Posts with «animatronic» label

Look at me with your Special Animatronic Eyes

Animatronics for movies is often about making something that works and is reliable in the short term. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to last forever. [Corporate Sellout]  shows us the minimalist approach to building animatronics with this pair of special eyes.  These eyes move in both the pan and tilt. Usually, that means a gimbal style mount. Not in this case. The mechanical assembly consists of with popsicle sticks, ping-pong balls, film canisters and dental floss.

The frame for the eyes is made of simple popsicle sticks hot glued together. The eyes themselves are simple ping-pong balls. Arduino powered servos control the movement. The servos are connected to dental floss in a cable arrangement known as a pull-pull system. As each servo moves, one side of the arm pulls on a cable, while the other provides enough slack for the ping-pong ball to move.

Mounting the ping-pong balls is the genius part of this build. They simply sit in the open end of a couple of film canisters. the tension from the dental floss holds everything together. We’re sure it was a finicky setup to build, but once working, it’s reliable. Only a glue joint failure or stretch in the dental floss could cause issues.

There are plenty of approaches to Animatronic eyes. Check out the eyes in this Stargate Horus helmet, which just won our Sci-Fi contest. More recently we saw Gawkerbot, which uses a CD-ROM drive to provide motion for a creepy robot’s eyes.


Filed under: classic hacks, robots hacks

Raspberry Pi and Alexa Make Teddy Ruxpin Smarter than the Average Bear

Behold the unholy union of Amazon’s Alexa and that feature-limited animatronic bear from the 80s, Teddy Ruxpin. Alexa Ruxpin?

As if stuffing Alexa inside a talking fish weren’t bad enough, now Amazon’s virtual assistant can talk to you through the creepy retro plush thanks to [Tinkernut]’s trip down memory lane. Having located a Teddy Ruxpin on eBay for far less than the original $70 that priced it out from under his childhood Christmas tree, [Tinkernut] quickly learned that major surgery would be necessary to revive the Ruxpin. The first video below shows the original servos being gutted and modern micro servos grafted in, allowing control of the mouth, eyes, and nose via an Arduino.

With the bear once again in control of its faculties, [Tinkernut] embarked on giving it something to talk about. A Raspberry Pi running AlexaPi joined the bear’s recently vacated thorax with the audio output split between the bear’s speaker and the analog input on the Arduino. The result is a reasonable animation, although we’d say a little tweaking of the Arduino script might help the syncing. And those eyes and that nose really need to get into the game as well. But not a bad start at all.

This isn’t the first time that Teddy Ruxpin has gone under the knife in the name of hacks, and it likely won’t be the last. And the way toy manufacturers are going, they might just beat us hackers to the punch.


Filed under: toy hacks

The making-of an animatronic baby alien

Eva Taylor works at EKT Workshop and built an animatronic rod puppet Alien as a masterwork research project for the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney Australia. It was inspired by the “bambi burster” built for the film Alien 3, although her creature is somewhat different.

The animatronics are controlled via a Playstation 3 controller, using a servoshock module between the controller and an Arduino Uno board:

It contains and 8 way 2 stage tail mechanism and animatronic lips, jaw and tongue. The remaining parts are rod controlled. A myriad of techniques were deployed in its construction – the torso and limbs were hand-carved from Queensland Maple while the joints were custom made from recycled parts of RC cars and planes. The skeleton of the tail was custom made from acrylic and cut on a laser cutter. The head contains an underskull of fibreglass, dental acrylic teeth and silicone skin. The muscle groups are also made of deadened, encapsulated silicone.

She shared with us the video above showing the main phases of the making-of process, while the one below gives you an idea of how  the puppet looks like in a more dramatic piece:

Arduino Blog 29 Oct 23:47