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41 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
OK here is the promised tutorial on the cheap talking skull build. I'm trying to create a talking skull, that will react to any audio file you run through it, for less than $30...

The first step was to cut the skull in a way to get access to the inside in a way that viewers couldn't see the seam and it was easy to hide:

Next was to drill holes in the jaw and cranium to accept the wire that would hold it in place (I used picture hanging wire from the dollar store):

Now run the wire through the jaw and attach from the inside:

Next I wanted to attach the servo in a way that it could move freely and not be seen. In the final piece I will be adding a neck and some costuming so this will be completely obscured:

I hot glued the servo in place so that there was a clear shot to the jaw and it would not be blocked. Later I will paint the servo and linkage with flat black.

The next step was to connect the servo arm to the hole I drilled in the jaw with baling wire (stiff wire that is bent at a 90 and once everything is lined up, I will bend another 90 so it stays put and can still rotate).


Once everything is lined up I connected the servo to an RC remote and tested the servo/ jaw movement:


Finally, I mounted the skull with an old window suction cup camera mount I had (ball and socket swivel that I could lock off if I want to:


I cut off the extra and drilled and glued it to the base mount (3" of broomstick screwed to a board) and the skull respectively:


Finally I plugged the servo into the arduino and ran the sound clip through it:


Obviously I will have to paint and weather this skull! It will eventually be in a window in the front of the haunt (either in a gate column or a tollbooth).
Still to come (I'm waiting for the parts) I will be adding a PIR to detect movement, and an MP3 board to move the audio source onboard.
If I really get inspired I may add a three-axis head movement (that's why I mounted it on the ball and socket).
There may be a part 3!!

Thanks for following along! The whole system (minus the skull) cost well under $15 even if you had to buy all the bits I had lying around. If there is any interest I will list the sources for all of the electronic bits (mostly Ebay and Amazon).

41 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Hi Annamarykahn,
Here is the list:
The skull I used is a rotocast from a mold I made; the skull is Silcast resin.
The ball and socket joint I used for the neck was an old windsheild mout for a camera or GPS that I had lying around and modified it for this but there are 3-D print ones that you can get the code online for free and get them printed out.
The arduino control unit was $3.90 from ebay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-UNO-R3...var=441927089796&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

The VU meter chip is $0.76 from Aliexpress: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/MCI...451.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.19944c4dahW8Cq

The servo is essentially $1.22 (10x $12.23) from Ebay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/10pcs-9G-S...e=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

I will be adding the PIR $0.93 from Ebay (when I get it). https://www.ebay.com/itm/HC-SR501-H...e=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

And an MP3 chip $0.99 from Ebay when I get that: https://www.ebay.com/itm/GPD2846A-T...e=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

The wire I used for the linkage is just stiff wire from any hardware store (the roll costs less than $1 usually); it is pretty stiff but can be easily bent with your fingers or pliers.
Lastly I just used hot glue to mount the servo to the skull and a saw to cut the skull open.

3,756 Posts
Just thought I'd pass along a little info on those dirt cheap servos, you get what pay for definitely applies here. They don't hold up.
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