So I am going to see if I can't inform on what worked, what didn't work, and where to find some of the hard to find items I needed to use.
First a little background. I made 3 figures: Dumbo, Pinocchio, and Ariel. All of them moved in some way, and were all controlled by Arduino.
Dumbo: Dumbo's ears moved up and down, His nose moved, and his tail wiggled.
Pinocchio: His nose grew, and his arms shrugged
Ariel: She turned on the spot light on her, started singing, turned on a light for her voice box, and then that light floated away (in theory).
I will also apologize... I know I did not take enough pictures along the way. So I will try and explain everything well along the way, and was able to take some pics when we are taking them apart, or even tried my hand at drawing some pics.
I also made this in two sessions... one before the parade and one after. They were about 2 weeks apart, so I am sure I am going to sound like I am jumping around at times... it is because I am.
In the end we took second place in the parade. Normally I would be OK with second, but first was a guy who has used this same Mater several years now, and while it was impressive... it was much more impressive the first time he did it.
Let me also say this process, like this instructable, is very long, and a lot of work. There is wood work, electronics, art, and it all moves. Hey, there are 4 different types of electricity (110v AC, 12v DC, 9v DC, and 5v DC!!) Please be careful with this, especially the 110v AC. I also looked at doing some dancing lights (another instrinstructable of mine), but I didn't have time to get it all working right, especially with some of the safety modifications I really need to make on it. Safety really is king when working with as many amps as you can muster from a wall socket, or generator!
Step 1: What Didn't Work
I never could get Arial's voice light to move. Boo.
Everything was kinda slow in general. This would have been better if we were driving slower, but we were near the front, and our driver wanted to keep up with Speedy Gondolas in front.
Step 2: Dumbo
1) the ears move up and down
2) the truck moves
3) the end of the tail moves
The head and the body were cubes made of 2x4's. They were bolted together at the neck.
Ear Movement: to make the ears on a screwed couple of lag bolts And large washers into the side of a 2x4 to act as pivot points. In the side of the head cube I had to vertical 2x4's which I carved a pivot point into. You can see this pivot point on the picture with a ruler. These were carved using a drill to make the basic outline and then a Dremel tool to finish it off. I then got a linear actuator for about $40 off eBay. I mounted it in the bottom of the head in it moving up and down moves the ears. I have some good pictures about it, so on to the trunk.
Trunk movement: The trunk is a motor with a large wheel, about 5". I attached some nylon line to it, and as the wheel turns it will spool up the line. I then mounted a couple of of eye bolts to direct the string down the trunk. For the trunk I made some angles cuts into some 2x2's, and connected them with cabinet hinges. On the bottom side I stapled some line to prevent the first joint from moving beyond a certain point. I put in some small eye bolts along the 2x2's and attached the line to the end of the trunk. I used a dryer duct to make the trunk. I tied the line to the end of the duct. So when the motor pulls the line it will pull the dryer hose until it comes to the end of the 2x2, then it will lift the first joint, after it maxes out it will move the next joint. (in the end the motor was not able to lift more than the first joint.
Tail Movement: The tail was nothing more than a couple of door lock actuators from a car. They are cheap, and easy to work with. Just mount them with string coming out the back of the tail. A big puff of yarn makes the end of the tail. When the door lock "unlocks" gravity drops the tail 1/2 inch or so, and when it "locks" it jerks it up very quickly. Easy peasy, and looks great.
Step 3: Pinocchio
The head is a 2x4 cube with the nose mounted in the middle. The body is a gang of 2x4's mounted to a sturdy base.
The nose is simply a very large linear actuator. It is actually the motor that pushes out a section in a motorhome. So all I needed for the nose is mount the actuator, and stick on a dowel rod for the end of the nose.
That arms are my favorite part of this whole thing. It started with a motor that moves a car seat. I tied a nylon line to it. The line then goes up to a eyebolt and down toward the edge of the head. From there it goes down to the hinged clavicle, the non-moving shoulder, and down to the hinged (at an angle) elbow. So when the string is pulled it will bend the elbow, and then shrug the shoulders. When the motor moves the other way it unwinds the line, and lowers the shrug and elbow. Gloves stapled on are in the same position when you are leaning back on your arms, and shrugging like "I don't know why my nose is growing so long". So that is very helpful. This is a very simplistic mechanism to form a very complex appearing motion.
One issue we had was that the liner actuator spun. This is not a problem if you are pushing something... the distal end stays fixed. I fixed this by making a pin attached to the nose actuator. As it spun down the 2x4 channel the pin would prevent it from spinning. What I didn't do was make a solid channel that the pin would just spin in. So as the nose would go in and out Jiminy Cricket would go from upright to 90 degrees to the side, then back again. Having a channel for the pin to go down would have fixed this, as would a low CG weighted Jiminy Cricket, but the channel would be easier.... I think.
