Hero shots



The RUPEV timeline

Sometime at the beginning of march

Way before machine week even started there were a few small discussions about what we could do, many of them ending in the singing of the imperial march.
We planned some group calls to share thoughts and get the creative juices flowing.

Some of the early idea contenders:
silly walk
The balloon bot idea didn't gain any height, maybe the prospect of losing some of the fab inventory or the potential to reach the jet stream and cause another political rift over the atlantic. Either way, it was dead in the water.
We all agreed the Marionette or puppet animal could be quite a fun project, but were still unsure of the why, how and what that would be.
For some unknown reason, that **DUM**, **DUM**, **DUM**, still rang out loud, like a mystic force trapping us to the idea of the imperial sorter.
As the weeks continued to pass at the typical fabacademy rate, we started to lose hope in finding something we all thought was a nice project to work on.
The machine sorting idea just sounded too industrial. We all agreed it had to be creative, fun and interactive, but with time ticking we were scarily starting to slide toward a pancake printing machine.

One Week To Go

One week out, we were still undecided, so we met up at Waag for a final discussion to try and nail down an idea. Vera liked the idea of working with dancing birds, we all thought the mechanical moving parts of a puppet sounded fun and we were ruling out the industrial sorting system, although still humming **DUM**, **DUM**, **DUM**...

I had watched quiet an interesting TED talk about conspiracy theories and from that I found a website **pigeon aren't real** that even had the blueprint of what a surveillance pigeon looks like.

The concept took flight, we could create a surveillance pigeon, nestle amongst the local pigeon population at Waag and send a live feed as we try to intergrate.
I have to admit that the day before Mechanical design, during regional reviews we did a round robbin of all the ideas. Having one minute to explain that we were going to build a documentary pigeon, ended in me questioning the idea, was it too late to go back?

Mechanical Design week

My doubts were surely quashed the next morning when I met a team of pigeon build enthusiasts at Waag, the idea seemed to tantalize their imagination with a lot of scope of what we could do.
With a newly energized team we got started, firstly on the name.



DAY 1 28/03

Day one was started with planning, research and then buiding. Having students in different locations with their own labs gave us more availability to work on the weekend and over the holiday period. So we created the following schedule.
date Location availability
Thursday march 28 Amsterdam WAAG All
Friday march 29 Amsterdam WAAG, 10.00h All
Saturday march 30 Enschede/Oldenzaal Edwin, 10.00h All but Joe
Sunday march 31 Enschede/Oldenzaal Edwin, 10.00h All
Monday april 1 (easter) None
Tuesday april 2 (individually if possible)
Wednesday april 3 Enschede Saxion, 10.00h not Vera
Thursday april 4 Enschede Saxion, 10.00h not Edwin
Friday april 5 ?
Saturday april 6 t.b.d. based on progress not Leo, not Vera
Sunday april 7 t.b.d. based on progress not Leo
Mondag april 8 finalization, shooting footage, Amsterdam WAAG All
Tuesday april 9 Leo @ home: Video editing
All @ own place: Finalize documentation
Wednesday april 10 D-Day

From there we assigned tasks and got to work on the design, firstly sketching ideas and using card to make 2 dimensional representations of RUPEV.
You can find the ideation, MoSCoW analysis (must-have, should-have, could-have, and won't-have) and functional breakdown here.

At lunch we took to the square with excitement in our chests and bread in our pockets.
From this research we could start thinking, walking and sounding like a pigeon.
Back to the lab and Leo and myself were figuring out the mechanics of the head and legs, while Vera and Edwin proceeded with building a car to carry a pigeon. For the pigeon, Edwin took a quick break and nipped to decathalon, where two reluctant shop asistants cautiously handed over their last luring pigeon.
Little did they know what would happen next...

Amazingly in just the afternoon we had a car built with the pigeon extended and a camera mount positioned to capture the action.
After testing Edwins drive code and a couple of pigeon slaps later, we were able to take to the streets to see if we could interact with the locals.

ultimaker printfarm
ultimaker printfarm

Day 2 aka D-day (disection day)

The stage was set for what would be the first ever pigeon disection at Waag (not sure if thats actually true, but lets roll with it).
What I am sure of, is that with this footage, Edwin will not be allowed to enter Decathlon Kinkerstraat ever again!

pigeon disection

Day 3

Location - Enschede (Somewhere near the German border)
Edwin kindly offered us his home Lab for the weekend, equiped with everything you could find in a fablab plus 2 fury friends to keep us company.
Considering how the pigeon would move was the main focus, with omni wheels we could turn on the spot and not push, skid or drag.
We would also need bigger motors and remote control with code to match which Edwin took charge of.
For the mechanics, we would obvoiusly like to walk like a pigeon with a head bob ration to suit, something myself and Leo work together on.
Vera kindly volunteered for most of the work, creating the suspention springs along with the electronics design.

spring for the suspension

mecanum wheel rotation radius

Day 6

Location - Enschede - Saxion Fablab

Leo kindly invited the group to the amazing facilities at Saxion university Fablab, were we continued with the mechanics, electronics and manufacturing parts.

Here we printed a lot of parts of the omniwheels.
ultimaker printfarm
After the two days Enschede the next time we would see each other would be to put the pieces of RUPEV together at Waag.

pigeon in bag

Day 11 - Finalization


To the last day of working together on RUPEV, all we had to do was put all the parts together:

A tall order by any stretch, but we knuckled down an work hard until the end, killing some darlings along the way.
No head bob, some issues with fixing the body back in place without catching the feet mechanism (those 50m wood screws weren't part of the design i here you ask?) and some slipping on the drive shafts.

We did, however, get live feed from the head cam, had a beautiful working car that could turn on a penny and the coolest motherfucking pigeon mohawk I have ever seen!

To conclude...
We all came into this with great scepticism, but after some intense research you start to realize that animal mechanics are quite hard to replicate.
Trying to blend in was quite hard too, the local pigeons seemd very suspicious when RUPEV honed in.
I think they're real...


video credits:
Intro music (CC BY 4.0): Cinema Blockbuster Trailer 1 by Sascha Ende (https://filmmusic.io/)
Main music: suno.ai "uptempo breakbeat song, robotic, futuristic, big climax. Use 'Real urban pigeon eye view' as lyrics." (2024-04-07)
Pigeon sketch: pigeonsarentreal.co.uk