I'm looking for some help. I'm looking to make an animatronic puppet. I want the puppet head to be able to talk (mouth open and close) and head turn side to side. I guess that would be the minimum. If it turns out to be relatively easy, maybe I'd add head up and down, eyebrows, or whatever.
I want it like this:
It seems like I should be able to make it for less than the $2000 they want for it.
I want it to be remote controlled so I can do it "live"
I think I would need a control, like the kind they fly rc planes with, servos and a power supply?
Having the head move side to side and mouth move is pretty straight forward and you can definitely do it yourself for way under $2k- probably less than half that amount depending on how much mechanical work you can do yourself. You need one servo for each movement and a radio to operate it. Any inexpensive RC radio will work just fine. I'd recommend the Hitec Flash 7, Futaba T6k, Turnigy TGY-i6 or FlySky FS-T6. All are good programmable radios in the $55 to $200 range and will give you more radio than you need now so you'll have some room to grow if you want to add more functions later. Programmable radios are much more versatile than non programmable radios and it's definitely the way to go. For a power source just use NiCad or NiMH battery packs. Inexpensive wall wart power supplies have too many limitations including poor regulation and low current capacity.
Regarding additional movements, every point of articulation you add increases the complexity exponentially- if you add additional functions later it may require a complete redesign of previous work. Buy good quality servos such as Hitec, Futaba or Savox. Most of the inexpensive servos really aren't that much less money given the same specs. With servos you definitely get what you pay for. I get all my servos from Servocity.com- great company with excellent customer service and good pricing.
Servocity also sells the Actobotics line of products- kind of a servo erector set. Using off the shelf servo attachments you would be able to design a relatively simple mechanism that would give you the basic movements you want. I could potentially see you having to custom make a few of the components yourself but it could probably be done with simple tools.