■ FIGURE 14. Tightening the servo
horn on the servo.
■ FIGURE 15. Steven Reeves shows
off his completed skull modification.
■ FIGURE 16. TXfx and Robot Group
members soldering together printed
I then headed to the garage and got some additional
lighting for the solder table. Lesson learned — good lighting
is critical when working with small electronics! We tested
each board as it was completed and with the exception of
an inverted LED and a couple of other small solder mistakes,
we were able to get a 100% success rate even on boards
assembled by folks that had very little soldering experience.
Let’s Give Them Something
to Talk About!
So, now that we have a talking skull, we need something
for it to say! To help get you started, there are some
SPECIAL THANK YOUS
■ “Scary” Terry Simmons for his very cool servo audio board
design and his generosity in sharing the design with all of us.
■ Carl Cowley of Cowlacious Designs for creating the Talking Skull
kit and getting the kits sent to us in time for the Make and Take.
■ The TxFX members who came out and made the Make and Take
so much fun.
■ Paul Atkinson of The Robot Group for being our #1 soldering guru.
■ Eric Lundquist of The Robot Group for troubleshooting,
teaching, and testing.
■ Ed Gonzalez of The Robot Group for photography and tech
■ Hedstrom Music for some of the cool MP3 sound files!
■ And, last but not least, to my wife Kym for allowing us to wreck
her kitchen for the weekend! Thanks Honey!
pre-made spooky and silly MP3 files with dialog and
music/efx on separate channels available for download
from the Nuts & Volts website ( www.nutsvolts.com).
These sound files can be loaded into an MP3 player or
burned to an audio CD for use with the project. There are
some corny jokes and some scary sounding haunted
house rules, as well as other bits of dialog that can be fun
to play through the skull. If you load all of them onto a
player and then set it to random-play mode, your talking skull
can chatter away through the evening with interesting and ever-changing fun dialog. Some folks like to use a pair of skulls and
set one to respond to the left side audio and one to
respond to the right side audio. They then hide a speaker
behind or under each skull and play some back and forth
dialog usually referred to as “Joking Skellies.” This way,
the two skulls carry on a conversation with each one
responding to its own unique sound track.
It is Remotely Possible
If downloading MP3s or burning CDs isn’t to your liking, as an alternative you could use a standard FM radio to
drive the audio servo board and an FM transmitter to
make the talking skull say anything you like! Imagine placing the skull on the front porch and watching from your
window as people approach. What? You don’t have an
FM transmitter? Well, as luck would have it, there’s an FM
transmitter kit featured in this month’s issue of Nuts &
Volts that is also available as a kit in the Nuts & Volts
store. To learn about this cool kit, turn to page 40.
■ FIGURE 17. Paul Atkinson finishing the first
■ FIGURE 18. Paul Atkinson
uses an oscilloscope to
troubleshoot the first board.
■ FIGURE 19. ST-200b kit mounted
inside an animatronic “talking”