Introduction: My Emotional Monster!

About: UX/UI Designer

This is an Instructable on how to build your very own fluffy monster robot that displays your emotions! In order to make this, you will need plywood, acrylic, an iPad, fur of your choice, Arduino, and other materials which are outlined below in Step 1. Enjoy and please post if you decide to make one yourself! This project was a collaboration between Neil Techapanichgul, Dario Narvaez, Nicolas Hernandez Trujillo, and Sara Birchard from Parsons School of Design. Are you shy or introverted? Why don't make the monster be an extension of yourself?

Step 1: Materials

Materials needed to create this robot include:

(2x) 18" x 24" Plywood Sheets (1/8" thickness)

(1x) 18"x24" Black Acrylic (1/8" thickness)

(1x) Arduino

(1x) 1-yard fur of your choosing (This is the one that we used for our robot)

(1x) DRV8833 DC/Stepper Motor Driver Breakout Board

(1x) Lithium Battery

(1x) 9V battery

(1x) Elmer's glue

(8x) Screws

(1x) WiFi Module - ESP8266

(1x) iPad, 4th generation

(1x) Breadboard

(1x) RC Car


Optional: Plexiglass for iPad screen protection

And lastly, you'll need access to a laser cutter (or CNC) in order to cut out the parts.

Step 2: Sketches and Design

In the first phases of the project, we created the design that we liked the most. For this case, we proposed a monster made of wood an a tablet to show the different emotions. We created several sketches to find an interesting form, that was also lightweight and that allowed the placement of the different components such as the Arduino and boards. Then, we created a 3D model to better visualize the design and all the real dimensions and scales. Finally, from these 3D models we created the parts to be laser-cutted.

Step 3: The Structure

Laser Cutting.

Begin by using these AI files to cut your materials.

The clear plexiglass is optional - we found that the glare made the screen less visible, so we decided not to attach ours in the end. However, if you don't want people touching the iPad, it may be useful for your project.

Step 4: Assembling the Skeleton

Begin by assembling the plywood pieces as shown in the diagram and photograph and gluing them together with wood glue. This will be the skeleton of the robot, on which the acrylic and fur will be attached.

Please Exploded View and the Orthographic Views for a better an proper assembly process. It's quite straight forward. We used wood glue to attach all the pieces together, but you can use any glue you want: hot glue or epoxy works.

Step 5: Attaching the Fur & Acryclic

Begin by cutting two pieces of cardboard to fit the back and front of the robot

Cut the fur so that it will cover the cardboard and add 1.5" to each side so that it can be glued to the back - this will allow for nicer edges.

In order to attach the fur, you will need to add screws. We found that this was the most secure way to get the fur attached without making a mess. Make sure to only attach one side until you have secured the electronics inside of the robot.

Step 6: Code & Circuit Diagram

To move the monster, we used an old RC Car and we controlled it through an Arduino with Wifi. For this, we used an Adafruit DRV8833 DC / Stepper Motor Driver Breakout Board, which allowed us to control independently the two engines of the car (the engine that is responsible for controlling the right and left direction, and the other to control front and back directions). The motors are powered by an exclusive battery of the 6.4V originally found in the RC Car, but you can use a more powerful battery (we tested with 9V and it works much better!). The Arduino is powered with an independent 5V battery (You can also use a 3.3V one).

*Advise (The DVR8833 might need soldering to assemble.)

Use a breadboard to make a power bridge between both sides to easily connect the DVR8833 and the ESP 8266 Wifi Controller together.


  • Vmotor to 3.3V (red wire)
  • GND to ground
  • SLP to > 3.3V power pin.
  • AIN1(orange) to PIN1.
  • AIN2(orange) to PIN2.
  • BIN1(orange) to PIN5.
  • BIN2(orange) to PIN6.

  • Then hook the tow DC motors coil to Motor A (green and yellow) and to Motor B (green and yellow). Use a multimeter to measure between wires.
  • Also connect the DVR8833 power to the external power source.

Step 7: Unity, Faces and Interaction

In this project, we used Unity to control the different faces and sounds corresponding for the different emotions. Load the faces (faces.c4d) into Unity and enjoy your emotional monster!

Using Unity UI layer to create the controller interface and the 3D faces with a camera position switch, the intention is to create a seamless switch between the different moods.

For the code and the interaction, you can use the connection between one button and each face and on the other side with each direction of the wheels(forward, backwards, left, right) to create an interactive experience. The intention is that the main controller has the ui for the entire interactive options and maybe the possibility of controlling multiple devices.. The intention is to generate laugh and unexpected behaviors from the users.

We believe that we put a lot of effort into the design of the faces. It is necessary to start using animations in Unity to create a more depth experience to find a good interaction and improve the reliability with the network for future iterations.

Step 8: Iteration.... Mini Me!

At the beginning of the project, it was visualized to use wood and the RC Car to move the monster. Unfortunately the wood with the ipad made it very heavy to move. To solve this, you can make a cardboard version that is much lighter and that fulfills the same functions, with a similar aesthetic finish to that made with wood.

To create a cardboard version, you need to create a flat base that goes on top of the RC Car, where the boards and components will sit on. Then, we need to create a base for the tablet made out of a simple cardboard piece. The side walls can be made from the small cardboard or paper, the only function is to hide all the internal components, but also you can get creative and add personality to the monster by drawing shapes and patterns. In our case, we printed out a pattern and glued it to the side walls.

Make it Move Contest

Participated in the
Make it Move Contest