Introduction: Arduino “Book Monster”

Picture of Arduino “Book Monster”

Recently we saw a neat project by the people from Evil Mad Scientist – their “Peek-O-Book“, a neat take on a book with a shy monster inside, based on hardware from their Snap-O-Lantern kit. Not wanting to fork out for the postage to Australia we decided to make our own version, of which you can follow along.

This is a fun project that doesn’t require too much effort and has a lot of scope for customisation. There’s no right or wrong when making your own (or this one!) so just have fun with it.

Step 1: Construction

Picture of Construction

First, you’ll need a book of some sort, something large enough to hide the electronics yet not too large to look “suspicious” – then cut the guts out to make enough space for the electronics. Then again it’s subjective, so get whatever works for you. Coincidentally we found some “dummy books” (not books for dummies) that were perfect for the job, shown in the photo above.

After spraying the inside with matt black paint, the inside is better suited for the “eyes in the dark” effect required for the project. The “book” had a magnet and matching metal disk on the flap to aid with keep the cover shut, however this was removed as it will not allow for smooth opening with the servo.

Step 2: Electronics

Picture of Electronics

The electronics are quite simple if you have some Arduino or other development board experience. Not sure about Arduino? You can use any microcontroller that can control a servo and some LEDs. We’re using a Freetronics LeoStick as it’s really small yet offers a full Arduino Leonardo-compatible experience, and a matching Protostick to run the wires and power from.

By fitting all the external wiring to the Protostick you can still use the main LeoStick for other projects if required. The power is from 4 x AA cells, with the voltage reduced with a 1n4004 diode.

And for the “eyes” of our monster – you can always add more if it isn’t too crowded in the book. We’ll need a resistor as well for the LEDs. As LEDs are current driven you can connect two in series with a suitable dropping resistor which allows you to control both if required with one digital output pin.

You can use the calculator here to help determine the right value for the resistor. Finally a servo is required to push the lid of the book up and down. We used an inexpensive micro servo that’s available for a few dollars from the typical outlets.

Finally a servo is required to push the lid of the book up and down. We used an inexpensive micro servo that’s available for a few dollars from the typical outlets.The chopsticks are cut down and used as an extension to the servo horn to give it more length.

Don’t forget to paint the arm black so it doesn’t stand out when in use. We had a lazy attack and mounted the servo on some LEGO bricks held in with super glue, but it works. Finally, here is the circuit schematic for our final example – we also added a power switch after the battery pack.

Step 3: Electronics, Continued...

Picture of Electronics, Continued...

To recap - this is a list of parts used:
Dummy book
Freetronics LeoStick and Protostick
micro 9G servo (for example)
two 5mm LEDs
one 68Ω resistor
assorted wire
9V battery snap (used as some 4 x AA cell holders need this)
4 x AA cell battery holder and 4 x AA cells
SPDT switch
1N4001 or similar rectifier diode
box, chopstick, odds and ends to mount the hardware

After some delicate soldering the whole lot fits neatly in the box as shown above.

Step 4: The Arduino Sketch

The behaviour of your “book monster” comes down to your imagination. Experiment with the servo angles and speed to simulate the lid opening as if the monster is creeping up, or quickly for a “pop-up” surprise. And again with the LED eyes you can blink them and alter the brightness with PWM. Here’s a quick sketch to give you an idea:

Step 5: Finished

You can see the results of our example in the following video:

Frankly the entire project is subjective, so just do what you want.

Well that was fun, and I am sure this will entertain many people. A relative is a librarian so this will adorn a shelf and hopefully give the children a laugh. Once again, thanks to the people from Evil Mad Science for the inspiration for this project – so go and buy something from their interesting range of kits and so on.

And while you’re here – are you interested in learning more about Arduino? Then order my new book “Arduino Workshop” from No Starch Press or your favourite book seller.


overlytic made it! (author)2015-05-17

Awesome first project for Arduino. Thank you very much, I really enjoyed the instructable! I attached a small video showing my bookmonster (hope it works, never tried to post a video in a comment). I also added a infrared movement sensor so that it only opens when people approach it. Also had to put something on the book to make sure it stayed shut. For this I used a penholder, since it doesn't look suspicious. Also doubled as a perfect place to hide the movement sensor in (although the sensor is still out in the open in this video).

lmowry (author)2014-02-22

I used rgb LEDs wiring it up for green and red... I used total of three servo motors, one for the lid and two for the eyes...

I would like to think you for the inspiration

About This Instructable




Bio: Technical person. Visit for Arduino and other tutorials, projects, kits, reviews and more. VK3FJBX
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