Innerbreed's Animatronic Hawk Project + Owl

I was going to post this thread after Christmas but… :unamused:
Thats right, Innerbreed is going to start an animatronic project.

Well ever since i was a boy i always loved the animatronic side of film production.

I have decided to make an animatronic Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo Regalis).
With this project in mind i have been researching the hawk to get a better understanding of its movements, size, shape and any other credentials i’d need for this.

The Research:

Name: Family: Hawk family Accipitridae (ak-sip-IH-try-dee), from the Latin accipiter meaning “hawk or bird of prey.”

Buteo (BEW-tee-oh), which is from a Latin word meaning falcon or hawk. Commonly describes a group of medium to large birds of prey that have long and broad rounded wings and short tails. These birds are masters at soaring for long periods of time. Twelve species of buteos breed in North America north of the Mexico border.

**Species: **Regalis (reg-AY-liss), from Latin meaning “kingly” or “royal.” These are the largest of the buteos.

Common name: Ferruginous (fer-OO-jin-us) means “rusty color” and refers to the coloration of the birds wing and legging feathers.


The ferruginous hawk is the largest buteo in North America averaging 22.5-25" long, with a 53-56" wingspan. Sexes are alike, females average just a bit larger than males. Two color morphs occur, with intermediates. Light morph: Rust colored back and shoulders; head paler, grayish and streaked, and white tail has pale rust wash on end. Undersides are white with limited streaking and rusty spots; leg feathers rust colored on adults, white on juveniles. Large, white crescent-shaped patches occur on the upperwing surface on the primaries. Beneath the wing, large dark comma-shaped patches occur at the wrists. Dark morph: Entire head and body and wing surfaces are dark brown to cinnamon-colored. The yellow gape (mouth) stripe is visible. Upper surface of wing at the base of the primaries shows the white “window”, similar to light morphs.
Ok Lesson over…! :unamused:
Not just Hawks but most (if not all) Birds have a very fast reaction time, this is due to a higher brain processing power. they can also process far more frames per second with there sight.
To closely replicate this sharp, fast reactions i have written the code in a very simple and basic way that just a simple touch from the controller will result in a very life-like twitch that birds have. The control is variable so softer movements can be achieved too.

What others have done regarding robot birds:
Here we have an animatronic Raven

Animatronic Duck

And a Hawk
Unfortunately i don’t have any internal images of the hawk.

[size=150]My Hawk Project:[/size]
Ok first off, you might ask’ why an Animatronic Bird?

The main reason for this project is to create a Realistic Decoy Hawk that could be used to scare off unwanted pests.

Many people prefer to scare birds away, and use conventional decoy birds to do this. The most common way of doing this is by positioning decoy birds of prey on the building. The results by using this method vary. Some find that their problem is solved immediately and the birds never come back, others find a small reduction in bird numbers.Correct positioning is essential to success and turning the decoy once a week does seem to give better results

With my project, i intend to make a decoy that will do the job properly. It will be as life like as possible regarding look and movement. It will be self contained and will “Eventually” be autonomous and there for saving time from “turning” or repositioning it.

The Mechanics:
Here is the 5th version of this i have built. The current structure consists of 5DOF and soon will become 6or7.
it wont make much sense at this stage but i hope you can see what will be happening with the movements, just by looking at the servo axis’s.

*Starting from the top(tip) we have a small HS-225bb servo: This will activate the beak movements. (open/close) As i wont be adding sound i may even ditch the idea of an opening beak. space is tight in the head as it is.
*Attached to that is a Hs-485bb servo: This works the heads Tilting action (up/down)
*Then we have a HS-645mg servo: This is the Head Rotate (twist)
*Next we have an in-direct axis that uses another HS645mg servo: This adds another axis to the head tilt called neck tilt.
This servo is very interesting, it adds a very realistic movement to the head by allowing it to achieve a higher level of tilt and adding a flinching effect to the head.
*Then we have a HS645mg servo at the bottom of the tube: This Rotates the head shaft (Pan)

I plan to add a body tilt and maybe sway (side to side) for a more realistic effect. And then maybe wings but these will only have a slight movement to them and not a full flap.

for the programming i have started writing the code from scratch. i have used the controls like this:
Right J/stick U/D NeckTilt
Right J/stick L/R HeadTurn
Left J/stick U/D HeadTilt
Left J/stick L/R HeadRotate

A very animatronic way of programming.
The program at the moment works really well and the movements are fast and reactive like a bird.

To begine the body structuring phase, i will be making an Inner Structure made of Sintra. This will form a basic shape around the SES Skeleton.
An Exo-Structure will then encase the SES Skeleton and the Inner Structure.
I plan to make a clay master of the bird and then make a cast from this. Then i can make a mold. From the mold i can make the Exo-Structure, using EasyFlo Clear Polyurethane Liquid Plastic casting resin.
At this point the Sintra head will then be replaced with a resin cast plastic skull.

[size=150]To Be Continued from here…[/size]

Hi Jonny,

Thats awesome work, you sure got talents when it comes to mechanical structure and building. Looks like a fun project. :smiley: I love the solution for rotating and tilting the head.

