WowWee's Elvis Alive to the Elivinator Project




Introduction: WowWee's Elvis Alive to the Elivinator Project

About: I love to make and hack into robots and make them do things that they are not designed for. Also I enjoy programming in PBasic for the Parallax Basic Stamps, I enjoy reading electronics books and I make Jewele…

Hello everyone, I would like to introduce you to a project that I have started since the first of the year. It all happened when I saw the WowWee's Elvis Alive bust. I have been working on an animated head on and off until I seen this. This was just what I was looking for, a head that moves, turns, eyes that move and a mouth that moves. The Elvis had all of it, so I started to think what am I going to do with it? I started talking about the head on and got a lot of ideas but the one that I liked the most was to turn the Elvis into the Terminator. So the name The Elvinator was born. This project is a very hard robot to build and to make the necessary mods including making your own main brain board, constructing the Terminator eye with a glowing red LED, building the jaw piston, re-skinning the face to look like it has been burnt off and of course programming it to move, recognize voice and learn as it interacts with people. As you can see where I am in the project just look at my Avatar photo, yes that is the Elvinator. So I would like to show you what's inside him and how to modify the Elvis and turn him into the Elvinator. This project is not finished yet but I will be adding more steps along the way. I not sure how many steps but I know there are a bunch. I am using a Basic Stamp 2 from Parallax right now for testing purposes then I'll make a board that is controlled by a PC once I get to that point.
This is the first step in transforming Elvis to "The Elvinator," an ongoing project. This first article is about opening your Elvis to reveal some of its electronics. The next article will be about removing the skin and so forth.
So, are you ready to get started?

Step 1: Removing the Bottom Base

Support the Elvis upside down, either in an empty trash can or in your lap. If batteries are installed, you will need to remove them before beginning this step, since you could slip and make a short circuit in it. If you look at the base, you will see that there are a lot of screws to remove. Make sure not to forget about the ones in the middle of the white standoffs. See the picture below.

Step 2: Removeing the Vest

After all the screws are removed, it's time to start on the vest. The picture below shows that the vest is connected in the front on 2 posts. Remove these connections first by prying up on them with a screw driver, going up and over the post.

Step 3: Vest Removal Continued

Once you have these connections loose, the next step is to release the bottom base from the upper torso. By doing this, you will be able to get to the electronics. Notice that around the bottom of the vest, there are locking tabs holding it in place. There are 2 more locking pins; one on each shoulder. By pulling up the vest from the bottom, you will come to the point where the vest won't move. Twist the locking key 90' to unlock and pull it out. See photos below.

Step 4: Final Steps on Removing Vest

Now that all the locking pins are removed, it's time to remove the vest. The vest on each shoulder has a connector on it. These connectors are for the IR (Infra Red) transmission (TX) and receiving (RX) Transistor on the vest pocket for the right and left. Remove the connectors and then pull the vest up and over Elvis's head. We are now ready to examine the insides.

Step 5: A Peek Inside

Finish opening the base from the torso. Be careful not to pull on the wires too firmly. On the base, you will see the pink speakers; one on the left, one on the right. The PCB on the far left is the audio amp, and the upper center is the main PCB (or "brains" if you will.) Front center is the audio interface board which integrates the micro phone and audio in from the CPU and out to the speakers.

Step 6: Whats Under This Bust

Next is a look under the shoulders. This is where the head is controlled; it can tilt right, left, up and down. Two motors control these functions in the X-Y axis using worm gears and a gear box. Notice the large silver washer. In between is a thick rubber washer, so the motor gear box can move without breaking or locking up. The board to the right of the center motor is an Hbridge circuit for controlling the movement of the motors forwards and backwards. Also in the motor gearbox is a PT sensor ( Photo Transistor) for detecting speed and lack of motor movement. On the far left and far right is the board for the IR sensors on the vest. The center bottom board is a power distribution board.

Step 7: Removing the Skin

Next is removing the skin to reveal more electronics and the workings of the facial movements.
Now, it's time to remove the skin. This part is one of the most time consuming steps. First, DO NOT use a razor blade. Instead, use the small flat blade screwdriver. This will prevent any slipups; you could potentially cut the robot skin in half. We'll start by removing the wig. The wig is hot-glued to the head until the point where it reaches the skin then it is sewn on. From the back, simply pull up on the wig all the way to the skin on both sides.

Step 8: Wig Removal

Once you are at this point, it's time to remove the wig from the skin. Pull up until you see the thread, which is close to the ear or possibly a little bit further up. Cut this thread and pull it out one thread at a time until you reach the center of his head. There, you'll find another thread to cut. Continue all the way around until you get to the other ear. Cut the thread there also. Now, the wig will be completely removed.

Step 9: Skin Removal Continued

We can now remove the robot's skin. The easy way is to start at the neck where the skin meets the head. Use the flat head screw driver and pull up on the skin, and scrape the skin away at the base of the plastic as you go. Once you get to the ears line trace the screwdriver between the plastic and the ear. This will release the glue from this point; while pulling a little on the skin continue to the center of the head. Then, start on the other side. This does take a lot of time, so don't rush it.

