4 Cable Pulley Controller

I'm beginning my raptor puppet project soon and I am intending to control the head from a controller in the body.  Basically the head and neck are made like a tentacle.  In the tentacle monster video, Richard Landon had a "4 cable pulley controller."  I looked online but alas I have found no plans for one.  Has anyone here made their own?



  • A while back I had to make a 4 cable control system for a head mechanism and did not have time to machine the proper pieces or source parts/materials to build the traditional style control interface like Richard Landon demonstrates in his lessons.  With a deadline quickly approaching I had to fabricate something functional from parts around the shop.  (a strong compression spring, some scrap aluminum, L brackets, a piece of wood, and some nuts & bolts)


    In this controller the 4 cables run up through the base and connect to heavy duty swivels that are in turn connected to turnbuckles.   The turnbuckles allow for fine adjustment of the resting position of the cable mech through independent tension adjustment of each cable.

    The whole assembly was then painted flat black, which is something I like to do for anything I bring to set as a courtesy to the lighting department and DP.

    This is far from an ideal control interface, but it does the trick.  It's also rather unique as, aside form the turnbuckles, there are no moving parts.  Just a single bending spring.

    If nothing else it's a good example of getting the task at hand accomplished, even without the ideal materials or time to machine components.

    Richard Landon's lesson on tentacles ( https://www.stanwinstonschool.com/tutorials/animatronic-tentacle-mechanism-basics ) covers the construction of a simple 2 cable control interface that could be expanded to control 4 cables.  (though rather than machined aluminum he does a low-budget plastic version sourced from hardware store materials) 

    I also highly recommend his lesson on Animatronics ( https://www.stanwinstonschool.com/tutorials/animatronic-character-creation-organic-mechanics-part-one )  Both lessons show the type of control interface you would want to build, and you can pretty easily reverse engineer your own from the images shown on screen.

    If I find any detailed plans on applicable examples I'll try and share them here.


  • awesome.  thanks
  • Christopher VaughanChristopher Vaughan ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thanks Chris. Awesome controller!
  • I'd put a u-joint in there to act as a hinge!
  • Hey, with Upcoming plans to buy a 3d-printer, I've recently designed my own Pulley Joystick for my Animatronic designs. If you want one of your own, the cad-files are linked here:

  • edited September 2020
    Before finding SWSCA this was my first exposure to the wizarding world of tentacles. He has an in depth how to on cable mechs very similar to your design Chris, but with the U-joint like Joseph mentioned.
  • That's a great blog post, and it looks like the mech works great as well.

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