A wise man once said: “What The World Needs Now Is [Remote Control Eyebrows].” Or something to that effect.
My dad’s got formidable eyebrows and it only seemed logical that my first foray into applied cybernetics should be this, for his birthday:
(Apologies for the video orientation.)
This is a simple circuit with an ATMega328 (a.k.a. the usual Arduino chip), an L293d quad H-bridge for the power switching to the motor, and a VS838 infrared receiver.
It’s mounted onto an old Petzl headlamp from my boy scout days. I hadn’t used it since I was a teenager, except for one canoe trip in my ’20s where it got laughed at for being so out of date.
The motors are a couple of little 6V beasties with gearboxes built in. They’re rated to turn at 60RPM, or one rotation per second. They’re fun to work with.
I pilfered the remote control from my truck stereo. Remote controls in vehicles never made sense to me anyway.
I attached sewing-machine bobbins to the motor spindles, and wound a little bit of thread around them. The eyebrows are attached by taping the thread to the skin just underneath — right above the eyelids — using a piece of band-aid adhesive. (A little piece of toothpick tied to the end of the string helps prevent it from slipping out of the band-aid.) I tinkered with attaching above the eyebrows but the effect wasn’t as good. (You could also make this into a remote-control smiler by attaching to the skin just below the cheekbones. Applications abound!)
Coding for this was a short, fun little exercise.
- Coarse and fine-grained calibration controls in both forward and reverse
- Joystick-controlled direct brow setting
- User-controllable expression length
- Direct-access waggle buttons, with 1-9 waggles, with arbitrary brow combinations
- Safety first! All motor operations are speed- and time-limited, and the bobbins are mounted on the spindles in a way that’ll slip under tension.
A little bit of breadboarding…
Here’s the completed unit:
Did he like it? Check out this mixture of helplessness and suspicion:
Thanks for playing along, Dad, and happy birthday.
(I am intentionally avoiding the “raise a few brows” and “hair-raising” jokes. But don’t suggest I didn’t think of it.)
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