Step 10: Removing the Face Area

At this time, we will be working on the chest area. This is one of the hardest places. Continue on which ever side you choose, and scrape and pull the skin away. This silicone has good elastic to it and is around 1/4 inch thick in most places. Once the chest is off, pull the top part of the head over his eyes. Here, you'll see that the eyebrows can be disconnected, once the forehead is off. Disconnect the eyebrows by pulling them out of their sockets.

Step 11: Skin Removal for the Eyes and Nose

Now for the eyes. Take your time with this, so you do not cut through the eyelashes. The skin is also much thinner at this point. Once you have the eyelids loose, pull down until you get to the nose. The nose is connected by a screw that is inaccessible at this point; you'll have to cut out the silicone that goes through the nose to get to it. Use a pair of clippers or a razor blade for this.

Step 12: Finnishing the Skin Removal

At this point, put the skin back in place and let's work on the mouth and chin section. Gently pull down on the bottom lip, removing the skin from each side. Once this is done, pull the skin back over the head and remove the skin from the upper lips. Pull down on the entire skin until you reach the chin, and continue removal. Congratulations - you're done with the skin! Store the skin in a box, keeping paper inside of the skin to help keep the shape of the face. If you are going to store it for a long period of time, make sure to put the wig in a plastic bag so debris will stay out of it.

Step 13: Video Without His Skin

Next we'll see what's inside Elvis's head (haven't you always wanted to know?)
But before we see what in the head lets enjoy seeing him sing and talk without his skin on.

Step 14: Remove the Back of the Head

I hoped you enjoyed that now let take a look inside.
In this part we are going to look at the innards of the head. First lets look at the back of the head. There are 5 screws that hold the head in pace and 4 screws that hold the wire harness together and are supported by the back of the head. Lets take out the 4 screws and remove the cover and 2 bar supports.This will free up the harness.

Step 15: Back of Head Removal Continued

Now take out the 5 screws from the back skull and remove the cover. Here you'll see some of the motors and more boards. Cut the tie downs and remove the brown tape on all wire supported locations and remove all connectors from these boards, don't worry about what board does just yet we will get to that soon enough.

Step 16: Remove Boards

Now remove all boards from the back of the head. Once all boards are disconnected, except the top board which is next to the top motor gear box. In order to remove this board the face must be removed first.

Step 17: Face Cover Removal

To remove the front face you must take out 3 screws from the nose area. This area is attached to the eye assembly. Once these 3 screws are removed then turn the head to the back and you'll find a black hinge attached to the neck shaft hold the head while removing these 2 screws. Once this is done the face will fall off, so be careful when removing these screws so you don't drop the face.

Step 18: Sensor Connector Plugs and Head Control Board

Now remove the sensor connector plugs from the top board. Place the bust aside. Remove the head motor control board and sensor board and place them aside. NOTE: The picture of the bust is in the painting stage but it was the only picture I had of the bust alone.

Step 19: Eye Removal

Now its time to remove the eyes. The white plate is connected by 4 screws, one in each corner. Remove these and the remove the white plate. Now to remove the eyes you must remove the eye lift up down motor which is located at the top left gear box and then the side eye mounts, these side mounts are the metal plates with 2 screws on each side. Remove and the eyes will come out of the head.

Step 20: Head Empty at This Stage of the Game

Leave the eye lid motor gearbox on the head and we'll leave the jaw intact. Your empty head should look like this when complete.

Step 21: ELV-08 Board

This concludes the breakdown on the brain cavity, Next I'll explain what each board does and how we can use them in building our own small circuit to control the eyes. Also keep each section of screws and boards in separate bags for a faster reassembly. Also notice that each motor has a VR (Variable Resistor that changes its resistance with some sort of mechanical movement) to determine where the home location is in. This will help us out when it comes time for programming.

In this small section, we'll see what most of the boards are and what they are for. So let's take a look at one of the most important board that we'll be using.

This first board is called the ELV-08. This board controls the eyes and lip movements. It uses an H-bridge circuit for the motors. The pin outs are as follows:
  M1-Red Connector moves the eyes up and down
  M2-Orange Connector Moves Eyes Left and Right
  M3-Yellow Connector Moves Left Eye Lid (we will not be using this one)
  M4-Green Connector Moves the Right Eye Lid
  M8- Purple Connector Moves the lip Right and Left side

 J22-Power source 9v
    Pin1-red wire +9V
   Pin2 -Black/red Wire -Vss Ground

 J33- Main Interface connector
    Pin1-eye up -brown wire
    Pin2-eye down- red wire
    Pin3-eye left-orange wire
    Pin4-eye right-yellow wire
    Pin5-left eye lid up-green wire " not being used in our Elvinator "
    Pin6-left eye lid down-blue wire " not being used in our Elvinator "
    Pin7-right eye lid up-purple wire
    Pin8-right eye lid down-grey wire
    Pin9-lip down-white wire
    Pin 10-lip up-black wire

You can now see why this board is one of the most important boards, as it controls all of his facial movements; the exceptions are the jaw and eye brows, which are controlled via the ELV-07 board.

