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This book gives a solid introduction to the mechanics behind moving things. It also touches on electronic controls, and pneumatics.

There are a number of projects promised on the back cover of the book that, due to an error by the publisher, are not INSIDE the book! Oops. You can find most of what you want on Mark Butler's [Monster List of Projects]. Enjoy!

But don't take our word on it... here are some quotes by readers of Applied Robotics that have drifted across the mailing lists, or that have been sent to me:

"Just a quick note to say thanks for you book....well, thanks for writing it. I received it recently and I find it hard to put down. Showed it to a EE grad f rom IIT (who now works for UL) and he wants one as well."
-- Odie (aka Mouse)

"Edwin's book is excellent. He does go overboard a bit on a lot of unnecessary geometry when dealing with animatronic design but you can skip that part. He also likes to weld stuff together from square steel tubing, but you can usually substitute wood or PVC for that. The book is a fine reference source for electromechanical design."

-- D. Derek

"I read this book over and over. Usually sit and read it at least once a week. What is very interesting is that I keep that book right here with the computer so I always know where it A book you cannot be without."
-- Sue McDonald

" I have two of his books (same one). I misplaced one and could not live without it so I bought another. Now my husband uses one book and I use the other. We have advanced quite a bit since I got the first one. If I could only have one Halloween book/manual/instructional video? This book would be it. I have lots of the other "Halloween" related books and videos which sit around and collect dust but not his book."
-- Sue <nop>McDonald (Yes, Sue is in here twice. She really likes me, what can I say?)

"As a newbie to pneumatics myself, I have found that the best instructions around on this topic are found in Edwin Wise's excellent tome, "Animatronics." ...I found his instruction to be incredibly clear, his illustrations very helpful, and I really got a lot out of this book."
-- Jon

Table of Contents

1. Welcome to the Lab

  • Tools and Materials
  • Suppliers
  • Notation and Conversions

2. Skin and Bones

  • Skin
  • Bones
  • Properties of the Materials
  • Cut, Drill, Fasten
  • Joints, Ligaments, and Fasteners
  • Joints
  • Ligaments and Tendons
  • Fasteners
  • Muscle

3. Basic Muscle Power: Electric Motors

  • AC vs DC
  • Motor Specifications
  • Motor Power
  • Motor Speed
  • Other Information
  • Attaching to the Shaft

4. Stirring and Spinning

  • Simple Spinner
  • Offset Spinner
  • Alternative Construction
  • Stirring

5. Back and Forth

  • Oscillation
  • Pull
  • Push
  • Technical Details
  • Putting it to Use
  • Monster in a Box
  • Reaching Arm
  • Waving Figure
  • Turning Head
  • Ghosts

6. Up and Down

  • Cams
  • Hopping and Dancing
  • Hammering and Waving
  • Complex Figure
  • Cam Summary

7. Pneumatics Basics

  • Principles
  • Air Pressure, Volume, and Temperature
  • Air Flow
  • Mechanical Force
  • Speed of Operation
  • Pneumatic Components
  • Air Supply
  • Regulation
  • Air Treatment
  • Valves
  • Actuators
  • Connectors
  • Pneumatic Components
  • Cheating
  • The Real Parts

8. Surprise!

  • Up and At 'Em!
  • Four Bar Linkage
  • Santa Box
  • Accordion Linkage
  • Body Flinger

9. The Big Picture

  • The Plan
  • The Details
  • Near, Middle, Far
  • Two Sides to Every Bush
  • Corners and Gates
  • High, Middle, Low
  • Points of Interest
  • Working in Harmony

10. Who's There?

  • Sensing People
  • Motion Detectors
  • Shadow Detectors
  • Beam-Breakers
  • Distance Sensors
  • Pressure Switches
  • Touch Switches
  • Feedback in the Automata
  • Potentiometers
  • Limit Switches

11. Power Drivers

  • AC Control: Silicon Controlled Rectifiers
  • DC Control: MOSFETs

12. Brains... Bring me Brains

  • Delayed Turn-Off
  • Delayed Turn-On
  • Sequencing
  • Pulse-Width Modulation
  • R/C Servo Control
  • PC Ports
  • Microcontroller Systems for Sale
  • Custom MCU

Appendix: Suppliers


Supplemental Information

Not everything created for the book would fit in the book!

For example, the paper animatrons Hammering Bob and Hammered Fred are included here so you can print them out in their full 8 1/2" by 11" glory, on heavy paper.

Also, what's the best way to embed a short MPG movie in paper?

Paper Automata Patterns

(from chapter 6).

Bob.jpg Hammering Bob hammering.

Media:hammer_bob_1.pdf 21K pdf
Media:hammer_bob_2.pdf 18K pdf

Fred.jpg Hammered Fred waving.

Media:wave_fred_1.pdf 31K PDF
Media:wave_fred_2.pdf 21K PDF


Grab some popcorn

Grab.jpg Grabbing hand from the grave.


Crank.jpg Flying Ghost Mechanism


Ghost.jpg Flying Ghost in Action

Running on a fast motor for illustration

Cam.jpg Cam Mechanisms in Action



Back-Cover Good grief! There is a grievous error on the back cover. It says "Also covered are 'background' projects that include stationary systems such as Fog Chillers...". I dropped those fillers when we converted the book from a Halloween-only text to generic animatronics. They must have written the blurb from the original proposal, missing the changes as it evolved.

Yeah, I know, I bet if I looked I would find more problems. But who wants to go looking for trouble?

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