A lineup of talking lamps in various stages of assembly.
50% Complete (Dec 2014 )
This was the third and final of three retro looking reverb sound modules I made, which gives your audio a funky echo sound.
For this build I made it a little smaller and straightforward without all the gadgets from the first two models. I also installed an amplifier so small speakers or headphones can be directly plugged into it,.
Finally, I did away with the RCA jack inputs and outputs , and just had it equipped with 3.5mm headphone jacks for simplicity. The knob on the side increases or decreases the volume of the sound.
Like the others, it runs on 12 volts DC so in can be used in a vehicle, or in a home with the included AC adapter.
"Back to the Future"
Flux Capacitor Movie Prop
This was my own version of the movie prop. It features motion activation and can be powered by either batteries, household outlet, or a vehicle power outlet (which was a first of it's kind feature at the time of the build in early 2014).
The toughest part of this build was cutting the thick metal of the fuse box ,then installing the acrylic window and rubber gasket, and of course recreating the gadgets inside.
Handmade parts like the 3 flux tube devices are screen accurate . The pulsing glass flux tubes were achieved by leds underneath that run with a basic chasing lights circuit.I added a switch on the right side so the user could switch between having it turn on automatically by motion sensing , or manual on/off. These can now be found by multiple prop makers online, but it was unique at the time .
"Reverb Deluxe "
These wall/table lamps I designed features illuminated poster art from popular movies,comedians,attractions (etc.) that plays memorable audio quotes from the movie and theme music via a push button, by any remote control, or by a motion sensor . Powered by a 5-volt AC adapter.
Some of the many Talking Lamps titles that were made in this series include:
The Goonies (2 versions)
Full Metal Jacket
Back To The Future
Pulp Fiction (2 versions)
Cheech and Chong's- Up in Smoke
The Dark Crystal
"Rudy's Radio" - Coin-operated Animatronic Radio
This interesting piece, and one which later inspired my Walt Disney TV clock (see "Electro-Mechanical Clocks" page), features the use of an antique radio cabinet that was modified with the addition of a coin mechanism,and a vintage ventriloquist dummy head that was animated to "talk" in sync to actual old radio broadcasts.
After depositing a coin,by turning the knob on the radio, Rudy the radio announcer briefly recites one of many actual old radio broadcasts and commercials while the speaker area flickers to the speech for 30 seconds then goes to idle.
You can change the channel at any time during this 30 second period to hear another station broadcast. When not in operation, a retro Edison bulb flickers inside to give added ambiance.
This system runs on (three) cpus (logic,driver & audio). A cooling fan in the back provides air circulation to the flickering AC bulb inside.
Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" Coin Operated Automaton Machine
This little coin operated machine plays the actual theme music from the Disneyland ride while the handmade animated pirate looks around and shoots his flashing guns.
Features a handmade solid oak cabinet with glass pane,glowing lanterns and working coin mech .This was the first tabletop coin-op machine build that was designed in the series. Unlike the others ,it's not controlled by a cpu , but rather is driven entirely by transistor-transistor logic ( TTL) and a basic audio board. Simple but effective.
Also implemented is a little smoke machine that emitted smoke from the guns when fired/flashing ( not visible in video)
This unique little fortune teller operates just like a full-sized fortune teller machine, by actually dispensing a fortune ticket and ringing a bell at the end of the program.
Features an attractive handcrafted oak cabinet, and a mini animated fortune teller with moving arms & eyes that also light up.
This is the first of two mini fortune teller machines I designed in the series.
A major challenge was designing and building a miniature fortune dispenser that would fit in the small space.
Runs on a single cpu that controls the motors and lights.
Showbiz Pizza Place Animatronic Machine
This was a custom ordered project in which the customer supplied me with his own vintage prototype mini animatronic Billy-Bob bear (which originally utilized a thin plastic frame and toy motors). I completely disassembled and gutted it, built a redesigned heavy aluminum body frame, installed new metal-geared motors, and upgraded his eyes as well.
I then built a small case for the figure with a lighted stage, and programmed 6 different shows, which are performed with the push of a button.
A 5 watt amp and volume control knob provide crisp and clear audio.
Plugs into any household electrical outlet.
Operates on (2) cpus ( main logic / slave) , a 2-channel plc, and an audio board.All the electronics are tucked away under the stage floor.
A cleaner and simpler design from the previous Showbiz gumball machine design from two years earlier ( shown below). This was a big hit with the public when released in 2017 because of the then new "FNAF" franchise, and still garners attention today.
1 of 1 made.
We build control systems for these vintage 1985 prototype Billy-Bob's . They are made-to-order (customer supplies own animatronic bear). Contact for pricing.
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show"
Animated Singing Mouth
This interesting small curiosity recreates the opening segment to the 1975 cult classic "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".
Surprised that something like this didn't exist already, we had to make one.
By pressing and holding the large illuminated button, the animated mouth sings the full 4 minute theme song, just like in the movie.Letting go stops the performance. If you press it again, it restarts from the beginning.
Features a hand painted marquee, volume control, and themed box.
The handmade mouth is run by 3 circuits, a logic , driver ,and an audio board. Also squeezed into the little box is a 20-watt amplifier, which provides crisp and clear audio.
"Reverb-Matic" Music Reverberator.
This was the first of three retro inspired reverberator units I designed and handmade. I designed it to be used in the home or vehicle, by wiring it with a 3.5mm headphone jack for the input/output, as well as RCA jacks for the outputs/inputs. Gives any audio plugged into it a cool echo sound.
Two-tone color with chrome trim, a flip switch, and a moving analog gauge complete with panel lights gives it a unique and funky look. Powered by 12 volts DC. I was inspired for this project by reverberator car radios that once were popular in the late 1950's to mid 1960's.
"Houdini" Coin Operated Magician Machine
One of my personal favorite builds, this charming little coin-op machine is a nod to the older automatons of the early 20th century.
It features a handmade attractive oak cabinet with surrounding glass panes, and an interaction between two animated figures.
The tricky part of this build was to design and construct an elevator mechanism that would fit in the small space to raise and lower the assistant's head into the box.
I used a music box mechanism for sound, and a mechanical chime to give it a vintage feel.
The assistant is from the same mold as "Esmeralda" .Operates on a single cpu.
This was the 4th and last tabletop antique-style coin-op machines that I made in the series.
Custom Audio Teddy Ruxpin
These Teddy Ruxpin custom builds were the last that were made in the series (figuring I pretty much covered all the bases after these builds). Two different versions were made.One that animates to any audio off of an SD card. The second being animated wirelessly via Bluetooth. A total of (4) 1985 Ruxpins were built with the Bluetooth modification ( as seen in demo video) .
These projects all required the old electronics inside to be gutted out, and a modern digital system installed in it's place.
By inserting an SD card loaded with your MP3 files in Ruxpins back, his mouth moves in sync to your audio. Eyes also blink randomly when on whether audio is playing or not , until you turn him off.
Area where the tape deck used to be now houses the location to insert your SD card . Old on/off and volume switch is now just the on/off , the volume is located by the SD card.
The Bluetooth version operates in the same manner except that the tape deck area is now unused.
Each Modded Ruxpin is run off of (3) CPUs. Master, slave and audio.
" Showbiz Pizza Place"
Animatronic Gumball Machine
A fully animatronic mini version of Billy-Bob from the "Rock-afire Explosion" at Showbiz Pizza is featured in this busy gumball machine. A different feature is that this machine actually operates on vintage Showbiz Pizza game tokens. It shares the same general design and operating system as the "Pee-Wee's Fun Machine" (top of page) with the addition of a 3rd driver board for the many flashing exterior cabinet light bulbs, and the electrical gumball vending mechanism .Vends a gumball (or small toy capsule) to the sound of a mechanical chime at the end of the 1 minute musical performance. Animated figure also rotates on the stage floor..
This machine was built entirely from scratch, with custom made clothing,fur suit, ,feet , hands,and guitar.The hand painted stage background is exactly like the full-sized original.The mini blue Looney Bird oil drum prop serves as a lid to refill the gumballs or toy capsules in the box below.The drum tilts back to reveal a hole in the stage leading to the box. The volume for the dual 15 watt speakers is adjustable in the coin box area located in back. 1 of 1.
At the time of this build in late 2014 I was unable to find a suitable face to make a mold out of for the mask, Otherwise, the project is 99% complete and was sold as such.
Musical Arcade Lamps
"Esmeralda" Mini Fortune Teller Machine
System test with new motors installed
"The Creeper"- Animated Head (Rockabilly Rob)
For this piece I was inspired by the "Laffun Head" novelty product from the late 1970's. I updated it for the 21st century by adding my own personal twist.
Motion activated, when you walk into the room "The Creeper" slowly opens his eyes and looks around. He will continue to look left/right as long as he senses movement around him. When you leave the area ( or stand still) he becomes "bored" and slowly closes his eyes returning to idle/off.
Operates on a single cpu and two programmed motors. This is the first of two different versions that were built.
"Obey-Vision" Retro TV
Inspired by tabletop tv sets of the early to mid 1950s. I designed and constructed a vintage looking 2-tone cabinet that was exaggerated with embellishments like a functional "Dangerous" gauge.,and a light changing glass globe on top.
The constructed cabinet houses an older (circa 1990's) portable 5" b/w tv set. I hardwired the tv with a converter and RCA jacks, so that it was able to plug into and work with any cable/satellite box,dvd player,game console,(etc.) .
A cool piece with an important message about television as a whole.
A selection of previous small builds and big Ideas
SD Card Version
"Ruxpin Gump" Custom Teddy Ruxpin Machine
This customized vintage Teddy Ruxpin bear in his illuminated case is blended with the cult classic film "Forest Gump" and recites actual movie quotes in Tom Hanks voice at the push of a button.
Added animation and a breathing mechanism which moves the figures stomach rhythmically in and out,sets this modified digital Ruxpin apart from the original.
I wanted to implement a few more features into this project, but because of the limited space,it wasn't possible .
