We have installed and maintained several exhibits in the Manitoba Children’s Museum in Winnipeg in the last years.  One of our realizations is the design of two (2) big cranes for the kids to play with.  The cranes are approximately 11-foot tall steel structures that are controlled through 3 handles.  Each handle manipulates an axis: rotation around the tower mast, horizontal translation of the trolley on the crane runway and vertical translation of the hoisting block and hook.  The kids use the cranes to grab heavy duty but lightweight polystyrene blocks and build structures of their liking.

It was a very interesting electromechanical project and we were eager to tackle it.  On the electronic side of things we had to:

  • develop handle sensors that would detect the direction and speed of the three (3) handles simultaneously
  • develop motor drives to control the direction and speed of the three (3) motors
  • handle limit positions of the trolley and tower mast
  • allow for easy upgrades of parts for maintenance if needed

Boite de controleControl panel located in the base of the crane

The mechanical challenges were multiples:

  • design vandal resistant winches and tower masts (this would eventually mean creating a 3D printed slip clutch from scratch)
  • create vandal resistant handles
  • move objects with a proper and safe amount of force
  • make maintenance easy to perform


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