Saturday, August 13, 2011

blinking cabbage patch doll

Here I've connected the eyes of a cabbage patch doll to a servo, so I can control opening and shutting her peepers.  The doll came with weighted eyes that shut when she's reclining, and open when she's upright.

I started out by cutting out a piece of the back of the head, to get acces to the eyes.  The eyes sit in molded sockets that are part of the rubber head.  I slit open the socket backs, but left them mostly intact so I could put the eyes back in them.  The eyes had a black plastic cover on the back that connects to the metal case surrounding the eye in the front.  I sliced off most of the black plastic cover with a Dremel tool, but left a ring of it to hold the works together.

To connect to the eyes, I superglued a large bent paperclip to the back of each of eye.

Then I mounted them back into the sockets in the head.  I cut off the ring on the base of the neck, as it was interfering with the paperclip travel.  This picture was taken through the hole cut in the back of the head.

I bent the hanging ends of the two paperclips and taped them together, so I could control them with one servo.

The servo I mounted to a base built from Maker Beam.  I attached the servo arm to the paperclips using a zip tie and some fishing line, so it could have a little play.  Here is the head with the eyes moving while sitting on the bare base.

I cut the backs of the doll's legs and pulled out a bit of the stuffing, then shoved the two beams at the bottom of the base into the legs.  I cut the doll's back and pulled out most of the stuffing in the body, then sewed it mostly back up.  I left the neck partially open to pull over the two beams at the top of the base structure.  Here is a picture from the back of the assembly.

For now, I'm using a Pololu Maestro servo controller with its software to test.  I intend to try out some others, and figure out how I want to connect together several dolls and stuffed animals for a display.

So there it is!  The eyes move slower than I might like, and also don't open and close completely, but I'm happy enough with the project as it is.

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