Resurrecting the Wowwee Animatronic Elvis Bust

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RetroPlayer
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Resurrecting the Wowwee Animatronic Elvis Bust

So, it has been some number of years (wow 6 years already!) and I have been out of the scene, but that just means I am wiser now than before. My toolset, experience, and skills have grown significantly.

Just a month ago, I purchased a 3D printer. Obviously my love of all things animatronics has not changed one bit. So, now that opportunities have opened up again, I am in the process of re-designing the mechanical internals of the Animatronic Elvis to use standard servos. I still have 4 of these busts. Time to put them to some use.

My first goal is to create 3D models of all of the original parts first, then begin modifying them to house the servos. So far I have redesigned most of the eyes mechanism. It still needs some tweaks here and there, but I am getting really close.

I also intend to do a very different design for the neck mechanism so that the head can be installed outside of the bust.

RetroPlayer
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Currently the bust has separate motors for each eyelid (I guess he originally was supposed to be able to wink) but not one of the animations use the eyes separately and in my custom animations, the single eye wink never had the right affect. So, in my redesign, I am joining the eyelids.

The eyes U/D servo is also separate in the Elvis, but I am debating making the eyes self-contained so they could be used in other projects as well.

Even with the U/D added into the mechanism, this will leave room for two more servos around the eyes. Any suggestions?

RetroPlayer
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All parts are pretty much finished for the eye mechanism. All that is left is to work on is to finish making them printable and designing the links that will go from one of the servos to the nose hinge for up/down. This will make the eye mechanism stand-alone in that it can do Eyes L/R, Eyes U/D, and Eyelids Open/Close.Currently the U/D movement comes from another motor in the top of the head which raises and lowers the eye mechanism pivoting around the nose piece. By adding a link directly to the nose piece, the servo can be on-board. That might require a little bigger servo though.

I have been printing the pieces out as I go and test fitting everything to make sure it will work and all is good so far. Just some issues with getting good quality on some features due to all the overhangs.

Right now, the design uses 3 SG90 Servos total. 5 total servos can fit on this base, so it would be possible to keep the individual eyelids. I will design an alternate arm to allow for that. The last servo might be used for eyebrows (or possibly individual eyebrows.

Hopefully this weekend I will have it all printed out and installed in one of the heads to demonstrate. Once that is done, the Mouth is next. Currently the mouth has a motor for the jaw and a motor for the lip curl. I was never happy with the lip curl effect, so the plan is to see if I can make the mouth more expressive instead.

My first goal is drop-in replacement. So far with the eye mechanism, you just pull out the original eye mech and install this one instead. All mounting points and pivots should line right up with the original. But, I would like to do some enhancements as well while I am in there.

RetroPlayer
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Threw together the first version of the head turning assembly since it was quick and easy. Includes an adapter to convert the servo output to the square peg needed for the gear. The existing gear and shaft slide right on and screw in. This one uses a standard servo due to the extra power needed to swing the head.

 

I also made the decision to change some things with the eye mechanism to use off-the-shelf ball links and pushrods instead of the fragile plastic arms I was designing. After printing a few out, They just seemed a little too brittle and if I beef them up more, they will begin interferring with other movements. I also added the mount to the nose piece that will allow eye u/d movement directly from the sled.

 

Still having some quality issues with getting things to print, which requires going back and slicing up the models. I have been through several iterations already and am getting very close. My hope is to start installing some of the mechanims in one of the heads this weekend to showoff and possibly make some video of it in action.

 

Still left to do:

1. Neck Tilt and Nod mechanism

2. Jaw and Lip

3. Eyebrows

 

Then that's it. The result will be a fully controllable animatronic head. Then I can start playing around with some new modifications to it. I will be using a SSC32 32 channel servo controller and my mods have so far opened up a ton of room inside the head. So, fun can be had!

RetroPlayer
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Just to show proof that this is not all playing around on the computer... :) These are early versions, though.