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Issue 5.4


Giant House Eyes

Turn your house into a car-eating monster

Issue: 5.4 (May/June 2007)
Author: Joe Strout
Author Bio: When not working on software, Joe likes to relax by doing something completely different, like working on hardware. (He feels it's important to be well-rounded.)
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 13,614
Starting Page Number: 14
Article Number: 5409
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Excerpt of article text...

Last October, my son Kevin and I turned our house into a giant house-sized monster, by making two large windows above the garage into a pair of animated eyes. You can get the basic idea from Figure 1, in which the house monster can be seen eating our minivan. But a still picture doesn't really do it justice -- it's the motion that really makes it work. The eyes move together, with quick movements followed by pauses, just like real eyes. The impression that the house is alive is startling, and can be easily seen from blocks away.

This magic was accomplished with a simple REALbasic program controlling two servo motors, one for each eye.


A servo motor is a little motor, gear train, and some electronics, all packed into a neat little box. These are typically used in the remote-control car and plane hobbies for things like steering. Standard servos can't turn all the way around, like the wheels on a bus; instead, they have a limited range of motion (typically about 180 degrees). What servos are really good at is rotating their output shaft to a certain position, which is exactly what we need for this project.

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