This Tutorial will go through the Steps of How to create your very own animatronic tail!I've seen many aimatronic tails either controlled by a remote control or set to a continuous sweep code, I decided to make my tail be contrilled by my heart rate!
To get started you will need:
-2 Klixx Balls/Links ( may need more depending on length, seems to have about 50 connector pieces per pack )
-2 Bicycle Brake Cables
-2 or more Boxes of Jumbo Paperclips
-1 Continuous Rotation Servo with "X" Head (* 2 if you want a wider range of motion)
-1 Motor Shield
-1 Pulse Sensor
- 1 Battery 6V 5Ah ( amp hour)
-1 2" Flat-End PVC End Cap (*2 if you want a wider range of motion)
- Hook-up Wire
-1 Arduino Uno Microcontroller
-Sewing Supplies: needles, thread, pins, exacto knife or utility knife ( will cut out shape without trimming fur) , etc. I highly recommend a sewing machine.
-Dremel or Drill with Drilling Bits
-Painter's Tape or Masking Tape
*BEFORE YOU BUY YOUR MATERIALS:
You need to decide before you buy anything if you would just like you tail to have the basic side to side sweeping motion or be able to to do more such as Lift, Tuck, and Wag. For a wider range of motion you'll need two servo motors, 2 flat 2" PVC caps, and extra Klixx toys.
Also make sure you have plenty of free time to work.
Alright now that you have everything you need let's get started!
Step 1: Constructing the Spine
Basic Anatomy Lesson #1
Tails need a spine to move, So we're going to build one!
Grab your klixx toy take it out of the package and just take a few minutes to have fun and play with it, see how it moves and listen carefully. As you move your Klixx around you can hear clicking noises. Klixx have tiny little nubs and grooves, you'll have to remove them so start disconnecting the individual pieces, this may be a little difficult to do with your hands so if need be use your Pliers. Once the pieces are all disconnected grab your utility or exacto knife and start shaving off the nubs, this should be really easy to do the plastic is fairly giving.
Once all your pieces are nice and smooth, connect the pieces back together and play with your Klixx some more! you shouldn't hear any more clicking noise and your klixx should move more smoothly as well. Now pull out your Dremel/ Drill or Drill press and Drill bits and a clamp. I would also like to recommend a sharpie and a ruler, once you clamp down your klixx toy making sure the flat end faces up at you mark with your sharpie the middle of each flat piece. You'll want to use your ruler to help keep your marks lined up all the way to the end of your klixx toy, once you've marked the center of each flat piece drill straight down all the way through. Do this with all the connector pieces.
Once all your holes have been drilled it's time to make your wire guides! Grab your box of paper clips and unbend them and get them as straight as you possibly can! Afterwards cut your paper clips in half using your wire cutters make sure they are all approximately the same length. Push your cut paper clips through the holes in the klixx you drilled if you have a hard time pushing them through your hole may either be too small or you paper clip isn't straight enough, adjust accordingly. Afterwards using your needle nose pliers create loops at the end of your cut paper clips making sure the loops are all approximately the same size.
Tip: make sure the Klixx are arranged that the more flexible klixx are closer the the bottom and the less flexible klixxs are closer to the top, this will help with better movement.
Time to grab your two bicycle brake cables, if there are knob pieces at the ends of the cables cut them off using your wire cutters ( this will take some effort so be very careful when doing so, highly recommended that you wear safety glasses) once the knob pieces have been removed wrap the end with some tape to keep the end from fraying. After that guide the wire through the paper clip wire guides on one side, then loop the wire up through the wire guides on the opposite side. Turn the tail over 90 degrees and Repeat this step with the second brake cable. To test out your spine's movement lay the Tail flat on the ground and hold the base of the tail in one hand and with the other pull on one of the cables. The tip will be pulled in. Now push that same cable. The tip moves in the opposite direction. if your tail moves smoothly then Awesome! If your tail kinks in some areas locate the problem area and correct it or replace the connector piece.
And with that your spine is done! On to the Next step!