Tiny Dancer

I have long owned a tiny little toy of a man dancing whose basic movements was driven from a winding motor and key, and I was suddenly inspired by the idea of trying to reproduce it in a Meccano form.

The main aim I guess was trying to create a figure moving his arms and legs as if he were dancing.

Having completed 2023 with a little indirect nod to Elton John with my Rocket Man robot model, starting the new year with another similar connection seemed like a natural progression and in this way my ‘Tiny Dancer’ model was born.

I started with the main part of the body and the legs, having tried a few different ideas before I felt I was heading in the right direction, and eventually I achieved the satisfaction of having its legs pivoting at the knees and feet for free movement.

The head followed immediately after, and in keeping with the recent theme I decided to add the same type of hat once worn by Elton John as I had given to my Rocket Man, but adding its hair by using narrow strips bolted freely to its head so they can swing with its dancing motion.

Once I had constructed its neck, I set about also achieving pivoting arms to the body that would move freely, though I hadn’t decided at that stage whether I would motorise those later.

As with all freelance constructions, where you are working from your imagination as opposed to following a manual, there are always a series of alterations needed and then some minor adjustments more before you have everything working as smoothly as you might hope for, and all that was left was to attach the right type of motor to bring my Tiny Dancer to life as I had maybe imagined it.

This proved a little trickier than I had thought it would, but eventually a small and slow motor proved the perfect fit for it and this I bolted to the inside of main body using two sprocket gears on an axle which I bolted to a pulley (19b) placed at the front of the model. This pulley turns round moving strips attached to main legs to create the desired dancing movement and I was delighted to see it work well.

I then decided against adding a second motor for its arms and head and opted to allow the arms to swing freely simply as a result of the action of the powered legs.

The finishing touch was in connecting the feet which were designed with large weights to keep the Tiny Dancer model stable enough through its dancing routine.

Of course after the big hulk that is my Rocket Man model, it is a much tinier dancing toy that inspired its successor and yet another Elton John song that helped give it its name, but a third song of his came to mind after I had tentatively given the model its first dancing test, and much to my pleasure and relief; I could almost imagine him triumphantly singing “I’m still standing” in my head!

Tiny Dancer — dancing to a tune all of his own but still very much music to my ears!

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