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Animatronic - Hacking into a robotic Parrot


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I have been using LOR for years controlling lights, and RGB's.  This year I want to add to the show and add singing parrots to the show for a Tiki Christmas.


I have purchased 4 - used Squawkers McCaw parrots that I want to hack into with my LOR.  I purchased a LOR ServoDog controller, and I have tried to make it work with these through process of trial and error, and so far all I have had is errors.


I have hooked the ServoDog to my computer, and that isn't my problem.  Where to go from there is.  It looks like their are two wires leading to the motor, so that would mean they aren't servo motors if that helps.

The Blue and purple wire on the attached picture lead to the motor for the mouth.


Has anyone tried to do this before.  With this same parrot, or just trying to hack into an existing singing stuffed animal that you can buy at your local wal-mart?  Any insight or help would be greatly appreciated!


Thanks!! :D




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You need to convert the PWM signal to a straight DC signal. the servo would have a control board in it to do this. then a potentiometer or an optical encoder that is attached to the geared output of the motor. In your case you may be able to accomplish something by buying some old used servos and use the control board with potentiometer connected. Of course any old servo will operate down to 4.8 volts. I'm not sure what the voltage would be on the bird you're using. Most of the servos will go up to 6 volts. Here's some detail on how I think it will work. Get some old servos remove the 4 screws from the bottom. Cut the two small wires that connect to the motor. Leave the input wire intact on the circuit board. Disconnect the potentiometer with the three wires that go to the circuit bored. Leave those wires intact you will use the potentiometer to center the motor. You will use the servos old control board to connect to the motor that you're trying to drive with the 2 wires that you cut earlier. The board should plug into your servo dog. From there you will just have to play around. That little potentiometer should be able to find a center point where the motor does not want to move forward or back. I hope this helps some without going into great detail. Keep in mind I'm not totally aware of exactly what you have to work with these are only suggestions without sending you to robotics shop to spend money on expensive controllers. Depending on what you have there maybe 10 different ways to achieve your goal. Something more I thought of the servo you want to hack for this would be an analog not digital servo

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Using pre-made purchased figures for any hacking project does have its challenges. You have to stick to the way the MFG did things, In the case of Squawkers McCaw, they use the same pair of wires for both the eyes blink and the mouth movement. To use a servo dog with this parrot, you will need two relays and two servo dog output channels (On/Off). Servo dog channel one, is for the relay and it will switch polarity between the wires (relay energized=eyes, relay not energized=mouth). Second servo dog channel relay will send 6volts to the desired motion (eyes/mouth). And that is just the face, more outputs and relays will be needed for the body movements.

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I am not familiar with the servo dog. So I wasn't aware that it could drive a relay directly. By its description I thought it was a PWM output only. So many other things to know. Such as are the movements spring return? In which case you only need to drive the voltage one direction. My kids had one of those toys. I thought it was cool and was very curious to how it operated. But I think my little girl would have been upset if I tore it apart. From what I remember I thought some of its movements were proportional. Not just straight on off voltage controlling the movement from lock to lock

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Here's a video setting up (hardware and software) a Servo dog to run multiple servos. My kid showed some interest in robotics so I used it as an excuse to justify buying a Servo dog during the summer sale. I had a pair of servos from an old airplane and it works nicely.

Edited by jstorms
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The Servo Dog is not just for servos, it has two separate high current PMW (dimming) outputs that can be used to dim LEDs. This function is perfect for eyes that dim and brighten on figures for extra special effects. The on/off outputs that are on the servo dog board will drive a relay, but it has to be a small 5volt relay with a diode to suppress any EMF (voltage spikes when the relay turns off). the inputs work just like the Input Pup LOR sells.   

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks everyone for the replies.

Looking at another forum, I see people have hacked an animated Santa that basically runs the same way.


Vic Fortenbach is correct...  The DC 5v motor, when working one way will control the mouth.  Spring closed I believe.  So when it's on the mouth opens, when off the mouth closes.  The same motor when reversed controls the eyes.  I could reverse it using relays.


Please excuse my ignorance because this is new to me, but could someone give some help on how to wire up the relays using servodog.




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  • 1 month later...

Dennis, sorry I didn't see this a couple of months ago.  In short you are way over complicating this.  To hack most of these toys with LOR you don't need a servo control board, what you need are $1 wall worts you can pick up at Goodwill. 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXRgxG8LTcU    TIKI BIRD TEST 2014


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTOZLGnXzd4     2015 HALLOWEEN SHOW CLOSE UP (POURING RAIN)


http://ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfQnXNiwia8  2015 PIRATE SKULL


Just get a couple of 1/2 amp wall wort AC-DC plugs and wire one into the beak the other into the body to do the above.  If you want to control the eyes it would be a 3rd channel.  Then just plug into LOR controller and sequence.  On= mouth open, Body movement in the birds is in a loop so I just turned that on/off at random to get them to dance.  


If you want total precise control then the servo board is the way to go but the way I did it above required about 5 min per bird and you don't even have to remove the fur. 

Edited by Beaver State Rich
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