Step 2: Building the controller

Tools and materials

Soldering iron- A good quality soldering iron is a must. I received an Aoyue 2900 soldering station a couple years ago for Christmas and it's been great. You won't believe the difference once you start using a good soldering iron.

I also use a small tip for soldering small surface mount components-

Wire cutters/wire strippers- Small flush cutters are the best. If you don't have wire strippers or cutters then these will work well-

Tweezers- Get some small tweezers to work with surface mount components. Here's an inexpensive set-http://sra-solder.com/product.php/6409/79

Magnifiers- Being able to see what you're working on makes a world of difference.

Multimeter- Most any multimeter will work. You don't need to spend big $$$. I personally own a Wavetek Meterman 16XL and it's great. If you don't already own a multimeter and are really getting into hobby electronics then this meter will probably do everything you could ever want-

Servo board PCB-

Arduino Pro Mini- http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9220

USB mini-B connector- http://www.sparkfun.com/products/587

capacitors- 2 ea 1210 package 1uF SMD ceramic capacitors

resistor- 1ea 1206 package 1K Ohm SMD resistor

LED- 1 ea 1206 package SMD LED

JST connector- 1 ea

MAX1555 IC- 1 ea

Straight break away header pins - 2ea 40 pin row 
These come in really handy so it's always good to get extras to have on hand

Female break away header pins- 2 ea 40 hole row
These also are super handy to have around

Single cell LiPo battery- 1ea (you can use any capacity you like.)

USB mini-B cable- 1 ea
Odds are you've already got one but if you don't here you go-

Assembling the servo board

The first thing to do is build the charging circuit. I usually start with the smallest components first. I've found the easiest way to solder SMD parts is to get a tiny bit of solder on your soldering tip and touch it to one of the component pads on the PCB. Then hold the component in place using tweezers and heat up the pad and component pin- this allows you to get the part attached to the board so you can check its alignment for the rest of the pads. Then simply solder each of the remaining pads. There is a great series of SMD soldering tutorials here- http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/36

Begin by soldering on the MAX1555 IC (labeled U1) -this can only go on one way. Next comes the LED- make sure to check the polarity as it is labeled on the PCB (the LED cathode is connected to one end of R1.) Then solder resistor R1 followed by the capacitors C1 and C2. These can be soldered on either direction. Next comes the mini USB connector- this one is a bit tricky as the pins are positioned nearly underneath the connector. Now solder on the JST connector. Make sure to double check your soldering job for these connectors as they receive a fair bit of mechanical stress.

Now test your charging circuit. Plug in a USB cable and check the voltage at the JST battery connector. It should read about 4.2-4.3V. Now connect the LiPo battery. If everything is OK the small LED should turn on, indicating the battery is charging. Disconnect the battery.

Now solder on the pins to connect the Pro Mini board. This is done by soldering on the break away straight header pins. First insert the long pin ends into the PCB, flip the board over and solder them in place. Double check your solder joints. Now flip the board over and place the Pro Mini board in place on top of the exposed pins and solder all the pins in place. Next solder the remaining straight pins into place in the digital out positions and the 3.3v port along the bottom of the board.

To finish the board solder all the female headers in place. The best way I've found to cut the female headers is to remove a pin where you want to make a cut- just yank the pin out the bottom using a pair of pliers. Then take wire cutters and cut through the opening left by the pin. Now take a file (or sandpaper) and smooth out the cut edge.

Make sure your board is getting power by plugging a USB cable into the mini USB port on the controller board. The red LED on the Arduino Pro Mini should light up.

That's it- your controller is ready to go!

