If you’ve had the opportunity to attend the annual Bay Area Maker Faire, you’ve likely encountered Russell the Electric Giraffe. Modeled after a small Tamiya walking toy scaled up to the height of an actual giraffe, Russell was created by [Lindsay Lawlor] in 2005 originally as an “art car” providing a better vantage point from which to enjoy the Burning Man arts festival. In the intervening five years, the Electric Giraffe has enjoyed face time in dozens of parades, trade shows, magazines and television appearances.
Scattered about [Lawlor’s] living room floor at the moment are the giraffe’s dismantled steel skull and several massive Torxis servos (the red boxes in the photo above) — Russell is being upgraded. One of [Lawlor’s] goals in returning to Maker Faire each year is that he not simply present the same exhibit time and time again; the robot is continually evolving. Initially it was little more than a framework and drivetrain, and had to be steered by bodily shoving the entire 1,700 pound beast. Improvements to the steering and power train followed, along with a “skin” of hundreds of addressable LEDs, cosmetic improvements such as a new paint job, and technological upgrades like interactivity, radio control and speech. His goal this year is to bring expressive animatronic movement to the giraffe’s head and jaw, hence the servos, push rods and custom-machined bits currently strewn through his living space-cum-laboratory.
Furries: is there nothing they cannot do? Well okay, “shower” remains an elusive concept, but wearable technology seems to be in, as evidenced by this robotic mood tail. [Wei-Chieh Tseng]’s adorable Arduino-driven fashion accessory operates either via Wii Nunchuk or a set of RFID cards tagged with specific emotions to depict.
Details are scant. It appears to have been a project for a physical computing or design class. One thing’s for certain: Halloween is going to be awesome.
Halloween is on its way, and if you’re going to do it right, you’re going to overdo it right. A few days ago we showed you [Jake’s] flying Crank Ghost, the idea is simple and creates lovely motion that is sure to scare some small children. But what if you want people leaving your little shop of horrors needing a new pair of pants? Meet the Animatronic Winged Demon by [Woody]. Very little info is given except for the touch screen controller, the central control system, and his unique use of a modular skeleton, but the project is very impressive none the less. If the demon doesn’t scare you, take a look at the miles of wires needed to control it. Check out a video after the break.
Grid beam is a prototyping and building medium that’s like a giant hippie Erector set. You can’t buy grid beam, but with a drill press, a jig, and some square stock you can create your own unlimited supply. It’s ideal for “sketching” and temporary constructions like these Halloween props. After use, everything can be dismantled, stored flat, and later reused for the next [Herbie Hancock] music video creative project. Looks like fun!
The article wraps up with some valuable pointers on getting started with grid beam and where to acquire parts.
We’re not 100% sure the usefulness of this hack, but it is extremely interesting regardless and will probably make a lot of furries happy. WolfTronix presents their method for creating a realistic animatronic wolf tail. It uses an Atmel MCU controlling two servos alongside a mess of Klixx toys and paper clips to produce a nice wag motion. The guide is extremely detailed and looks to be fun, so long as you don’t mind the monotonous task of shaving off potentially hundreds of ‘nubs’ as they call them. Either way, you’ll definitely have the best (and only…) tail on the block.
When Boing Boing Gadgets posted about this $13 robot hand music box, we immediately thought “OH EXPLOITABLE!”. Over the years, we’ve acquired quite a bit of cheap trash just operating under the assumption that we would turn it into something else. Most of our acquisitions are Woot‘s fault. Just this morning we were dismayed to find out that the purveyor of cheap electronics had already sold out of animatronic Elvis heads. Now that would have been fun. We’ve purchased things like Tony Hawk helmet cams, jumbo remotes, Bluetooth headphones, Gyration mice, IMFree chatpads, and many other items of questionable use thinking that some day we’d use it. How about you? What sort of irrational purchases have you made and what would you do with a $13 mechanized hand?
[Just as we were wrapping this up, Woot posted a $49 HMD; you better believe we bought that.]
A small group of enthusiasts have apparently been restoring and reprogramming the animatronic bands from the former Showbiz Pizza Place chain. Original engineer [Aaron Fechter] and car salesman/choreographer [Chris Thrash] have started performing modern pop songs with the bands and have a page where you can bid on new songs to perform. This feels like Billy Bass hacking on a much larger scale. The original machines were controlled by a four track reel, but now they’re using a hard disk recorder. The trailer above is worth watching just for the rows of partially assembled bears performing on the factory floor.