This page shows some "Behind the Scenes"
images. Listed are different types of show control programming systems
and playback modules. The Animated head (left) is one I built in my
spare time and took about a day to make.
This is an old programming console for Disney Animatronics
(right). Each knob and button activates the
corresponding body part as indicated on the console. The knobs are used for precise
analog movement and positioning while the buttons are used for digital on/off activation's.
An entire show can be programmed in real time, played back, synchronized to a
soundtrack using SMPTE timecode, downloaded to a
playback only rack system and stored to disk.
The computer being held
above is a Gilderfluke MiniBrick 8 show controller. It has 8 digital
outputs for controlling on/off functions, 2 servo motor plugs for controlling RC
type servo motors, 2 digital inputs for triggering your shows and a DMX output
so it can control whatever devices you have that use DMX. This unit is programmed by any personal
computer running Windows 9X using Gilderfluke's free programming
software. It costs around $210.00 and can be bought directly from Gilderfluke
above is an Alcorn McBride IO64 show controller. It has 32 digital inputs
and 32 digital outputs. This has basically the same capability as the
MiniBrick 8 but as a much larger scale. To program this controller, you
need Alcorn McBride's free Proprietary programming software and Windows
9X. Cost is about $600.00 and can be purchased from Alcorn
Some older show control systems
operate much like a multi-track tape recorder. This one has 32
digital outputs triggered by 32 toggle
switches which can control different movements or effects. The show can be recorded in
real time and played back while you record other things. The black buttons on the lower right side of the unit are simply marked PLAY -
RECORD - STOP. If you make a mistake recording, no problem. Simply
go back to the address where you screwed up using the 3 digit hex display and
correct the problem one frame at a time. This unit was state of the art
back in the day and has been replaced with more advanced systems. From R.A. Gray Inc.
This is an
animatronic bird I constructed for Rainforest Cafe - Downtown Disney. The head has a
nod and two side tilt movements. The bird is in it's lean forward position but can
stand fully upright. This figure can operate using any show controller but an Alcorn
McBride IO64 controller handles the job quite nicely.
Here is T. Bone in
my garage during a quick programming session for a last minute public appearance.
Equipment shown in this picture include: Laptop (for audio and show sync),
Amplifier and Show Controller (motion control and lighting).
Here I am working with an early model animated human
figure. This unit had just about every possible movement. For example It
could sit down and stand up with the assistance of high tension springs mounted in it's
knee joints. Sometime before this photo was taken, this animated figure
was used as an animatronic Roy Rogers at Six Flags Over Texas theme park in
This is a convict
body I built for Walt Disney World. This poor guy is in a jail cell and
attempts to free himself from his chains by pounding them with a hammer and yanking on
them with the other hand. Shown here are two black 6 volt batteries on the
right and the gray box on the left houses the show controller. The figure
operates on Co2 pressure supplied by one large tank mounted inside the
float. It performed for 3 years in the Mickey's not so scary Halloween
parade before it was re-themed for another type of float design.
Well, here's that goofy guy
again. This time I'm repairing a sick crocodile. Actually, the
cylinders that control the eye blinks needed replacement so the skull was cut and the
cylinders replaced. While the croc was out, we gave it a fresh paint job and fed it
Oh My LAWD!!
While trying to get it delivered back to its home, I was attacked! Good
thing it only has rubber teeth!
Adding a few new
movements to a parrot.