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James Bruton builds a real Zelda Stabilizer Zonai Device

Arduino TeamAugust 17th, 2023

The central gimmick of the new Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom game is the construction system, which is a lot of fun. You can fuse simple objects to build structures, but you can also add Zonai Devices to increase their functionality. One of those devices is the Stabilizer, which forces any attached vehicle or structure to stand upright. It seems like magic, but James Bruton set out to create a Stabilizer in real life.

There are many robots and vehicles available today that are capable of balancing themselves, with the Segway being the most famous example. These all rely on mass and inertia to stay upright, but most do that through either moving the base (like a Segway) or with a reaction wheel. Bruton went a slightly different direction for this project and chose to use gyros. When spinning, a gyro resists any motion that pushes it off its axis. By using two gyros, Bruton figured that he could keep the stabilizer upright.

Bruton built those gyros with automotive disc brakes for the mass wheels. Those rotate in frames constructed using aluminum extrusion and 3D-printed parts. An Arduino Mega 2560 controls the motors, including the brushless DC motors that spin the gyros and the geared DC motors that rotate the gyros to counteract tipping.

This doesn’t work quite as well as it does in the game — there are limits to what anyone can achieve with physics. But it is still cool to see in action!