Monday, October 3, 2011

How to Make an Animated Rabbit Ear

I have the Arduino for over a week now and I just couldn't wait to actually make and animate the first sub-component of the robot I want to make. The robot will be called "Vigilant Rabbit" - that's what I think right now. The first sub-component of that is its ear. From a product design perspective, that ear needs to be able to rotate around its vertical axis, and for cuteness it needs to be able to bend 90 deg at midpoint. It will also need to look and feel absolutely realistic. How it will interact with its environment will be revealed in future posts.

For now, I've made the skeleton of it from 14 AWG solid copper wire (about 2 mm diameter), soldered with lead-free solder (97% SN, 3% CU). That's attached to Servo 1, which - for now - is controlled by a rotary pot. Servo 1 is fixed to the rabbit or robot head (since I don't have that yet, I used a half full pot of salt as you can see in my photos and video). The ear has another on-board servo, that controls the 90 degree bend. This for now is taking its directions from a second rotary pot. See video below for the animated ear. It got done at 2 am in the morning that night.

If you want to find out about how I made the ear's skeleton, see pictures below, and some hints. I also attached the Arduino code below.

For the skeleton I used soldered 14 AWG solid copper electrical wire. This roll of 25 feet has 3 separate wires in it, so I actually got 75 feet for $12 at the hardware store.

The center wire can just be pulled out.

Remove the plastic around the wire to get to the good stuff.

Bend your wires and bring them in contact using a third hand. Then solder the joints. I used 600 degrees F and a Weller ETD tip.

Finished ear skeleton with servos and code from the starter guide.

Finished ear hooked up to Arduino.

Cutting a hole in the salt container for the servo.

Done for now. The animated ear is now attached to the salt container and I'm ready to try it out. Things that need improvement:
- the two servos seem to cross-feed, or interfere with each other
- the ear does not bend 90 degrees yet
- need ear number two

Arduino Code to make the servo-driven rabbit ear work.

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