Enjoy This Animatronic Eyeball’s Smooth Moves

[Enza3D] shows off a surprisingly compact articulated animatronic eyeball that can be intuitively controlled with a Wii nunchuk controller. The design uses 3D printed parts and some tiny servos, and all of the necessary electronics can be easily purchased online. The mechanical design of the eye is very impressive, and [Enza3D] walks through several different versions of the design, the end result of which is a tidy little assembly that would fit nicely into masks, costumes, or other projects.

A Wii nunchuk is ideal for manual control of such a device, thanks to its ergonomic design and ease of interface (the nunchuk communicates over I2C, which is easily within the reach of even most modest of microcontrollers.) Of course, since driving servos is also almost trivial nowadays, it doesn’t look like working this into an automated project would pose much of a challenge.

The eyeball looks great, but if you want to try for yourself, accessing the design files and code will set you back $10 which might look attractive if an eye like this is the missing link for a project.

On the other hand, enjoying the video (embedded below) and getting ideas from [Enza3D]’s design notes will only cost you a few minutes.

10 thoughts on “Enjoy This Animatronic Eyeball’s Smooth Moves

  1. Considering how small and flat camera modules are getting now, it’s not out of the question to get a camera in the eye with the servo.
    Build two, add some image correlation software and do some asa trigonometry and you can do object tracking with distance measurement. Essentially being able to extrapolate a 3D model of the environment, given enough storage space.
    Sometimes it still feels like sci-fi, even knowing it’s technically possible.

  2. Very nice. Having done a simple 2 eye setup using ping pong balls, dental floss and 2 servos(no eye lids)(https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4630333) I wonder if there is a need for 4 servos per eye, ie independent control, as opposed to connecting horizontal, vertical and lid blinking for fewer controls but some added linkage? Side note: this was one of my first projects with FreeCAD when AutoDesk changed their free and educational use policies for Fusion 360.

    I can see there being a benefit to have each eye independent with 4 servo cables coming out so that the space between the eyes are open for skull design and/or nose animations. There generally is lots of space for control electronics inside the skull. Close object focus might need the fine detail of independent motion but I have noticed when it appears the focus is off at a distance the eye tracking look pretty realistic when identically paired.

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