Live out your inner animist with animatronic cat ears

While having a great white shark as your spirit animal may sound cool, we’ve found walking around in public wearing a gigantic set of mechanical jaws to be a bit of a hindrance. [abetusk] doesn’t have that problem; he can wear his awesome animatronic cat ears anywhere he pleases.

The build was inspired by these extremely Japanese animatronic ears loaded with EEG hardware to read the emotional state of the wearer. [abetusk] decided that tearing apart some brain scanning hardware was too much work for not enough benefit, so he decided servos controlled by push buttons would be just fine.

On the electronic side of the build, servos attached to a head band are controlled by an ATtiny13. A single button goes through three states for the ears: a long button press is surprise, a tap followed by a long hold is angry or sad, and tapping three times is an ‘ear wink.’ All of the code is up on GitHub, and you can check out these cat ear emotions with [abetusk]‘s lovely assistant in the video after the break.


  1. Tim says:

    Thats the coolest thing ive seen in a long time. Haha

  2. andrew says:

    Cool. The surprise should probably be assigned to a single-quick tap, or something that can be performed faster.

  3. MrX says:

    Where can I hang myself?

  4. N0LKK says:

    Nicely done. Standing in front of the mirror practicing getting the timing down perfect, might be more effort than it’s worth. My guess is to get it down near perfect the commands to the ears should be sent slightly before the body movements. Are “muscle wires” priced at a point where they are feasible for hobbyists to consider?

  5. abetusk says:

    Hey, HAD, I’m the developer of the animatronic kitty ears, thanks for the press! Just a note, I’m male and not the model seen in the video. My lovely assistant was kind enough to model these and let me film her.

  6. Michqel says:

    These soooo should be made with a accelerometer as control. Head back surprise, head left-right wink ear, head forward sad! Could even use skin tension for mirroring facial expression (not sure how to measure this easily). The truth tables are endless.

    • Bill says:

      Seems like a natural application for the kind of flex sensors you’d use in a data glove. Bend your pinky finger and the ears bend with it. Or if you can figure out an appropriate sensor to drive by wiggling your own ears, that’d be an even better choice, but probably harder to implement.

  7. Yann says:

    This is adorable.

  8. Fallen says:

    Needs muscle wire :)

  9. cmholm says:

    In plenty of time for Halloween. This will be tuft to beat.

  10. XOIIO says:

    Either there is a typo that says he instead of she, or that is the most feminine man I have ever seen.

  11. XOIIO says:

    OR that’s just someone demonstrating it. whoops.

  12. Hirudinea says:

    Ok, so where’s the animatronic tail?

  13. Eric says:

    Yet one more instructable. Come on Hack a day that website sucks.

    • XOIIO says:

      Really, that site sucks? Why exactly, because they have thousands of different things on it and loads of new content all the time, and show people comprehensive ways to recreate things or modify other things, and actually inspires more people to get into things like tweaking, programming and hacking or diy in general?

    • XOIIO says:

      The ads aren’t a huge problem, and it wasn’t until they had a funding scare that they made pro accounts, but I didn’t lose the view all steps on one page thing. They used to be add free and all access accounts until they almost lost their web hosting a while back, its not a big problem, it’s easy to ignore ads. If hack a day was going to lose their servers they would start throwing ads up too.

      • Daid says:

        It isn’t the ads. It’s the “REGISTER,REGISTER,REGISTER”! that’s the problem. Not sure if it’s still the case, but it used to be that if you viewed less popular instructions that you needed to register to view anything but the first photo.

        No problem with premium features (like PDF download), no problem with ads. But I do have a problem with registration walls.

  14. Jeff says:

    Check out my friend Josh’s mind controlled cat ears printed with a makerbot:

    I wore them for a few minutes and was able to consciously control them.

  15. Pete says:

    animeowtronics :D

  16. RogueAngel2k says:

    This is the coolest thing I’ve seen in quite some time. +1

  17. vonskippy says:

    Just to verify, no real cats were hurt in this hack – correct?

  18. Terry says:

    The ears are cool, but I’d much rather look at the cute girl.

  19. Alex says:


  20. Ren says:

    It helps that the ears match her hair color.

  21. steve says:

    Someday people should realize that they are not f****ing kids anymore! Get off my lawn!

    • Volfram says:

      The rest of us will continue to live fun and exciting lives while you die old and bitter.

      Unless you were talking about literally having sex with kids, in which case the “anymore” worries me.

  22. Tom the Brat says:

    Too cool!

    (Glad you confirmed, you are not her.)

    Na, Don’t think I’ll make myself some. But servos and ATTiny’s are much fun.

  23. hospadar says:

    Ohh Ohh! Surgically implant small coils in your eyeballs, then use them to track eye movement to trigger the ears!

    If it can work for monkeys in psych experiments, no reason it can’t work for you.

  24. bothersaidpooh says:

    Great project, but some of the comments are getting a bit out of hand and need editing IMHO.

  25. AnarKIT says:

    Anamist? This does not have anything to do with animism…

    Animism is the belief that all entities and phenomena in the world have and are effected by spirits.

    Kittykin would have spirits, but animists most likely wouldn’t wear car ears.

    Otherkin on the other paw, most definately. :)

  26. squizzle says:

    I’ve made something similar for a friend using an attiny13 and flex sensors. I don’t really do websites though, so no project log ever made it to the interwebs :(

  27. jjm says:

    To be honest, that ear flopping is adorable.

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