Animatronic Talking Takeout Container




About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author ...

The animatronic talking takeout container is a fun little toy that is good for hours of amusement. This idea came about after having taken a special effects film class when I was in college. While in the class, I made a short film of myself talking to a takout container with a face drawn on it. However, not having the know-how to do anything with electronics, the initial version was being controlled by a friend pulling upon and releasing a thin fishing line. While I do not doubt that my friend was skilled at controlling the lid in this manner, I couldn't help but thinking that it would be great if I could automate the whole thing -- at the very least -- less embarassing. Even though more than a decade has passed and I no longer have much desire to be an experimental filmmaker, this idea has lingered with me. I always tell people that if given enough time, I will finish any project I start. Thus, I have finally made this long-time dream of having conversations with an autonomous takeout container a reality.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need:

(x1) Arduino Mega (Radioshack #276-127)
(x1) Seeed Studio Music Shield v1.0
(x1) 2GB (or less) micro SD card
(x1) PC Board (Radioshack #276-150)
(x1) LM741 op amp (Radioshack #276-007)
(x1) LM386 amplifier (Radioshack #276-1731)
(x1) 470K resistor (Radioshack #271-1133)
(x2) 100K resistor (Radioshack #271-1131)
(x2) 10K resistor (Radioshack #271-1126)
(x1) 1K resistor (Radioshack #271-1118)
(x1) 220uF capacitor (Radioshack #272-1029)
(x1) 10uF capacitor (Radioshack #272-1025)
(x3) 0.1uF capacitor (Radioshack #272-135)
(x1) 10K trimmer (Radioshack #271-282)
(x1) Speaker (Radioshack #273-092)
(x1) Standard servo (Radioshack #273-766)
(x1) M-type plug (Radioshack #274-1569)
(x1) 8 x AA battery holder (Radioshack #270-387)
(x8) AA batteries (Radioshack #23-1582)
(x1) 6" x 6" x 1/8" clear acrylic square
(x1) Fake food (of your choosing)
(x1) Takeout container
(x2) Googily eyes
(x1) Assorted zip ties

Step 2: Glue

Glue your googily eyes onto the front of the takeout container.

Step 3: Drill and Attach

Use the attached template as a guide for cutting a clear plastic lever out of the 1/8" acrylic sheet.

Drill two pairs of 1/8" holes along the outside of the servo horn, such that they line up with the holes in the clear plastic lever.

Zip tie the two together and trim away the excess zip tie tail in order to ensure that extra bit won't interfere withn rotation.

Step 4: Trim

Trim a thin slot in the back portion of your fake food to acomodate the clear lever.

Step 5: Program the Arduino

Load a micro SD card with audio as specified on this page and insert it into the music shield.

Place your music shield onto the Arduino Mega.

Upload the following code the Arduino:

Step 6: Build the Circuit

Start to build the circuit as specified in the schematic, with the exception of the audio connections and the servo motor.

Step 7: Plug

Cut the audio cable and expose the signal wire and ground connection.

Solder those to the circuit board as indicated in the schematic.

Basically, the signal connection should connect to the 0.1uF capacitor at the audio in connection, and the ground wire should go to the circuit board's ground plane.

Step 8: Plug Things In

Plug the circuit board's audio connection into the audio-in jack on the music shield.

Connect the servo motor to the Arduino with solid core wire as specified in the schematic.


The servo's red wire should connect to 5V on the PCB.

The servo's brown wire should connect to ground on the PCB.

The servo's orange wire should connect to pin 30 on the Arduino Mega.

Now would also be a good time to connect the Arduino Mega's ground and the 5V connections to the appropriate spots on the PCB (if you have not done so already).

Step 9: Plug

Twist the M-type plug apart and slide the protective casing onto the wires from the battery holder.

Solder the red wire to the plug's center terminal.

Solder the black wire to the plug's outer ground terminal.

Make sure that the two connections are not touching and then twist the casing back onto the plug.

Step 10: Batteries

Insert batteries into the battery holder.

Step 11: Speaker

Solder the red wire from the speaker to the audio-out connection on the circuit board, and the black wire to ground.

Insulate the solder joints with either shrink tube or electical tape.

Step 12: Put It Together

Place the circuitry at the bottom of the takeout container.

Position the servo motor in the back such that the lever is situated between the slot in the fake food and it is elevated enough to push the lid up and down.

Place the fake food on top and close the lid of the container.

It should now be doing its animatronic thing.

Be the First to Share


    • Made with Math Contest

      Made with Math Contest
    • Multi-Discipline Contest

      Multi-Discipline Contest
    • Robotics Contest

      Robotics Contest

    16 Discussions


    3 years ago

    This was great


    5 years ago on Step 6

    And I don't see the second capacitor going to the 386 op amp. Also, should pin 6 of the 386 chip have power going to it?


    5 years ago on Step 6

    Hello - From what I can tell of the schematic and the photo of your board, there is a diode connected to ground and the line going to the Arduino analog input. In the parts list, there is a potentiometer listed, but I don't see it in the schematic or on the board. Am I missing something?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Pretty funny! Nice job. I hope I don't open my fridge one day and get scared! :-)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Where did you get that fake food ? It really looks real. Did you make it ?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    It's interesting... I did a search for "Fake Food" just to see what's "out there"... they have just about everything... and most of it isn't cheap! Must be big business.

    See: CLICK ME



    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Oh. I had not considered that it could just live in the fridge. This could be good for dieting. It can yell at someone every time they open the refrigerator. I should patent this and make a fortune!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    My first thought was to add a motion sensor (with short delay) and leave this in the fridge at work to freak out co-workers.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Really nice, but how about a video showing the device in operation with out a voice over? You talked over the top of everything, so I'm not sure how well the prop sounds or works.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I see someone had too much time on their hands, but it's still pretty interesting!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    OMG love this little guy!! if i ever open a restaurant, they will be seated along the window talking to people on the street =)
    thank you for inspiring!