Author Topic: Building a tail  (Read 1855 times)

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Offline Tengfya swizaw

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Building a tail
« on: April 05, 2010, 10:54:05 pm »
I've mentioned this before, I'm actually in the process of building a tail that can be controlled by hand and arm movements through a whole bunch of wires through tension. Like a multijointed artificial finger, but with more joints and a greater range of motion. Today I got a lot of work done, and I actually have the basic tail structure done. I've been taking pictures throughout the process, and plan to make a phase-by-phase tutorial of sorts. I should have the pictures up tomorrow, as well as some brief guidelines. I have somewhat of a deadline to get this completed, so I should update fairly frequently.
For now, here are the basic specs. It's about 35 inches long, with a coiled wire core. Each of the 7 modules are of 1/2 inch PVC pipe with rounded endcaps. The joints range from 2 to 6 inches.

If it doesn't quite make sense now, I apologize and hopefully the pictures will clear it up tomorrow.


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Offline Nanaki

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2010, 03:01:02 am »
Eager to see pictures :D !
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Offline sezawte

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2010, 05:39:40 am »
If this succeeds do you think you could post a tutorial for how to do it ;D irayo
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Offline Tengfya swizaw

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2010, 07:09:36 am »
If this succeeds do you think you could post a tutorial for how to do it ;D irayo

That's what I plan to do!


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Offline sezawte

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2010, 10:07:29 am »
Yay! ;D I've always wanted a tail
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Offline Niwantaw

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2010, 10:38:17 am »
what i didn't need to steal my cat's tail?

damn.
sorry cat  :D
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Offline sezawte

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2010, 10:51:03 am »
aww poor cat, :P give the cat the new tail
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Offline pbhead

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2010, 02:21:11 pm »
Ya, that was the sort of way I would have thought i would have made a tail if I felt like making a tail.

which i will prolly start worrying about a few days before halloween.

Offline dbcoop22

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2010, 11:39:00 pm »
Hey...that looks like it will be really sweet when it's done.  I'm into prosthetics and i'd love to see your finished product.  Will you be making an animatronic foam skin to go overtop of it?

Offline Tengfya swizaw

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2010, 12:47:23 am »
Animatronic foam? Probably not. Just good old cloth and some stuffing. Maybe if I refine the design a bit and get more money, though...

BTW, I've built the entire tail, complete with wires and all the good stuff. It doesn't work as well as I'd hoped, so I'm currently debugging it, as it were. After that, I just have to make an anchor where the tail connects to the body, and make armcuffs and the like for controlling the wires, as well as covering it and making it look pretty. so I have the tail, now I need to fine-tune and fit it. Forgive me for not posting pictures yet, but I think I'll post them all at once in a tutorial. Which will hopefully be soon.


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Offline Tengfya swizaw

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2010, 04:12:33 pm »
After looking around the boards a bit, I realized that I'm going about this all wrong. The basic principle is sound, but the PVC pieces are just too big and the tail looks in no way organic or flowing like I wanted it to. I'm going to start over using pieces as found here: http://forum.learnnavi.org/cosplay-costuming/animatronic-tail-build/ as this will most likely be much better.
It's frustrating, but at least I found something that will work better. So pictures and a tutorial won't be forthcoming, at least for a while. The linked thread has a good enough process as it is, so me making one would be superfluous. I will post pictures of the progression and final product when it comes to that.


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Offline Robert Nantangä Tirea

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2010, 08:18:41 am »
You said you want to control it with your hands/arms movement. Is this electronic feed to a set of servo-motors or mechnical move-by-wire?

If you're using servos, what kind and how much torque do they give?

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Offline Tengfya swizaw

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2010, 03:12:44 pm »
Mechanical, but with no motors or servos or anything. As in the wires are connected to your arms, and when you apply tension, the tail will move in the specified direction based on what wires are pulled and how much. Basically, I've sketched up a plan where if you move your left arm away from your body the tail will go left. Same for right, and if you shrug or move both arms, the tail will move up. Other, more specific movements (like just the tip of the tail, or other particular segments, but mainly the former) will be controlled by wrist or finger movement. This will involve a few anchor points stationed on your body to direct the wires. I'm thinking elastic armbands and a similar thing for the torso.
At first, I thought about using motors and servos, but it would be rather loud and the controls wouldn't be exactly subtle in any way I can think of. This way, the tail movements will coordinate with your natural movements in speech and emotion and altogether look better.
There is, also, the concern of money. Of which I have a limited supply of.

