DIY Animatronic Dragon!

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Animatronic dragon created in order to have a first approach to animatronics. This dragon is going to be taking care of its treasure and whenever it feels someone approaching, it will want to protect it, so that it won’t be stolen. For doing so it will open its wings, its mouth and it will change the color of its eyes to scare the possible thief.

WITH THIS INSTRUCTABLE YOU WILL LEARN ABOUT:

- Making a two-piece plaster mold

- Creating figures with latex

- Some electronics with Arduino

- Creating a mechanism to make the dragon’s wings and mouth open a close

You don’t really need to make a dragon, you can apply these instructions to any kind of creature you want to create, your imagination is the limit!

YOU WILL NEED:

FOR THE MOLD AND THE LATEX DRAGON:

- Stick (20 cm)
- wood for the base (30 x 20 cm)
- Screw (to attach the stick to the board)
- Polystyrene balls
- Plaster type 3 (it provides excellent detail)
- Water
- Bowl (To mix the plaster with water)
- Acetate
- Tape
- Liquid Latex
- *Calcium chloride (Not mandatory)
- Wire
- Polymer clay
- 2 small glass balls (for the eyes)
- Paint for latex (I found it in Colombia as paint for balloons)
- Fabric Clothes
- Rubber glue (you can use contact cement)
- Vaseline
- Rope

FOR THE MECHANISM:

- Two folding umbrella arms
- A piece of acrylic (10 x 10 cm)
- Wire
- 2 small metal sheets (like 1,5 x 5 cm, for making the jaws)
- A plastic tube (similar to a Straw, but stronger)

FOR THE ELECTRONICS:

- Arduino UNO
- Servomotor SG-5010
- Red LED
- Resistor 220 Ω
- Motion detector hc-sr501
- Cables

FOR THE BASE AND TREASURE:

- Old coins
- Beads
- Small Trunk (Approx. 12 x 9 x 11 cm)
- Wood sheet (For using as a base of our animatronic)
- Terracotta color paints

Step 1: SCULPTING THE BODY

1. We join with a screw the stick to the board (this will help us as a base to model the clay)
2. With polystyrene balls and wire, create the basic shape of the dragon, attached to the stick attached to the board.
3. Take your polystyrene-wire figure and build up layers of clay, making it at least 1.5 cm thick.
4. Now, start sculpting the dragon (or creature) the way you want it.
5. Create the scales.
6. Add all the missing details. (Such as the eyes and nose)

Step 2: SCULPTING LEGS AND TAIL

It would be really difficult to make just one mold for the whole dragon, so if your creature has complex parts on the design it is better you create it separated and mold them on their own, as I did with the legs and tail.

1. Follow the same instructions from “Step 1”, but this time creating 2 legs and a tail. This time the wood for the base and the stick are not needed.
You only need to sculpt 2 legs and after creating the molds you can use them twice for creating the 4 latex-legs.

Step 3: TWO PIECE PLASTER MOLD

1. Carefully add pieces of acetate through the center of the dragon, joining these together with tape. (This will help us to divide the mold into two parts)
2. Mix the plaster with water and began to apply it to one side of the dragon. (Several layers must be applied)
3. Everything is covered in plaster except (in the lower part) a hole that is left, through which we will pour the latex.
4. The plaster should cover part of the acetate.
5. Let it dry very well.
6. The pieces of acetate are removed.
7. Apply Vaseline on the plaster so that half of the mold is not stuck to the other half.
8. Start to apply plaster as we did with the first half part.
9. Let it dry.
10. Open the mold and clean the clay.

Step 4: MOLD OF LEGS AND TAIL

1. The same way we learned to make molds in plaster, molds are made for the legs and tail.

Step 5: LATEX

1. Strap both parts of the mold together with the lace.
2. Pour a little unthickened liquid latex into the mold then swish it all around the mold and leave it until set, then repeat for at least 5 times if not more.
3. * You can add some calcium chloride diluted in water (16 oz water – 1 spoon calcium chloride) After the 5 previous layers, pour some of it in to the mold and swish it all around, then you can alternate 2 o 3 layers more – 1 made of latex – 1 made of calcium chloride.
* (This is not a needed step, you can use just latex, but if you use calcium chloride it will help you to obtain thicker latex layers, therefore making faster the process.)
4. Let it dry for at least 48 hours and then open the mold.
5. Cut off excess material.
6. Repeat the same process with the legs and the tail (Remember to make 4 legs).

Step 6: ADDING SOME DETAILS, AND THE LEGS AND TAIL TO THE BODY

1. To add details to the dragon such as some horns and nails, create basic shapes with wire and attach them to the dragon’s body.
2. Cover them with polymer clay and create the shapes you want.
3. To join the legs and the tail, holes are made in the body of the dragon in which the legs and tail enter (This can be done with scissors). Also, open the holes for its mouth and eyes.
4. Insert the legs and the tail into the corresponding holes. Apply glue from the inside (Could be Contact Cement. I used one called “Boxer”, I bought it in Colombia).

Step 7: MECHANISM

(Don’t worry too much, Read the steps and then watch the video in the next step, it will help you understand it all better)

1. Laser cut the base for the mechanism. (pdf attached)
2. Connect the servomotor to the base with screws.
3. Attach the plastic tube to the base (possibly with wire).
4. MANDIBLE MECHANISM the jaws are created giving a U shape to the metal sheets.
The upper jaw is fixed to the tube so that it doesn’t move. (It is not necessary to add the teeth in this step; I took the photo when I had already added them, but we will see this step later.)
5. The lower jaw joins the upper jaw with shafts that allow it to move.
6. The lower jaw is attached to the servo motor with a wire to control its movement.
7. Two umbrella arms are attached to the base of the mechanism (possibly with wire).
8. They are tied with wire on the back in the points that make them open and close and are joined to another wire in the vertical perforation that has the base.
9. This last wire is attached to the servo to control the movement of the wings.

