Picture of Build an Arduino-powered talking robot head!
This robot head was originally built as a end of the year project for my physical computing class, but over the summer it has "learned" how to talk.

The head is powered by two Freeduinos, 3 TLC5940NT chips and an Adafruit Industries Wave Shield found here: The head is currently connected to a computer by two USB cables, one for power, one for sending it serial commands on what to say/emote. Once the head receives the typed commands on what to say/emote it plays back the individual word files in order creating a sentence or multiple sentences. It also changes its emotions according to the emotional commands sent from the computer.

This robot head is a foundation for many possible applications since it can say anything that it has the vocabulary for. Right now I am currently working on connecting it to the internet and making it check and read my email via PHP script. I will update this Instructable as I progress along with that.

Here's a video of it in action:

The head is still an on-going project so any comments on anything here are more than welcome!

Special thanks to Liz Arum for helping me with everything!

Update: Due to popular request I now have now added a video of the robot talking and expressing itself! Enjoy at your leisure!
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
Jacob theg1 month ago

on the soldering you don't explain what everything is getting soldered to

Jacob theg1 month ago

i don't understand

Jacob theg1 month ago

how long does it take to make this

dpdesigns5 years ago
very cool robot head.  I've been looking for something to do with my arduino and this gives me some inspiration.
winterfresh (author)  dpdesigns5 years ago
 I'm very glad that you like it! If you need some help with something related to this, please don't hesitate to ask.

how do I rig this up to my computer

nam200211 months ago

post a video plz

64001 year ago
waow ... cool
whether it can be replaced if the servo to move, how?

amaituino1 year ago
Adorable !
Peasy933 years ago
hey nice work
what is the voltage of the capacitors??
Great. I wonder how possible it would be to connect this to the internet and to cleverbots website. Add a microphone and be able to talk to cleverbot back and fourth? Anyone have any ideas?
rocket_man3 years ago
so how would i connect the arduino to my computer to communicate and take commands from a keyboard
redzwan20084 years ago
I want to add pir sensor to the arduino. how to connect it? and how to program the robot to talk when a human walk in front of the talking robot?
gudenaurock4 years ago
The penguin is Tux.
17404 years ago
chosenone35 years ago
I just watched the video and i can say that this is one of the coolest arduino projects I've seen so far :]
And I was wondering how did you get it to speak so clear ,I mean it sounds like a real human voice.
Would it be possible to get same results with pc (Besides MS sam voice which realy sucks)?
winterfresh (author)  chosenone35 years ago
Well, I didn't use the Microsoft voices built-in with Windows because I found that they didn't sound very realistic, instead I used a AT&T text to speech service found on their website that sounded much more realistic(You can find the website here: ). It would sound even more realistic if AT&T's program didn't add a random pause between every word creating a sentence that sounded irregular and stuttery. This could be fixed by going through all of the audio files and editing them individually to create uniform sounding sentence but would require an enormous amount of time and work and is totally impractical. 

So, yes. You could use the Microsoft voices built in with Windows to create the audio files necessary, but I would recommend using the AT&T text to speech website instead because the voices sound more realistic and less robotic. Davewking has a awesome Instructable on how to make something similar to my robot using Microsoft's voices(It checks his email!). He even created a convenient .exe file to assist in creating the .wav files! Here's a link to his Instructable: which is a detailed subsection of his original Instructable:

Hope this helps!
It's probably useful to use festival (that's what I'd use, anyway). The default voices in festival aren't terribly realistic, but you don't get the pauses (and the licensing problems -- the at&t thing has a big long license if you read it, and this project probably violates a bunch of the terms), and it doesn't limit the user base to windows users like using the microsoft voices does.
That means three things to me.
1. You could record your own voice for it (even make it sing!)
2. Automatic talking text, similar to microsoft sam, through the head.
3. You could hook this up as a speaker and it would sing whatever sound goes through it. Might take some hardware modification though.
natfish5 years ago
 congrats! I'm glad you finished your robot. Whatever happened to your walking/dancing soda can?
davewking5 years ago
Dude, let's get your robot reading emails.  I just posted an instructable that could help out .  Feel free to send me emails with questions.
winterfresh (author)  davewking5 years ago
 Your Instructable gave me some very good ideas that should solve some of the problems that have plagued my robot head. Thanks for your help!
mfleisig5 years ago
Nice work!  I love the eyebrows.
jefskil5 years ago
i can't wait for that video either!

how much did all this cost you? 
winterfresh (author)  jefskil5 years ago
 Well I'm not sure of my exact costs because this began as a physical computing end of the year project. This meant that I don't know the actual costs of some things (like the LEDs) but I can tell you approximately how much this would cost you if you bought this stuff from the Internet and salvaged the rest from various sources. Here goes...

Red LEDs: After searching around the Internet, I have seen most Red LEDs priced around the 40-50 cent price range so lets assume you get them for 45 cents each. 36 X $.45 = $16.20

Common Anode RGB LEDs: Again after searching online I have found that they are mostly around $1.50 each to $1.95. Lets say $1.75 each. 2 X $1.75 = $3.50

Freeduinos: Bought from $23.99 each. 2 X $23.99 = $47.98

Mini-Servos: Again after looking around the 'nets I found a website selling the exact model servos I used in this Instructable. Here's the link: They're selling them for $3.65 each. 2 X $3.65 = $7.30

Waveshield: From LadyAda's Waveshield page she's selling them for $22 each.

TLC5940NTs: From Digi-key they can be bought for $4.28 each. 3 X $4.28 = $12.84

And it adds up to a total cost of... $109.82!

*The rest of the materials you should be able to salvage from other computer parts, or you might just find them lying around.

Hope this helps!
Kiteman5 years ago
It talks?

The mouth "moves"?

We need to see video!
winterfresh (author)  Kiteman5 years ago
Thanks for reminding me,(I forgot to make a video of the robot when making the instructable) I will try to see if I can post a video of it working before Sunday.
winterfresh (author)  Kaiven5 years ago
 The aforementioned video is now embedded into the intro step. I hope that you guys find it informative!
_Scratch_5 years ago
what exactly does it do?? i've never heard of this arduino stuff before so i'm wondering what these do.
winterfresh (author)  _Scratch_5 years ago
 Are you talking about Arduino, or my robot head?

Arduino is a micro controller chip that can control servos, lights, relays and can be hooked up to lots of sensors to do amazing things. Here's more info on Arduino

My robot head can speak words fed to it through a serial connection from a computer (You type what you want it to say on the computer, and the computer tells the robot head what to say.) It can also change its expression by moving its eyebrows and changing the color of it's eyes(Again through serial).
In fact, i was wondering both but you cleared it up for me. Thanks!
beardy5 years ago
Lots of fun stuff going on there.  Well done!

Do post a video if you can.  I think we'd all like to see and hear it in action.

tigoe5 years ago
Very nice robot head, good work!  You may want to include a  first step listing the parts, with links explaining them and where you got them, so that people who don't know them can find out more.