Step 22: ELV-07 Board

This ELV-07 board controls the eye brows, mouth, and left / right head movements and has a high current limiting board attached to it used for the top head motor.

Pin outs on this board are as follows:
  M11-white connector-controls L/R head movement
  M6-blue connector-controls eye brows
  M1-Grey connector controls jaw movement

  J33- power connector
    pin1-red +V (9 volts)

  J12- main controller plug
    pin1-red-neck right
    pin2-yellow-neck left
    pin3-green-jaw down
    pin4-blue-jaw up
    pin5-purple-eye brow down
    pin6-black-eye brow up

All motors in the Elvis have either a 5k or 10k ohm VR (variable resistor). The Yellow VRs are 10K ohm and the Black VRs are 5K ohm for the exception of the XY head tilt motors which use a PT (Photo Transistor) sensor. We will be using these to control the location of every motor in the Elvinator. With this, we'll convert the analog voltage into a digital signal so the Basic stamps can recognize it.

Step 23: ELV-09 Board

We will not be using the ELV-09 board instead we will make our own A/D Board for the Elvinator. The following picture will show you one circuit for controlling the VR. When we build a board, each VR will have a circuit that looks like this connected to it. The value of C is 1.0uF 35WVDC Tantalum capacitor.

But here are the Pin outs for this board:

J83 – ELV-01 - Wire connector
   Pin 1 – Red wire – 5Volts
   Pin 2 – Yellow wire – Neck Left/Right (VR Signal)
   Pin 3 – Green wire – DSC0
   Pin 4 – Blue wire –SCK
   Pin 5 – Purple wire –DSI0
   Pin 6 – Black wire –GND

VR1- Yellow –Left Eyebrow VR connector
VR2 – Red – Eyes up / down VR connector
VR3 – Green – Left Eyelid VR connector
VR4 – Blue – Right Eyelid VR connector
VR5 – Purple – Right Eyebrow VR connector
VR6 – Grey – Lip up/down VR connector
VR7 – White “3 pin connector” Jaw up/down VR connector
VR8 – Brown – Neck Left/Right VR Connector

Step 24: ELV-04 Board

Next in line is the power board: the ELV-04.

This is a pretty heavy duty power supply board - which is a must, given the multitude of all the motors that it runs.
Here are the pin outs:

  J17 - power from the transformer and a detect line for battery power
    red- 9v in
    black- ground
    brown- battery +V

    BAT1- battery connector
     pin1- ground
     pin2- 9v from battery

  J10- powers audio board
    red wire 1.5v
    black wire- ground

  J14- powers main cpu
     red- 6v out
     orange-VR power -8V will not be using this line
     black- ground
     black- ground
     brown- battery detect +9V if batteries are not in and power plug in

  J49- powers ELV-08 board +9V
  J75- powers ELV-09 VR board +9V we will use this for our own VR board
  J15- powers ELV-06 board +9V
  SW1 On/Off switch

So far, we have seen the boards that control all facial movements and its power supply board. The ELV-01, which is the main CPU, is not needed either; all programming will be done with Basic stamps and a custom control board, which we will visit later.

Step 25: ELV-05 Board

At this time. I would like you to see the audio amp for the Elvis - although I'm unsure at this stage of the project whether or not I will actually be using it.

This is the ELV-05 board; there's not too much to this board except the power in plug and audio out plugs. This board also allows for a microphone to be plugged into it as well. As you can see, I'm not too thrilled about the functionality of this board. I may swap it out when we get to the recording part of the project.

Step 26: ELV-13 Board

There are only three boards left that we will use from the Elvis, and two of them are the same board: the ELV-13. There's one of these boards for the left IR/RX controls in the jacket, and one for the right one.
As you can see, there are only 4 wires coming out of the board, one for power, one for GND (GrouND), one for RX, and one for TX to the IR LED (Infra Red Light Emitting Diode). We will use these boards just like the Elvis does: to detect that someone or something is to the left, center, or right of the bust.

Step 27: ELV-06 Board

The last board that we'll use is the ELV-06 board: this is another H-bridge board for the neck movements.

That's it for the boards for now that we will use from the Elvis.

Step 28: Moving the Eyes With a Basic Stamp

Now let's look at another video of making the eyes move with a Basic Stamp 2
Here is the code dor the routine.