Step 8: VIDEO - HOW THE MECHANISM SHOULD WORK

Don´t worry about the electronics, we will see that later.

Step 9: WINGS (FIRST PART)

1. Place the mechanism of the wings on fabric.
2. Draw the outline.
3. Leave a larger space marked in those parts where the mechanism bents.
4. Draw the desired shapes of the wings from the basic lines.
5. It is necessary to create a bag with the shape of the mechanism of the wings that covers the mechanism when they are covered with latex, otherwise, the mechanism will be latex covered and will not be able to move.
6. For this, I cut two plastic bags with the form marked in red and I joined them with tape where the yellow dotted line is seen in the image, creating a bag for the mechanism.
7. The bag created to cover the mechanism is covered with cloth and the wing is sewn.
8. The mechanism is inserted into the bag/wing.
9. The sticks that I put to create the wing divisions are not necessary. I noticed that when the dragon was finished, and I took them off.
The same steps are repeated with the other wing.
10. The mechanism of the wings should already be attached to the base of mechanisms as we saw in previous steps.
11. We prove that the wings can be closed.
12. And open again.
If necessary, we make adjustments.

Step 10: WINGS (SECOND PART)

1. Open holes in the body of the dragon to join the wings. (Prove that the mechanism enters there)
2. Glue the wings to the dragon’s body. (Do so from the inside, you may use Contact cement)
3. Cover the wings with latex and let them dry. (You can use the latex as if it was paint and apply it with a brush)

Step 11: HOW THE MECHANISM SHOULD GO INSIDE OUR DRAGON

Step 12: ELECTRONICS

Connect the elements to the arduino as shown in the image. And see how it all should go inside our Dragon so you leave long enough the cables for them to work.

Step 13: PROGRAMMING

(Don’t worry about the text after the two slashes // it won’t affect the code, it is there just to explain you what are we doing in every line of the code, if you prefer, you can delete that part and just leave the code in bold)

Upload the code:

#include //we declare the pins we are going to use
Servo myservo; // create servo object to control a servo
int analogPin = A5; //Analogic A5 for the sensor
int ledPin = 10; //Digital 10 for the LED
int val = 0; // variable to store the servo position

void setup()

{

Serial.begin(9600); // initialize serial communication at 9600 bits per second
pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT); //declare pin 10 to be an output
pinMode(analogPin, INPUT); //declare pin A5 to be an input
myservo.attach(9); // attaches the servo on pin 9 to the servo object

}

void loop()

{

val = analogRead(analogPin); // read the input on analog pin
if(val > 100) // if the value is more than 100 then:

{

Serial.println(val);
digitalWrite(ledPin,HIGH); // Turns on the LED
myservo.write(5); // sets the servo position according to the number in the brackets, you should change the number inside the brackets according to the mechanism’s movement. Try this number first and then try changing it to other numbers, you will find the best for your dragon.
delay(15); // delay in between reads for stability

}

else //if the value is less than 100 then:

{

Serial.println(val);
digitalWrite(ledPin,LOW); // Turns off the LED
myservo.write(175); // sets the servo position according to the number in the brackets, you should change the number inside the brackets according to the mechanism’s movement. Try this number first and then try changing it to other numbers, you will find the best for your dragon.

}

}

Step 14: TESTING THE ELECTRONICS

The red led should get turned on and the servo's axis should rotate when the sensor feels someone approaching.

Step 15: JOIN THE MECHANISM WITH THE ELECTRONICS

Step 16: EYES AND MOUTH

Don’t cut the dragon this way! I had to open it and now the pictures work for explaining how it works from the inside.

1. Create the teeth with polymer clay, you can add them to the mouth’s mechanism as shown in the picture.
2. If you want you can add a tongue too.
3. Add the glass balls, gluing them to the edges of the eyes.
4. Put the red LED between the two glass balls (the two eyes).

Step 17: PAINT THE DRAGON

Paint it the way you want it.

Step 18: LAST DETAILS

1. Open a hole in one of the legs, through which the wires will be passed to the dragon.
2. Open a hole in the trunk, which will be attached to the leg of the dragon, through which the cables will also pass.
3. Stick old coins and beads to the lid of the trunk, so that it seems full of treasures and jewels, among these is the motion sensor, to make it look like another jewel.
4. Put the arduino inside the trunk.
5. It can be placed on a previously painted table if desired.

Step 19: SOME PICTURES

Step 20: SEE IT WORKING

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    8 Discussions

    0
    None
    Lina Mariahamedabdolaahi

    Reply 2 months ago

    I studied industrial design but I also took some robotics’ classes and I made the dragon for one of those classes. The objective was to learn about animatronics.

    0
    None
    hamedabdolaahiLina Maria

    Reply 2 months ago

    An artificial intelligence dinosaur that is sensitive to sound and heat. And by hearing the child's voice and body heat detection, go to her position. (Sound to detect humans from the other things) Heat to detect motion. Is it possible?

    0
    None
    Lina Mariahamedabdolaahi

    Reply 2 months ago

    Possible? yes it is, but I would change the part of heat detection. The other day I saw a robot that was following certain people, it had a camera on it and I don´t know how they programmed it for doing so. Perhaps you could do something similar and just cover it as a Dinosaur, and if you want it to walk, then create the mechanism for it to walk.