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Sorry, I don't have my parts 3D printed, yet, like Troy. But, I think I have my course of action pretty well though out though:
I’m currently working on a set of three characters: Ethyl,
Methyl, and their Black Cat, named Shadow.
For this class my main focus will be the mechanics intended
for Shadow. Whereas Shadow’s vocal communication will be restrained to inner
thoughts/ breaking the fourth wall-style, to communicate with the audience.
Shadow will only interact with the other characters NON-verbally, in the same
manner as real cats do, through body language. In order to convey this body
language, Shadow will require nearly as much functionality in movement as a
real cat is capable of. To that end, here is a checklist of movements I’m
looking to achieve with Shadow:
I plan on making two versions of Shadow: One
capable of sitting and lying down, and a second version that will stand only.
Shadow will have dialating pupils, and the eyes
will be capable of moving side to side. The pupils will be able to go from the
typical slit-pupil shape, all the way to a fully round large pupil shape. This will
primarily be accomplished with a scissor-like mechanism, strategically attached
to the iris.
Shadow will also contain independent upper and
lower eyelids. In actual use the eyelids will usually work in tandem. But, by
designing them with the ability to work independently, it affords that
opportunity for if, and when the script calls for it.
Shadow will have the ability to wiggle it’s nose
Also, the whiskers will be able to twitch.
Shadow’s ears will have the ability of two separate
movements: side to side, and front to back. (If you’ve ever seen a cat hear
bagpipe music for the first time, you will EASILY see both these separate
movements on display. Lol.)
The fur on Shadow’s head and back will be able
to stand on end.
Shadow’s tongue will be able to move via a three
or four line tentacle mech. And, the tongue will be able to extend approximately
two inches, (48mm), from the mouth via the use of a parallelogram mech.
Shadow’s paws will mostly be controlled by rods,
but there will be a trigger on each of these rods to allow shadow to bare the
claws on each of the paws.
Finally, Shadow’s tail will contain a
compound-tentacle mech. Unlike dogs, cat tails are capable of more complex
s-curve like movements. Dog tails tend to be capable of up-down movement, and
side-to-side wagging movement. Cat’s tails on the other hand tend to be more
complex. Their tails are capable of the same up-down movement, (which signifies
happy or sad), and side-to-side wagging movement, (which usually signifies
anger, and or “Back off, human. Or I’ll claw your eyes out!”, when wagging fast).
But, the outer third tends to move independently, (if it curls forward your cat
is usually telling it is happy and content. This can also include a SLOW wag
from the other two-thirds. If the outer third is twitching, your cat is usually
letting you know it is curious about something.)
Yes, I know, probably seems rather complex. But, who ever
said cats were simple? A good number of these features will be automated with
an Arduino and servos with the ability to interrupt the program remotely with
radio control. The intention with this design is to expand the capability of
the puppet to it’s fullest, yet keep the number of puppeteers to a minimum of approx.
just two. Granted, not all functions will be necessary ALL the time, but if all
those functions are already present and available, it opens up how the
character can emote and connect with the audience. And, anything that helps
make your character seem more like an actual living entity, the easier it is
for the audience to believe and care what happens to the character.
For the mech.s that will be in the cat’s head, most will be
controlled by “sub-micro” servos, which are some of the smallest and lightest
available. For mech.s that need more strength from possibly bigger servos, and/or
providing a more comfortable location for carrying the batteries, and Arduino,
I plan on using “Gold-N-Rod” cables from Sullivan Products, ( http://www.sullivanproducts.com/GoldnRodContent.htm
), specifically their #507 cables, which are 36 inches, (91.4 cm), long. The
brass plated, stainless steel cables are .032 inch diameter, with an accompanying
yellow, nylon outer sheath. (The last time I purchased some of them, they cost
$2.69 USD each.) They also include “Gold-n-Clevises” and retaining clips, as
well as couplers. (If needed, you can order this cable in bulk.) These cables are
extremely thin, but quite strong and reliable. I’ve been using them for various
animatronics, for years!
The Arduino set-up will be a combination of a standard
Arduino Uno Board and Adafruit 16-Channel 12-bit PWM/Servo Shield - I2C
), with Micro Servo - High Powered, High
Torque Metal Gear type servos, (http://www.adafruit.com/products/2307
as I can figure, that should fill all the requirements of the first homework
assignment. If you need me to go into further information on any detail, just
let me know. Yes, I know this overall design is rather complex. But I want the
final puppet to be as versatile as possible. And, this is the only way I could
think of approaching it.
Hi Bj and Class. I am puppet builder from Brisbane, Australia. I've really enjoyed this class so far as I have your others BJ.
I tried to upload a video but had some difficulty, so I have some photos attached instead. I am not sure what character I want to incorporate a mech into, so at this stage I just build this to put the principles from this class into action and to have a prototype to play with. I too have reversed the mech to have 'frowning' eyebrows.
Really looking forward to the next class.
@Katherine - I love your mechanical/android puppet idea, looks very cool.
@Tom Stewart - What is the nose made out of in one of your earlier pics? Is it model magic?