Step 4: Arial
To make Ariel we used a method covered in much more detail other places in the internet for making homemade sewing forms. Basically you find a sucker, I mean volunteer, and put an old long sleeved shirt not them (in our case it was an old scrub jacket someone had... but this sure made the cuffs hard to cut off). You then cover them with 3 foot strips of duct tape. The places that talked about this used 5-6 layers of duct tape. For what we were doing 3-4 were enough. After you get them all duct taped up you just cut it off of them, duct tape up the seam, and stuff it with polyester stuffing (like what is in a stuffed doll). Vola! You have a perfect shape of your model. It really worked better than I thought it would. Do be careful what you have under the shirt you are cutting. You don't want to have something nice or loose... you will end up cutting the clothing. Going bare works well, but you have to be careful cutting it completely off (or at least if you are cutting it off your female in the living room with much of the rest of the office and their family). Do the same for the bottom half, only wrap the legs together as one body... this is a mermaid.
Get a 3' piece of 3/4" PVC with a 45 at one end. Fit this 45 into the opening in her neck. Get a 2x2 and firmly attach it to the PVC pipe. Most of the pull from this system will be on the PVC, so its attachment to the 2x2 is the important part, not the duct tape body. Just as long the the body is attached, and will not slide down, it is fine.
And now for something completely different.... When I went to attach the PVC to the body I went over to one of the girls house in my office (Teresa) where we were doing much of this. I had the code to the garage door. After getting started I realized I forgot my knife in my truck. So I opened the garage door, walked out and got the hunting knife I keep in the door of my truck, and walked back into the garage. As I was walking in I took the knife out of its sheath, stabbed it into the neck of the figure laying on the ground at the front of the garage, proceeded to pull a bunch of stuffing out from the abdomen area, and then when to shut the garage door because it was kinda cold. Shortly there after the girls who's house I was at got home, and her neighbor called and wanted to know what was going on. He fairly well insisted that he come over to see what all we were doing. I am pretty sure he wanted to come over to make sure the guy with the knife wasn't having a Teresa BBQ!
Now back to Ariel. We Made a box out of 2x4's (4'x4'x3' tall) and attached her to it with the 2x2. We then covered her with paper mache, Kilz, and painted her. The tail we made out of cardboard, and covered the tail with some fancy ribbon... it made it much easer and looked great.
I had a long aluminum pole (I think it was a portable flag pole or something). I attached to the the other end from Ariel with a pulley at the end. Two more pulleys at the bottom of the pole and ariel made up my circuit for the rope.
I got a "screw close chain links" to tie the ends of the rope to. I first tried to just wrap it round the motor spindle, but the groves in the motor made it climb the spindle, and bunch at the top. I then tried cutting the rope at the motor and did the picture you see. The top half went one way, the bottom went the other. As the top spun up, the bottom let out. It backlashed and just didn't work.
SPECULATION: I THINK that if I would have covered the entire spindle with tape, covering up the spiral groves, it would have worked fine in the original configuration. I also think that if I would have covered up that bottom grove in the spindle it would have not backlashed. I think it was the gap at the bottom of the spindle groves that it got hung up in, but I am not sure.
For the light I used a cheap plasma ball from American Science & Surplus. It normally used 12v DC from a wall wart, but as I already had 12v DC I just hooked it up to the 12v DC lines I had. (as a side note I used normal [polarized] home wall plugs for my 12v DC lines.... I know this was a risk, so I was VERY careful labeling and marking everything!!! It made it much easer to find connectors. I never had any problems with this set-up during the parade. As another side note if you do forget about this and plug the plasma ball into a wall outlet a few days after the parade it will not only give you a light show like none other, and fill your kitchen with smoke... it will also cause you wife to be very unhappy with you!!! Not that I would have ever made such a bone headed move!!!).
I simply cut the positive (hot) wire and passed the two ends into a relay. Plug it in, really on, and globe comes on. Really off, the light goes off.
I also did the same thing with the spot light. I Wanted to be able to turn the spot light off when the light was coming back down. So I again cut the hot wire on a regular extension cord, and passed it through a relay.
So we had a Wave Shield playing Ariel's song, the spot light going on and off, the plasma ball turning on and off, and the motor [not] moving the plasma ball up and down (boo).
Step 5: Where to Get This Stuff
American Science & Surplus http://www.sciplus.com --- Man, I am still not sure what this place is, what it is about, and who they sell to... but I love it!!! I had no idea where to source the motors I needed... until I found this page! It is amazing. Most of the motors came from them.
