This year the project for Leaving Cert Technology is Animatronics. As part of our Technology Day initiative at the Limerick Institute of Technology I did a workshop on Animatronics using Genie Boards and Servo Motors, specifically the Genie E18 Motor Board. You can download my Animatronics Presentation Slides as a PDF. Feel free to use it in your classrooms. If you have any questions, just ask.
In order to demonstrate animatronic principles to the students I 3D printed an Animatronic Eye Ball by sideburn on Thingiverse on my Prusa i3, you can see a version of it in action here:
The Genie Board E18 Motor Kit only has 3 outputs dedicated to driving Servos (the E18 chip itself can drive 8 servos) so I only printed one eye-ball. It was a difficult enough print, it showed that I needed to further calibrate my printer and that the filament I was using was substandard. There was a nice bit of sanding required to get the action running smoothly and there was a small amount of strain in the eyeball mechanism that kept it popping apart so I put two screws through the bottom of it and that seemed to steady it up.
To show off the Visual Programming Language of the Genie Board I created an animation loop for the left-right motion of the eyeballs and I hooked the eyelid up to an LDR, it worked really well. The Genie Boards ability to run multiple flowcharts at the same time meant it was very easy to operate the animation loop and the sensor input independently.
This was my first time using the Genie Boards and they are an impressive and inexpensive little package. They are based on PIC micro-controllers but use a completely custom and reasonably friendly (unfortunately Windows only) interface. I’m looking forward to putting together something for next years project. There seems to be very little resources out there on these Genie Boards and I’m contemplating putting together a series of YouTube videos in the near future.