Let's Make Robots!

the Greeter

Pops out to surprise passerby.

the Greeter, aka the Imp


 *edit notification*

Oops.  I accidentally racismed. Turns out my original nickname for this little animatronic, (which was an original idea based on the nasty thing's appearance,) is also a racial slur.  Taken originally from African folklore, it got adapted and warped by Br'er Rabbit and Disney's Song of the South, amongst other places.  So sorry folks.  Didn't know what I was saying.



HOkay.  So, I don't know that I'd really consider this guy a 'bot, but he meets the definition in the very sparest sense.  Furthermore, since he stands out from the crowd in terms of design, and since and many these days pass off things that are simply a motor attached to a battery as "robots," so I thought I'd share my little greeter.


Conceived on a bright and sunny October day in Santa Barbara, his's mission in life was to live in the tree immediately inside my friends' front yard.  On Halloween, when you opened the gate, it triggered a lever microswitch and the little critter swung out from behind the tree, glaring at the guests.  Once the gate is closed again, he jerkily retracts behind the tree again, emmiting a cackling noise from his mini-servo.  (I had the servo retract a few degrees at a time with a slight pause inbetween in order to create the sound effect.  The fact that the servo)





 I started out bending coathangers with needlenose pliers to create his skelletron.  The arms and legs are hinged horizontally, except for the right arm, which is bent to fit into the servo horn.  I used the black insulated wire to keep the improvised hinges together; otherwise the limbs would've slipped up and down on the frame.  He clung to a wire rack during construction.



Next, I built up the body using cardboard, hot glue, and masking tape.  (True LMR Patriotism, right?)  As I went, I began the skinning process.  I simply cut scraps from black trashbags, and used a heat gun to fuse them together over the frame.  The plastic shrinks, and bubbles if you get it too hot, creating an unearthly, translucent skin effect.



 And here he is with all his viscea out.  I'm using the 08m protoboard for this.  At the top right, diagonally, I've populated an 8th" mini jack, which I used to interface with my microswitch, allowing me to disconnect it for transport, and adjust the length.  (I ended up attaching a female jack to the switch as well, and connecting them with a male-male audio cord, but at this stage, I just tacked an old crappy cord on for testing.)  Other than this, there's just the interface circuit and headers for the servo, and two leds hooked up to a single out pin.



 In just-short-of complete form.  You can see the picaxe board stuffed in behind the batt box.  I made the head out of Sculpey, an oven-bakable modeling clay.  I then drilled out the eyesockets, and hot glued in my leds. 

After this, I simply fused on more plastic bags to complete his hide, making sure that the plastic had slack around the joints so as not to restrict his movement.




 In order to instal him, we mounted 4 eyelts in the tree, bent the wires protruding from his limbs around them, and clipped off the excess.  The microswitch was screwed down to the fence such that the metal lever protruded, and sqeezed the switch closed when the gate was shut all the way.




 And finally, just me, my little imp, and the open road.  Not only did the little bastard pick the music the whole time, but he ate all the damn trailmix!



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I have to try my hand at some animatronics creatures!
This would be great to see on video!

Now I know that indeed this "baby" looks as if it is covered in "tar" and I know there is also a Br'er Rabbit reference as well. Now I'm not saying here, I'm just saying that tarbaby might have some other interpretations.

Nice work though.

yeah, I was trying to think of a way to break it to him....as it might not do down to well with some folk...

I was formerly blissfully unaware of that little morsel of racism. 

Thank you friends and wikipedia.


it isnt racism!

also, nice project! did it scare anyone?

I would never think that you yourself would be using this word for anything other than a good name for a robot covered in tar. I forget sometimes that others are blessed to not be aware of some of these slurs. I however, grew up in Kansas and I think I have heard every single slur relating to People of Color, gays, women and everyone else in between. --Add to that some Peace Corps hippie parents and you get... well... Me.

Now I don't want to be too hard on Kansas, there are a lot of very good people there. Very hard working farmers and God fearing kinda folks. On the other hand, and I am quite embarrassed to say this, Kansas is also the home to such fuck-nuts as Fred Phelps.


"Kansas is also the home to such fuck-nuts as Fred Phelps"

'nuff said CtC =)
This particular slur was one I hadn't heard before, but then again where I live we've got a whole different pallette of racist/sexist/everythingist terms, so each to their own I guess -_-

Awesome critter Majones, a good example of simple mechanics+coding+electronics leading to a great result. Love that melted plastic texture, very cool.

The photos are helpful - I can imagine what this critter looks like in motion. Might scare the bejesus out of kids in my neighborhood. We would like video if you've got it though :-)

Seriously though, nice simple animatronic project, with a great result!