Animatronic Iron Man Mk III suit

FeaturedContest Winner

Iron Man costumes have been extremely popular lately and the number one question I am most often asked is "How can I add animatronics to my suit?" My friend Greg wanted to add animatronics to his MkIII fiberglass suit so he asked for my help and for this suit we went all out.

We wanted to add as many functions as seen in the movies as possible, which wasn't easy given that most of those sequences were not done using practical effects. The other issue was how should all of the functions be actuated? After considering several options we used RFID tags in the gloves to trigger the shoulder rocket pods, hip pods, forearm missile, back flaps and helmet. The helmet has wireless control via XBee radios. The boots light up and make sound while walking by using an infrared distance sensor in the boot to trigger the effect.

Here's a video that shows all of the suit functions-

This is certainly not an easy project but if you know your way around an Arduino and can wield a soldering iron this instructable will show you how to do it.

Be sure to click on any picture to get a larger version.

Update: I've also created an animatronics forum where people can go to get help with their costume and prop projects. I get so many messages for specific project help from people that I decided to create a dedicated forum where everyone can get help and share ideas!

Let's get started!

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
1-40 of 114Next »
Eddie cruz7 hours ago
Hi there
How much would it cost me to get you to constuct a suit for me please ?
Eddie Cruz from the UK
Honus (author)  Eddie cruz5 hours ago
Sorry but I don't sell them!

do you think that the designs from will be able to work just like your suit , like if I make the pieces from this other instructable, could I take the electronics from your instructable to make one just like yours?

Honus (author)  BuckmasterAR17 days ago
I think most of it would work but honestly it's hard to say just by looking at the photos. I think the hip pods would be tough to do since there's not a lot of support material around them from what I can see. The real trick is making the suit and helmet rigid enough so you need to reinforce the inside of the suit and helmet with woven fiberglass cloth.

Thank you, i'll try it. I'm doing this for a school project

kitisg19 days ago

Hi Honus,

I wanted to share the code with you for the 3v arduino. This code allows the user to swipe their rfid once to get their helmet to open, then swipe it again to close it. Credit goes to Wildbill from Arduino's forum for the help :):

#include "Servo.h" // include the servo library

Servo faceplateServo;

Servo chinServo;

int ledPin1 = 4; // control pin for LED eyes

int servoPin1 = 2; // control pin for face plate servo

int servoPin2 = 3; // control pin for chin

bool FacePlateOpen=false;

void setup()


faceplateServo.attach(servoPin1); // attaches the servo on pin 2 to the servo object

chinServo.attach(servoPin2); // attaches the servo on pin 3 to the servo object

faceplateServo.write(30); // rotate face plate servo to 30 degrees

chinServo.write(95); // rotate chin servo to 95 degrees

pinMode(ledPin1, OUTPUT); // sets the LED pin as output

digitalWrite(ledPin1, HIGH); // turn on LED eyes



void loop()


// look for a capital A over the serial port and turn off LED

if (Serial.available() > 0)


if( == 'A')

{ // reads tag over XBee

digitalWrite(ledPin1, LOW); // turn off LED eyes

delay(500); // wait half a second




chinServo.write(20); // rotate the chin servo to 20 degrees

faceplateServo.write(95); // rotate the face plate servo to 95 degrees




chinServo.write(95); // rotate the chin servo to 95 degrees

faceplateServo.write(30); // rotate the face plate servo to 30 degrees


digitalWrite(ledPin1, HIGH); // turn on LED eyes




Honus (author)  kitisg17 days ago

Awesome! Be sure to post a video of your helmet working!

kitisg28 days ago

Hi Honus,

I have a question regarding the face servos. I've created the left side and helmet set up. When I place my rfid chip to the reader, I see a red light turn on on my helmet xbee yet none of my helmet servos seem to move. Would you have any ideas why that might be? Thanks!

Honus (author)  kitisg28 days ago
Have you tried operating the servos outside of the helmet? Do the servos make any noise or chattering sound?
kitisg Honus28 days ago

I have the servo programmer, and the servos work with that. When I connect them to the pins they do make a little noise. It's almost like they are constantly making tiny adjustments. When I stick my rfid to the reader, it's hard to tell if the movement is tiny, or if it's just noise.

Honus (author)  kitisg27 days ago

It sounds like the servos don't share a common ground with your Arduino. Is the RFID reader working- can you see the reader working if you connect the Arduino to a computer and open the serial monitor?

kitisg Honus27 days ago

When I turn on the serial port I see the first 7 numbers of my RFID tag ID pop up when I put my RFID near the reader. The ground to my servo is connected to the ground of the battery. My Arduino is also connected to that same ground slot on my breadboard. The batteries are 6 AAA connected in a circuit.

