I had a dream of developing an animated Christmas Holiday Season display, potentially as a fund raiser for the arts. My original idea was to use puppets as characters, but reading and investigating made me curious as to whether I could build an animatronic penguin.

This instructable concentrates on the torso, which has four degrees of freedom, allowing the figure to move about in many directions. As a goal, I wanted a penguin that could "dance".

For more information, go to www.djsfantasi.com 18+

Step 1: Parts and Tools

The body skeleton was made of model aircraft plywood, with homemade servo brackets of 1/2" square strip wood. I used the following items in the construction of the torso
  • 4 sheets of 12x24 3mm plywood
  • ? 24" lengths of 1/2" square poplar stripwood (I bought out the craft store's supply!)
  • 4 HITEC HS422 servos
  • 1 6" Servo extension cable
  • 2 10" Servo extension cables
  • 6" Ball 2/56 threaded rod
  • 4 pair Ball Link sets
  • 4 Aluminum servo horns
  • 8 3/4" RC aircraft Hinges
  • Scrap aluminum angle
  • Miscellaneous small screws, nuts and bolts.

The tools I used were:
  • Saber Saw
  • Flat head and Phillips screwdrivers
  • Cutoff Saw
  • Drill press
  • Portable drill
  • Gorilla glue
  • ACC glue (super glue)
  • small Spray bottle of water
  • Clothes pins
Awesome robot Penguin. I would like to have one to amuse my kids.
Nice! is it autonomous or remote controlled? also, how are you planing on doing to skin?
Right now it is tethered to my laptop. I have developed software that will run 'scripts' for actions which include the capability of randomly generating moves so that the script is non-deterministic. In fact, the video is running that software, and his motions are pseudo-randomly generated. <br> <br>He does 'talk' as well, with a circuit that synchronizes the mouth movements to audio input. <br> <br>It can be controlled via an Internet connection as well, giving some remote control xapabilities. In fact, a friend and I are developing an iPhone application that will serve as a remote control device. <br> <br>I have been in discussions with a Boston area puppeteer, who is planning on making the skin for me. This is supposed to be a cortoonish character. The skin will be foam-based with a cloth covering. <br>
I could supply the software, but I am not able to support it. <br> <br>It requires first a knowledge of the FreeBASIC (FB) programming language. It will only work on a Windows system, in its current incarnation. Also in order to compile it, the FB network library for Windows needs to be customized... <br> <br>Secondly, the actual program implements a new programming language in interpretive mode. This language is pre-processed into an intermediate token format. I call this language A-Code. So using the program would also entail learning A-code as well. There currently no documentation for A-Code, although I have not ruled out creating such in the future. <br> <br>So my answer is that I am not supplying the software at this time, since it is not in a form such that it could be used by anyone. <br> <br>My apologies, <br>dj
That is insanely creative and awesome!
<p>Wow. So impressed. Wondering if you ever sell these?</p>
<p>Your projects mostly on animatronics, really brainstorming. I have built a cyborg head, where mouth moves based on stored phrases. These phrases are called by Arduino mini , randomly from an APR9600 chip...Should look as if the cyborg is saying whatever comes to his head..the challenge was the 4 servos, 2 for neck and one for eye horizonal and one for eyelid...I never managed to get the code to move them in a random way that replicates human movement..I mean each one moves randomly idependent from the others..Have you worked on such an idea, maybe you can thanfully throw some tips ?</p>
My A-Code has commands for Random Move and Random Pause. They could easily be implemented in an Arduino sketch. Basically, what I do is pick randomly from a series of moves that also includes random pauses between moves. I had to experiment with the pauses to make it look semi-realistic. <br><br>Look at my code for those commands, as well as Play Move, to get an idea.
You are awesome!
One word: Awesome!
We need more people like you in the world.
Totally agree!
This is really innovative. Nice work have you done.
Thanks. There are more videos on my channel showing more development Check out the comments for more info.
You are Einstein!
This is AWESOME. How did you come by the idea?
This is really awesome robot.
Uhh,how many servos do thee need for the whole penguin including eyes,eye lids,flippers,etc...BTW,do thou think it is a good idea for thee to change it into RC?
Total, there are 11 servos. Four in the torso; two for the flippers; one for the neck rotating ; two for the eyes and one for the eyelid (instructions in a separate Instructable) ; one for the mouth. As far as controlling via RC, it is entirely possible and people have asked me that. One warning is that the torso has several ways of moving, that may be difficult to control via RC alone. On a smaller scale, the eyes are independent and will take at least 3 channels and some coordination to move. Have you thought of dedicated servo controller circuits to a tethered cable?
Amazing !
Thank you
Amazing piece of art!
Uh,can you please give me an idea on how to make it smaller in size? By the way,how many servos do you need? Please reply because i have a science fair on thursday
This Thursday! Like yesterday now? It took me close to six months to build. It could be made smaller and there are smaller servos that could be used.
do i need any microcontrollers to build this? Or just servos?
You will need something to control the servos. If you are not familiar with hobby servos, they are a little more complicated than motors and require electronics to control. I used a commercial controller that my laptop talks to in order to control the Penguin.
All I can say is AWESOME!
Any update on your progress? I would love to see if you finally got it skinned and how that turned out.
Awesome invention.
This is truly a masterpiece!
Awesome work. Great instructable! Trying to make it right now :)....
Good luck. I updated one step this week, so don't miss it.
Amazing work have you done. Creative and stunning.
Thank you
Cool use of daily tools to build amazing robot...er.. Peter.
What part of the penguin's body is the piece of plywood screwed onto his front supposed to be?
I am not sure which piece you are referring to. <br> <br>Do you mean the plywood tab I am using to mount the electronics? But that is contained within his body...
..or are you looking at the side-view picture above? That is one of his arms - the curved shape...
great now we can make it babble like a baby and pontificate on how it will one day take over the world. who needs the discovery channel?
awesome project! <br>Didn't see anything about how you did the head portion - eyes mouth
The eyes are covered in this Instructable: <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Eyes/ ">http://www.instructables.com/id/Eyes/ </a><br> <br> I am <u>thinking </u>about creating an instructable for the head, covering the mouth movements as well as the neck where his head turns from side to side. but with encouragement from people like you, perhaps I will have to do it!&nbsp;<br> <br> The arms are straightforward to me; I may edit the torso Instructable to include them.<br>
I did find the part about the eyes, creative idea. They look as though they came from a store in the pictures. This is way beyond what I could attempt but the eyes are more in my area...I think ;)
Thanks everyone for your kind and inspiring comments.<br> <br> I am working on an update, to stiffen up some of the movements. Motion on the lower plate 'wobbles' some. The outer skin will dampen the effect, but the lowest two plates are subject to the most stress and I am designing a retro-fit brace to the riser plates... More to come!
That is great!
Awesome! This is the best robot that i wil tri to buid!!! thanks to share it with us.

About This Instructable


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Bio: I am an IT professional. When I am not working, I love to putter around - whether it be a household project or animatronics. The interest ... More »
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