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Animatronic power choices

3411 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Screaming Demons

I am looking into some simple animatronics for this year, and was looking for inspiration.

I know many people use Wiper motors, but I dont really want to go down that route, I don think I will have time to figure out all the wiring etc, and shipping from the US to the UK does not make economic sense.

I have seen people using fans and shiatsu massagers for power, both of which are an option, but what else have you seen/used to power a prop? I know RC cars are used by some, again, one for me to skip atm.


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Shipping overseas is a killer so I would use what is available in your country.

Check with local junk yards about getting a wiper motor. Wiring is actually pretty simple, either with either a DC wall adapter like a laptop computer would use (simple but relatively expensive) or a computer power supply (cheap but more complicated).

Another option is what everyone is calling vent motors. The technical term is blend door actuator, and you should be able to get them from a junk yard as well. They don't have as much power as a wiper motor but have the advantages of being slower and can make use of almost any wall adapter you have handy.

Another one that is gaining popularity is the microwave motor. They are available on ebay and are often shipped from China. They make low voltage and household voltage versions, with lower voltage obviously being safer if you're worried about the wiring. Check your version of ebay and see how much a microwave motor will cost with shipping included.
I have a couple of old laptop chargers if they are the expensive part of this??
As long as they aren't over 12 volts, and lower would probably be better. The lower the voltage, the slower the motor will turn. Depends on what prop you intend to make with the motor.

I am assuming that vehicle voltage in the UK is 12 volts. Is that correct?
eBay UK seems to have wiper motors for 5 pounds second hand which sounds cheap enough to me. If you're comfortable with DIY mains power electronics, that's your answer.

BigAnt from Eerie Acres has some how-to's for animated prop building ranging from the very simple (and cheap) through to reasonably complicated (and more expensive) - http://eerieacrescemetery.com/ . I'll be building his "monster in a box" using the car lock actuator this weekend - total cost of all the parts $15 AUD.
I was asking a question about my first animatronic build earlier, and a friend suggested the kind of motor found in the animated Christmas deer. You can remove them from the existing deer, if you have one or find one cheap, or you can buy the motors themselves for around $10. They give a back and forth or up and down motion, and are already wired and have a plug to connect to your power source.
I've also stumbled across rotating christmas tree stands that turn and can handle larger weights, varying in price from $30-$90 in the U.S., and they might be popular in the U.K. (wouldn't hurt to search out U.K. sites anyway).

Try to think of novelty items that already have motors in them that are all wired up and can be adapted to work for your props. Disco ball motors maybe, but they have little actual power and won't be able to handle heavy prop type stuff...Oh! Rotisserie motors should be something you can find over there maybe?
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Hi, I have used wiper motors for my Cauldron creep, Monster in a box, Hangman and various other props that need a bit of umph. I use vent motors for other props that dont need too much torque to keep them going. The wiring for the motors, I used a video by Creepy Creations
which outlines the steps pretty well. The power supplies I use are computer ones Tile Design Technology Flooring Pattern

( I bought these 17 for £3.20 from ebay with local pickup !! ) and the wiring I got from here...
( Hope I haven't upset anyone uploading video etc )
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Frankie's Girl has the right idea if you're worried about wiring, or figuring out what to connect to a motor to make it turn. Keep a sharp eye out for things in stores, at work, and at friends' houses for things that already move that you might be able to buy relatively cheap. They will already be set up to plug in to the wall.
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