Instructables user [djsfantasi] wanted to build an animated holiday display using puppets as a means of raising money for a local arts program. After doing a bit of reading and research however, he decided that building animatronic characters for the display was not that far fetched an idea.
His first inclination was to build a penguin, allowing him to focus mostly on torso motion rather than having to articulate arms and legs as well. His goal was to enable his penguin to “dance” by shimmying and shaking as well as flapping his wings. Using plywood, four servos, along with some miscellaneous connecting rods and cables, he went to work.
The penguin is operated using a SSC-32 servo controller that features an ATmega168 MCU at its core. This allows him to control all of the servos independently, and also in concert, allowing for combined movements. The penguin’s mouth also functions, using a circuit that synchronizes its movements to an audio file.
While the robot is currently tethered to his computer via a serial cable, [djsfantasi] mentions that he is currently working on an iPhone app that will be able to control the robot wirelessly. All he needs to do now is build an animatronic Tom Servo then toss a Crow skin over this one, and he’ll be all set!
Keep reading to get a look at the penguin moving and grooving in the video below.