Honus (author)  kitisg26 days ago

That's strange. When viewing the serial monitor you should see the letter 'A' every time you swipe the RFID tag- that's what is in the code. The serial output is sent over the XBee radios and the letter 'A' is received on the helmet side and then the helmet code is run.

kitisg Honus24 days ago

I reconnected all my wires and I manage to make the servo move when I place my tag by the reader. The only issue it has now is that it repeats the open close cycle about 3 times lol. Any suggestions for that? Thanks again for all the help Honus!

Honus (author)  kitisg24 days ago

Are you keeping the tag near the reader or only swiping it once? If you're only swiping it once then check through your code again as it would appear it is repeating the loop. Sometimes when you copy and paste code strange things happen and it doesn't get copied exactly line for line.

kitisg Honus22 days ago

Hi Honus I found out the problem. I left the tag on the reader for a couple seconds, which sent the code over multiple times. If I do a quick swipe it goes through the cycle only once. Out of curiosity is it possible to have the same tag open it and keep it open, and another swipe to close it?

Honus (author)  kitisg22 days ago

Cool- glad you figured it out! I believe you could do that as it essentially would work the same as the push button example where you push it once to open it and then push again to close it. Unfortunately I haven't done anything like that with RFID tags.

kitisg Honus27 days ago

I turned on the serial monitor from the Arduino again and this popped up. I don't see my ID tag like last time, just commas every time I put my tag by it. The red led turns on still though on the xbee connected to the other arduino.

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 12.29.26 PM.png

how much would all of this cost to make, and what would be the cost for you to make it for me and shipping? just a thought I would really like to have one.

Honus (author)  BuckmasterAR24 days ago

I honestly don't know the exact cost to make this suit. My friend brought me his suit to add the animatronics. Unfortunately I don't see myself making another one as I already have too many other projects waiting in the wings.

Ok this is super cool :D. I really wish I was able to make something like this. Let me just say this You are a GENUS and I bow before you lol

nerd971 month ago



kitisg1 month ago

Hi Honus, I wanted to say what an awesome build this is! I'm currently trying to use the left side schematic on my IDE and I keep getting the error "NewSoftSerial" does not name a type. Do you know why this may be?

Honus (author)  kitisg1 month ago
Which Arduino version are you using? I think I was still on version 0022 when I wrote this.
kitisg Honus1 month ago

I'm currently using 1.0.6 on a mac. Should I try and download the earlier version?

Honus (author)  kitisg1 month ago

I would definitely try that and let me know how it works out. I think I used 0022 for all of the code I wrote except for the boots (which were done using 1.0.5) since I did those much later than the rest of the suit. The suit was built over a two year span so it's tough to remember everything- LOL!

kitisg Honus1 month ago

I think I got it working. Thanks for your help Honus! Really appreciate it. I'm trying to implement your system on a suit I made last year. I'm in the process of making a new helmet, and I'd like to make this one wireless. Here's my MkVII:

Honus (author)  kitisg1 month ago

That's awesome! Also be sure to check out the animatronics forum I set up here-

I'm frequently on the board there and I'm always happy to help or answer any questions.

kitisg Honus1 month ago

Great! I will definitely check that out. I'm still new to using arduinos (I used a pololu chip on my last one), so I'm learning as I go along lol.

sense05201 month ago

Honus would you be interested in selling the suit?

Honus (author)  sense05201 month ago
Sorry but the suit belongs to my friend and I don't think he has any intentions of selling it.

That suit is sexy. I'd wear it in a heartbeat.

Thx again I'll check back with anymore ?s
Thx again I'll check back with anymore ?s
Did you use an Apple or Microsoft computer to program
Honus (author)  MARK FORTY TWO4 months ago
Both! Arduino is cross platform compatible with Mac, PC and Linux so you can use whichever you want.
Thanks so much I love electronics and I'm just getting started on arduino so thanks so much
Hi @Honus I was wondering if you could possibly add all the links for each one so they are separate and upgrade the links to the most currently available ones. For example
Shoulder rockets.....
Forearm missle.....
Back flaps.......
Thank you so much and this instructable is amazing I will definitely be building thx again this is amazing
Honus (author)  MARK FORTY TWO4 months ago
I believe all of the links are current. The RFID breakout board hasn't yet been replaced with a new part. For parts that show part numbers but no link the part was discontinued by the seller where I obtained it so you'll need to do a google search to find a current vendor that stocks it.

When I originally wrote this I thought about breaking it up so the individual parts were listed in each build section but it was even more confusing as so many similar parts are used across the build and then duplicate parts would show up in both the build sections as well as the electronic sections. What I did instead was list what the individual parts were used for in the materials list but I can see how it would be confusing. I'll go back and do some edits in each section as soon as I have a chance that list exactly which servo goes where, etc.
1-40 of 114Next »