Animatronic Dinosaur Skull

by rweaving, published

Animatronic Dinosaur Skull by rweaving Dec 15, 2011

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It was my son's idea to create a dinosaur skull that would sing jingle bells. This is the result of that project. The bottom jaw is controlled via a servo mounted in the base.

In this video you can see the skull in action singing jingle bells.

Undubbed with circuit board visible


I assembled the skull by brushing the surface with acetone, and then connecting the pieces together and securing it with rubber bands. I dissolved scrap abs plastic pieces in a jar with acetone overnight. I then added glow in the dark pigment to the abs and acetone mixture. I really like the texture that this gives when dry, its a very bone-like texture. After the skull is finished how you wish carefully cut the bottom jaw from the upper piece. I finished the bottom box by brushing with acetone the sanding smooth. I used oil paints to try and give it a wood look. I used acetone as the medium for the oil paints. This worked quite well and I will be exploring using oil paints on abs more in the future. I gave it a few coats of spray lacquer to make it shiny. The bottom jaw connector is printed in two pieces join the two pieces by brushing with acetone. Connect wire to jaw pivot(see photo). Connect the stand skull mount to the bottom of the upper skull. It is helpful to brush the surface well with acetone letting it get nice and gooey. It should fit nice and flush with the obtrusion in the back of the upper skull. Connect the bottom pivot stand piece to the top. Connect the bottom jaw pivot to the lower jaw. Assemble rest of the stand. The bottom stand part pushes through the bottom of the box. Install servo motor in the bottom of the box. Cut wire to length and connect to servo.

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I'm trying to build this as part of an outdoor Halloween display. Probably due to the passage of time, the 2 links you provide for the controller are not longer working. Can you provide any more details on your circuit?

I'm an electronic hobbyist and could cook everything up if I have to. But, why re-invent the wheel if you've already done it?

Thanks in advance and for sharing a great idea! Gary

Thanks, Terry, for your quick and unexpectedly detailed reply! Anyone thinking about building this or anything like it should read your link.

What I have been doing is temporarily replacing my two garage lites with holiday "theme" lites. For example, for the fourth of July I used my 3D printer to make what sort of looks like a rocket (or bottle rocket) with simulated "fuses" (made from micro leds). Rather than using a controller such as you described, I've been using Arduino NANO's as a controller (small, and only about $3 on EBay.) But, adding more discretes, such as motion detectors and current limiting for leds, usually requires a separate board.

I'm working on Halloween now and that's why I'm trying to build the Dinosaur Skulls. I'm not sure the neighbors would appreciate several hours of music accompanied by dinosaur roars, so my first cut will be to lite the skull up, randomly move the mouth, and, using a proximity detector, let out a "roar" is someone approaches. An animatronic bat that flaps it's wings would be cool, too!

I would like to pass along that I didn't have any trouble printing the upper and lower jaws and I didn't use any support. I printed at 200%, a 24 hour build. Some, but minimal, cleanup was required. I've only been 3D printing for about 6 months but I have learned that there are numerous variables that can affect the outcome. For example, I have learned that so-called "free" programs don't always work very well. I couldn't do much of anything well with my new $2400 TAZ 5 printer until I replaced the free Cura slicer/gcode generator with Simplify3D, a $100, or so, slicer.

How is it possible to print the teeth, they have a negative overhang?

I wouldn't say they have a negative overhand when printed vertically, but they do have an extreme overhang and require some cleanup.

I have failed prints 6 times now. No clue how you print without support. There are several pieces over 45% and they spagetti poorly. Also the extruder knocs them off even with raft.

I am on a TOM mk7, printing 30% fill, .27 layer, 30mm rate, 3 shells, with raft. I am close to giving up on this one.

Any suggestions?

I'm sorrry to hear you are having problems printing this model. Are you using thei aluminum build surface? I used a tom with the mk6 with a 0.34 layer. Is the room where you are printing warm enough? I used a raft once and it helpped. I have printed this model sucesfully a few times. which piece are you having the most issues with. Also did you get the newer version of the back of the skull? What version of skinforge are you using? Mabey try printing slower.

What did you use to sync the audio with the servo that moves the jaw?

Is this exactly the same model as - Dinosaur skull -- sliced and scaled for Makerbot TOM by tonyv? I'm having issues printing that one and am just wondering is this version has been modified at all?

My problem is one of the pieces starts printing on layer 2, and ends up in a twisted mess of plastic, regardless of raft or support...

rweaving, did you have any issues printing the original? Did you use a raft or support to print this version?


The skull is unmodified. What piece are you having problems printing? I had a failure of the bottom front jaw piece, but I had no problems printing it just by itself. I used 50% infill with 3 shells.

I think it's the bone that you see when you look through the eyes... Even with a raft, it doesn't even raft that area. Then it starts printing at Layer 2 and ends up a twisted mess. I'm not the only one who's had the problem, yet some people seem to be able to print it just fine...

Ok, I know what part you are talking about. The nasal piece is not touching the build surface. I modified the model so that the piece is in contact with the build surface. The new front skull model is called dinoskull front fixed nasal.stl let me know how it works for you.

SO AWESOME! Love the video.

jridley - in reply to bre

Agreed. This is what's so awesome about derivative rights. Someone with one set of talents posts a skull, someone takes that and makes something else awesome using it.

Thanks, it was a blast to make. I love being able to take my 4 year old's crazy idea and making it into reality.