' {$STAMP BS2}
' {$PBASIC 2.5}
' test motor movement and check vr's for proper poition and move eyes rt and lt
Result VAR Word 'Word variable to hold result.
LOW 10 ' set pin 10 low eye right
HIGH 8 ' set pin 8 high eye left to move motor eye left
LOW 8 ' ser pin 8 low eye left to stop motor eye left
pwmduty VAR Byte
pwmout PIN 6 'LED connected to P6
pwmduty=0 'set duty cycle to 0

GOSUB checkeyes
IF RESULT =1 OR RESULT =0 THEN GOTO BUG ' if vr has no signal stop program
IF result <= 1100 THEN GOTO EYELEFT
IF result >= 2300 THEN GOTO eyeright
GOTO eyeright

DEBUG "bug found in VR READINGS = ", DEC RESULT,CR ' if signal loss stop routine

checkeyes: ' checking the VR location

HIGH 7 'use pin 7 to Discharge the cap circuit
PAUSE 1 'for 1 ms.
RCTIME 7, 1, Result 'Measure RC charge time. convert analog to digital


eyeright: ' move right eye to the right
HIGH 10 ' turn motor on

DEBUG "eye right mode", DEC result, CR
GOSUB checkeyes
IF Result < 1100 THEN GOTO LINESLOW 'check to see if it at the lower limits


eyeleft: 'move eye to the left

HIGH 8 'turn on motor

DEBUG "eyeleft mode", DEC result

GOSUB checkeyes
IF Result > 2300 THEN GOTO LinesLow ' if over limit turn off motor


LinesLow: ' turn off motor
LOW 10
DEBUG "droped lines low" , CR
GOSUB runhigh

GOTO main

DO WHILE pwmduty<255 'keep increasing dutycycle till 255 is reached
PWM PWMout, pwmduty,15 ' run to increase voltage to LED decrease last # for faster
pwmduty=pwmduty+1 'Increase duty cycle by 1

IF pwmduty>=255 THEN pwmduty=254 'set duty cycle to 254
DO WHILE pwmduty >=1 'continue to decrease voltage to LED
PWM pwmout,pwmduty,25 ' run to decrease voltage to LED increase last # for faster
pwmduty=pwmduty-1 'Decrease cycle by 1
PAUSE 2000


Step 29: Eye Fade in and Out Test

And now making the Elvinator Eye fade in and out test.

Here is the code for this:

' {$STAMP BS2}
' {$PBASIC 2.5}
' This program sets the brightness of the eye and fades in and the out
pwmduty VAR Byte
pwmout PIN 6 'LED connected to P6

pwmduty=0 'set duty cycle to 0

DO WHILE pwmduty<255 'keep increasing dutycycle till 255 is reached
PWM PWMout, pwmduty,15 ' run to increase voltage to LED decrease last # for faster
pwmduty=pwmduty+1 'Increase duty cycle by 1

IF pwmduty>=255 THEN pwmduty=254 'set duty cycle to 254
DO WHILE pwmduty >=1 'continue to decrease voltage to LED
PWM pwmout,pwmduty,25 ' run to decrease voltage to LED increase last # for faster
pwmduty=pwmduty-1 'Decrease cycle by 1
PAUSE 2000
GOTO runhigh 'start over


Hope you enjoyed that I know I did when I got it to work correctly. Now lets move on to the next part.


First lets get the supplies ready. You'll need the following:

7 each 220 ohm resistors 1/4 watt at 5% color code (Red, Red, Brown, Gold)
7 each 1.0 uF tantalum capacitor Note the polarized lead. The + side goes to the Vdd. Do not flip these capacitor they will explode if connected backwards and will release the magic smoke inside them.
7 each VR, " Variable Resistor " a resistor that can change it's resistance by a mechanical movement, plugs from the original ELV-09 board. Use the correct color plugs. The only plugs you will leave on the original board are the green plug and the large white plug.
1 each PCB predrilled prototyping board. Make sure the board is the same size as the ELV-09 and that the mounting holes are in the correct location.

The following schematic is to be used for each VR connector. On your VRs connector the center pin on each plug is the center connection for the variable resistors. When all 7 circuits are complete connect all the Vdd connections together and connect all grounds together. A black wire will be connected to the ground or Vss for system ground and a red wire connected to the Vdd for system voltage. For all I/O (Input / Output) connections from the 220 ohm resistors I used the corresponding wire color for each plug to help identify what each wire is for. Any means of construction is suitable for this board, which means you can make a PCB with a single or double-sided copper clad board by etching out the line traces and drilling the mounting holes. As you can see I used the traditional pin wiring board building technique.

Once this board is built, next is to check all connection with your meter set at continuity check. Make sure every thing is correct! If not re-solder or re-wire it. Set this board off to the side and well come back to it.
Next is making the Eye.