Radio Shack. OK, I will admit. They do not always have the highest quality, biggest selection, or most knowledgeable staff. What they do have is the ability to lay my hands on something in 20 min from now. I am a firm believer in shopping local. So please get down to Radio Shack and make sure the college kid who works there knows that all of these drawers of weird little bit are more than just annoying to inventory!!
AdaFruit. Great high quality everything. Great forums, and all the info you need.
Home Depot. Yeah, they got to know me about as well as Radio Shack did!
Spark fun. Cheaper than AdaFruit, and still some good stuff.
Amazon. I hate how they are becoming the only place to buy some things... but they are. They have some good relays.
eBay be careful about buying Arduino stuff here. It is almost all from China, and I mean from China. I ordered some 6 weeks before the parade, and when I finalized everything it said 6-8 weeks for shipping! That dog won't hunt!
http://www.voltage-converter-transformers.com They have some great power conver
Step 6: Electronics
One of the first things I learned was that these motors operate (spin, extend, retract) one way when you hook up the electrical lines one way, and the other way if you switch the wires the other way. I know I know you people who have been doing this for years I am quite sure are laughing at me, but hey, this was my first time to do this kind of thing! So, to simplify when you hook up the white to the positive, and the black to the negative the motor spins one way. And then when you hook the black to the positive, and the white to the negative the motor will spin the other way. This is a very important thing to know!!!
Relays are nothing but switches you flip with an electric signal. Basically pass a few milliamps to throw the switch, and that switch will handle many amps. Amps are referenced by how many poles and throws there are. Think of it this way... The poles are how many different incoming lines you have, and throws how many outgoing lines. This is very over simplified, and not totally right on, but you will get you started. These are often best described by the poles and throws, and often just referred to how many pins they have. There are also volts, and amps and... lets dive into a little about relays.
There are two parts of a relay: the coil and the switch. Really, go find one and take it apart. (some are in a clear plastic case if you don't feel destructive).
1) The Coil: this is nothing but an electromagnet. You pass energy through it and it magnetizes.
2) The switch: this is really nothing more than a switch. If you took the cover off you could physically flip it yourself (please don't do that).
The poles and throws refer to the type of switch, so lets look at that first. I used two different kind of relays. First are the automotive SPDT (5 pin). I used these because I was worried about the amps used by the motors. In hind site I think the only one that may have had an issue is MAYBE dumbos ears. But I started with them, and so I didn't want to totally redo everything after I got things working.
Another thing you will see on a really is the type of voltage. There are 3 things you really need to look for on this.
1) AC/DC: No, not the band, the electricity. This is the type of electricity you need to energize the coil. So if you have a DC relay (like all of the ones I used) you need to place DC current across the coil.
2) Volts: This deal with the coil as well. In our relays we used all DC relays, but the Arduino ones were 5v, and the automotive ones were 12v.
3) Amps: this deal with the switch, it is how many amps the switch can handle. (There is also an associated maximum voltage the switch can handle. I really don't mention the volts because it is usually several hundred volts. I am not working anywhere near that voltage.). The amps I can. One of the motors I am working with is rated up to 15-20 amps... this is way beyond the switch capacity of the little Arduino relays. (then again the only way I will ever pull that many amps on this setup is if someone other than Jiminy Cricket decides to ride on Pinocchio's nose!)
So, to summerise, when looking on a relay:
AC/DC: this is what the coil needs (basically the switch is just a switch, and can handle either)
Volts: the first number you find will be what the coil needs. Then you will also find a much larger number that is the volts the switch can handle (usually smaller font, but larger numerically).
Amps: there are two numbers: a small one that is how many amps (often milliamps) the coil needs, and then the number of amps the switch can handle.
Yea yea I know, all you EE types are jumping up and down about arc welding, cotantacts, chattering, freewheeling, diodes, and delay circuits... well sorry, I pick noses for a living. Just let us all know if I am recomending something stupid (like using speaker wire). :P thanks
Sainsmart Arduino relays. These are great, and make things very easy. When I first got them I thought they were SPST, but when I got them they were SPDP... if I do these ever again I can pretty well forgo the second relays and it will be a much simpler setup. Basically I controlled the Sainsmart relays with the Arduino, and the automotive relays with the sainsmart relays. Kinda silly I know, but it works.
WaveShield. This worked great. I had never built a something the required me to solder a board, so I was quite proud of it.
Arduino. This was one of the most fun little items I have found in quite a while. Get one, try it out... it is a lot of fun.
