Make your own miniature flea circus.

Flea circuses have been around since the Victorian times when actual human fleas were used to perform circus tricks.  The flea would be harnessed with a small, thin piece of gold wire and made to do acts like pull a miniature chariot, type rope walk, sword fighting, and kicking a small ball!  Unfortunately for the live flea circus (and fortunately for us!) the human flea is virtually extinct due to our much cleaner ways.

The type of flea circus that I have built is called a "humbug" flea circus and all the acts are performed using hidden, mechanical means. 

Initially I wanted to make a  flea circus inside a small cigar box or wooden case.  In the end I went with a small wooden case as it was a little deeper than a cigar box.  Kind of wished I went with a little larger box as i couldn't fit everything I wanted into the small case that I ended up using.

The project itself was a real learning experience, and everything I built was trial and error.  I tried to take as many photos as possible but with the electronics it just became too hard to take photos of every step.  I have drawn-up some schematics which will help you through this section though.  Also I couldn't get the tight-rope to work well.  I left all of the steps though in the Instructable as i believe it would have worked if I had used a separate servo for the type rope.  

The flea circus can be built over a weekend with most parts being available on eBay or your local electronics shop.

Hope you enjoy – and happy making.

if the clip doesn't work above - try this one

Step 1: Parts, Materials and Tools

Parts and Materials

1.  Case - Ebay
2.  Ply wood - as thin as possible.  this will be your flea circus floor

1.  Servo tester - Ebay
2.  Servo - Robotshop
3.  AA x 2 Battery Holder - eBay
4.  AAA x 3 Battery holder - eBay
5.  2 channel helicopter - a happy deal
6.  Candle LED's - eBay
7.  LED Diffuses - your choice
8.  Computer ribbon wire - scavenged from and old PC
9. Switch - 3 throw - eBay

1.  Interior Stain - new baltic pine
2. Clear varnish - Matt finish

Circus Acts / Misc.
1.  Pinball ball - local pinball repair shop or eBay.
2.  Tiny car.  I purchased mine on eBay but you could any car - as long at it is small.  what about a micro machine
3.  Magnets: You need to use some rare earth magnets which can be purchase on eBay.  I used these and these
4.  Thin cord or rope.  I used some braid fishing line

1.  Wood glue
2.  Small screws
3.  Solder
4.  Solder flux
5.  Various drill bits
6.  Sand paper
7.  Paint Brushes
8.  Hot glue

1.  Copper Tube - various sizes
2.  Copper wire - various thickness and sizes
3.  Copper flat (Used on the servo)

1.  Soldering iron
2.  Various pliers
3.  Stanley knife
4.  Drill
5.  Wire cutters

This build is straight forward if you build it just with the pot control.<br>Adding the remote circuit from the helicopter is a total headache <br>Just build it with an on / off switch and relocate the pot from the servo tester to the back and control with that <br>I can not stress this enough !!<br><br>It's the de soldering and RE soldering the rc recerver on the helicopter circuit so it is external <br>The component is so rubbish and if your iron is hot enough to solder it's too hot for the pcb... iv just bought my third to try and get this built for someone and I'm not taking it off <br>Thanks <br>
<p>Yep agree - def made it over complicated! If I was going to do this today I would use a geared motor like the one in the image (eBay) and a PMW motor control. That's really all you need. You could however add a remote module as well which would allow you to turn on and off.</p><p>Plus using a geared motor makes it a lot quieter than the servo</p>
<p>The backdrop really creates the circus!</p>
is there any substitute for the 2 channel helicopter (remote)????
Hey there, <br>I wouldn't even worry about that part. It just makes things more complicated and I don't really use the remote anyhow!. Just get yourself a continuous servo and a servo controller and that will do fine.
I was thoroughly entertained! Great project! I hope you paid the fleas handsomely?
It will be my next project, thanks to you. <br>thanks so much! Nice job!!
Cool - thanks
Type rope walking? Dude, TIGHT rope.
I've never seen anything as beautifully artistic as this before. I love it, the posters, the act, the effect the video and even the music. Just brilliant, well done. Fantastic.
wow - thank you so much, really means a lot getting such great feedback.
How do you see the videos?
The Instructable website is having issues showing you tube clips on mobile devices. i also included a link at the bottom of the clip which you should be able to use ok on a phone.
I don't know what a type rope is, maybe you were thinking of a tightrope? i think this is very cool and really creative I want to build this.
Yep your right it should have been tight-rope, put it down to a &quot;typing&quot; error. Sorry bad pun.
I would have loved this just for the history lesson, but then you hit it out of the park with a gorgeous finished product. Well done!
very cool
That was pretty cool. The vids are the great! <br>
This reinforces the fact that some people are just genius when it comes to crafting... and then there's me.
Ah shucks... <br>Believe me, if I can do it anyone can do it!
Awesome. Gorgeous instructable, nice result and great commentary!
Thanks so much. Really nice to get such great feedback.
Absolutely beautiful! This is the stuff of childhood memories. The kids will love this :-)
Cheers - I'm trying to get my boys to go down the local market and put a show on!

About This Instructable




Bio: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with.
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