Step 31: Making the Elvinator Eye

Making the Elvinator Eye

More fun and new skills will be learned in this section. Making a new eye for our Elvinator really is not hard at all, just time consuming. First making a mold for the eye, there are different approaches to this but I'll show you a simple one. Let's start off by getting the parts ready.
1. Amazing Mold Putty found at or your local Craft Shop
2. Micro-Mark CR-600 High performance casting resin or any other casting resin, Hobby store or Craft Shop
3. Mold block supports, you build these out of wood, plastic, or anything else that will hold its shape well.
4. Mold release agent, (Olive oil works well for this and is recommended)
5. Rubber bands or wire to hold the mold backings together.
6. Super bright red LED 5mm
7. Wire for the LED connection
8. Metallic silver spray paint
9. White and black enamel hobby paint
10. 3/16" drill bit
11. 1/2" drill bit
12. Soldering iron and solder
13. small side cutters and razor knife
14. Mixing cups and stir sticks
15. I almost forgot the most important part the Elvis Eye!

First let's remove the eye from the assembly. You'll need to remove the under side of the eye assembly plate. First remove the 4 screw as shown. And then the 2 top head screws and then remove the plate.

Step 32: Making the Elvinator Eye Continued

Once the plate is removed flip over the Assembly and remove the screw on top of the left eye.

Step 33: Popping Out the Eye

Now flip the assembly over again and remove the last screw holding on to the left eye. Once removed slip the bar over the eye connection and move it out of the way. Make sure that the eyelid is closed shut and remove the eye from the bottom of the assembly. This may be a little tricky but it will come out.

Step 34: Removing the Eyes Back Cover

Now its time to remove the back section of the eye, this is held in by 4 small tabs and glued in. you must crack these two pieces apart. Use a small flat head screwdriver and break apart the two halfs.

Now let's make the frame for the mold.

Step 35: Mold Making for the Eye

Mold making for the Elvinator's eye is quit simple although there are different ways to do it; I'm going to show you one of the many ways of mold making. First let's get all of the materials together.
1. Plywood, sturdy foam board, or PVC plastic sheets or anything that will hold up as a form.
2. Amazing Mold Putty. You can get this at
3. Super glue or other adhesive that will hold your frame together such as Hot Glue which I used.
4. Mold release compound or Olive Oil.
5. Rubber bands or wire to hold the frame together.
6. High performance casting resin. I use Micro-Mark CR-600 but any casting resin will do.

OK let's start off by building the frame for the mold. I used a 1/4 in thick PVC sheet cut down in to the following dimensions:
1. 2 ea 20mm x 38mm x 5mm
2. 2 ea 20mm x 45mm x 5mm

These 4 pieces will be the block wall for the mold putty to be placed in and then the eye pressed down into the putty compound. Take one of each frame sides and glue them together, Glue the 45mm length to the inside part of the 38mm frame then make another with the other 2 pieces. Do NOT glue all 4 sides together else it will be had to remove the mold compound from its frame. Once done it should look like this:

Step 36: Mold Frame Setup

Next lets tie the to mold supports together. Use wire or a rubber band to do this and it should look like this now:

Step 37: Mixing the Mold Putty

OK before we are ready for mixing the mold compound, make sure you cote both the inside of the mold frame and the surface you are working on and your Elvis eye with your mold release. Lets mix the putty, now that we are ready. Take 4 grams of part A and Part B of the amazing mold putty. Flatten each part out with your hands into a pancake. After you have done this place the 2 together and mix by hand until you have an even color, but don't mix too long else the putty will start to harden and you'll have to start over. Once you have it mixed place it into the frame and press it in flat and fill in the corners of the mold frame. Now its time to place the eye into the center of the putty, Press the eye in the center of the putty until you reach the edge of the eye but do not press it until you hit the bottom of the surface you are working on make sure that you have at least 1/8" of space at the bottom of the eye and the surface of the mold. If you make this frame exactly as I did and weigh out your putty you will not have to worry about hitting the bottom. Note if you hit the bottom of the surface START OVER and add more putty!

Step 38: Getting the First Half of the Mold Ready

Once this is done next take the end of a pencil eraser and make 4 buttons one on each corner to align the two half's of the mold when the second half is placed in. It will look like this:

Step 39: Making the Top of the Mold

Let this dry about a 1/2 an hour and then we are ready to make the top part of the mold. Now that the putty is hard lets push out the mold about half way where the mold is coming out from the bottom of the frame, Mix the same amount of putty 4gram of part A and 4 grams of part B. Add more mold release to the inner mold you just made including the inside of the eye. Now mix the putty and this time roll the putty in a tube like shape and insert it into the center of the eye, fill in the eye and the complete edges of the mold.
If you forget to add the mold release you have just stuck the top and bottom layers together and you must cut them apart and start over so don't for get it.

Step 40: Mold Almost Finnished

After another 1/2 an hour the frame is ready to be released. Open up the mold half's and remove the eye from the mold, you now have an Elvis eye mold that is almost complete. Next thing to do is to cut out a pour spout so the resin can enter the mold. If you look at the top of the eye you will see a half round section craved out, This is the spot we want to use because we can use a drill bit to clean up the spout. Carve out a V section at this location and also you need to remove half of the inner part of the eye bubble as see in the photos below.

