The pop-up crate project involves a pneumatic cylinder (bicycle pump or professional cylinder) to operate a head to pop-up from inside a crate. This is the easy project to work on for all of those beginners out there.
1. The crate for this project can be made out of wood and screws or you can use a ready made crate as well. The size of the crate is 1 X 1 X 2 feet this gives you a rectangle box that is two feet tall. I use 1 X 3 inch wood to construct this crate.
2. Metal strapping to attach bicycle pump to bottom of crate.
3. Bicycle pump or a one way cylinder. The bicycle pump should have around a 15 inch stroke. Stroke is the length of the rod that comes out of the bicycle pump or cylinder.
4. Pipe fittings for this project will be needed for the bicycle pump and the output to your air compressor. Six barb fittings and one T- barb will be used all the same sizes. The sizes will depend on what size tubing you will use, in this case we are using 1/4 inch size tubing so you need barbs that fit 1/4 size inch tubing.
5. You will need a valve or use a flow control valve to adjust the speed of the cylinder. The valve should have the same size fittings as all of your pipe fittings to make it easier.
6. Some ¼ dia. pipe. You can use the same white color pipe as they use for refrigerator ice makers.
7. A two way normally closed solenoid valve that can handle 30psi. My links page has a few companies where to buy solenoid valves from.
8. A mask or a head of some kind to attach to the top of the cylinder. The head needs to be able to fit inside the crate.
To start off this project we will be starting with building the mechanical portion. I will be explaining how to build this project using a bicycle pump as the air cylinder. Using a professional air cylinder is close to the same procedure. First take the pipe connect to the bicycle and cut off the connector that would normally attach to your bike. Now you should have a pump with just the standard tube attached to it and no connector.
This schematic shows the layout of the mechanical part in what order each component is place in the pop-up crate.
Now you will attach an in-line valve to the end of the tube this will be used to adjust the speed of the bicycle pump. The valve needs to have two barbed fittings on it so you can attach the tubing to the valve on both sides. Once the valve is attach to the bicycle pump tube take the other side of the valve and attach a short piece of tubing that will fit over the barb tubing. The tubing should be standard ¼ inch dia. and should have a snug fit over the barbed tubing. This in turn will lead to a bleed valve which will let the air escape once the solenoid valve is turn off and this will ultimately reset the animatronic. The bleed valve is attached in the same manor as the valve was by using a few barbed fittings and a T-fitting to connect the bleed valve. The picture to the the right shows what a T-fitting, solenoid valve and a barbed fitting looks like.
The short piece of tubing will now connect to the output on the 2 way solenoid valve using a barb fitting to do this. The size pipe thread on your solenoid will need to match the size barb that you are using to attach the pipe to. The input on the solenoid valve is where the input for the air that supplies the animatronic will be. The pipe for the input of the solenoid can now be attached and you can put any type of fitting on to connect to your air compressor. What I use for my animatronics is a standard quick disconnect to attach to my main air line. You can now attach an electrical cord to your solenoid valve so you can plug it into a standard outlet. If you are using a solenoid that operated at a different voltage like I did you can attach the power supply now to make it work correctly.
This picture to the right shows the back side of the pop-up crate. I drilled a hole in the crate for the air tube and power cord to come out the back. The picture also shows the quick disconnect fitting that you would use to attach to your main air line.
Now if you have not constructed a crate you can do this now. The crate can be 1 X 1 X 2 feet in size or whatever size you really want as long as the mechanical system can fit inside. Once the crate is constructed you can take some metal strapping and strap down the bicycle pump to the floor of the crate. This animatronic will work on 30psi or less I would advise if you want you’re pop-up to be very fast you should attach a safety chain that attaches to the rod on the cylinder to the bottom of the crate. This will limit how far the rod will move and to keep the rod from hitting the top of the bicycle pump which can come louse after time.
The mask or head needs to be attached to the top of the bicycle pump now. Use the handle on the top of the pump to attach your mask or head. The weight of the head or mask will make the pumps rod come back down once all the air has bled out of the system. You can also use a bungee cord attaching it to the rod of the pump and then to the floor of the crate to make the animatronic reset faster.
This will finish up the pop-up crate project with some fine tuning of the valve you can adjust the speed of the pop-up using 30psi or less of pressure. The crate can also be painted to suit you needs of where the animatronic will fit into your display.