How to Make a Hidden Safe Disguised As a Lovely Owl Statue: the Sneaky Owl




Introduction: How to Make a Hidden Safe Disguised As a Lovely Owl Statue: the Sneaky Owl

This instructable was created in fulfillment of the project requirement of the Makecourse at the University of South Florida (

Ever wanted a secret hiding spot that no one will suspect? Follow this instructable to create you own Sneaky Owl


3D printer

Arduino micro-controller

RFID tag and sensor

Servo motor

Assorted wires


2-part epoxy

Oil based paints

Casing for electronics (A rectangular box works nicely)

Step 1: Stuff to Print

You will need one of each piece with the exception of:

2 - caps

3 - clips

Step 2: Assembling the Electronics

Your RFID sensor should be connected to pins 9-13. The schematic is simplified for clarity. The Arduino has two power pins. The RFID should be connected to the 3.3 V and the motor to 5 V. Likewise, there are two available grounds. It doesn't matter which grounds your components are connected to. I had multiple issues when assembling the electronics. At first I tried to use a loose set of pins and a breadboard, but power was not flowing. To solve the complications, I soldered the pins to the RFID sensor and skipped the breadboard all together.

Step 3: Coding Your Arduino

This sketch is used to link the movement of the servo motor with the signals sent by an RFID sensor. Three libraries are used. Two of the three are uploaded as zipped folders here, and the third is a standard Arduino library. The RFID controls the sensor and tag. VarSpeedSevo is used instead of the standard Arduino servo library because it allows you to slow down the speed of the servo's movement. The last library is a standard Arduino library. The lines beginning with byte Card allow the Arduino recognize the tag as accepted. You will need to change these codes to fit your tag. There are multiple lines of code for serial printing. These are not necessary for the code to work, but if you are having trouble finding your tag code or position of your servo motor, they will be helpful. The security is set to only allow known tags to be accepted. The sensor will read all tags, but the servo will only move if the known card is present. When the correct tag is read, the servo will alternate positions between 88 degrees and 144 degrees. The door will only move when the tag comes to the sensor.

Step 4: Assembling the Insides

***Note: All assemblies in this instructable use 2-part epoxy to secure pieces in place. The visibility of some pieces has been removed for clarity.

The servo motor should be placed into the recessed rectangle of the stand. Directly attach the long arm to the pin on the servo motor. Slide the pin on the short arm through the available hole in the long arm. Attach a cap to the pin of the short arm. The short arm should be able to rotate freely, while the long arm stays stationary.

**The servo motor is not pictured here

Step 5: Attaching the Door

Use a 1" hinge to attach the front of the body to the door. The door should swing open as shown.

Step 6: Attaching the Bucket

Line up the bucket with the square located on the back of the door.

Step 7: Adding the Peg to the Bucket

Place the peg on the bottom corner of the bucket. The flat side of the bucket should be located to the left of the peg.

Step 8: Putting the Body Together

Place the servo stand inside the base. The stand should be off center so the short arm will be able to attach to the side of the bucket where the peg is located. Make sure the servo wires are accessible from the bottom, and attach the front of the body to the base.

Step 9: Attaching the Bucket and Short Arm

At this point you can still see inside the top of the body. Slide the short arm over the peg that is connected to the bucket. As before, use a cap to secure the peg. The arm should be able to rotate freely around the peg.

Step 10: Attach the Wings

There are two files for wings. Each fits flush with one side. This step may take a little moving around to find the exact position on the body. The point should be facing down and angled towards the back of the body.

Step 11: Top It Off

Place the support onto the body. Everything should line up nicely. Top off the owl with the head.

Step 12: Putting It All Together

The base that will enclose the electronics will need a hole in the top and in the side. Use the clips to attach the RFID sensor to the desired location. The Arduino should be mounted so the receptacle can be accessed through the hole in the side. For this project, strong double sided tape was used to secure the Arduino. You should be able to plug in your USB/Wall Socket through the hole. The wires for the servo connect through the top hole. Once everything is connected, attach the bottom of the owl to the base.

Step 13: Painting

Oil paints and acrylics are best for plastics. This owl was completed using oil. Start by covering the whole project in a suitable light colored base coat. Get creative with your design, and make it your own! When the paint dries you can cover your artwork with your desired finish. This was done using a oil-safe matte spray paint. Other options include but are not limited to, high-gloss, semi-gloss or frosted.

Step 14: Enjoy!

Stash your stuff!

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    4 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Still awaiting contact


    3 years ago

    I will pay someone to make and send me this owl.

    Seriously fell in love with it and have the artistic talent of a drunk moose.
    contact me at

    Choose Project> Owl and leave details.


    3 years ago

    Really cute! I'd be afraid someone would steal the owl because it's so good looking -- not knowing there are treasures inside.

    (Maybe epoxy it to the shelf.) ;-)


    3 years ago

    This is adorable! I love how well the compartment just blends into the statue :)