Step 41: Pouring the Eye

Make sure you apply your mold release on the mold else you will not be able to remove the eye from it and you'll have to start over. Use a rubber band to hold the mold half's in place. Mix your resin per the instruction that came with it and very slowly pour it into the mold to help prevent bubbles from forming. Let this sit until it is completely cured.

Step 42: Removing the Eye From the Mold

Remove the eye and trim off the pour stem and use a drill bit or a round file to make that half round section. Test fit the back plate on your new Elvinator eye, make adjustments to it as necessary.

Step 43: Eye Prep

After the trim work drill a 3/16" hole in the center of the eye to fit the LED in place, after that flip the eye to the front and drill a 1/2" hole about a 1/4" of the way down but do not go through it completely. This section will be painted a black color and outlined in white to offset the silver eye. Pretest the LED fit, make adjustments if necessary Once this is done remove the LED and paint the eye a chrome color using the same paint you'll use for the skull. Apply 2 coated. Next paint the back side Black with black enamel paint this will block the light from coming back into the inside of the eye.

Step 44: Back Eye Support

While the eye is drying lets prepare the back connector for the eye. Cut the 45 deg angle support off, so when you install the LED wires through the back eye support when the eyes move it won't cut the wire in half. Next drill 2 holes for your 24 gauge wire that will be connected to the LED. At this point cut 24" of each a Red and Black wire of 24 gauge. Solder the Black wire on the cathode, [The wire where the Flat spot is on the LED] and the Red wire on the Anode. Paint the inside of the back eye support black, after its dry place the LED inside you new eye and run the wires through the holes of the back eye support.

Step 45: Eye Lid Removal

Once the new Elvinator eye is finished set it to the side. Now the next step is to remove the eye lid from the eye assembly.

Eyelid Removal

  OK, this is a little tricky, but it must be done. I have not taken the proper pictures in this process but I'll try to explain it the best that I can.
First on the right side of the eyelid you'll see C clip holding down the eyelid. Remove this clip and hang on to it. Next remove the pin that held the C clip on. Once this is removed keep the pin and the eye plate handy to the side. Next you'll see the white lever arm on the left side of the eyelid. This is held in by a screw in the back where the motor is, remove this screw and place it in your extra screw bottle. Next remove the pins that hold in the left side of the eyelid section using a flat screwdriver or a pair of side cutters and pull these pins out. Once this is done remove the plastic lever arm and put that in your collections box. Once the eyelid is removed you need to return to the right side and attach the eye bracket back on, use a #4 washer for the extra spacing you just removed from the eyelid. Once this is done reinstall the larger push pin back into the nose frame to keep the eye socket moving correctly. All other parts are left over see the photo with the eyelid and parts on the table. These are the components you'll have left over after the removal of the eye.

Step 46: Eye Install

OK, that was not too bad was it?
Now let's install the new Elvinator eye.
First step is to install the eye, do the same thing as you did when you removed the eye, look back if you forgot. One thing has changed since we installed the LED in the eye Yes the wires, wrap the wires around a leg pin that is underneath the large shield that holds everything in place and make sure the wires have enough room to move to the eye to the far right and far left without pulling on the wires: refer to the photo.

Step 47: Skin Cutting

Not very hard was it?
Now let's prep up the face for some painting. First sand down the head front and back to remove all the glue and extra silicone left over from the skin removal process. Don't worry about the chest area unless you want to add your own cut marks there too.
Once this is done take the silicone face and draw out your cut lines this will be your scoring lines when you paint the plastic face silver or chrome whichever you choose.

Step 48: Cutting Skin and Drawing

Once you are happy with the design you have on the skin cut this out with a pair of scissors. Place the skin on your front face and draw the lines on it.

Step 49: Jaw Removal

Now remove the Jaw section. There are two screws one on each side of the jaw also remove the center screws from the chin area. Break apart the jaw and remove the jaw lever. Set the jaw aside.

Step 50: Prep Head for Painting Chrome

Once this is done then tape off the non panting area plus make sure you don't miss his teeth when tapping, also tape off the jaw area as well at this point.

Step 51: Chrome Painting Head

OK, we are now ready to paint the face. I used Plasti-Kote metallic acrylic enamel silver # 19101 for my paint but if you can not find this any metallic paint will do.

Now spray at least 3 coats of this paint onto the face and jaw areas that are not taped off, let each coat sit for at least 1/2 hour before adding another coat. Do not rush this process else you get paint that will leave drip lines and then you'll have to sand and repaint it.

Step 52: Remove Tape

Once this is complete and dry, remove the tape being careful not to remove the paint from the head. After the tape I removed your head should look like this after the jaw is put back on.

Step 53: Paint Back of Head and Torso

Now lets spray down the back left half of the head, no taping is required because the wig will cover this up in the final product, spray down the left half of the torso as well. When spraying down the torso try not to get too much paint on the ball and joint in the neck area. See photos below:

Step 54: Jaw Piston

At this time install the eye assembly back into the head, but do not install any boards or attach it to the bust, refer back to the eye removal section if you need to.

