out. Thanks for the insight! I do see your thought about clashing aesthetics, and I’m still in between on the aesthetic, but for my plan to incorporate a minimalist aesthetic, I plan on using neutral colors like black and white paint or keeping the wood tone. For the mechanism, I’m going to try my best to keep it simple or at least try to hide it with the body of the buffalo. Hopefully, it turns out well!

  • Riley Dressel
    April 1, 2023 8:38 pm

    Hi Hayden!

    Your idea is excellent, and inspired. I have to say, creating one of these pieces seems extremely complex, especially with the organic motion of the legs moving. This being said, a thought that might help would be to purchase and build or just observe on of another pieces’ leg motions. The stallion you have pictured seems like it’s leg movements would mimic a buffalo’s fairly well, and you might just be able to reverse engineer it.

    • Hayden Moll
      April 4, 2023 9:18 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Riley! The complexity of the moving pieces is the main thing I am stressing about now. There are a few videos on YouTube that I have watched that show different angles of the mechanism and a pdf of the build manual for the horse. You are exactly right. My current plan (which is bound to change) is to try to use these videos and build manuals to reverse engineer and hopefully use the running mechanic similarities between the horse and the buffalo to my advantage.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.