I am interested in buying a Predator cannon with head tracking movement so I can put it in my bio helmet my email address is joe.r.moreno.1969@gmail.com if anyone has one for sale I will really appreciate it thank you
<p>hello honus , is it possible to have the plan and component name for the hand repulsor , please , thanks my mail , leeloan@hotmail.com</p>
I'm not sure I understand. Everything you need is shown in the instructable.
<p>hello honus , is it possible to have full plan and component for build the hand repulsor ? as i'm not expert electronic but will try to buy and build it myself , my mail leeloan@hotmail.com</p>
Hi man. That canon is awesome. Would you be able to make the basic assembly as shown in the 15 steps. I will build into medi pack and add the canon onto the white bracketing<br>I have a suit and would love this accessory
Thanks- glad you like it! I'm sorry but I can't take on any more work right now.
My suit
My suit
And we'll paid for your time. No rush at all for finished article
Awesome stuff. Can't believe I haven't discovered your stuff sooner. Do you have a email contact?<br>What is the best way to get your some of your pcb boards made? servo, transistor, led boards.
Oh and just with the servo and the blinking LEDs, nothing else
You mean like in Step 7? You can add another servo to any digital output pin and then just copy the code for the existing servo and change the output pin number.
Ah ok cheers
I like this a lot thanks for posting! Can someone tell me how I could add another servo to it, on the same breadboard?
<p>HI, you mentioned possibly building and assembling an Arduino animatronics board at a price. I'm not sure if this is something i could successfully build on my own, but I would be interested in building an adruino board with an Xbee chip that would power my repulsors and Unibeam with sound, helmet opening/closing with eyes lit up flickering when closed, and mini gun movement (spinning and movement tracking for my War Machine costume, I would be really interested in getting some pricing on what it would cost to build. If that is something you may have time or be interested in building, please let me know. Sincerely, ~greg my email is thegovernor08@yahoo.com</p><p>And thanks again for all of the helpful information.</p>
Honus, <br><br> Absolutely amazing work and I want to thank you very much for all the effort that has gone into this as well as taking and answering questions and comments! <br> I am just getting started with arduino and hope you can help me if at all possible. I'm planning a project for Halloween that includes a &quot;Nullifier Ray&quot; attached to the ceiling. I would like to have the body of the ray drop (tilt) down from level with the ceiling, and swing (pan) to the right to point at an object on a table. Then, I'd like the barrel to begin to spin and ultimately activate several super bright LEDs to simulate a &quot;blast&quot; from the ray. Sound would be great but isn't necessary. <br> Does this sound possible for a beginner such as myself and if so, would it be possible for you to help me work parts of your code to make it happen? <br> Thank you for any advice or help you can provide. I'm overwhelmed by all the information in this instructable!
Thanks! Of course your project is possible to do and I'm happy to help. Just work up a drawing or schematic with the specifics of what you want it to do and message me. The important things you need to figure out is the range of movement you need, how heavy it will be and how you want to power and activate it.
<p>Thank you for all the time you out into this, especially the purchase links. I'll be sure to share projects that result from the info.</p>
<p>Honus,</p><p>I'm wondering if I need a voltage regulator with the Pro Mini. Reading on the Arduino website, it says:</p><p>&quot;The Arduino Pro Mini can be powered with an FTDI cable or breakout board <br> connected to its six pin header, or with a regulated 3.3V or 5V supply <br>(depending on the model) on the Vcc pin. There is a voltage regulator on <br> board so it can accept voltage up to 12VDC. If you're supplying <br>unregulated power to the board, be sure to connect to the &quot;RAW&quot; pin on <br>not VCC.&quot;</p><p>I'm trying to figure out how to connect a G4 LED light which is rated to 9-15V DC to the Pro Mini to use in my IM gloves with a flex sensor to turn them on and off. I'm testing with my mega 2560 and have the flex sensor figured out but am trying to figure out how I am supposed to connect the light and the flex sensor and the battery to the pro mini. It sounds like I should be able to use an E23A battery which is 12 volts, but I don't want to fry the board, and have no idea how to wire all of these together as I'm just getting started with the electronics stuff. Any hints?</p>
