Making a Monster Book

The idea was to make a diy version of this monster book from harry potter.


The one they used in the movie is probably a several thousand $ remote control robot but with the right parts I think we can get something close that jumps around or wiggles a bit.

Before I started this project I looked around online and found several tutorials on how to decorate a monster book but none on making one move. So here is my version…



So there are 2 parts to making a good monster book

  1. putting some electronic guts inside the book for the motion
  2. decorating the outside of the book to look like a monster ( I did not decorate this one I just made it move)



To get things moving on the first version I used  hardware I already had. An arduino starter kit .  Below there is an easier version made with little bits.



parts for arduino version:

  • 1 arduino board
  • 1 servo
  • battery pack for servo (I used a 4 double A pack)
  • battery pack for arduino board (I used a 9v pack)
  • some alligator clip wires
  • tape
  • spacer material
  • paper mache book
  • arduino sketch code that will make the servo move downlaod mine here
  • arduino software to load sketch code onto board download here for windows or here for mac
  • usb cable


This setup requires 2 different battery packs because the arduino boards only use 5 volts and the servo motors take 9 to 12 volts. Trying to run the servo thru the arduino board could burn out the board from current.

Before cramming all this into the book you should connect the wires and make sure it works first.

The first thing is to plug the arduino board into the computer via the usb cable and upload the sketch code that will tell the servo motor to go back and forth.  When you send the sketch code to the board it should say verified… compiled … and uploaded complete. During an upload there is a tiny led on the board that will blink rapidly.

Now you can wire things together with the alligator clips.  The servo has 3 wires red and black for power and a yellow for data. The battery pack for the servo should have red and black wires so just connect red to red and black to black between the battery and servo.

The yellow wire goes to the number 15 slot on the side of the arduino board. The arduino board can be powered by either usb or the battery. Since this will be in a closed box we are using the battery. If you have the 9v battery pack you should find the barrel battery port to plug it into just to the side of the usb slot.  There is also a ground wire that needs to be connected from the arduino board to the black wire of the servo. It might take a few tries to make sure everything is connected right. but after a few seconds the servo should move when it is correctly powered up.

fitting-arduino-parts-in-book   tapped-up-parts-in-book    part-that-hits-book-lid

Now getting the guts in the box.  Depending on the size and thickness of you book box your positions maybe different from mine.  To get the best movement of the lid I had to place the servo in the middle of the box. I also had to put a spacer under the servo so that the lid was just barely open a crack.  I just tapped everything down with masking tape. The arduino went in the back corner with its battery pack in the front and the other battery pack in the left back corner.




The simpler alternative to use little bits parts instead of arduino parts.

You need a battery pack… power bit… pulse bit…. and either a servo bit ….

You basically just connect them in order and turn it on. The pulse bit will activate the servo at certain intervals that you can adjust duration of. The limitation with this setup is you can’t set the duration to be very long like with the arduino setup is every few minutes. You have to choose to have it on all the time with the pulse or activate it with the button press. The other thing with the pulse bit is the little adjustment screw on the bottom of it needs to be turned all the way to the minus side for the longest duration.

There are more little bits modules you can get for more advanced setups but these few modules are what typically come with the smaller kits.

You can get a little fancier with the little bits and use the 3 way bit to add lights for the eyes. I used the led for white light or the bar graph bit for green light.


Then just place in book box so the servo makes the lid move as show above.



If you made it this far thank you for skimming my blog. If you run into problems ask a question in the comments.






Future Call Center AI

A future relative of Apple’s siri and Microsoft’s cortana will replace the majority of people for customer service call center jobs. There are a number of innovations currently under way that will conspire to make this possible. Think about it, a lot of time when you call customer service today the call is already being answered by an automated system that tries to router you to the right place. These automated systems are just a few years away from being sufficiently smart enough to do a lot more than just route your call. In no particular order here are some thoughts on it:

  • Skype can translate voice calls in real time between people. Understanding natural language won’t be a problem for this future call center AI
  • Google just updated its robot voice used in the ok google app to sound more human and smooth. This future call center AI won’t sound like a robot.
  • All calls to the call center AI will be answered on the first ring. Because the call center AI will be instances running in the cloud you will never be put on hold. The number of instances needed will be dynamically load balanced to the number of calls coming in.
  • It will be like you are talking to the same AI rep every time whether that was last week or last year. Because all calls are recorded for quality the call center AI will be able to bring up all your previous conversations with the company.
  • Call center AI will replace humans for call center jobs because the will be much cheaper. They don’t need health insurance, lunch breaks, or vacations. You can turn them off when there is low call volume.
  • They will take up less space, dozens of instances will probably run from a single server rack. Completely on demand customer service 24/7 even on holidays.
  • There is a high probability the reason you’ll be calling in will be technology related. The call center AI being a robot will easily be able to talk to and or analyze the piece of technology your calling in about. Like the AI rep of a internet service provider telling your modem or computer to restart or talking with a 3rd party AI to send a software update to your device.


Kevin Kelly recently said in a talk at sxsw that these future AI things need 3 things…. Neural Nets( simulated brain functions), a mountains of cheap processor power to at as the virtual nurons in the form of gpu chips, and big data which call center have mountains of will all the calls they have been recording for the AI to learn against. But I think this is good like he says at the end jobs like should go to robots. Human should have better things to spend their time on than being chained to a desk.