This animatronic Horus Guard mask is so good, even Anubis would be fooled


[Jerome Kelty] is a big fan of the movie Stargate, and when he saw it for the first time, he wanted one of the awesome helmets worn by the Horus Guards. This isn’t the kind of thing you would normally find at your local costume shop, so he knew that he would have to build one of his own. After rejecting multiple designs over the years, he finally came up with a solution that he thought would work well.

His Horus Guard helmet was constructed primarily out of cardstock, papier-mâché, spray foam, and spackle. Don’t let that list of materials give you the wrong idea about this helmet however – it looks absolutely amazing!

Not only does it look good, but it moves just like the guard’s helmets in the movie too. To control the helmet’s movements [Jerome] used an Arduino animatronics setup he designed, which we’ve seen before in his slick Predator build from last year. The Arduino controls a set of 5 servos, which are tasked with turning the helmet’s head and actuating the fans mounted on either side.

Stick around to see a short video of the mask in action, and if you’re thinking of building one yourself, be sure to check out his writeup for a very thorough BoM.

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Basic Animatronics Continued: Servo Actuated Mouth

[Chris] is at it again and this time he has put together a tutorial rounding off his animatronic face by actuating the mouth. His tutorial covers two different styles of robot mouth: an LCD mouth which dims to imply actuation and a servo articulated flap.

[Chris] covers all the aspects of each mouth type, from the basics of human mouth actuation to servo motor control. In this case the LCD mouth is not quite as impressive so it gets installed on a face mock up while the servo mouth goes on the face previously featured in his other tutorials. The entire setup is still controlled using a single PIC 18F452. The circuit diagrams and code for both types of mouth are all available on the site including videos of the actuated mouth and a gif of the LCD mouth in action.

Check out a video of the articulated mouth below throwing down some classic season 6 Jean-Luc. If you are interested in the other parts of the face we have covered [Chris]’s other tutorials on the eyebrows and the eyeballs. These are a great jumping point for your own animatronic face project and do a great  job of setting up all the know how you’d need to build your own emotional puppet.

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Basic Animatronics Tutorial: PIC Based Servo Eyebrows

[Chris] writes in to let us know about his latest animatronics tutorial, this time on robotic eyebrows! The tutorial takes us through the process of using a fairly simple PIC  circuit to display various facial expressions. Since a wide array of facial expressions have unique and well understood eyebrow positions this simple hack can make even the most bland looking mask come to life . Animatronics is a subject near and dear to our hearts, but the simple actuation of servos can go much further than cardboard faces. This easy to follow tutorial can help you on your way to controlling all sorts of servo stuff like vent flaps or um…  fish, if you’d like. The software is not very deeply explained but it is commented and available for download from [Chris]’s site.

From here [Chris] plans to expand the project with more tutorials that can help further animate the face. We are particularly interested in the one and two eye systems he mentions, as well as more complicated eyebrow mechanics. Also check out [Chris]’s other servo based robotics tutorials like the Sharpie Spotifier and the Wooden Menace.

There is also a video of the eyebrows in action after the break.

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DIY Animatronic penguin shakes and grooves


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.

Continue reading “DIY Animatronic penguin shakes and grooves”

Puppet Circuits

This isn’t a specific project, so much as a pointer to a budding new site. Puppet Circuits is the project of [Raphael Abrams], one of the co founders of NYC Resistor. As you can probably guess, he has been posting about the circuits he uses in his animatronic puppets. I faces all kinds of problems since may of the systems are to be worn and have to endure some pretty rough treatment and still perform well. Very interesting stuff to read about.

RoboThespian: Chuck E. Cheese entertainment comes home

Remember your eighth birthday party when the animatronic band at Chuck E. Cheese sang happy birthday just for you? Now you can enjoy this any day of the year with RoboThespian. The complete animatronic platform has been modeled in Blender 3D. Animating the robot is as easy as producing an animation from its digital model. Lip syncing is generated automatically, with the handles to the right of the model’s head controlling facial expression.

Using Blender as a choreography tools is brilliant.  We’re hoping someone will incorporate this technique in their Halloween shows this year.

[Thanks Rob via BlenderNation]

Animatronics reference

Anyone who is familiar with animatronics or even most robotics knows that almost every build is a hack if you don’t plan on reproducing it.  This gallery is to show off the work of [John Nolan]. However, instead of just posting the final product, he has posted several galleries that show, in detail, the internal structures. Curious how to rig a jaw or an eyebrow?  Wanna see the internals of an animatronic baby? How about building giant monster hands that are rugged and have full digit control? It’s all in the gallery.