good animatronic figure that is able to perform constantly without fail requires many
special skills and LOTS of technical know how. Before assuming the task of creating
an animatronic figure, you should have a strong hold on how these things are
constructed and be willing to spend a pretty penny on equipment and materials.
Here's a rough list of things you should need and consider if you decide to build an
|1. Careful planning must be done. Decide
what your figure is going to look like and what it will be doing. Sketch out a rough
drawing of your dream animation figure. Consider what will me moving, what will move
it, how it will move and what will control all the movements. You may choose to
manually operate your figure or you may choose to have a computer operate it. You
may want to have it operate continuously or in intervals. Will electric motors be
used to make movement, air pressure (pneumatics) or will it be hydraulic (Pressurized
hydraulic oil). Will your figures internal structure support be made of metal or
wood? Metal is preferred for strength.
|2. Buy parts.
| A. Metal is a must. You need
structural support. Knowing how to cut and weld metal is a HUGE plus.
| B. Bearings and bearing collars. Size
of the joints in your animation will determine bearing size.
| C. Actuators or motors. These will do the moving
of body parts
| D. Hoses, fittings and mounts (If pneumatic or
hydraulic) for actuator mounting and connecting
| E. Regulators and flow controls
| F. Machine screws (all sizes) with nylon lock nuts and
| G. Air compressor or hydraulic pump
| H. Animation control computer (if automated
movements are desired)
|3. Put it together! I'm not gonna go
into how and give all my secrets away. I'm just giving you some starters here!
Use your imagination and develop technique and style. Having good electrical
and mechanical skills would be a good thing.
|Note: Equipment that will make the job a lot easier
include a band saw, drill press, grinding wheel with wire brush, a vise, a 110-120 volt 90
amp mig welder with face shield/visor and basic hand tools.
|4. Have Fun! Be Creative! Be Safe!
or "Actuators" are the life blood of animatronics. Cylinders can range in
size from many feet in length to as small as a pencil tip. In construction for
example, large cylinders are used move cranes and dump the contents from a dump truck
bed. In animatronics, usage's can range from moving a giant dragon many stories tall
to an eye blink in a small bird. There are many companies that manufacture pneumatic
and hydraulic cylinder actuators.
Tolomatic are the most recognized brands of hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders and