Ok, so at first I was thinking about building a gun with a nozzle that opens before it shoots some sort of laser. Whilst looking for a solution for opening the nozzle, I found these really cool iris diaphragms. Then I got the idea to use two of them as "eyelids" and put some kind of controllable LED behind them.
This reminded me of Bubo, the mechanical owl from "Clash of the Titans" So a new idea was born: build an owl with servo-controlled iris diaphragms for eyelids and glowing eyes.
Whilst rummaging through the stuff I still had lying around, I found a slip ring. It has six wires going through it and I thought it would be cool if the owl's head could spin limitlessly. I still had a steppermotor and driver, so I'm thinking about using that for spinning the head. I'll have to see how I'm going to attach the motor to the head. Maybe I can print a ring gear and pinion, otherwise I'll have to see if I can find a pre-made one (they're expensive though, so rather not)
For the LED's, I ordered a pair of neopixel-jewels (they're almost the same size as the opening in the diaphragms)
I have some extra servo's, so if there's enough space in the head, I could try to animate the beak also.
As I'm not sure if the slip ring will allow me to use it for serial communication, I've got a pair of XBees for backup.
I also found a text-to speach module that I'd like to incorporate, which should give it a nice mechanical, "robot-like" voice.
Finally, I found some joysticks, which I could use for controlling the figure.
So it looks like I have most of the stuff I need (I ordered the diaphragms immediately when I found them and they came in yesterday, the LED's should come in hopefully tomorrow) The only thing missing is the owl figure itself.
I actually found a Bubo-prop, but if I'm not mistaken, it's made out of foam-latex, so I'm not going to be able to use it as-is.
I ordered it anyway, because I'd like to try and 3D scan it, so I can make a 3D print. The nice thing about that would be that I'll be able to match the size of the eyes exactly to the size of the diaphragms. The only thing is, that my 3D printer is down at the moment. So I'm hoping to get it fixed in the next couple of days.
Other stuff like breadboards, hook-up wire, prototype boards, buttons etc. I should have plenty of. For now, I'm just going to use a bench power supply for power and a set of computer speakers for sound. Maybe later on, I'll exchange those with a battery and an internal speaker and amplifier.
So that's the basic idea. I hope to be able to actually build it (no idea how much time we'll be allowed to put it all together). Otherwise, getting the electronics to work will be a nice challenge by itself.
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