There's a few different ways you can do this. You could use a 7805 voltage regulator to drop the voltage from your battery to 5V to power the ProMini and connect it to the VCC pin ( assuming you have the 5V version ProMini ) if you're worried about frying it. Some batteries are rated at maybe 12V but at full charge they can overshoot this by a fair amount. <br><br>Then you can also connect your 12V battery to your LED light using a transistor to turn it on and off- the ProMini will not be able to provide enough current to drive it so it cannot be directly connected to an output pin. You can use something like a TIP120 transistor to turn the LED on and off. <br><br>Just let me know if you need a wiring diagram! It's pretty simple to do. :)
<p>Hmm. Well, I bought 4 of the 3.3 volt Pro Minis to use in various parts of the suit, but may be able to return them to SparkFun as they haven't been opened. I got them because I figured fewer batteries to power the boards would save space. Would you recommend doing that or is there a workaround? And a diagram would be awesome! Can't tell you how many times I've poured over your tutorial and am just amazed at what you've done. </p>
<p>You can still use the 3.3V ProMinis- just connect the power out from the regulator to the RAW input. I do this all the time since I run servos with a ProMini from single power source. I'll get you a wiring diagram asap.</p>
<p>Cool. Thanks Honus.</p>
<p>Here you go. Just let me know if this doesn't make sense!</p>
<p> Thanks Honus. You are awesome! It totally makes sense.</p>
<p>Thanks to you I got the sensor, G4 light, and pro mini all working off that little 12V A23 battery. Thank you! Thank you! I had issues with the board not wanting to talk to my laptop to upload my sketch, and realized it was the cable of all things. The first 2 I tried wouldn't allow an upload, the third and 4th ones did. Did my first through-hole soldering to get wires hooked up.</p>
<p>Awesome! So happy you got it to work! :)</p>
<p>Wow awesome Instructable! very nice Project! </p><p>Do you have a Video of it working in final state? :-)</p><p>vlg Stefan</p>
<p>Thanks- glad you like it! </p><p>Video of what in it's final state?</p>
<p>I meant the Predator Gun and Helmet with painting and Costume ;)</p>
Have a look here-<br> <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Building-a-killer-Predator-costume/" rel="nofollow">http://www.instructables.com/id/Building-a-killer-Predator-costume/</a>
<p>Cool! Thank you!</p>
Wondering if there is another place to buy your PCB? <br>
You can upload the board files to several different PCB manufacturers and have them made. I haven't made any more of them as I'm going to make a simpler version of the board- I've found I rarely use the rechargeable LiPo and I'd like it to be a bit smaller to make it easier to fit in my projects.
Honus, <br>If you aren't using the LiPos any more, what are you using?
I've been using NiMh cells to power everything. Much more durable inside costumes. The biggest problem with using LiPo cells (especially when using multiple cells, like 2s packs) is regulating them in regards to low voltage cutoff since RC packs don't usually have any type of protection circuitry. There are also severe shipping restrictions on LiPo packs so if you have to ship a costume somewhere it's a real pain.<br><br>Unless you have a specific application where you need the energy density of LiPo cells due to weight and/or space restrictions they're just not worth the hassle in my opinion.
Great! <br>Favorited!
Thanks for this great instructable! <br> <br>I'm planning a very similar thing as the Predator shoulder cannon and have one question: <br> <br>I'm not much of a Wii gamer so I don't know exactly how a nunchuck behaves. But wouldn't the motion sensor still also be triggered when you move and walk around and not only when you turn your head? How did you make the cannon only follow your heads movement no matter where your whole body moves and turns to?
Thanks- glad you like it!<br><br>The sensor from the nunchuck is an accelerometer and it's mounted in the helmet so it only senses when the helmet moves (with respect to gravity.) It only senses when the helmet tilts ( X and Y axis ) so you can walk around all you want without it being affecting. Also have a look at the FAQ section- I explain a bit more there.
I looked at the FAQ first, but didn't understand it all. My first idea before reading your instructable was actually using two gyros (one on the head and one in the cannons base) like you described but that seemed very complicated to me. I think I'll try it with your method and experiment a bit :). <br> <br>I don't want to use a Nunchuk since there are some affordable accelerometer modules out there like this one: <br>http://www.ebay.de/itm/ADXL345-3-axis-Digital-Tilt-Sensors-Acceleration-Module-For-Arduino-/181185887400?pt=Bauteile&amp;hash=item2a2f853ca8 <br> <br>Or would it be advisable to get one with a gyro like this? <br>http://www.ebay.de/itm/MPU-6050-3-Axis-Gyro-Gyroscope-Accelerometer-Sensor-Module-for-Arduino-/181018466904?pt=Bauteile&amp;hash=item2a258a9a58
Pretty much any of the Analog Devices ADXL accelerometers would work. I really don't see the need for a gyro in this application but if you want to incorporate one to try and improve the rotation performance then I say go for it! :)
finally. a tutorial on how to use arduino for people like me that know jack shit about programming and hardware. i really want to get invested in animatronics and i am going to be having hand surgery later this year and want to build a portable hand for use while my hand is in a cast
What would it take to adapt this setup to be used in your Horus helmet rig? I just ordered an arduino board to get started and would love to be able to track my own head movements to the bird's head.
I've had a few people ask about this. The problem is that you can't really move your head that much while wearing the Horus helmet. The great bit with the Horus helmet is that your head stays still and ONLY the bird head moves. The lower part of the Horus helmet really does not move- the movie helmets only had a few degrees of rotation between the lower part of the helmet and the neck collar.
hi um i was wondering about animatronics and what i would need to go to college for in order to buld,design,and program animatronics and i noticed what you made was cool. so do you have any tips on what schools to go to or what programs to take?
I would look at mechanical engineering, robotics, 3D design/CAD, electronics and classes that involve physical computing. Animatronics covers a wide variety of disciplines- molding, casting, fabrication, mechanics, hydraulics, pneumatics, electronics, programming, etc. There's a lot of problem solving that involves thinking about how you want things to move and then making mechanisms that fit within a limited volume.<br> <br> There are classes and workshops for Arduino to get your feet wet in the electronics area and Stan Winston School has videos you can watch that cover all aspects of creature fabrication. They specifically have a couple of videos by Rick Lazzarini of The Character Shop that covers radio control animatronics. Check it out here-&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stanwinstonschool.com" rel="nofollow">http://www.stanwinstonschool.com</a><br> <br> Rick Lazzarini also teaches people here- <a href="http://www.animatronicsinstitute.com/" rel="nofollow">http://www.animatronicsinstitute.com/</a><br> <br> If you have any other questions just let me know!
Thanks so much...all of this makes alot of sense...I know what I want but no idea how to get there and have never done anything like this before. Sadly I have not even found anything prebuilt out there that does what I want either (my 2nd resort is always to cannablize anything premade). <br>I think it would be amazing if the eyes lit up when the sound effect when off...you are going to have to email me or else this post will get very long, but a list of parts would be a fantastic start. As far as sounds I would love a Wolf howl and growl/snarl too but I may be well overstepping my novice skills
It's definitely possible to do everything you want. :) just message me your email and I'll help you put it together.
Email me at spyderskiss@gmail.com <br>I found an online dealer who had the led lights prewired to 9voltr cap with switch so I have them but will still need help on the sound and synching the eyes up to the sound. I am very tempted to just order an animated halloween prop that seems to have most of what I want..but would need to disassemble the whole thing and cannabalized the animatronics. (lunging cemetary dog prop)
email me anytime with the list @ spyderskiss@gmail.com. <br>Thanks again for the help. I can't wait ti get started.

About This Instructable


407 favorites


Bio: I'm a former bicycle industry designer turned professional jeweler. I like working with my hands and am happiest when I'm in the shop ... More »
More by Honus: Science Fair Air Rockets DIY functional Sonic Screwdriver Rose cut natural raw Diamond ring
Add instructable to: