advice on building a animating skeleton

Thread Starter

navyguy

Joined Sep 27, 2019
48
Preparing for Halloween and hoping to have a full sized skeleton move its arms and head if possible. I have a knowledge of pneumatics and transducers if that's a good way to go. What Im hoping to get help with is a schematic or circuit to use with a micro controller such as Arduino or parallax that will control whatever device I need to create movement.

Thank you!
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
4,501
A Google of "Animatronic" should get you started. If I were to do this with Halloween as close as it is I would keep it real simple and likely use some servo motors and control them with an Arduino. Keep it simple with small motors like this one which allows east mounting and bent paper clips work wonders for coupling. They are easily driven using an Arduino and a Google of Arduino Servo Motors should bring up some examples and code samples.

Ron
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
5,585
I build animatronics for a hobby. Control is with an Arduino and a servo shield.

There are multiple ways of controlling RC servos with the Arduino. There is a software solution provided with the IDE. It is a servo library. But there are limits on how many servos you can control. Hence I use a servo & motor shield from Sparkfun.

You have to select servos with sufficient torque to move the skeleton arms and legs. Depending on the size and motion, you may need large servos.
 

Thread Starter

navyguy

Joined Sep 27, 2019
48
A Google of "Animatronic" should get you started. If I were to do this with Halloween as close as it is I would keep it real simple and likely use some servo motors and control them with an Arduino. Keep it simple with small motors like this one which allows east mounting and bent paper clips work wonders for coupling. They are easily driven using an Arduino and a Google of Arduino Servo Motors should bring up some examples and code samples.

Ron
Awsum. Thank you so much!
 

Thread Starter

navyguy

Joined Sep 27, 2019
48
A Google of "Animatronic" should get you started. If I were to do this with Halloween as close as it is I would keep it real simple and likely use some servo motors and control them with an Arduino. Keep it simple with small motors like this one which allows east mounting and bent paper clips work wonders for coupling. They are easily driven using an Arduino and a Google of Arduino Servo Motors should bring up some examples and code samples.

Ron
I build animatronics for a hobby. Control is with an Arduino and a servo shield.

There are multiple ways of controlling RC servos with the Arduino. There is a software solution provided with the IDE. It is a servo library. But there are limits on how many servos you can control. Hence I use a servo & motor shield from Sparkfun.

Thank you so much.
I have a lot of servos left over from my RC plane hobby but doubtful they have the torque needed. I would have to go with metal servo gears probably.

You have to select servos with sufficient torque to move the skeleton arms and legs. Depending on the size and motion, you may need large servos.
I build animatronics for a hobby. Control is with an Arduino and a servo shield.

There are multiple ways of controlling RC servos with the Arduino. There is a software solution provided with the IDE. It is a servo library. But there are limits on how many servos you can control. Hence I use a servo & motor shield from Sparkfun.

You have to select servos with sufficient torque to move the skeleton arms and legs. Depending on the size and motion, you may need large servos.
 

Thread Starter

navyguy

Joined Sep 27, 2019
48
Ive used my Arduino project controller a few times but I struggled through the programming. I loved the Parallaxx micro controller because its so easy to set up.
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
4,501
Ive used my Arduino project controller a few times but I struggled through the programming. I loved the Parallaxx micro controller because its so easy to set up.
Go with what you are comfortable with. Halloween is close and I don't think a Disney Studio Animatronic production is what you have in mind. :) When it comes to the code I suggest you look at samples and get a handle on what does what. Baby steps in other words.

Ron
 

Ezeikiel Rich

Joined Sep 15, 2019
20
Ive been doing animatronics for over 30 years. The go to for quick animatronics is pneumatic solenoids @12V:

https://www.amazon.com/Position-Pneumatic-Electric-Solenoid-U-S/dp/B00YCWL9I4/

https://www.amazon.com/Tailonz-Pneumatic-Position-Operated-Solenoid/dp/B07SHG911C/

Pretty much everything in theme parks is run off of one of these two.

Jurasic park dinosaurs are run off of these.

Pneumatics are actuality cheaper than linear actuators and more robust. Thats why all the theme parks use them.

You can look up a logic level mosfets to trigger the 12 volts from the arduino or raspberry pi. I use the raspberry pi so i can build a remote and run the show from a web page on my cell phone. You can also purchase RF remote modules on amazon and trigger everything from a car type remote through RF.

If you want to control a linear actuator (more expensive but smaller size) you can control it with this h bridge from a arduino: https://www.amazon.com/Anmbest-Stepper-Controller-Raspberry-Mega2560/dp/B07CQZ655K/

https://www.amazon.com/Happybuy-Actuator-Mounting-Brackets-Capacity/dp/B07J2FL846/

Servos are ok for small stuff like eyes and mouth etc. There is a servo module for that.
 
Last edited:

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
5,585
Another source of motion used often in Halloween props are automobile windshield motors. They can be used with s mechanical crank mechanism or with an H-bridge (and microcontroller) for creating animated effects.
 

Ezeikiel Rich

Joined Sep 15, 2019
20
Thanks so much everyone!!
I do go a bit overboard but i have to outdo myself every year.
You should see my kids Haunted House here in SoCal.
They each use their phones to trigger scares, music and more. Every Kid has a trigger of some kind.
Have a Ghoulish time!
 

Thread Starter

navyguy

Joined Sep 27, 2019
48
Exeikiel,

Sounds Awsum. I’m in Ventura, Ca and I put on a Halloween display that few can outdo.
I have 3 lightning machines, sound and video effects. Put up a graveyard fence all around with headstones and coffins. I get a lot of great comments.
 

Thread Starter

navyguy

Joined Sep 27, 2019
48
Another source of motion used often in Halloween props are automobile windshield motors. They can be used with s mechanical crank mechanism or with an H-bridge

Sounds like a great idea! Never thought of it.

Thanks !
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
5,585
I ran a Haunted House as a PTO fundraiser for a decade. We grossed up to $28,000 a year for the schools and pushed through over 1,000 people an hour. There were 25+ scenes in a giant (5,000 sq.ft.) maze
 

Thread Starter

navyguy

Joined Sep 27, 2019
48
I ran a Haunted House as a PTO fundraiser for a decade. We grossed up to $28,000 a year for the schools and pushed through over 1,000 people an hour. There were 25+ scenes in a giant (5,000 sq.ft.) maze
That sounds great! Would love to hear about some of your special effects. I’m always looking for something to add.
 

Thread Starter

navyguy

Joined Sep 27, 2019
48
Most welcome and starting out, I would keep things simple. Have a good Halloween.

Ron
Your right and unfortunately every Halloween I become the Clark W. Grizwald of the neighborhood. I get very frustrated when I don’t have the time or money to outdo everyone
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
4,501
Your right and unfortunately every Halloween I become the Clark W. Grizwald of the neighborhood. I get very frustrated when I don’t have the time or money to outdo everyone
My neighbor up the street is our own Clark W. Grizwald. This gets off topic but one year we had his brother (another neighbor) all made up and in a casket. Several girls came by chaperoning their younger siblings. So they are looking at Dave in the casket and thinking it's a dummy. Dave jumps up and one of the girls actually peed herself. Absolutely hysterical laughter.

Kids trick or treat 6 PM to 8 PM. Then adults go around to select houses and trick or treat for shots and beers. :) Then about 9 PM we get together at the neighbor's house across the street for a nice fire. That's Halloween around here. :)

Ron
 

Thread Starter

navyguy

Joined Sep 27, 2019
48
My neighbor up the street is our own Clark W. Grizwald. This gets off topic but one year we had his brother (another neighbor) all made up and in a casket. Several girls came by chaperoning their younger siblings. So they are looking at Dave in the casket and thinking it's a dummy. Dave jumps up and one of the girls actually peed herself. Absolutely hysterical laughter.

Kids trick or treat 6 PM to 8 PM. Then adults go around to select houses and trick or treat for shots and beers. :) Then about 9 PM we get together at the neighbor's house across the street for a nice fire. That's Halloween around here. :)

Ron
That is hilarious! Love it.
That’s Awsum that the older folks still get to enjoy Halloween. Wish our hood did that. Sad that the turnout isn’t the same as it used to.
I get disappointed when I work so hard for Halloween and it only lasts for about 2 hours max .
 
Top