Mechanics for large-scale dragon

I am in the design stage on a large Dragon (head & neck base is about 6 1/2'). The smaller movements (eyes and such) seem pretty straight forward, but the larger ones (neck) are proving to be difficult. I've done quite a bit of it on parade floats and Halloween haunts, but so far everything has been full in & out or rotational movement with no subtleties and little control.
What I'm looking for is actuators (electric and/or pneumatic) that can pause at various points in their motion. Suppliers aren't so much the issue as knowing what type of actuator I need. Noise is a concern; they have to be pretty quiet.  
Once that's done, control is the next issue - I don't want a pre-programmed show, but a "puppeteer" to work it reacting to different situations as they arise. 
What kind of experience have people had in this area?
Thanks much!


  • One option to consider if you want silent operation, finite control, and real time control with a puppeteer would be using manual operation rather than pneumatics/hydraulics/large servos/etc.

    For moving larger components (head/neck) having a counter balance as part of the assembly will help reduce the weight a puppeteer needs to control.

    Cable controls with large leavers also helps move components.  You can also use pulleys and gears to give your puppeteers a mechanical advantage when moving larger loads.


  • Thanks. I have even considered Teleflex steering cables & wheels for boats. 
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