EDIT: I just realized something: Before now, I assumed I would have to have an RDA/Marine costume because otherwise the gear for channeling wires to various extremeties would be a little too conspicuous. But then I realized that a few decorative armbands and one of those chest-guard pieces wouldn't go amiss, as well as a modified loincloth back... Now all I need to do is get myself more into shape (which won't be hard, as I've suddenly discovered the joys of Parkour and therefore don't need much motivation or excuse to excercise), and gather up the courage to wear a loincloth or something similar.

EDIT2: Also, the wires will have to be some heavy-duty fishing line or something similarly transparent...
« Last Edit: April 09, 2010, 03:26:19 pm by Tengfya swizaw »


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Offline Robert Nantangä Tirea

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2010, 10:17:50 am »
{trim} I even theorized about dismantling one of the various neural-impulse controlled games out there and ripping the coding to translate it to the whole alpha/beta/theta waves control the various axes... {trim} This way, the tail movements will coordinate with your natural movements in speech and emotion and altogether look better.


very nice! Ever heard of EPOC? I've thought of the EXACT same thing of using EEG readings for computer interface controls. For a tail this is actually quite practical as tails generally tend to twitch and move on thier own. Since reading the electrical impulses from the brain can often be sketchy at best, this wouldn't be too much of a problem because you wouldn't HAVE to have 100% control over the tail motion. "Random" brain-wave interference would give the tail that twitchy appearance.

Probably sounds too sci-fi-ish for most people to take on but the tech is there. I watched a video of a guy that used the EPOC to control an electric wheelchair with only winks and smiling. (electrical activity in muscle nerves is easier to read than through the bone of the skull. Again, not a problem. Talking very techy here for a second, but, theoretically you could have muscle sensors in your thighs that could control swinging motion of the tail when you walk. This would make the tail motion completely second hand nature.)

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Offline pbhead

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2010, 11:14:54 am »
while we are talking about hightech stuff... have you heard about artificial muscles technology? 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroactive_polymers

its got a long way to go, though...

http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/lommas/eap/EAP-armwrestling.htm

while theoreticly you could use them to build a tail right now... it would prolly be a very very slow tail.

Offline Meuia te Stxeli Tstew'itan

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2010, 12:15:25 pm »
That is still a very interesting idea for the future ;)
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Offline Tengfya swizaw

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2010, 05:18:21 pm »
{trim} I even theorized about dismantling one of the various neural-impulse controlled games out there and ripping the coding to translate it to the whole alpha/beta/theta waves control the various axes... {trim} This way, the tail movements will coordinate with your natural movements in speech and emotion and altogether look better.


very nice! Ever heard of EPOC? I've thought of the EXACT same thing of using EEG readings for computer interface controls. For a tail this is actually quite practical as tails generally tend to twitch and move on thier own. Since reading the electrical impulses from the brain can often be sketchy at best, this wouldn't be too much of a problem because you wouldn't HAVE to have 100% control over the tail motion. "Random" brain-wave interference would give the tail that twitchy appearance.

Probably sounds too sci-fi-ish for most people to take on but the tech is there. I watched a video of a guy that used the EPOC to control an electric wheelchair with only winks and smiling. (electrical activity in muscle nerves is easier to read than through the bone of the skull. Again, not a problem. Talking very techy here for a second, but, theoretically you could have muscle sensors in your thighs that could control swinging motion of the tail when you walk. This would make the tail motion completely second hand nature.)

That's really cool! I know we have the technology, it's just a matter of it not being readily available to just everybody.
It would be awesome if a group of the tech-heads among us planned something like this out and pooled the money to make it happen or something like that. Definitely something to think about.

On the topic of the tail I'm building: I've made no progress, though I really need to get moving and buy the new parts. I'll keep you all posted.


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Offline Tengfya swizaw

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2010, 05:17:06 pm »
After thinking about it for a while, I don't think I'll have to buy the Klickit parts for a tail. As an alternative, I noticed that the ball-joint pieces on LEGO Bionicle sets would probably work as well. It just so happens, I have a profane amount of legos. I spent the past half hour or so building the structure, and coincidentally the eye screws I'm using work perfectly for what I need them for, so I won't have to do any cutting, gluing, or drilling to the pieces. I'll post pictures soon!


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Offline pbhead

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Re: Building a tail
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2010, 11:13:12 pm »
nice! cant wait.

 

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