The Rusty Barnacle

Captain Glasnost getting angry.

The Rusty Barnacle is a computerized puppet show and theatre. The user can use controls onscreen to work the curtains, a chest of gold, and two characters. The story is a pirate tale of adventure in the Caribbean. Two particular pirates, ShagRat and Captain Glasnost are discussing tough times on the bridge in front of the lesser pirates of the boat. After tempers have flared, planks have been readied, ideas have been tabled, and helicopters have flown by, the pirates get their precious chest of gold and are saved. Or are they?


At its heart is a set of 5 servo motors controlled by a Visual Basic program, which the performer operates through its visual interface. The pirates are simply each attached to their own servo motor dangling from the ceiling which rotated them left and right.  Timers slowly lower and raise the chest of gold and the curtains. All moving parts are connected to the servos by fishing lines. The curtains are attached with 4 pieces of fishing line to a single servo so that the curtains can open and close automatically. Since each servo can only rotate 180 degrees, I used a large wheel attached to the servo to accomplish this. Two servo motors drop a large chest from the top of the stage (again the strategy of using two giant wheels was used to increase the range of motion). On top of this, fishing line and string was used to make the chest open as it reached the ground.

see the Rusty Barnacle Puppet Show video

see the Making of the Rusty Barnacle video

The Creator

Kevin Foster created this for his short assignment as part a senior-level human computer interaction class at the University of Calgary.


Created in March, 2002

Next exhibit: Simon the Sunflower