Now we are going to make and add the jaw piston, I know that there are two jaw pistons but with out cutting down the main face and rebuilding it up we will just install one. Plus the design I have on the skin would just cover it up anyways so not harm done.

Making the Jaw piston is quite easy the following supplies are as follows:
1. 1ea 35mm 5/32" brass or copper tube
2. 1ea 60mm 1/8" copper or brass tube
3. 1ea 10mm 5/32" brass or copper tube
4. 5ea #4 washer
5. solder and flux
6. Flame torch

First cut you tubes to length, once done solder one washer to the 35mm 5/32" tube at the end. Then take the 60mm tube and solder the 10mm tube to one of the ends. After this is soldered take a washer and at a 45 deg angle solder this to the 10mm tube. Your piston is now complete. Sand or file down any large solder bumps. Also use a vise or a third hand devise when soldering with a torch, a standard soldering iron will not solder these tubes together. Once everything is soldered insert the 1/8" tube into the 5/32" tube and trial fit the motion. If it is tight the sand down the 1/8" tube down a bit until you have a good fit. See photos below as a reference.

Step 55: Jaw Piston Attachment

Next let's install them to the face. Use 2 washers on the jaw and one washer on the cheek and drill a small hole where you want to place the piston. Once you find a good spot that you like install a small self tapping screw into the jaw washers and the cheek washers. Check and make sure that the jaw piston will extend all the way down and will move with the mouth, if not re-adjust the location. See photos below:

Step 56: Glueing the Skin Back On

Now that we have the Jaw finished let's start making the burnt flesh look.
This part is the fun step I really enjoy doing so let's get our supplies ready.
1. Latex rubber for molds or mask latex
2. Latex paint, Black, Red, Purple, Green, Med Flesh, Yellow, White
3. Makeup sponges for adding paint
4. Roll Cotton or Ball Cotton
5. 2" Throw away brush
6. Stage Blood Gel
7. Hot Pour Vinyl #93 from Burman Industries ph# 818-782-9833
8. Small tin to heat the vinyl and a stove that can be used outside

Now that we have our supplies, lets start.
First let's super glue the cut face back on the front of the head. Start with putting the eyebrows back into their sockets and very carefully glue the eye lids back down. Start with the bottom first and then the top. Use a small screwdriver or anything else you have to hold the eyelid in place until the glue dries. It helps if the eyelid is closed. After the eyelids are finished continue to glue the rest of the skin down. When doing the lips make sure they are in the right place so it does not look like its warped. Refer to photos below:

Step 57: Building Up the Skin

OK the hard part is done, now the fun part. First take some cotton out and apply some latex to the cut part of the skin and place the cotton over this and add more latex to the top of the cotton. Continue this all the way around the places you cut the skin and add some to the jaw piston as well. There is no way to mess this up, just have fun with it and if you place some cotton in the wrong place just remove it and continue. See photos below:

Step 58: Rebuild the Head

Now let this dry and you'll notice that the ear is not in place, this will be put on when the back of the head is installed and all electronics in the head is placed. Then we will glue the ear on and add more flesh to it to blend it in.

Once dry putting it back together
First install ELV-09 board that you made earlier on to the top part of the Bust next to the main head motor using the 4 screws that you removed the old board with. Sorry I did not take a picture of the new board while I was installing it but this picture is with the original ELV-09 board installed.

After this board is installed refer back to the dis-assembly of the board and the eye section to rebuild the head including the back of the head. Make sure you plug everything back in and double check the plug seating. Tie the new ELV-09 board wires with tie straps and guide them through the back hole in the neck and down into the torso, don't forget the black spring wire wrap.

Step 59: Painting

Once every thing is back together let's glue the ear back on and add more latex and cotton flesh to it to cover up the holes you'll see. Note do not attach the bottom base at this time leave it off so we can do more testing and setting up the new main board down the road.
Let the new skin dry about a day until it takes on a darker color. Now it's time for painting. I painted this using the rubber mask paint from . First I added the med flesh paint then added some black to show highlights after that I added purple and red for bruising effect and a little white, green and yellow for a better look letting each coat dry before adding the next color. See photo below:

I know this does not look like what is should be but let it dry and it will darken up plus this is only the first step.

Step 60: Add More Black Paint

After this dries in about a day add more black for the burnt effect. See photo:

Step 61: Adding the Wig

Next glue the wig back on using hot glue and put the jacket back on as well. You will have to cut the wig around the ear that you glued on and we'll shave the wig and give it a melting effect now.
See photo:

Step 62: Cutting and Buring the Hair

Once the hair is glued and cut to shape let's give it a burnt look. Using a Heat Iron press the hair down until it starts to melt and do this all the way down until the fake burning skin stops. After this style his hair for him. See photos:

Step 63: Adding Blood

OK we are almost done with the effect we are looking for.
Next we are adding stage blood gel to his face use an eyedropper to add the blood. After this is done let it dry for about 2 to 3 days, I know it won't be completely dry and it never will but we will coat it with hot pour vinyl.

