This week in Automata, we’ve started working with stepper motors. As part of this, I’ve been experimenting with an ultrasonic range finder mounted on a motor to control rotation. After initial tests with a rough mockup (above), I built a small, wooden character to house my mechanism. Because of the shape of the range finder and the head-turning rotation I was trying to create, I immediately thought of an owl as a design motif.
The basic algorithm is to stand still until something passes through the owl’s field of “vision” at a close enough range. The owl then waits for the object to move away, at which point it sweeps left and right for increasing amounts of time, trying to find another object (or the same object) within the close enough range. If it goes too long without finding anything, it will give up and wait for something else to pass by.
So far, the head moves slowly and sometimes triggers randomly. I think I need to fine-tune the mechanism so that the head doesn’t tilt and shake around so much. In addition, my current design limits the full span of the head turn. Perhaps with an improved design, the owl can make a more complete rotation.
Owl Automata Test 1 from Matthew Kaney on Vimeo.
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