Step 7: Arduino
What is Arduino? It is a way to program a breadboard. You have a breadboard, you can use it to set pins going on and off down to the millisecond. This is such a powerful thing. It uses a C compiler to change the status of the various pins, and can also listen to input pins. It is a way to very easily wrote a program that in made to interact with the "real world".
Treat the Arduino just like you would any breadbox. Place a jumper from which ever pin you want, and then to whatever you want (in this case the relay coil pin). You also will need to power the really. The Arduino has a power and ground pin for this as well.
The programing of the Arduino is very simple. Look up "Arduino Blink". It is the Arduino version of
"Hello World". Remember, it is just C, this helped me a lot with the programing (to spite that I have not see a line of C in over 12 years!!!) I guess it is like falling off a bike, the ground is still below you like it was when you were 8!
I have had so much fun with Arduino I am searching for what my next project will be... it is just that much fun (if you are a nerd like me that is).
Step 8: Relays
Relays are also
flip one line on and off. This was a very simple switch used on the lights, both the spot light and voice light on Ariel. It works exactly like the light switch in your house. The hot goes all the way to the light, and the neutral has a single relay on it.
flip a switch to another relay - Kinda like in the above I used some relays just to turn on and off another relay. The Arduino relays are 5v, but the automotive are 12v. So if you are going to use automotive relays you have to do something like this. Speaking of, let me tell you a little about relays... actually I will put this in the previous section... so you already know about how relay voltages work.
flip two lines on and off. This is kinda like the first one. But for put a relay on both pos and neg... I started with one like this, but took it off. It is redundant.
Two SPDT to control both directions OK, in retrospect this circuit is just stupid. Especially when I figured
out how to do the next circuit... but once again it is working, and as it only has to survive one parade I will let it be. But it did cost me a couple of door lock actuators before I figured out the Sainsmart relays high on! Luckily they are less than $5 a peace, and located and a fairly accessible area... if you don't mind sitting on a bucket with your head and arms up Dumbos belly for an hour! Basically I tied the positive to one relay, and the negative to another. To turn on the circuit I just turned on both relays. No problem right? Well I then needed to make the circuit go in reverse... so I got two more relays, and wired them backwards. Yep, when I turned the circuit on it just shorted everything. I am just glad I kept enough smoke in the wires!
change the poles. This is the way to do this switch. If I had to do it again I would do it all like this. It kinda take a bit to wrap your head around what it is doing, but trust me... this is the way to do it. Really you just need to look at my drawing and copy it. Basically you are only going to be turning the "go in" pin on, or the "go out"... never both (there is no way to make a motor go in and out at the same time). So the common pole is where the flow comes out of the relay (I know, this is not what the electrons do... but it works for me. I normally think of the flow of energy going to the common pole, and out one of the other two. But in this circuit power goes to the NO and NC poles, and flows out of the common. Really an ingenious way of doing it. (I didn't come up with it, but go on and think I did).
Step 9: Wood Frames
First BE SAFE!!!! It is power tools, don't take off any appendages. You will need all of them for the coding part.
Basically I just eyeballed how big I wanted the head of Dumbo to be. I then cut 12 2x4's that size. It was 16" I think. I made two squares joined by drywall screws (about the cheapest screws you can get). You then connect the two squares with the other 4 2x4's. So you now have a 16" cube. Do the same thing, only larger, for Dumbo's body. Pinocchio's head is the same.
The attachment points for Dumbos ears took quite a while. I drew the placement for the pivot bolts, and drilled them out. I then used a dremel to clean it up. I put the bolt and washers into the slot, and secured it with a couple of strips of metal strapping.
A couple of 2x4's were used to lift Dumbo off the ground. This was all done by eyeball. We sat Dumbo on a stand we had, and lifted it head up slightly. This helped make it look like he was flying up, but really it was important to balance the whole thing. With all 4 motors, and the ears, in the head he was quite front heavy. Rocking him back allowed us to move his center of gravity back about 6-8 inches. From in his neck, to just behind his front legs. This made a huge difference in his stability.
Pinocchio's head was attached to two 2x4's (for strength, and stability). This was the body. I then created a "I" shaped base, and screwed the two 2x4's to that. The long linear actuator was mounted on a frame of 2x4's, and was attached to the head at about where the nose should start. I then attached the arms to the body, and rigged up the lines to the motor.
Ariel was made with the duct tape we discussed earlier. The box she sat on was made by 4' 2x4 sections kinda like the other cubes. We did shorten one leg to 3', as the box was just too big. Ariel was attached to this box.
