(Robot Contest Entry Catagory = 18+)

This instructable is about a talking animatronic robot head I built, which I call Robot Head 2.  To get an idea of Robot Head 2's functionality, click on the short video below or you can copy and paste the following link in your browser:


Robot Head 2 is a fairly complex animatronic.  I built him from scratch using the following items:

- plywood
- wooden knobs (for the eyes)
- doll eyes (the kind that move when you shake them)
- screws, nuts, bolts, & various other hardware items
- 1/8th inch brass rod
- misc. pieces of metal cut & bent to shape for various things
- latex (for the lips)
- various servos (the kind used in model cars & airplanes)
- wire -- lots of wire!
- one servo controller (MiniSSCII)
- powered computer speakers
- many, many electrical connectors of various configurations
- a large trunk
- wooden box (found at a thrift store)
- a clip-on lamp
- power strip
- an old cooling fan unit salvaged from a computer
- several extension cords
- a pair of old sunglasses
- a single-board computer (RAPU)
- compact flash card (used in the RAPU)
- one micro switch
- one plastic box (to house the RAPU)
- hot glue
- heat shrink tubing & electrician's tape
- varnish, paint, brushes, and rags to clean up the mess!

Tools used included:
- drills & drill bits
- bandsaw
- scroll saw
- wire stripers
- soldering gun & solder
- heat gun
- hot glue gun
- hammer, scredrivers, pliers, etc.

I had no plans when I began this project, other than a previous head that I built as a prototype (Robot Head 1 -- now disassembled).

The head stores in a trunk that I customized, and then mounts on top of the trunk when it is in use. 

This is a fairly complex project, but if you break it down into major goals, it becomes more doable.  So, the approach I will take is to tackle the head itself, the electronics, the other components, and the trunk it travels in and mounts on.

Step 1: The Head

I built the head from 1/2 inch plywood.  First I made a cardboard head and jaw, and experimented with the design to ensure I could get the movement I wanted, make sure all the servos would have room to fit, and figure out the pivot points for the jaw and the head tilt.  This is where a laser engraver/cutter would have been very beneficial.  It would have been nice to be able to do all the design in a CAD program, then laser the design onto the wood.  But without one, I had to resort to my usual trial & error!

In each photo below I have tried to provide sufficient documentation on the role of each servo, and you can see visually how each servo connects to the component it controls.  Just do a mouse-over on each box to see the description / explanation.

Once all the wooden parts of the head were cut out and test-fitted with servos, I put a couple of coats of polyurethane varnish on the wooden parts.
<p>Hi! Looks very nice! Could you upload a video please?<br>Kind Regards</p>
A link to download the video is at the end of the introduction.
<p>How many Degrees of freedom does it have? What is the total cost (100 dollars accurate) and just to be sure: no sensors were used, right?</p>
<p>waaw! that's amazing! very inspiring! Are you planning on making a case or fur or something?</p>
What I want to know is where you got that cool circuit board wall paper or whatever it is
It was a background drape at a national sales meeting, and was provided by a graphics company. I have no idea of its source.
to Mr.knife141 &gt;&gt; I am very interested in what you have created. presumably can you share how to make the robot and the robot code? please help me <br> <br>thx
How to make the robot is documented in the instructable. I would suggest you go back and read the words as opposed to simply looking at the photos. As for the code, I explain the approach I took in one of the steps of the instructable. The actual code would be meaningless to you, because it is entirely dependent on the dialog and and the movements required by the particular dialog.
What references do you use? <br> <br>thank you
Knife141, could you build a program like Siri, it'd be quite complex but I'm willing to pay
I have no interest in building such a program, but I think Apple has one.
to Mr.knife141 &gt;&gt; I am very interested in what you have created. presumably can you share how to make the robot and the robot code? please help me <br> <br>thx
I want to build animatronics for a living what do I go to school for
Sorry, can't really help you with that. I am self-taught when it comes to animatronics. Someone on staff in the computer science and/or engineering department at university could probably shed some light on the subject. Good luck!
<strong>can i have the code plz </strong>
This is awesome. Did you make a video? If so I would love to see it. Great job!
A video was included in the introduction (it is beneath the photos). I also included a link to the video in youtube in the text of the introduction.
Oh!! I see it now. Thanks!
HI, how do you get your demonstration dates? Do you advertise or is it through word of mouth? I want to take my animatronic, Peter Penguin, on tour.
I do a lot of volunteer gigs with Robot Head 2 -- mostly schools, church activities, etc. Doing some freebies tends to get the word out. Elementary schools are a great place to start. Find a teacher and let them know you're available (free of charge) to give their students a demo when they start a unit on inventors, or science, simple machines, etc. If you're interested in eventually getting more exposure, leave each student a photo of your device with some contact info.
Great idea! Thanks. I used to do a lot at the elementary schools when my kids were young and my sister is now a teacher there. I think that will be a good place to start.
Thanks for the kind words! I change the sound file based on the routine. Sometimes I give him a British accent, or U.S. accent, man's, woman's, etc. I thought about making his head a bit more &quot;realistic,&quot; but decided it would be a better challenge to keep the head simply out of wood and use the movements to generate expressions. It's a bit harder, but in person people are really surprised that a simple wooden head can appear to have expressions. Thanks again for the comments.
To reply to someones comment hit the reply button in the bottom right corner below the comment, otherwise the commenter will not receive your reply.<br><br>Nice instructable!!
Thanks for the info. Just learned something new!
No problem :')
A video was included in the introduction (it is beneath the photos). I also included a link to the video in youtube in the text of the introduction.
This was fantastic. The quality is actually quite stunning. Despite the really scary appearance I think that this could really go somewhere. Fill in the models with some kinds of fabrics or other malleable materials a little more appealing to kids. <br><br>Great work!<br><br>p.s. Didn't like how preachy the sound file was though.

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Bio: I enjoy taking a pile of junk and making something unusual out of it. I like wheeled vehicles, and currently own two motorcycles, two electric ... More »
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