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Animated Eyes in a Box, powered by Raspberry Pi

June 21, 2018

Animated Eyes in a Box, powered by Raspberry Pi

With the 2018 Maker Festival Toronto coming up on July 7th and 8th, we thought it would be fun to build a few things.

Ever since Adafruit released their Animated Eyes Bonnet, I knew we had to build one.  We have also been on a big Glowforge kick lately, so it seemed natural build a box for our animated eyes.  

Adafruit already has an excellent guide for building the hardware and getting the software working, so we won't go too far into the details on that part.  A few things to note:

  • Be sure to start with a clean install of Raspbian Lite.  
  • You have the option of using 1.5" OLED, 1.44" TFT LCD, or 1.54" IPS TFT displays.  We went with the OLED's since they have a wide viewing angle and great colour.    The IPS TFT would be a good alternative as well, or the 1.44" TFT if you are on a budget.
  • We used a Pi 3 B+ because we have a bunch in stock and we knew we would have plenty of room in our 120mm x 120mm x 120mm box.  
  • The guide has an excellent script that allows you to configure the settings of the Python script that runs the displays.  One nice feature is that you can enable a shutdown button on any available GPIO.  We chose GPIO 4 and added a nice red 16mm pushbutton

We started by soldering everything up and installing the software.  Here's a video showing the eyes before we built the box

We then took a bunch of measurements and drew some basic drawings.  A whiteboard is your friend here.  

We used MakerCase to generate the box plans, and then we put the SVG file into Inkscape to add all the holes and artwork.  Here it is good to measure twice and cut once.  It is easy to make a mistake, and the Glowforge Proofgrade material is not cheap!  Here is a video where we are cutting the box on the Glowforge:

We wanted to make it so our fans could see the guts of the project, so we separately cut the top of the box with acrylic.  We have found that these boxes are quite sturdy if glued on all sides except the top, so we made the top piece removable.

A bit of assembly and tweaking and we could not be happier with the results!  We haven't even tried to update the code yet, this is just the default code.  If we have time we will add some sensors and have the eyes react appropriately.  

Bill of Material:

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