the Greeter, aka the Imp
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!