Introduction: Meet Bob: the While-You're-Away Dog-Petting Pillow
Dogs are man's best friend: they are always happy to see you; they live to obey and please you; and they always faithfully wait for you to get home from work. All they ask in return is a little love, affection, and a nice belly rub every once in awhile. OK, a steak wouldn't hurt sometimes, LOL.
But in the process of waiting for you to return home, dogs sometimes get lonely (and/or anxious) and need a friend of their own.
Enter in Bob: the lonely dog's best friend. And best of all...HE AUTOMATICALLY PETS YOUR CANINE FRIEND WHILE YOU'RE AWAY!!
Sure, when you're home, you're the Alpha Dog, Master, and Top Buddy...but when you're gone, Bob's got your (and your dog's) back! Think of him like the "Boyfriend Pillow" for dogs ;)
Now, this is my very first time ever doing a project with electronics. I invented Bob from trial and error, and a lot of Googling and watching YouTube videos to learn how to work with the electronics I used.
Feel free to add to and better Bob to your liking (or make a Bobette instead). Just make sure to show us some pictures below if you make Bob or a version of him. Also NOTE: He can be made bigger or smaller to fit the size of your pooch, since he's a doggy pillow too.
Step 1: What You'll Need...
To make Bob, you will need the following:
- An old (but working) oscillating fan (the head moves side to side)
- Old pillows for stuffing and fabric, and a round one for the head
- Old long-sleeved shirt
- Old pair of jeans
- A screwdriver and small flat tool
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Sewing machine
- Needle and thread
- 2 buttons for eyes
- Pen & paper
Step 2: Make a Basic Plan
You need to draw out a basic plan for Bob. You can add, subtract, or change it as you go.
Here were my original drawings and chicken scratch.
Step 3: Fiddle With the Fan
So, I was thinking about the basic movement of petting, and it basically just goes back and forth from side to side. Then it hit me, a fan head does the exact same thing! I could use a fan head to be the moving arm for Bob!
I originally felt ambitious and wanted to figure out where in the motor I could stop the shaft from rotating but keep the oscillation feature intact. Being my first time dealing with electronics, I decided to forgo that idea, but you will see my modification to that in a later step.
Now, my fan was originally not working. At all. So I researched all the YouTube videos about how to fix a fan. Most said that it's the capacitor, and if you replace it and it still doesn't work then you throw out the fan. After I had already taken off the parts to expose the motor (no, I didn't take apart the motor LOL), and called a zillion places who all said they either didn't know what I was talking about, or they couldn't get the capacitor I needed in (apparently they don't fix fans in this part of Canada?), that's when my husband came over, pushed his finger against a wire that was touching the capacitor, and the fan suddenly worked! So onward and upward...
Here's how I dissected the fan to prepare it for becoming Bob's arm:
- Open the metal covering around the blades and remove the blades.
- Pull up (or push down) the oscillator knob to put the fan in automatic "oscillating mode" as soon as the motor is turned on.
- Unscrew the oscillator knob (there's a screw in the middle), and remove it so there's nothing sticking out on the top, outside of the casing around the motor.
- OPTIONAL: If your fan isn't working and you need to diagnose it or work on it, OR if you want to clean your motor of dust (highly recommended), then take off the casing from around the motor. There's four screws in the front and one screw in the middle of the back. This will take off (in two pieces) the plastic casing from around your motor.
- Because the "arm" was too tall when it stood on the white base stand, I had to take the base off and just leave the metal pole (that was in-between). This is where my little flat tool came into play. I pushed it in, down, and then while pressing in and down, I pulled it up to pull out the black plastic piece that was holding the pole to the white base stand.
- When you're done, you will be left with the last picture.
Step 4: Sew the Head
Now that the fan is ready for action, it's time to get to sewing.
I did this on a trial and error basis, so I had to keep stopping and trying new things to work my way through it. My pictures may reflect this, but I will try below to write out what I would do the first time, should I choose to ever make a Bob 2.
- Take your round pillow or pillow form, and trace around it onto your head fabric (I used fabric from one of the "stuffing" pillows), leaving a good 1.5"-2" seam allowance (because my pillow was pretty stuffed). Cut the fabric on your line.
- Pin and sew, leaving a gap big enough to get your pillow/pillow form through. I sewed relatively close to the edge (about 1/4" away) so I would have the extra leftover fabric to accommodate for the thickness of my pillow form.
- Flip the fabric right-side out through the gap and push your pillow/pillow form into the fabric.
- Sew up the gap.
- Add some button eyes and a smiley face.
Step 5: Prepare & Sew the Upper Torso
Using the old long-sleeved shirt you have, make Bob's upper torso.
