Servo Driven Face





Introduction: Servo Driven Face

I've decided to see if I could build a head that had similar movements to the Madame Leota tombstone from Haunted Mansion using servos.

Eventually, I may build a tombstone for it to go inside.

The first thing I did was come up with the design for the eyes and eyelids on a word processing program (I converted it to .png) and then cut out a piece of mdf to hold the eye and the servos. I ended up having to cut out another piece of MDF to get the eyes closer to the inside of the mask.

Step 1:

I used 40mm ping pong balls with wooden dowels that go through the top so the eyes sit on board.

A few more dowels are glued into the back of the ping pong balls so the eyes can move left and right. Two large paper clips were straightened out to assist with connecting the dowels to the servo.

Before I attached the eyes to the board, I attached "U" brackets which the eyelids are connected to the mdf. A few more large paper clips were used as connectors between the eyelids and the servo. At first I used hot glue to attach the eye lid servo to the mdf, but I decided to make it more secure and used vertical servo mounts.

A small square piece of wood sits just in between the "U" brackets and a pop sickle stick is attached to the little piece of wood to keep the eyes from rolling back, but still allowing the eyes to move.

Step 2:

To make the face move up and down I used a 1/4 rod end and attached that to a piece of mdf. The mdf was attached to the main board and a 1/4 threaded rod was inserted into the rod end. Note: The first picture was not the final board that was used. The picture is to show how the parts were connected up.

1/4" compression sleeves were placed above and below the rod end and a nylon locking nut was attached to the top of the threaded rod.

A 1/4" locking nut was added under the bottom compression sleeve and a heavy gauge rod (it is the metal part of an irrigation flag) was attached and used as an arm for the servo. Another 1/4" locking nut was used to keep the arm in place and an additional vertical servo mount was used to hold the servo in place.

In order to keep the face from wobbling side to side, a track was added which was made using a tongue depressor cut in half and hot glued to either side of the nylon locking nut.

Step 3:

In order to run the movements of the servos, a Pololu Micro Maestro controller was used.

Using a small display box, servo extension wires were run from the controller to the top of the box. This allowed for easy connection to the servos. Wires were also run for the power supply and an on/off switch. A small hole was made in the side in order to allow to the usb mini to be connected for programming the servos.

The threaded rod was attached to a piece of wood using a 1/4" coupler and a 1/4 bolt. Also, the box was attached to the back part of the wood.

Step 4:

Acrylic paint was applied to the mask and eyes for effect.

The servos movements were then recorded and it was time to give her a test run.

Overall, I'm really happy with the results.

Thank you.


I added a picture of the face connected to the tombstone. I still need to carve the blue parts of the tombstone and add fabric and she will be done.



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    What did you end up using for the eye lids?

    I used the shells for fire crackers. You can also vacuform some eyelids using the 2" wood ball cut in half.

    Nice work. I would add a tag 'animatronics'. ;)

    and where is your arduino code? I think it could be useful

    I didn't use an Arduino. I used a mini-maestro from Pololu. I can look up the code and upload it if there is interest, but it is super easy to program.

    very nice, you could have it to where it fallows a person as they pass by the mask. to add to the creepiness

    I thought about doing that with pictures. :)

    Having it follow a person is definitely possible and can be done analog, without requiring a microcontroller. You'll need an analog infrared sensor in each eye, and an op-amp, and an analog motor (not a stepper motor). Depending on which eye gives the stronger IR signal, trigger the servo to turn in that direction. The head will turn until the IR from each eye is balanced and should continue to track you as you walk across its path. A friend of mine, Steve McGloin, built this circuit when we were students back in '77 before PICs etc were available. (Sorry I can't remember the circuit in enough detail to reproduce but any electrical engineer should be able to work it out. I'm more of a digital man myself.)

    Very cool. On my list for 2013 Halloween season. Thanks. :)

    For Halloween a skull might be fun. That was actually Steve's implementation. The recessed eye sockets help make the IR detection more directional too.

    I forgot to explain that with his one, the whole skull rotated to follow you across the room, but I'm fairly confident you could make it work with just the eyes.

    Or have the eyes follow you first and the head move more slowly until it is facing you again...