Noob here....wants to know how to animate/rig a machine

I’m sorry if what I say does not make sense, but I’m fairly new in Blender, and over the last week I’ve spend my time busily modeling a neat space-station and then adding textures and lighting.

But I’ve always wondered about animating it, I can make it rotate, move locations and stuff, but I want to know how I could perhaps rig certain parts to fold or bend.

for example, I have these cylindrical parts to the station that I would like to disconnect and one point. I can do that easily by simply making one a separate object and then moving it into position through basic animation.

But lets say I want to have my solar panel array bend in half at one point. How can I do that? What would I have to do?

Can I have some good responses or tutorials that people know to help me learn? I would really love to know. Thanks!

At its basic level you can move object around and key frame to animate. Next level is to understand that animation applies to object center. So if you want to make a door and animate it to open you need to position the object center at the center of hinge line and you key frame rotation about that center.

Next level of animation has to do with animating group of objects, like your solar panel assembly. You need to bundle object to make it act like single object to do that. This can be done by Parenting or grouping. Bundled object will still animate from its over all center. Parented objects will move from parent object center. Grouped object will move from global origin to which it was grouped at.

A lot of rigging and animation features are only available in the armature/pose-system… so while the learning curve is steeper, it may be worth tackling that right away. Blendercookie.com has both basic and advanced tutorials about rigging and animation. Some of the specific techniques used for characters may not be very useful for mechanical rigging, but the basics are the same.

On the other hand… the stuff that ridix mentions is important and valuable. It depends on how friendly you find the basic animation system to be.
Judge by the ancient “amount of headache from just watching tutorials”-method.

Alright, I think I can do it but I’ll just need to find out how to change the rotation center…so it will rotate on point.

I also need to learn how to parent

Changing the rotation center has Blender’s most awkward keyboard shortcut: ctrl alt shift C. The menu options are pretty self explanatory.
To place the 3d cursor where you want the origin, use the shift-S menu or LMB-click in the ortographic views.
If you for example click in the side view, the cursor only moves on the Z and Y axis, but keeps it’s X (“depth”) position.

Also, selecting all the geometry in Edit mode and moving it relative to the center point has exactly the same effect.

When you set parent relationships, you select the parent object last. If you mix up the order, remember that you can set several children to a parent at once. The only convenient way to do that is selecting the parent last. And the magic buttons: ctrl+P. To unparent, alt+P.

You can also drag-and-drop in the Outliner (the object-list in the top right of the default layout)

Yeah I figured out how to fix my problems a while ago. Thanks though