An Easy Shop Project
This shop project was the first design for animated eyes
I used. I am still happy with it and continue to incorporate it
in my props (Figure 1). We built this as part of the Rocky
Mountain Group’s annual Halloween “make and take”
Gathering. This particular event spans several days, and
includes a multitude of different builds. However, most
make and takes are one day affairs. If you are not familiar
with these events, you should check to see if there are any
such groups in your area.
They usually are held at someone’s home, and include
plenty of social time in
addition to the chosen
build. These are
normally led by
someone who has
previously done the
project. They are
responsible for putting
together kits and
instructions to aid in
the assembly. This
ensures that everyone
is working with a
complete set of the
same materials. It also
allows the parts to be
purchased together for price breaks and to also save on
This build — like most moving eye designs — utilizes
micro servos to drive the mechanisms. Most of the other
materials required for this project are readily available from
any hardware store. They consist of a couple of sizes of
wood, some 3/4” PVC, a selection of screws, eyebolts, and
some stiff wire. The one specialty part is the eyes
themselves. The ones we used were 26 mm doll eyes and
were purchased online (Figure 2).
I’m not going to give a complete build tutorial here as
the size of your mechanism will be dependent on your
“The eyes are the windows to the soul” is a common saying. Even though our
characters do not have a soul, they do portray life! Our aim is to do all we can to
reproduce the illusion of life in our creations and promote the fantasy. One way we can
do that is by focusing our attention on the eyes of our performers.
This effect can be subtle or obvious depending on the mood we are looking to achieve.
There are a wide variety of options available to fit your needs and budget.
We are going to look at four different designs: three mechanical and one exciting new
electronic version. These cover the gamut from a basic design concept to a much more
advanced and technical version, so you can pick your poison!
By Steve Koci
The Eyes Have It
SERVO 04.2016 41
Figure 1. Beauty is in the
eye of the beholder!
Figure 2. Doll eye blanks.