Step 64: Hot Pour Vinyl

Next is the hot pour vinyl, you need to be out side or in the garage with the door open and fresh air coming in. When heat the hot pour vinyl it gives off a very bad smell so don't do this in the house!!
Mix up the hot pour vinyl and pour it in a small dish that you can throw away. Very slowly heat it up to 375 deg F or unit it becomes clear, now let it heat up till its just a light brown and cut the heat fast. Be sure you do NOT get this on your skin it will burn you fast. Use a throwaway brush and apply it all over the burnt part of the skin even on the jaw piston if you want because it will pull away after the piston moves. Let this dry 1 day and after that apply a small amount of baby powder on the face to get rid of the shine and stickiness of the vinyl. Congrats your done with the effects of the Elvinator effect.

Next is making the face move and I'll add this later for you as we continue this long instructiable. I really hope you all are enjoying it as much as I am. And please leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Instructables and RoboGames Robot Contest

Second Prize in the
Instructables and RoboGames Robot Contest

The Instructables Book Contest

Participated in the
The Instructables Book Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Eggs Challenge

      Eggs Challenge
    • Meatless Challenge

      Meatless Challenge
    • Sculpt & Carve Challenge

      Sculpt & Carve Challenge



    Question 3 years ago

    Is there anything I can do to change modes if I don’t have the remote I have the memory card in it


    Answer 1 year ago

    A tv remote may work to switch his modes. It could convey some type of signal. (it works with my 1998 furbys, so it could possibly work with your Elvis)


    9 years ago

    Hello your blog is really fascinating. I really wish someone can fix my Elvis he just stop working and I don't know why. I wonder If you could fix him for me.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Want to sell your remot if you don’t get it going


    6 years ago

    Does anyone know where I can find a replacement remote control for the Wow Wee Talking Elvis Head? I've looked just about everywhere and can't find one.



    9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks to this guide, I'm celebrating Presidents Day in the US with the Elvis Alive and Chimpanzee from Wowee. Powered by Arduino!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I can fix your Elvis.


    9 years ago

    Can some one fix my Elvis??

    2556, 11:53.jpg

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Sure, I can fix your Elvis.

    Hello, Can anyone fix my Elvis to just be Elvis? When the head operates it works only cocked to Elvis' right. All else works. It worked great for about 15 minutes, then the headcock began. I will happily pay to have him repaired. Regards, Rich


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, I can fix your Elvis. Richard. And anyone else's too. e-mail me @


    please can you provide the schematic of the IR tracking sensors and how they make his head follow movement ?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Got mine up and running!


    11 years ago on Step 23

    please i bought this used ELVIS from EBAY; when powers on it only repositions its neck and then nothing happens. please any advise ? I tried fresh batteries and better adaptor; I also pulled all connectors between allboards and placed them back in place one by one. so far no success...Please advise me...many thanks....


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It is most likely a malfunctioning limit switch. There is a square plate at the base of the neck on in the inside of the torso. It slides around with the L/R, U/D of the neck. At the extremes, it closes a limit switch. One of these is not working working properly and telling the firmware that the head is in an impossible position.

    When you first power up the bust, it moves the neck through the fulle range of motion to calibrate it and then set it in a nuetral position (since removing power can be done at any time and the head will just stop wherever it was.) If it is unable to sense where the neck limits are, it just hangs up.

    You will need to test the switches and either replace or clean them. They may all appear to work fine, but check them with an ohm meter while holding them closed. If the value is bouncing around all over the place, then the switch is faulty (remember, this is just a switch so it should only be either 0 ohms or infinite.)

    This is a common problem for the Elvis bust.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Checked the neck limit switches, yes one of them was leaking. But the surgery did not end there. As advised by RetroPlayer before; I removed one of the two neck motors, found that its plastic base melted in a way it is now sitting tilted.(see the pictures). This also caused one gear to break, and the slotted wheel that feeds the position optosensor is no longer sitting in place between sensor slot. later I took off the motor found that it still works, but has major damage inside due to overheating; parts of the amature shattered inside the motor.
    I will try to replace the motor with something similar, and get a gear from a toy and put things together hope it works. If someone have this part for sale I will buy it....
    Any idea's why the motor melted its enclosure? please educate us ....


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    BTW retroplayer; do u do WowWee regretted selling ELVIS at only 80$ ? I mean when u open it; and after reading ur hacks inside it; it is some peice of work. all that animatronics for just 80$..hwat di u think ?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Retro Player. I must admit that you know ELVIS bust like ur own son. I m gonna check the limit switch and report bck. God bless u man


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 23

    It sounds like you have a burned out sensor board or possibly CPU board. Go to Robots and Androids on ebay. They sell all the boards. Or you can see if their web site "" has instructions.