Animatronics Owls

Around 2003 I found a bit of freelance work online from a man in Oakland California who puts on elaborate Halloween displays in his front yard Every year. His displays are mostly not-scary walk-throughs for local children. He commissioned me to modify a marionette owl to become animatronic. I achieved this by operating the owl in the same manner that it was as a marionette and pulling on its strings using hobby servos. This owl is capable of turning its head left and right, blinking its eyes, flapping its wings, and tilting up and down on its branch. It used to be operated using my CD2servo electronics in conjunction with a specially formatted CD that was created in Servo Animator but in 2011, I replaced the CD player and CD2serial electronics with a simpler system that ran off of a SD card and just started playing when power was applied so that nothing needed to be configured and no buttons had to be pushed.

The next year after modifying the marionette, he commissioned me to make another owl with him. This owl sat on a branch and was capable of moving along the branch, shuffling its feet, raising some eyebrows and stretching out its neck. When its neck stretches out, the eyes also blink. I built the mechanism and designed the electronics. My client built the shell for the animatronic and we worked together to make it all work. This mechanism also runs off of a SD card these days since setup and operation is much easier for him.

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