Remote Controlled Moving Eyes in a Little Can

Introduction: Remote Controlled Moving Eyes in a Little Can

About: I'm a robotics hobbyist and general tinkerer, among other things. Check out my blog or the LetsTalkRobots Playlist on YouTube:

Meet Viz! Some say he's just a pretty face, but he wasn't born yesterday...

He was born last Thursday.

More info at:

Parts and Materials:

(1) 3 1/4 inch cat food tin (well cleaned)
(1) 3/4 inch copper pipe coupler
(4) metal pins (like you use for sewing)
(3) micro servos
(1) R/C receiver and matching transmitter
(1) 4xAAA battery pack with built-in switch
(4) AAA batteries
Aluminum tubing from telescoping antenna.
Some 14 gauge copper wire
Some 3/16 inch plastic sheet for the backing
Some Polymorph/Instamorph/Shapelock for the eyeballs
Spray primer and gold paint for base coat
Dark grey hobby paint and small paint brush for details

Ever needed a second pair of eyes? Viz can keep a lookout, though how he'll tell me what he sees I have no idea. It has been suggested that he might report what he sees through a series of blinks and eye movements. How tedious.

Viz was inspired by the little clank creations of Agatha Heterodyne in the web comic Girl Genius. I made him to take to the Steampunk World's Fair this year, where he did very well (1st place) in the Mad Science competition.

Maybe one day I'll add some automation. For now, he is remotely controlled via an RC transmitter. Inside Viz are three micro servos and an RC receiver. His eyes are made of polymorph/shapelock/instamorph, and their movements are guided by a pair of custom made 2-axis gymbols.

The gymbols are constructed from a 3/4 inch copper pipe couping, which I drilled, cut and soldered with some copper wire. Each eye can move left and right independently. Both eyes move up and down together.

Check this article out. I learned a lot from it.

For my gymbols, I cut two small copper rings from a copper pipe coupler. Before cutting them, I drilled holes through both sides on each end (a total of four holes). It is much easier to work with the piece before you cut it down to a smaller size. The holes are used for the pins which allow the eyes to pivot left and right.

To allow the eyes to pivot up and down, I used copper wire that I bent to shape over the top of the rings. My first attempt I used two separate pieces of wire (one for each ring). However, since I wanted to move the eyes up and down together, I pulled the whole thing apart and re-made it using a single longer wire across both rings. The result after soldering looked like a pair of old fashion spectacles, only with the arms sticking straight out the sides

I used two short lengths of metal tubing taking from an old telescoping antenna to make sleeve bearings for the up/down axle pivots. One sleeve fits over each end of the axle, and then the sleeve is hot glued to the inside of the can that makes Viz's body.

You can see Viz in operation, and what make him tick, click and clank, in the video.

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    4 Discussions


    4 years ago

    please email me if you think you would be interested in selling one. Or cakes.

    Thanks! Michelle


    4 years ago

    i am a cake decorator without any animitronic skills at all. I am looking for something like this to place inside a cake for a competition. I absolutely love your little eyes in a can. aid u be interested in selling one?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Haha! What a cute little toy! I have a few young cousins and neices and nephews that might be well entertained with a little toy like this. The moving eyes may be a bit of a cheap thrill, but whatever keeps the tykes busy for a little while….