Introduction: Fnorgn! Making Tim Conway's Siamese Elephants
In this Carol Burnett Show outtake, Tim Conway reduces his co-stars to tears recounting the story of the Siamese Elephants. My wife loves this sketch so much that I knew I had to make her a pair of Siamese Elephants for her birthday.
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Step 1: Stuffed Elephants
I bought two identical stuffed elephants to victimize for this project. They're from the "Shining Stars" line, but all I cared about was that they were small, plush, and identical. I used Audacity to edit a 14-second clip which emphasized the line, "All they could do is just blow, and go 'FNORGN!'"
Step 2: Hacking Mr. Voice
I plugged a mini-Y adapter into the jack, and cut off the white RCA connector. Fortunately, this clip was from a mono source, so I wasn't losing anything by omitting the other channel. After stripping the end of the adapter, I twisted the wires together with the microphone wire, and held them in place with plastic clothespins.
Step 3: Reducing to Essentials
I bought a 4-AAA battery pack to replace the battery slots in Mr. Voice's original case. I also picked up a pack of pushbutton switches that would be easier to press when mounted to the outside of a stuffed elephant. This was the only soldering I had to do for the whole project, but it was complicated by the fact that the speaker shares a terminal with, of all things, the positive battery wire. I decided that if it worked, I should leave it alone.
I put the two colors of button on the elephant's ear to determine which color would be best, and went with red. I don't know why I even bothered -- I have a Y chromosome, so matching colors is pretty much a lost cause for me. In the end, I chose red because I thought it would be easier to see.
Step 4: Hacking an Elephant
I cut open one elephant along its belly seam, which was surprisingly hard to find. I also opened the seam along its left ear. Initially, I only opened the ear enough to thread the button through, but eventually I had to open it wider to force my fingers through and grab the thing. It turns out that pushing a circuit board and two attached components through a stuffed elephant's neck is harder than it sounds.
I shoved the speaker through until it was in the elephant's forehead.
Step 5: Sewing the Finished Product
I sewed the ear shut just enough to hold the button in place, then screwed it down with the nut and washer. From this site, I know that this is not the weirdest use ever of a surface-mounted button, but it makes the top hundred.
After tucking in the battery pack (and making sure it was turned on) and sewing the belly shut, I sewed the two elephants together at the ends of the trunks. I had planned to cut off the ends of the trunks and sew them together in a continuous seam, but I was running out of time, and had to improvise. Instead, I just stitched the ends of the trunks where they met easily when pressed together.