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Hugo - by David Buckley 1998

I was asked if I could give a Workshop on Animatronics in April 1998 to the staff of the Props Department of the Royal National Theatre, London, to which I agreed.
As practical people I felt that they needed hands-on experience building and activating an animatronic someting - but what? It couldn't take up a lot of time or need workshop facilities and needed to be something they could 'play with' afterwards. I decided an animatronic head, made from stout cardboard hot-melt glued together and animated by four model RC-servos controlled from a Parallax Basic-Stamp-2 was within their capability and the timescale.

So I made a cardboard head which I called Hugo because it reminded me of somebody I knew, and made some control boards with Basic-Stamp controller, speech recording and playback modules all from Milford instruments, with a custom switch and potentiometer board for inputing the moves.
Most of the group made their own Hugo and learned how to record some simple moves and get the mouth to move in time to recordings they made. A few decided that instead of a head they would make something outlandish with the result they didn't finish anything that worked.

After the worshop was over I thought that Hugo could maybe be sold as a kit and went to see Edward Buckley at Milford Instruments. On the High Street he said, could I find his place, no. After asking it turned out he lived and worked in the local manor house - on the High Street!

Edward thought he could sell Hugo and also BigFoot that I had taken along, I drew them up and that led to my line of robot kits that Milford sold.

The production version of Hugo I named Alex because then Alex could be a boy or a girl.

Electronics, with -
Speaker, sound-board, Stamp controller / servo-driver-board (Stamp-2 missing), and user interface with control switches and control potentiometer.