DIY Animatronic penguin shakes and grooves

animatronic_penguin

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.

Comments

  1. Bob says:

    This reminds me. Where are the results of the Santa contest?

  2. xeracy says:

    It seems like a lot of weight is being supported by the servos. is there a way to make his motion less…. ‘floppy’?

  3. ChalkBored says:

    It needs some gussets around the mounting points for the servo linkages. You can see the thin plywood flexing in that area.

  4. EFH says:

    Looks like WAY more than “four servos!”

  5. Sheldon says:

    I had a look at the Instructable and a few more of his You-Tube vids. The “4 servos” refer to just the torso. One mounted on each disc, alternating axis on the way up.

    There was another Instructable dealing with the head which appeared to be another 4 (2x eyes, 1x eye-lids, 1x beak) and then what looks to be another 3 across the arms and head-turning
    Would love to see this skinned to get the whole effect, might also subdue the ‘wobbly’ nature as each layer is independent at the moment.

  6. Ben says:

    Nothing says Christmas like a dancing penguin.

  7. yetihehe says:

    @ben: It goes like this:
    Christmas -> cold+snow -> penguins -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gx7RGiq8XJU

  8. Ren says:

    Penguin? That looks like Perry the Platypus!

    (Dooby-dooby-doobah,Dooby-dooby-doobah)

  9. walt says:

    it’s like watching a strip show performed by one of the chuck e cheese robots.
    btw: instructables boooooo!

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