Hello Instructables readers! I'd like you to meet my buddy Beaker-bot. As you probably already know, Beaker is the Lab Assistant at Muppet Labs and hapless victim of numerous lab accidents. Well, I set out to create a Muppet calibur style Beaker out of stuff that I had lying around in my basement. The result is a example of an animatronic character that can be created out of some old materials and holiday decorations.

What is Animatronic Beaker-bot? Well, the Beaker-bot is a animatronic puppet that will "sing" to the sound that I play through him. Meaning, If I hook up an iPod or other music playing device, he will lip-sync his mouth to the music or words. He is also a fully functional puppet with Beaker style head and hand control. He also has a electric button to control his animatronic mouth, and for fans of more classical puppetry, Beaker-bot does have a classic rod to control his mouth as well.

Beaker-bot, for me is both an excellent puppet for someone like me who does not have good enough puppetry voice skills to talk on my own. I also can have him on display, and he can talk and sing without a puppeteer, which is one of the major advantages of animatronics. I plan on having him on display during holidays such as Christmas. 

I better mention right here that this is my first attempt at anything puppet or animatronic related. I am very happy with the results for my first try. I have no clue what the professionals use in their methods, and I am pretty sure that the methods I use are not the same as what is done professionally. That being said, the methods I used turned out very well for my needs.

Here is a demonstration on Beaker-bot's automatic speaking and singing abilities:

I had a demo of Beaker singing some songs here, but I decided to move it to the last page as a finale. Feel free to cruise to the last step to see Beaker singing! I also have a demonstration of using Beaker-bot for traditional puppetry. Beaker has full head rotation and can duck his head as well. 

Here are a few ideas of what to do with the Beaker-bot:
  • Dress him up for holidays and have a memorable singing decoration
  • Have a Fun prop to display
  • Play pranks and jokes
  • Learn about puppetry and gain new skills
  • Hook up to Karaoke machine for added singing fun
  • Set him up to play with your music collection

Step 1: Parts and tools: Can We Build Him? Yes We Can!

Most everything I used in Beaker-bot is from old junk and scrap I had left in my basement. The only thing that I actually intentionally purchased for Beaker was fabric for his skin and hair. Here are the  a list of parts I used.

Parts I used for Beaker-bot's Head:
3 Inch PVC drain pipe
2 Plastic Christmas ornaments
1 Plastic Easter egg
White and black paint to color eyes
Orange feather Boa
Orange felt for nose
Pink fleece for skin and hands (Peach can be used as well)

Parts I used for Animatronic Mouth:
1 Douglas Fir singing tree (This is the "brain" used in Beaker-bot)
Strapping material
Plywood for mounting motor and for mouth motor plate
Audio cables with RCA ends and 3.5 headphone jack ends
Old handle from sawplade
Nintendo NES reset switch
2 flat metal plates
Wood dowel for rod mouth movement.
2 Ice cream bucket lids

Parts Used for rest of Beaker-bot 
4 inch PVC pipe for moving collar
Plexi material for stop bar on collar
Old lab coat
Old shirt and tie

Tools Needed:
Hot glue gun and LOTS OF HOT GLUE
Saw to cut PVC
Dremel rotary tool for complex cuts
Sandpaper or sander to smooth cuts
A good clamping workbench
Printer to print face template
Heat gun
Sewing kit

<p>Wow. I REALLY want to make this but I am having a hard time following the electronic part. do you have any video of the electronic part?</p>
<p>Wow. I REALLY want to make this but the instructions for the electronics part is hard for me to follow. I want this to use in my classroom. Are there any video instructions that you have made that might help me follow more closely. Thanks so much. Great idea. </p>
<p>my email is zachary.ortiz@Baxter-Academy.org</p>
<p>what size are the cloths on beaker bot</p>
<p>I like you Idea but I can't under stand on how to wire up the audio cable RCA and the audio jack to the bored can you tell me how to hook it up by word Or a video. I also don't know what the cord looks like so can you send me the name of the cords and a picture</p>
<p>Hi.</p><p>Great idea.</p><p>What can you substitute the Douglas fir singing Christmas tree. I have looked on ebay but most are old and dated 1995.</p><p>Are there othe units that do the same job.</p><p>\</p><p>What do i need to look for in a unit \</p><p>any help would be great.</p>
wow! that is a lot of work but its something I want to make!
This is truly outstanding! I have had some experience making hats out of felt and so I thought I might add one little tip: if you wet the felt with dilute white glue (PVA) it will stretch remarkably! I have made many hats using this trick. A single piece of felt wet this way will stretch enough to creat the top of a top hat from the crown to the brim! I bet it will work great for his nose and make for many fewer seams (which you hid masterfully, I might add!). I am envisioning pulling it down around the egg/putty form and tying it at the neck (like a balloon). Once dry, you can cut away the neck and string and cover that bare spot with one more tiny circle of felt to help attach it to Beaker's face. <br/><br/>Again, amazing work!
Rather than an electronic trigger &quot;switch&quot; for manual operation, why not a potentiometer? This would allow you &quot;subtle&quot; mouth movements without the need for the stick. <br>The rest of it is quite well done though, and I enjoyed it a lot.
Thank you! You are right, a potentiometer would be ideal, the only thing is that I would need to find a trigger style potentiometer like a power drill would have, or rig a clever way to control a rotary or slide one easily with one finger. I was trying to build him from stuff I had lying around so I just ended up using a leftover Nintendo button. <br> <br>This is definitely a great improvement suggestion, thanks for posting it!
Look at cheap remote control car controllers. May are a small steering wheel with trigger throttle. You might be able to get a broken one cheap or on ebay. <br>What I would wind up doing most likely is a potentiometer with a Popsicle stick hot glued to it with a light pull up spring - but I'm cheap like that! LOL! <br>In the absence of a spring, I'd probably use an elastic band.
May = Many*
That's amazing
I'd like to see the animatronics demo without your hand, or as you say, without a puppeteer.
Hey funkytaco, you are in Luck! I just completed a better demo of Beaker in action! Feel free to check out the First video of the first page. It has a great demo of the mouth working without my hand. Thanks for the input!
That is great. My fiance loves The Muppets. I'm going to make this for my wedding.
Absolutely AWESOME AND AMAZING ANIMATRONIC!!!! :-) <br> <br>
Thanks a lot man! That means a lot coming from an artist such as yourself!
Thanks Vigo! I laughed a lot with the Rick Astley part. You made an awesome job with Beaker!
Very good detailed instructions. Great video demo too! I was laughing so hard! So cute and yet very practical! Great idea! Good luck!
Thank you for the kind words!
Poor Beeky looks lost without Dr Bunsen Honeydew. Well done!
I hear ya! Every comedy act needs a good straight man, and Bunsen is great with Beaker! Maybe he will be my next attempt. They would look great on display together.

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Bio: Vigo is an electronics enthusiast with a passion to bring back the nostalgia of the past. His goal is to share major projects that anyone ... More »
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