Dr. Evil and Mini-Me Animatronic Puppet

For the past 9 years my group of fiends has coordinated our costumes to a specific theme (voted on during breakfast on Nov. 1st).  We have had quite a range: Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Board Games, Music Legends, etc.  Each year, we all get a little more involved in our costumes.  Last year, the theme was "Movie Comedies", so the options were wide open. In late July (yes, only 3 months before the big night), I finally decided I would go as Dr Evil (from the Austin Powers movies), the selling point to me was the challenge of making my own Mini-Me.  I had seen some cosplays of Dr Evil carrying a doll decked up like Mini-Me, but I had the bright idea of making my own, that would actually copy my actions, especially for the air quotes and pinky-to-mouth actions that were a huge part of the character.  I could have gone with a string puppet idea, but decided instead to give a flex-sensor/micro-controller/servo-motor/cable-mechanism/battery-powered/sculpted-head puppet a shot instead.  For background, I had done numerous 12v battery powered micro-controller projects before, and have also done a number of clay to latex costume pieces.  I had NOT, however, used flex-sensors, servo-motors, or cable-mechanisms before.  Oh, and to top it all off, it had to fit inside the infant-sized body (ie project box)of my puppet...300 hours, numerous mechanism prototypes, and many, many exciting sleepless nights... here is the result!

Test run video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYBJEyegn5E
Mini-Me stabbing Austin Powers video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFk2avqUkts


  • Main Electro-mechanical Components for this build included:
    - Propeller Proto-Board micro-controller
          - (coded in PBasic to translate real-time flex sensor resistance into servo position control for puppet) 
          - 9v battery powering the logic circuitry
          - 12v sealed lead-acid battery powering the servo motors
    - 8 servo motors
         - 4 controlling each of the fingers (both puppet hands were controlled by sensors on my right hand)
         - 2 controlling the puppet shoulder rotation
         - 2 controlling the puppet elbow flexion
    - Mini-tubing and Fire-line (cable mechanism)
    - PVC to construct arms and servo horn adapters
    - Sensor shirt
        - 4 Long Flex sensors (Elbow and Shoulder flexion sensors)
        - 4 Short Flex Sensors  (finger flexion sensors)
    -Clay, plaster, latex and cream makeup (matched the puppet makeup to my makeup)


  • Here's a decent shot of the entire Austin Powers crew...
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