My office does a Christmas float, and this year I decided I wanted to do animatronics. I was shocked at just how little you can find on the web about how to make animatronics. Where to get the motors, how to control their movements, how to create them... there was really shockingly little about such a thing on something like the internet!
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
First what didn't work. Finding The right motor was the biggest issue I had with this whole thing. I first tried it different motors that were easily accessible from around the house. Things like fans. The big problem with fans is their lack of torque. Most fans spin with little to no resistance. This means that the torque needed is very low. Even a big ceiling fan has very little torque. So I went to appliance motors. Blenders will work for small items, and vacuum cleaners weren't bad, but they were all fairly expensive and difficult to implement. even finding things at Goodwill or Salvation Army proved to be fairly expensive.
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.