Animatronics Update

A look inside the animatronic morphoids.

I’ve been hard at work working on the animatronics project.  HARD at work.  It is a huge challenge, but slowly but surely, I am making some progress.  I am having to rework my ideas and rework my solutions as I go, as sometimes what I think will work best does not work hardly at all.  I am learning a lot and am getting some serious experience in problem solving, especially as it relates to electronics, mechanics and building things.

Making things in electronics takes five times as long as any other process.  There is no doing things halfway, or fudging your skills.  Unlike many other making techniques, electronics either works or it doesn’t.  Unlike, say, sewing, where your skills will develop as you go, but if you want to make something specific as a beginner, you will manage to make something as a beginner.  Not perfectly, but if you had intended to make a shirt, you would have a shirt.  With electronics, you have to get things absolutely right.  For instance, if I’m intending to make a Morphoid move, I have to make a Morphoid move, or it’s just a collection of fabric, stuffing, and electronic parts.

I think that working with soft things (fabric sculpture, versus, say, something made of wood) presents a unique set of obstacles.  It is tough to get any kind of traction on things- the stuffing has too much give.  Sometimes, although it is moving on the inside, it is tough for the moving parts to be obvious on the outside.  This is interesting to me, as everything I’m working on with this comes out much more subtle than I intend, which is actually kind of interesting and strangely appropriate.  I have a couple of things that I almost can’t tell if they are on and working right away.

Anyway, I’m in the process of tweaking, or making version 2 for the Morphoids I’m animating…. hopefully there might be some video soon(ish).

The photo is of the insides of one of the Radiolaria.  I used plaster to cover a child’s ball to make a hollow form for the servos to move a weight around in, which gives it just a twitch of movement.  You can see the battery packs, circuit board that I soldered and the Arduino on the top, and the whole contraption will soon be going inside a ‘Radio’.

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