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How To Automate a Diorama


In this tutorial I use an old remote control car to make the drawbridge on my castle diorama go up and down. It's a neat little project and it didn't cost me anything. I have a few of these little cars that I haven't used. It's nice to put them to some use. The castle you see in this project is a diorama I am working on. It is eight feet in size and it has lights and a working waterfall. And now it has a working drawbridge! See more of this castle here


The Drawbridge and control panel

This picture shows the diorama and the arrow points out the drawbridge that goes up and down. In the foreground is the control panel that has a variety fo switches and controls for the diorama. The drawbridge switch is a three position switch so I can use it to go up and down with the drawbridge.


Remote Control Car

A remote control car has everything you need to do an automation project on your diorama. A little motor, the controller, the switch and the battery holder. All you have to do is add the batteries and do some minor modifications and you have a nice little automated project.


The motor assembly

I stripped out a lot of the car parts and mounted them to a board. Then I built a cardboard box around it.

The drive wheel is the small one on the right. But this goes pretty fast so I used a hub from the car and put it on the front axle. Then I ran a rubber band from the drive wheel to the front wheel. This slows it down to a nice slow speed.

Now all I need to do is run a string from the large wheel to the drawbridge and I am ready to give it a try.

The point I should make here is that you have a nice little motorized system that goes back and forth and you can improvise all kinds of ways to use it for all kinds of projects.


mounted control box

The control box is mounted under the diorama and a string runs from the wheel to the drawbridge. On the right is the control wires that I ran to the control panel on the diorama.


Here is a video that shows the whole process in depth. It also shows the drawbridge in action. Automation is a great way to make a diorama something really special and chances are you have one of these little remote control cars just laying around in a box somewhere. If you don't you can probably get one real cheap at a yard sale or flea market. You might even ask friends and family.

Note: Make sure you fully test the car to make sure it works before you start modifying it!

Watch The Video




Storm The Castle Diorama Part 7: Water Effects, Make the Moat

The next installment of the massive castle siege diorama is done. In this part we add the moat around the castle. Storm The Castle Diorama Part 7



The French Cafe Diorama

Here is a hand made diorama of a street scene in Paris and a neat thing about this diorama is that the street lights actually light up. Check it out here: The French Cafe Diorama