the skull to look. The most realistic skulls are made for
medical students and doctor’s offices, and are anatomical
lifesize skulls. They are made from very heavy-duty plastic,
so you need a strong servo (Figures 6 and 7). Purchase the
fourth-quality versions from skeletonstore.com, and see a
great tutorial for installing a servo in one on Scary Terry’s
website at scary-terry.com. Another solution is to get a
Lindberg Pirate Skull model kit. These are much lighter than
the anatomical skulls, and allow for a lot of customization
in the look, but have recently become harder to find.
However, if you can find a cheap skull with a moving
jaw at the drugstore, that can work too! A small servo will
be fine. You can use RC linkages or stiff piano wire to
connect the servo to the jaw.
Mikkojay explains his budget approach on
http://buttonbanger.com. Look for Jawduino along the
top menu, and download his PDF.
It’s All in the Presentation
Finally, there’s the most important part of a prop: the
presentation. Bob’s head is a heavy lifelike skull, so I built a
PVC stand to hold him steady. However, I needed an
interesting way to hide it. I had part of an old Heathkit
Breadboard Circuit Design Trainer ET-3100 that I had
acquired. It was only the top part; somewhere along the
way, it had been taken apart and all the innards were gone.
I got some black pebbled acrylic, made a box, and
mounted the Heathkit to the front to act as a “control
panel (Figure 8).” It needed something to make it look
Fortunately, I had an extra Velleman blinking LED kit in
a drawer. I popped the LEDs into the holes on the front,
and presto! Now, there were some blinking lights on the
Figure 6. The servo is mounted inside the
skull, and moves the jaw with a length of
Figure 7. A hole is drilled in the jaw and the other end of
the piano wire goes through it.
Figure 8. It looks technical, so it must mean something! The
grill on the side is for the speaker.
48 SERVO 09.2017
Talking Skull Kit available from
the Nuts & Volts Webstore!
If you’d like to build your own
talking skull kit, you’re in luck!
To make it easier and convenient,
the Nuts & Volts Webstore has stocked
up with a variety of kits for differing
skill levels (and parts bins) so you can
build up your own animatronic!
Go to store.nutsvolts.com for
complete details on kit availability!