Hunter Irving enjoys shopping at thrift stores, and on a trip several months ago stumbled across a knockoff Thomas the Tank Engine face. While rather weird and entertaining in and of itself, Irving of course decided that he would make some sort of animatronic robot out of it in order to justify the purchase. Several months later, he’s come up with something that is truly horrifying: an egg-shaped robot that sings karaoke with a not-quite Thomas face.
To start off the build, the circular tank-face was removed from the rest of the toy, revealing a linkage system that moves the eyes and mouth in tandem. This made it relatively easy to control with a servo, though the initial 3D-printed servo mount broke and was replaced with a screws/cable tie setup.
To make the robot sing, Irving used a speech synthesizer from a digital audio workstation called FL Studio. The Arduino that controls the mouth/eyes listens for the MIDI signal, opening the mouth on a “note on” message and closing it again when “note off” is signaled.
You can see the device demonstrated in the video below, singing with its new electronic voice and 3D-printed body at an actual karaoke establishment. Whether this performance attracts or repels others is still an open question.