Looking forward to see more of it.

Thanks zenta, once i get a video up you can see even more benefits of the servo arrangement.
If looking at the two Head Rotation servos (HeadRotate & HeadTurn) you can maybe see that their individual Y axis is slightly offset, and have their own interdependent line of rotation
So if you can visually understand that then 'when the two Head Rotation servos (HeadRotate & HeadTurn) turn in opposite directions it forces the heads center Y axis to shift from side to side due to the “Offset” rotations.

The action then performed when doing the “Offset” rotations makes the bird shift its head center away from the body center. kinda like an Indian dancer

The reason for this is to utilize the full function of the two servos plus add another “combined” life like motion.

I will second Zenta here, that is one very cool looking project.

Awesome Jonny… You are a very talented individual. Great to see more animatronic work on here! Very impressed with your head motion design. I will follow this closely.

P.S. The body is Sintra?

Huh!! Go for it! Full flappage! :smiling_imp:

You know you want to!

thanks, yes the innerbody structure is made of Sintra 3mm. viewtopic.php?f=17&t=6831
Then i plan to use easyflo 120 (might want to Google that) :wink:
for the outer casing.

you no what jim, i cannot stop thinking of a good solution to actually getting that part to work. id be looking at first how the wings fold in. then once i have a good design i can then start on the animatronic movement to see what will work best.

Iv been thinking of constructing my own bi-folding umbrella like ribs that can fold up nicely and open up large enough to look believable. To actuate this, i will be using servo rods. but then again i will only do this if im happy with the rest of the project first.

just a quick mechanical structure to show how the main mechanics could work.
using these parts as an idea.
once/if i make them properly ill post some pics

lol… :laughing:

  1. Awesome! 8)

That’s certainly good enough to fool a bird.

You should make it a bat!

With the folding wings and ribs and stuff.

Alan KM6VV


Any thought of how you are going to control the Hawk? Is it going to be autonomous? or will it play pre-defined sequences? Just curious!

I run Peter from my laptop, using my animatronic/SSC-32 script processing program …/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=6695.

At the moment the hawk is PS2 controlled. here is a quick video.
This is the first time i had it running.

Eventually id like to add sensors so it can react to movement but for now the main purpose of the project is just to get a lifelike looking hawk.

You will have to excuse the noise. my sons were playing in the background.

something a bit more like this?
using a cut and curved piece of Sintra i have formed a wing part. works quite well.

Using the Sintra i can form the wing so it bends around the body… when complete. not even started on that part yet.

im now planning on using the cast to form a latex skin to eventually go over the whole thing. so they can slip over the wings to hide the mechanics. i can easily add the feather to this skin. it will also allow them to move more realistically.

been working on a few more developments and so far the hawk has 10 servos installed.
Giving 4dof for the head + a beak
and 2dof per wing each
also it has a tail servo installed.

Hey that is really cool!

For some reason I feel the need to see that riding on top of a Johnny 5 base. lol :open_mouth:

This is incredible ! I am jealous…

thank you. i still have more plans for it but as far as wing and temporary head goes, its 100% Lynxmotion SES.

been looking at the Easy Flo 120 for the molding process.
it will be a “Slush” Cast and should work well. here is a short video of how it works.

Wow! Thats really awesome Jonny!
Great work, looks like your having some fun. :smiley:

I love how you solved the wing part, this project demonstrate very well all the cool thing you can create with the SES parts + some custom parts.

Yes it is quite fun. Tonight i will be adding the new wings and tail servos to the code. Really excited to see them working.

Thanks to jim for the encouragement to add wings. We can now perform a ‘full flap’.
I will activate the wings as follows.
L1 and L2 open and close the left wings and R1 and R2 do the right. To rotate the wings forward and back i plan to use the Dpad up and down. With this the left and right will rotate together. Im moving the beak open and close to the O and X. Left and right on the Dpad will do the tail.

Here are the current controls and function for the hawk so far


Input: Output: R Joy Vert NeckTilt R Joy Hori HeadTurn L Joy Vert HeadTilt L Joy Hori HeadRotate R1 Right Wing Open R2 Right Wing Close L1 Left Wing Open L2 Left Wing Close Tri Initial pose Cro Beak Close Cir Beak Open D-Pad U Wings Rotate Forward D-Pad D Wings Rotate Backwards D-Pad L Tail Left D-Pad R Tail Right


just ordered Super Sculpey Polymer Modelling Sculpting Clay for the first phase of the body process.
iv also jumped ahead and ordered the EasyFlo 120 Polyurethane Liquid Plastic for the third phase.

my plan is to sculpt the clay directly over the SES so i can get the exact size. also in doing so i can make sure i leave enough room for the movement of the wings and head etc.

once sculpted i can then order the Plaster so i can cast the two part “negative” mold.
once casted i will de-mold the cast, remove the Sculpture and clean off the SES.
with the Negative mold i can re-join it together and use the EasyFlo 120 Polyurethane Liquid Plastic to cast the final body. the process is called a slush or rotary cast. making a hollow “shell” that will hold all the SES inside.

sounds simple, :laughing:
its gunna get messy… :smiling_imp: