Frequently Asked Questions



Q1) Will Tom break ? If yes then what will break first?

Yes, Tom will break in 1 or 2 years. Although the parts that we have used are industry standard but some parts like the  Servos in the mouth, head tilt and head turn function will break first as they are being used the most in the animations and therefore they are likely to break in 1-2 years. We have provided tutorials on our website on replacing servo motors for Tom.

Q2) Is Tom Electric or Pneumatic?

Tom is electric. We did consider pneumatic as an option while working on building him as they have longer life but as per advice from our alumni advisor Tim Eck, we chose Tom to be electrical as the motors and the parts that will be used will enable him to perform more range of motion for different functions and therefore that became the main reason is us making this decision.

Q3) How long do you think Tom would last ?

While building Tom the parts that are used are industry standards and the servo motors in the mouth, head tilt and head turn functions can be easily replaceable. As for the torso and scepter we have used Ultra motion linear actuators which are robust and would work for a long period of time. Since the design was built according to industry standards we believe that he would last for the next 15 years.

Q4. What would happen in case of a power surge or a blackout?

Since the electrical was designed keeping in mind the power surge our technical director Josh Danzig has added circuit breakers that would protect Tom from any power surge or even Blackout. In case of blackout please flip off the switch on the electrical panel to switch it off and as soon as the light is back , flip the switch back to switch on Tom.

Q5. If something breaks or is not working properly how would we know?

Tom’s touch screen interface has an admin panel where we have provided with Tom’s calisthenics or Robot Yoga. On running the calisthenics Tom performs full range of motion for each motion and on running calisthenics it would be easier to identify the problem. There videos for calisthenics in our tutorial section which can be used for comparison as we have provided them for reference. We would also recommend running the calisthenics every 2 or 3 weeks.

Q6. If Tom is switched off will that switch off Father Time experience the other animatronic present in the castle?

No Tom’s integration with father time was done in a way that the father time experience can be run independently of Tom. Tom’s experience just triggers the father time experience. There have been no modifications in the father time experience. In case Tom is not working or is unable to trigger father time then the volunteers can run Father time independently in the same way as it was used before.

Q7) How is this website organized? Where should I go?

This website is is divided into sections depending on interest/ need

  • Overview for the casual viewer
  • Blog for more information about specific topics
  • Support tab for maintenance teams/ future projects


Q1. Does anyone who animates Tom in the future need to use specified range of motion

The range of motion provided are recommended but are not the only range of motions to be used. Based on the test we conducted with the mechanical rig we determined the safer speeds that should be used. Therefore using this information we animated Tom using different range of motion keeping in mind the safer speeds and acceleration. But any future animator is free to use a different range of motion than the one specified as long as they refer the RANGE OF MOTION test.



How to Operate Tom Foolery

  1. Turn on Touch Screen Monitor
    1. Power button is the first on the dongle (closest to cord)
  2. Turn on Tom Foolery
    1. Power button is in the upper right-hand corner of touch screen
    2. Will Turn Green when powered on
    3. Red is powered off
  3. Select which show content you want to run
  4. Compare show selections between operator and Narrator
  5. Make sure Green Room is either dark or Blackout curtain is drawn
  6. Turn on Red Light
  7. Pull back curtain at puppet theatre
  8. Perform Show
  9. Return Cue Cards & Script
  • Turn off Tom Foolery
  • Turn off Touch Screen Monitor
  • Pull curtain closed and return green room lighting to normal

Things to keep in Mind

  1. Timing is everything
    1. Operator interface has a 1.5 – 2 second lag after hitting next dialogue button (this is so Tom will “ease-in” to the next dialogue rather than snap)
    2. Operator should press the next button before the volunteer is finished speaking
    3. Narrator should be mindful to take their time saying the lines to give Tom time to finish his idle animation and return to his prone / home position
  2. Make sure everything is powered off before you leave Tom
    1. Keeping the touch screen and/or Tom on will decrease their lifespan significantly
  3. If Tom is not turning on:
    1. Check E-STOP (emergency Stop) Located to the left of the touch screen
    2. Turn Tom off – go to the main menu and turn him BACK ON again
    3. Leave him be and call for maintenance (Paul) to check Tom’s Electrical Panel
  4. If you do not see the interface for running Tom Foolery on the touch screen – restart the computer
    1. Access restart from the bottom left hand of the touch screen
  5. If Tom is having major malfunctions hit the E-STOP and notify someone immediately
  6. You can still run Father Time as normal without Tom Foolery via PLC