Pardon our dust. We are updating our forum to match our new homepage.

Dragon. My animatronic project.

edited November 2017 in Animatronics

I've posted some questions and comments before, but this will be the first real post about the full project.

I have been working on a dragon head and neck (so far). And, like a lot of other people, mine will be a long term project. I'll try to update as often as I can. 

On to the project, and my progress so far!

This is the neck. 2 vertical, and 2 horizontal hinge points, and a 3 axis plate to mount the head to. All of the hinge points, and the universal joint plate, are cable driven and counterbalanced with springs. The rotating axis is driven by a servo and gear drive. Still a lot of assembly to do!

Here are the 4 main cable drive units. 12V, 60 RPM gear motors, with feedback pots. I may have to use 30, or even 20 RPM motors depending on the load.

Closer look at the drive, with the cable and sleeves  in place.

This is my miniature "input rig" I will use to directly input motion, or create a motion file that the Arduino will read and execute.

And last one for now. My 1st (bad) attempt at sculpting. I really need to ditch the styrofoam head and make an armature.  But, I'm learning!  This was more a test to see if I could do it this way.    Um... nope. lol

I always welcome comments, questions, advice, constructive criticism, or even just a chat.  

Take care all!
Post edited by Joel Goodpaster on


  • I got some 30 RPM angle gear motors for the vertical movements on the neck.  After a bit of design, I came up with this cable drive which is very similar to the straight one I had. Had to use some sheet metal for the base since the mounting holes were on the face where the output is. Now, to center drill all the cap screws for the adjusters (like a bicycle brake cable adjuster). 

  • Chris EllerbyChris Ellerby Los Angeles Admin
    Looking awesome!

    What is the attachment piece on the cable connecting it to the 3d print in your last picture?

    I love working with cable mechs, but the attachment points for the housing or the cable are always a point of frustration for me.

  • I used a 1/4-20 x 1" cap (allen head) screw with a plain nut. The cable fit great in the hex, and the lightly knurled sides make it easy to turn.  I center drilled the cap screw, which was a huge pain.  I think, in the future, I am doing to slot down the side of the screw instead of trying to drill it.  Kind of like this...
  • Chris EllerbyChris Ellerby Los Angeles Admin
    That's a creative solution.  Let me know how your other idea works out for you!  

    Another challenge I've been trying to address with my cable mechs is that having the controllers, cables, and character all permanently linked makes working on and transporting them a real headache.  I'd love to find a way to be able to easily disconnect the cable at either or both ends.  Ideally with some type of connector that does not limit mobility of the cables or introduce any slop.  

Sign In or Register to comment.