Step 10: Chicken Wire
There really isn't all that much more to say. Oh, I know one thing that was a revelation... the wooden form does not need to be in the middle of the chicken wire. For example, a leg. Just take a length of chicken wire that is the right diameter... wrap it into a cylinder, and staple this to one edge of the wood. So now the wood is along one edge of the leg, but who care! This isn't a living being. The wood is just there to give the outline. Some of you may be laughing right now (likely not the same who were laughing at my crazy relay circuits, but laughing the same. But hey, this was new to me, and quite the revelation!
Step 11: Paper Mache
5 gallon bucket from Home Depot
Dump a bunch of flour
dump a bunch of salt
pour in some hot water to make a very thick paste
pour in boiling water to thin it out.
The 5 gallon bucket... it just made it easier to make a buch.... and we needed a bunch!
How much flour? I don't know... 3-4 inches deep? 10 lb? Something like that... maybe. We bought a 25lb bag at Sam's and used well under half of it. Maybe I will make cookies or a cake with the rest.
Salt... yeah this was a new one for me too. It is very important for a long project like this. The salt helps keep mold from forming. This worked very well as after a few weeks of quite warm November weather it just smelled like good sour dough starter. How much? A couple of cups.
We started with just hot water, just to get things mixed in. We then used boiling water to help cook the flour, and really get the gluten activated and going.
Then go down to the local newspaper and see if you can have a big stack of their old papers. Another new thing was not dipping and totally saturating the newspaper. We put the paper on the frame almost dry and dipped our hands in the paper mache batter and smeared it over the paper. Not even totally covering all of it. We did a balloon for Flounder and put the first layer on basically totally dry on the side against the balloon. This was so the whole thing didn't collapse if... when the balloon popped. (We later covered it with duct tape, so it was kinda redundant.) But this less than totally saturated paper resulted in a very good paper mache that dried in plenty of time to do the next layer the next day. Oh, try and avoid the colored paper, it is harder to cover.
If you want you can smooth out the paper. It dried to a layer that you can even sand to smooth out. We didn't. We actually thought that Dumbo was too smooth for a pachyderm!
Step 12: Paint and Covering
Then came the layers of colored paint. The face was painted by one of the girls in my office. She said she had no skills... but I would disagree!
The Clothes on Pinocchio were not that fancy. Much of them were just stapled together, as in a paper stapler. It isn't like we were worried about how much he would be moving around, or sticking him with a staple!
And whatever you do.... don't forget Ariels wig! As for Pinocchio's hair... we bought a large skein of black yarn, tied them in bundles, and hot glued them to his head. We also used the same bundle of black yarn for the end of Dumbos tail.
This hair was important on the back of Pinocchio's head... the back of the motor was kinda far back... but hey, the nose was able to stick WAY out!
Step 13: Powering It All Up.
I then used standard electrical plugs to connect everything up. Just make sure you don't mix up the AC and DC cords!!! I wrote DC on all of the DC plugs about 15 places. If there were a DC connection that was as easy, cheap, and polar I would greatly prefer it. (suggestions accepted).
There are several powers that are needed for this whole float. AC110V, DC5V, DC9V, DC12V. These all came from a generator. Luckily I have a friend with a VERY nice Yamaha generator. It is amazingly quiet!
110v AC. This is strait from the generator. It will run all of the lights. This will include the spot lights, christmas lights, and also the sound system.
12v AC This powers all of the motors, and comes from the one power converter. It also powers the automotive relays.
9v DC. This is the input power to the Arduino. While it takes a range of voltages, the wall warts I have are 9 volts.
5v DC this the the usual power of the Arduino and the SainSmart relays. It comes from the Arudino.
Step 14: Sound
First it is all done with a AdaFruit Wave Shield... so it all comes from Arduino, and other things can be synced to within 1000th of a second! This is overkill, but very useful.
I have two songs, each run about 30 seconds. One is joy to the world, the other is Ariel losing her voice. Joy to the World is synched with the lights on the float. (I have an entire instructable about how I did this. That one just had the code for doing this lights, this one had the code for both Joy to the World, and Ariel.
This is all passed out to a sound system.
Step 15: Code
I have 6 files here. One for the code for Dumbo, one for Pinocchio, and two for Ariel. One of the Ariel files is with the Joy to the World, and one without it. (that way if you want to go over to my other project and see what I did you can use both, or if you don't you can use just the one. You will notice that the movement lines for Ariels voice are disabled on the Ariel.ino file. This is what I did for the actual Parade. You can very easily turn this back on by just two carriage returns (after the long comment lines)
I also have 2 sound files. One for Ariel singing, and the other for Joy to the World.
OK, Thanks everyone. I sure hope this has helped. I know I sure had fun making it.