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My 3 axis skull...in progress

589599 Views 2217 Replies 203 Participants Last post by  HalloweenBob
I have a couple of pictures of my prototype. I will take a bunch of new pictures as I make the other three skulls, but this should give you an idea of what I am doing.

I am making a singing quartet based on (That means idea stolen from) Mike C's Graveyard Quartet. Ever since I saw his video I couldn't get it out of my head.

A neighbor of mine with a machine shop has helped me with the prototype, machining some of the parts I needed, and helping with the design.

I have been using the prototype to do some programming to make sure it all works with Brookshire's VSA software. So far, so good. I will post detailed pics of every step as I start making more skulls, but for now, here's a couple of basic shots with labels on them.

The Jaw servo was not mounted yet in this pic. It is in now. You can see the mounting screws and the linkage wire in the pic. The servo mounts standing up on end. I will add pictures of that later. The eyelid servo is mounted under the plexi-glass. That one is not hooked up yet, but when it is, it will be attached to one of the eyeballs...I am using wooden balls for eyes. It will move it up and down, not side to side. The purpose is to make it appear that it is blinking. I have large fake eyelases that will be attached to the eyeballs. When the eye is moved down, it appears to be closing as the top eyelid moves down with it. In the pic below, you can see the slot cut in the eye socket where the armature will go to move the eyeball. Don't worry, I will post pictures of that as well. I am using a 3/16 rod end as the gimbal which allows movement in all directions. When I build the next one, I will have clear shots of that as well.

Feel free to ask questions, and I will answer as best I can. I now have it hooked up to VSA and it is working very well. I am using the lightweight Pirate Skull and so I do not need springs, elastics or counterweights.
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OK, just starting to put together the GYM Ghost kits I ordered a while ago. I ordered 2-56 linkages and threaded rod from Servo City, but now see that the hole in these linkages is a #2, meaning the 4-40 screw that goes into the top of the kit's big threaded rod doesn't fit.

So, I guess I need 4-40 threaded rod and #4 ball linkages. However, I don't see where the 4-40 ball & socket linkages are sold. Anyone got a supplier? I've only ever seen these in 2-56. Did GYM Ghost change the screw to 2-56, or is there a 2-56 linkage with a #4 hole that I don't know about. Any help appreciated!
Thanks for the quick response, Halloween Bob. It appears my threaded rod does not have the "reversible" feature you mention. It seems like it's one unit. Perhaps my kits are from an earlier lot. Any other suggestions?
Thanks. I'll ping Joel. BTW, the thing I'm looking for is the ball & socket linkages in 4-40 size. I haven't found them at ServoCity, only the 2-56 size:
2-56 Ball & Socket Linkage
My new store will open at 11:00am Saturday. Please visit it, drop me an email from the page, share it with friends, or whatever you can do to help get the word out. I've spent most of the last year reworking and improving my designs and have come up with what I think, is the best 3 axis skull out there. I might be a little biased, but take a look and decide for yourself. If anyone wants to place an order, please bear with me on delivery times as I just get started. I need to build up parts inventories and the 3D printing is a slow process. I'm asking for 3 to 4 weeks for delivery. I'll be basically making skulls to order until I can get a handle on the quantities I will need.

I hope to see some of you lurking on my page at http://HalloweenSkulls.com.

Thanks for all the support throughout the years, and I hope this will start some new conversations.
Looks like someone has been putting a 3D printer to good use! Best of luck, Bob. I'll be one of your first customers.
Just a quick note of recommendation for Halloween Bob's new skulls. I was (I believe) the first person to buy the DIY kit back in July. In a nutshell, I'm quite impressed with the product. The engineering is extremely clever (would you expect anything less from Bob?) and the 3D printing is beyond what most hobbyists can achieve. I own two rather expensive, high end "prosumer" printers, a dual extruder Raise 3D N2+ (raise3d.com) and a four extruder Stacker3D 500 (stacker3d.com) and I can't achieve the quality and precision of the parts in Bob's products, which are printed on seriously expensive printers-- and it shows!

Bob has been very proactive with his support, even noticing when the UPS delivery was delayed due to the truck getting into an accident! (package was unharmed). Even though I took the DIY route, he provided me with a carefully curated list of additional parts complete with prices, vendors, and online links. He worked with me as I came across a couple of alternatives, and together we figured out what might or might not work. BTW, he sells fully assembled skulls and unassembled full kits too, of course.

As for assembly, he has a series of videos that break it down step by step. I'd say the trickiest part is soldering the tiny LEDs for the eyes. I have a big magnifying glass on my "third hand" soldering clamps, so I was able to do this without too much difficulty. Bob has an even cleverer suggestion that involves using your phone's camera as a magnifier, which I never would have thought of.

His custom DMX board was not available until recently, which kept me from finishing the skull until this weekend. Happy to report it all works beautifully. Again, he proactively reached out with a fix for a minor mechanical issue with the board that was simple to implement and will be addressed in subsequent batches. The skulls movement is natural and the whole thing is wonderfully self contained. He even gives you a neck piece (vertebrae) through which you run the wires and support rod so that the illusion isn't broken by unhidden wires and mechanics.

As for the price, I think it represents good value for the product you receive. I've made five 3-axis skulls in the past, based on Bob's original design. If you've done this too, you'll realize that creating a high quality, reliable, fluid skull that can be consistently controlled by VSA takes many, many hours to get right. If you give your time any sort of value, you'll come to see that Bob's product is a good deal. Of course, many of us love the "making" aspect of this hobby. I know I do. But I also really enjoy coming up with creative routines for my animatronic characters. The HS skull will let you more quickly get to this part of the fun. Something to consider.

In sum, two thumbs up for:
a) engineering
b) 3D print quality
c) customer support
d) value for money

I'll try to post pics when I get a chance and would be happy to answer any questions you might have, too.
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