Tag Archives: servos

Talking Birds, Part 3

There has been quite a bit of head scratching over the last two weeks. Somehow the design I scratched on a Post-It Note wasn’t exactly to scale. I was close, though. Damn close. I’ll continue to use the Post-It Note method.

The plan was to mount the servos along the backbone such that there could be levers that push the mouth, neck, and wings. Moving the mouth turned out easier than I thought. There was enough space in the head of the puppet place a servo:

The neck and wings still presented a problem. The neck levers had to pass over the wings servo and shaft. In order to make the geometry work out, the servos had to be moved to the very rear of the puppet:

Actually, they end up hanging out the ass of the bird:

Unpleasant, I know.

At this point I am in total disbelief that I got it this far. I hooked this thing up to my new Northlight Systems servo controller and the thing actually works! Sure, this is a simple machine and I pretty much knew that the pieces could move by pushing them with my fingers. Still, there is always that chance that the thing could somehow go nuts and destroy itself.

I’m easily entertained by mechanical systems. The is an obvious byproduct of working in the software industry. I have issues with having spent my entire career never having made a product that does something. Maybe I wouldn’t think about it so much if I were an accountant or policeman. As an engineer I’m very much jealous of people who get to make things like cars or bombs. Maybe not bombs. Let’s consider it an extreme exemplar.

Anyway, now that we have one working, all we need to do is copy it…

Talking Birds, Part 1

I have this idea:

Two birds sit atop a gravestone and talk to one another with a kind of gallows humor. There’s a subtlety to this I like. If done properly the birds, ravens, should look fairly real. In telling jokes they should be able to react one another. After all, “Acting is reacting.”

I guess this is really the point. The only reason to use animated figures (as opposed to human actors) is to present a figure that a person can’t accurately portray. Okay, there are other reasons like cost or repeatability, but for non-commercial use, if I could fit inside a bird suit and convince anyone I could fly, I would. Likewise I do not make a good Jack Skeleton or Great Pumpkin. Maybe the Great Pumpkin is doable.

Anyway, the birds should give the spooky decorated front yard a certain feel. Clearly the birds are not going to scare anyone. I just want them to seem a bit afraid. Maybe, in turn, passers by will also feel afraid. It’s a theory.

Here are some parts:

After suggesting that Ruth learn taxidermy and my specifying the height and weight of the ravens I need her to catch, she suggested the use of hand puppets. While not as realistic as I had hoped, the puppets are ideal for the purpose of being… well… puppets.

To that we will add:

Now we just need to put it all together!