The operating system is similar to "Rudys Radio" utilizing 3 boards (main logic,driver and sound).
This was the very first of many different Teddy Ruxpin projects that were designed and made in the series.A few are shown on this page as examples so as not to become redundant.
"ReVolt ! " High Powered Electro-Mechanical Clock
This was the 3rd and last high powered mechanical flip clock build. A followup from my "Roll-A-Matic" and "Tesla's Time Machine" , this clock is about half the size and weight ,and a little simpler.
The smaller number reels are driven by a 25 volt solenoid ,operating much like the Roll-A-Matic but without a chime and swinging gauge.
I also installed an amber light that glows to denote AM (or PM). Simple and stylish and a bit Revolting.
This was the second of three retro music reverberaton devices I designed. This one is similar to the first one, The Reverb-Matic" (see above) with the same audio inputs and outputs options .
Differences with this one include having a different color scheme, a key to turn it on/off, and a slightly longer decay in the reverberation . Can be used in the home or auto.
Powered by 12 volts DC. Video demonstrates it being used in a vehicle.
"Swami" Mini Coin Operated Fortune Teller Machine
This is the second and last of two miniature fortune tellers I designed and constructed,this time with a male figure.
It shares a similar antique oak cabinet design as the first machine "Esmeralda", and is fully functional, including vending a fortune ticket at the end of the program .
Differences between the two include a real miniature crystal ball that pulsates, music, more advanced eye movement , programmed lighting, and side glass panes on the cabinet.
Plays a different enchanting melody with each performance. Runs on a single cpu with an audio board.
"The Creeper" - Animated Head
"Johnny Thunders" was the second and last addition to the "Creeper" series.A follow-up from "Rockabilly Rob" (above), this one functions much the same by opening is eye and looking around when he detects your presence in the room.
I did some extra programming for this one,so that each time he is "awaken" he performs a little differently (different eye/lid movement) depending on his "mood"...you know how musicians are.
Powered by a 5-watt AC adapter which plugs in under his chin.
"Intergalactic Space Radio" Reverb Speaker -
Using the case from an antique radio, is this external speaker for use with any audio device . Building using all new electronics and circuits,this external speaker gives any audio plugged into it a reverb/ echo sound ( much like my Reverb Matic projects above) as a jewel pulses to the audio.When the audio is at mid-to high volume, the light changes color to signify you've officially entered another dimension (or not). This was a project utilizing spare parts in the shop I worked on in between builds.
Simple to use by plugging in a 3.5mm audio cord to the front. The large dial serves as the volume control.
75% Complete ( Jan 2015 )
"Pee-Wee Herman's Fun Machine".
Coin-Operated Animatronic Machine
This colorful tabletop coin-op machine was the first in a different cabinet design and a more advanced control system from my other mini fortune teller coin-op machines. It features the actual voice of the late Paul Reubens in sync to the figure's mouth movement, and theme music from "Pee-wees Playhouse" as well as "Tequila" from the movie "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure". A mechanical chime also sounds when a quarter is inserted.
The show is split into two segments, with animatronic Pee Wee actually doing the "Pee-Wee dance" in the second half of the program!
Many programmed motors in the head,mouth,arms,hands, and waist makes this small Pee Wee come alive.
Contains a main cpu and a 2-channel plc : a main logic board, and a driver board which shares the programs for the robots movement ,lighting and audio .
These table/wall lamps feature the actual vintage marquees from classic video arcade game cabinets. The lamp turns on and plays one of many different sound clips from the game when you walk past it. .Different options include only sound plays when it detects motion and light always remains on, light and sound turns on when it detects motion, or sound is muted and only light turns on when motion is detected.
I noticed many different arcade light boxes on the market at the time of this build in 2013, but none offered sound, so I made my own version from a couple of the arcade greats with memorable music . Operates on a 12-volt AC adapter.
"Rux-Tendo" Remote Controlled Teddy Ruxpin
This project utilized two vintage items , an original Nintendo light gun zapper, and an old 1985 Teddy Ruxpin bear. Both were modified to work together in this unique piece.
By shooting the gun at Teddy, he recites custom programmed audio while "looking around" at his surroundings.
I made a frame to convert him into an upright standing position, and fitted him with additional motors that allows him to move at the waist and turn his head.The light gun was retrofitted with a radio control module that turns Teddy on/off and triggers different audio tracks.
As a bonus, I made it that every time you shoot at him, his blue right eye flashes to give him just a little more pizzazz.
The Flux Capacitor in it's final building stage.
"Animated Super Mario / NES Machine" -
This project was built from spare parts in the shop and utilized a plush Super Mario in which was fitted with electronics/motors and programmed to be operated by the attached vintage NES game controller.
The animated Mario moves to actual game music from "Super Mario Bros"with programmed lights.Every push of the "select" button cycles a different animated routine.Pushing the A/B button on the controller changes the sound clip.
The handcrafted wooden box resembles an old Nintendo game to complete the look.It runs on a basic operating system of a logic/driver board and an audio board.