Anthropomorph-EYEs Your Appliances!

I grew up watching the movie, “The Brave Little Toaster”, so as a child I believed the objects in my life were secretly alive. It was not because I lacked the intelligence to tell that a chunk of plastic and circuit boards didn’t possess the biological features which deem something to be living… I just simply *chose* to see that they were; in the face of the reality I knew and understood.

As an adult, nothing has changed! This recognition of ‘self’ in the inanimate is still a big part of who I am, and ultimately what results in weekend projects like these sparkly expressive eyes. Now you too can give one of your kitchen or household friends their very own window to the soul, so they too can express emotions like you do.

You can find my Anthropomorph-EYEs on my Tindie Store, Robohemian! They come in four different colors at the moment: green, yellow, red, and blue. I will look into adding more exotic colors (like UV purple and white) to the list in the near future, as well as an RGB option in a future Rev of the board!

Adding the eyes to one of your household appliances is easy. All you need to do is fallow a hand full of simple instructions!

( 1 ) Decide who your new friend is going to be. This might be hard, as once you start looking around, you’ll see many objects in your world that are worthy of such a wonderful gift!

For this first example, I decided to reward Mark’s hardworking printer (it has printed over 7000 parts for me in the past 5 years)

( 2 ) Print the Eye Lenses (the .thing file can be found on my gitHub!).

TIP! : The eyes looks best when the lenses are printed in a color similar to the appliance you are mounting them on!

( 3 ) Placement. Decide where and how you want to mount the eyes to your appliance!

( 4 ) Connect your eyes together with VCC and GND wire. You will need to measure the amount of distance between the two eyes once they are mounted in place. This is so you can cut the appropriate length of hook up wire to connect them together.

  • You can either run your wire between the two eyes from the center of each:
  • …or from the outside edge of each so that the wire goes around the back of your appliance:

There are VCC and GND pads on both the left and right side of the board towards to bottom on the back side. This is where you will be connecting your wire :

( 5 ) Decide on a 5V power source for your eyes! 

It’s very likely that the appliance you’re installing the eyes onto does not run at 5V, so you won’t be able to hardwire them into the source. This means, the eyes will need their own external 5V power supply! No worries, this isn’t the worst thing in the world… and they are fairy common to come by.


The easiest way to supply simple renewable power to your eyes is by hacking a USB cable and making a simple connector that can be soldered to your eyes, and then plugged into a rechargeable 5V USB power brick. =D

Find a USB- A to B cable (the same kind that comes with most desk top inkjet printers), and cut off the square end (or the tiny end if its a micro), leaving the long rectangular connector:

Strip away a bit (a few inches) of the cable’s casing and locate the black and red wires within. All the other colored wires aren’t important so you can chop those off!

Strip away a small amount of the red and black casing so that the wire is exposed:

Tin these wires with solder so that the stranded bits stick together in one solid piece! Solder the red wire to the “VCC” pad, and the black wire to the “GND” pad on the side of the board you chose from the previous step.

Locate a rechargeable USB power supply! They come in many different shapes and sizes, from flat rectangular profiles, to long cylindrical tube shapes! Here are some of mine:

Plug the USB cable into your rechargeable 5V power brick. The eyes should illuminate right away! If they do, you’re good to go!


( 6 ) Add your lenses! Snap your 3D printed lenses onto the front of the circuit board aligning the pegs with the two center holes of the board:


( 7 ) Get their backs sticky! Put some silicone double-sided sticky tape on the back of the circuit boards and prepare to mount them in the desired location on your appliance. (you can of course mount them in whatever other way you choose if you have a better solution!)

( 8 ) Enjoy the new life of the party! You’re all done! But if you’re up to the challenge, I highly suggest you take on the next set of optional steps and write some code for your own custom personality animation!

( 9 *optional* ) Create a custom personality for your appliance! FOR YOU PROGRAMMERS OUT THERE (and people who don’t program a whole lot like me)! In the case that you wish to create and animate your own expressions… in order to give your appliance a custom personality all its own, you can find the source code on my gitHub!


I also made a fun worksheet that you can use to help storyboard your expressions into a display of emotion. This is what will define your appliance’s personality!

( 10 ) NAME GIVE! Lastly, name your new companion! After all, it is alive and would like to have a special name!

…Send me pictures!!! Tweet them to me @spetku, or leave them in the comments of this post! I want to see what you decide to breathe life into, and what other dispositions you create with the code! Happy rice cooker? Angry Microwave? Grumpy 3D Printer? It’s entirely up to you! 🙂

Here is the original project of mine that prompted me to make this board available on my store: Eye of Toast

Be the first to comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


%d bloggers like this: