After this stability test it’s pretty safe to say that Plutarch is 97% ready to make his debut at J’s Halloween party later this year.
So how did we get here? When last we left our hero he was a naked 3d printed shell enclosing a buggy and unstable collection of wires and electronics.
Rubber cementing the feathers to the body was strikingly straightforward, the only caveat being that one needs to layer the plumage and make sure that none of it gets into the spaces between moving parts.
Epoxying the googly eyes is simple enough. Next time I’ll include 3D printed eye socket markers so I can be sure that Plutarch isn’t walleyed.
Here’s the thing about googly eyes. You can’t buy just two. You have to get a whole mess of them.
Epoxy is enlisted once again to affix the wing feathers to the body, as they’re too heavy to attach with rubber cement alone.
A clever designer would have included tail feather mounting holes in the original 3D printed body, but unfortunately no clever designers showed up to work on body design day. So Plutarch got a few aftermarket holes drilled in his rump.
OK! So! Forty-five minutes of fledging and butt-drilling hence, Plutarch’s ready for his big reveal to the family.
Possibly too sexy for your cat.
The kids (and, of course the Lovely and Talented Mrs. Zheng3) have been watching Plutarch’s progress in bits and bites for the last few months, and they’re assembled in the kitchen for Opening Night. Plutarch is perched, powered up, and ready to go. I hit the button on his remote that makes him shake his head and… BAM.
To everyone’s horror (except the cat, who gives approximately zero f*cks) Plutarch torqued himself off my shoulder, broke a foot, and snapped his battery cables.
Gah. I pinned the broken foot with a couple of epoxy-coated finishing nails and set the patient aside.
Another setback. We were so close.
The epoxy cure delay allows for a few hours of self-reflection. Why am I doing this? Is making an animatronic parrot really best way for me to spend my limited time on earth? How do magnets work, anyway?
Magnets. We need moar magnets. Better-positioned ones, too.
The original perch design put the magnets on the underside of a steel can lid, relying on luck to link up with the magnets embedded in Plutarch’s toes. Fearful of another catastrophic and embarrassing fall, I moved the magnets to the top of the lid and made sure they’re aligned as closely as possible with their mates above.
The video at the top of the post proves that this time Plutarch stayed put.
But. BUT! Even after all this improvement, Plutarch, while ready for primetime performance, is still not a robot. He’s best described as an animatronic parrot. Roboticization– the addition of sensors and the ability to respond to an environment– shall have to wait until Halloween 2017.
So here’s what I’ve got planned for Plutarch’s next year:
- improved internal accessibility
- 2-axis head movement
- articulated beak
- some kind of sensor ability, for crissakes
Lao Zheng out.