Building Fonzie, FAZA’s Robotic Mascot

FAZA now has a mascot! It’s an autonomous animatronic robot dressed up to look like one of the extraterrestrial aliens from the game. She comes with us to board game conventions and interacts with people.

Here’s a quick montage from creation to convention:

Fonzie was built with:

  • An Arduino Uno to control the servos and read the potentiometers from the gearboxes.
  • A Raspberry Pi 2 B to take webcam images and process them in realtime to detect motion and translate the motion it sees to servo locations and eye movements.
  • OpenCV and Python on the Raspberry Pi to process the images and translate them into servo movements.
  • A Raspberry Pi Touchscreen to display her three eyes, which also blink!
  • A webcam to see what’s in front of her.
  • 2 speakers located in her head, so she will say things like “exterminate!” and “resistance is futile” and occasionally sing daisy bell. She is voiced by my wife and comes with 50 cheeky sound bites.
  • 6 Continuous Rotation Servos to power the shoulders and neck.
  • 6 Servo Gearboxes geared at 5:1 to amplify the torque from each of the continuous rotation servos. These gearboxes also unload all shear and loading forces onto the gearbox so the servo won’t experience these forces.
  • Aluminum Frame to provide a skeletal structure to the robot.
  • Chicken wire mesh wrapped around the aluminum frame to give the body and appendages volume.
  • Orange fabric hand sown to make a costume for the robot.
  • Quilt batting between the chicken wire mesh and the orange fabric to give it a soft look under the skin.
  • A homemade 3s 12p Lithium Ion Battery providing 126 Amp Hours at voltages ranging from 10V to 12.6V. This battery also includes a 3s battery management system that keeps the Li-ion batteries safe while charging and discharging. The battery was sized to allow Fonzie to operate for a 4 day convention (about 8-10 hours a day) without having to be recharged. I used a battery kit from Vruzend, since it didn’t require any spot welding.
  • Lots of wires, solder, thread, and love 🙂

To help with traveling and transport, she comes apart at the hips. So the lower and upper body can be split to easily store her in my apartment and transport her to board game conventions.