Picture of Arduino Animatronic Eyes
After reviewing and scouring the internet like most hackers I decided what I wanted wasn't documented well. So I set out to not only do the project for myself but to also try and get some sort of documentation.

For this project you will need:

Electronics side:
1 - Arduino board
1 - Breadboard (anysize)
2 - Servo's I used Futaba S3003

Hardware side:
1 - Set of eyes (ebay, I specifically looked for realistic acrylic doll eyes that had the cornea bump in them). 
1 - Set of RC Car half shafts
8 - EZ connectors*
4 - Servo horns (All of mine came with my servos)
Connecting rod (various sizes and thicknesses)
1 - Sheet of Plexiglass/Acryilic Sheet (I used this as my base. Only because I had it on hand.)
1 - 12" length of Aluminum Angle Bracket 

Assorted Extras:
Aluminium Shims fabricated on the spot from bar aluminum
Cotter pins
Threaded Rod (or a bolt with head cut off)
2 Part Epoxy

Hack Saw
Propane Torch

*NOTE: The EZ connector hole sizes are determined by the thickness of your connecting rod. I was lucky enough to have an RC Hobby store down the road so I purchased what was on clearance  If you buy the wrong size you could always attempt to drill a bigger hole in the EZ connector but it may be more of a pain.

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Step 1: Hardware Setup

Picture of Hardware Setup
Unfortunately these eyes were a Halloween rush so I didn't document the build well. I will do my best to explain how I did everything.

For the first step start with a well drawn out plan. Keep it simple.  Servo 1 is for the X-Axis.  Servo 2 is for the Y-Axis (see picture).

"Keep it simple servo" - Christen Gundersen 

Next you will want to start marking out on the plexiglass, or piece of wood, etc where the servos will be and where the eye brackets will be.

Everything starts with a good plan!

My first cheap test using ping pong balls.

juliaaespo2 months ago

Just curious! What were the dimensions of the plexiglass platform and the connecting rods?

On step 6, what kind of resistors do you use?


jedimasta9 months ago
Can your explain a bit about how you mounted the dummy horns to the plexiglass to allow for them to rotate freely?
LGProspects (author)  jedimasta9 months ago

jedimasta I used model glue on them on! Really no rhyme or reason just that it was in arms reach. Honestly my thinking was that it (the glue) was made for plastic and since plexiglass was a type of plastic it should work. So far it has held up very nicely, even when I have applied a ton of stress on it.

But if you glued them, how do they rotate? Is there some sort of spacer (glue the spacer to the base, insert horn into spacer)?

LGProspects (author)  jedimasta9 months ago

Ah I see what you mean. The horn is simply held in place with a screw and under the horn (between the horn and plexiglass) is plastic washers.

gotcha. so the washers are glued down, the horn is screwed into the washers and that allows the horn to rotate freely. Makes sense. Thanks for clearing it up.

You have a link to the mask and fiberglass instructors you used?

LGProspects (author)  rstackhouse9 months ago

rstackhouse I don't but I just looked up how to make a cheap/simple paper mache mold and used it to lay the fiberglass into. This worked very crudely but didn't come out very well.

64001 year ago
Good article, oh yes I plan to make a servo that moves in accordance with the lace high tone of voice, can you help me to make it?

thanks a lot and congrats !!, very good work man !!, very instructable really !!
LGProspects (author)  otro laboratorio1 year ago
LGProspects (author)  otro laboratorio1 year ago
kooth1 year ago
Awesome job!
LGProspects (author)  kooth1 year ago
J-Five1 year ago
Like in those old haunted house movies, wait did those eyes just move?????

Foxtrot701 year ago
Excellent Engineering!!! I like the music you chose for the videos. The music gives an eerie quality that makes you think the machines are about to become self-aware. Skynet might be closer than we think.
Great job - love the engineering!
have you considered using an EZB from Z robots to control the movement? Its a really great platform and all of the hard work of programing has been done already. You could easily add a camera for tracking and motion and it has a heap of other great options which would work really well with these eyes.
Here's the link:
LGProspects (author)  lonesoulsurfer1 year ago
I checked it out. Pretty neat kits they have there but it seems you could save some serious cash by fabricating them yourself! I suppose if I was just starting out I would highly consider using their kits.

I personally enjoy the fabrication and programming parts of these projects. The hardest parts have always been working on these things by myself can be tedious.

True - although at $65 for the board it's not too bad and all the tedious work is taken out.

Keep up the great work.
maewert1 year ago
Beautiful job and very creepy effect! You want the point of rotation to be as close to the center of the eye as possible or the eyes will move the mask as they look left to right.

(An alternate point of view if you are going for 'creepy' is that you want it to be close to human movements *but not too close* so that you hit the bottom of the 'uncanny valley' for maximum creepy effect.)

For more realistic eyes you'll need at least three servos, one for up/down and one for left-right for each eye so it can look cross-eyed if needed.

Would be neat to incorporate a Wii sensor so it can look at you and follow you as you move :-)

Best Wishes
LGProspects (author)  maewert1 year ago
Thanks for the tips on the eye motion. What do you mean by the 'uncanny valley'?

I plan on getting eyelids on next to mimic even more realism.

I just told j1vvy that I plan on attempting to use the Raspberry Pi and OpenCV to track faces and/or movement.
Thank you so much for posting this! I've been looking for a decent animatronic eyes tutorial for months!
j1vvy1 year ago
Very well done. Add two motion detectors, one on each side. Quickly move the side when motion detected. Slowly move around when no motion detected. If motion is detected on both then look straight ahead.

Higher tech would be adding a camera and motion tracking.

I was hoping to do just the side to side motion for last Halloween, but ran out of time. I was thinking it should be possible without an Arduino, but not sure how.
LGProspects (author)  j1vvy1 year ago

Great tip on the motion detectors idea. I have spent countless hours with no success at using Arduino + Processing and OpenCV mainly because I have zero time with Visual Basic and it appears that is a main component with the tutorials I have come across.

My plan is to experiment with the Raspberry Pi for the task of facial/motion tracking.
Great job and neatly set out. Like you, when I wanted to do this, I couldn't find anything that did what I was trying.
For what it's worth, here's how I did it...

My attempt was not as neatly constructed as yours - great Instructable
LGProspects (author)  rosemarybeetle1 year ago

I like how you implemented bicycle cable for servo movement! Your facial structure is pretty neat too. Thanks for the kudos.