- Cut a slit up the middle of the back of the shirt. Stop at 5-6" from the top. This will be necessary for current or future work you will have to do on the mechanical parts of the fan head.
- Insert your fan head into the arm of your choosing inside the shirt (I chose the left arm because Bob will be sitting on my couch with his left arm up on the armrest, since this is near the closest outlet to plug him into). Find where your cord will come out the shirt (to plug in), and cut a hole here (big enough to fit the wall plug through). Remove the fan head and set aside.
- I wanted Bob to resemble a "Boyfriend Pillow," so I cut off the right sleeve. Then I turned the shirt inside-out and sewed a seam along the raw edge. Then flipped it back, rightside-out.
- Attach the head to the neck of the shirt by hand-sewing.
- Attach velcro strips to the back where you made the slit. I attached the soft side facing down under the left side of the slit, and I attached the scratchy side facing up on top of the right side of the slit's fabric. I did this because the scratchy side would stick to and pull out the stuffing when it was facing inward, and the soft side doesn't. **NOTE: If your velcro strips already have a sticky adhesive on the backside, do not sew through this. I thought that I would sew on the velcro (in addition to sticking it on), and it left me with a ooey-gooey mess and didn't work at all. Just FYI. PS, my adhesive was strong enough by itself to keep the velcro on the fabric, no problem.**
- Lastly, sew the slits together at the bottom (underneath where the velcro covered) to make it just a 16" opening (instead of the entire back as an opening).
Author's Note: I originally thought I'd want to have an opening for the buttons that are on the fan head, but the buttons were in a bad location on the shirt, so I left it alone. It's really not hard to feel them through the shirt to turn it on.
Step 6: Insert Backing and Attach Fan Head
This took me a good while to try and figure out. I admit, it's probably still a long way from reaching perfection, but it works (for now). The problem was that the fan head as-is was very top-heavy, so when the head would move from side-to-side, it would topple over. It definitely needed to be on some sort of stand, but a stand alone wouldn't fix the problem entirely. So, I also attached it to backing (which not only stabilized it, but also gave a straight back to Mr. Bob).
- To make a stand for the pole at the base of the fan head, I used a toilet paper roll as the center holder. The roll was too wide, so I layered stuffing in, around the pole, to make it a snug fit.
- Now, I needed feet. So, using more toilet paper rolls (I am sick this week with lots of nose-blowing, so I had plenty of empty rolls on hand, LOL), I cut some quadrilateral shapes (making sure there was two shapes per foot). Then I glued the two shapes together, and glued each foot to the center roll. I ONLY USED THREE FEET SINCE THE BACK OF THE POLE WOULD BE AGAINST THE BACKING.
- I used cardboard strips to hold the pole down to the backing, just gluing it with hot glue.
Step 7: Tweak the Fan Head
Before we stuff Mr. Bob, we need to tweak the fan head. Remember how we still have the shaft spinning (where the blades used to be connected to)? We need to keep that from being a problem for the stuff around it...so here's what I did:
- I needed a circular barrier to keep the arm shape, but also to protect the shaft, allowing it to spin freely. That's when the light bulb came on!!! A 1 Liter pop bottle!
- I cut off the base of the pop bottle, but found this totally unnecessary in the end, actually preferring to keep the "butt" of the bottle on (if I could redo it).
- So just clean the bottle, dry it, and hot glue the bottle to the fan head as shown.
Step 8: Get Stuffed!
Time to stuff him!
- Get your backing and fan head in place inside the shirt. Make sure that you also put the cord through the hole you made in the back of the shirt. I sewed the hole shut around the cord (it looks better, keeps the hole from getting bigger, and is easy enough to open again should I need to remove the cord for any reason).
- STUFF BOB! Stuff his upper torso and stuff his arm to the wrist (filling in around the fan head to make it look as natural as possible).
- Put his pants on him (once the upper torso is well-stuffed down through the waist), then stuff his pants, too!
Step 9: Lookin' Good, Bob!
He's coming along...and we're almost done!
Step 10: Sew His Hand & His Legs
I used my own hand as a guide for Bob's hand.
- Place your hand on the fabric and trace around it, leaving a 1/2" seam allowance (I, again, used the fabric from the pillow that I used for stuffing..the same fabric as I used for his head).
- Sew around the raw edges, like you did for the head, leaving a gap to turn it rightside-out through.
- Turn it rightside-out and stuff it. To stuff the fingers, use a chopstick, or the like, to push the stuffing into each, individual finger without damaging the fabric.
- Sew his hand to his arm by hand-stitching at the wrist.
- I didn't give Bob full legs, so I just rolled up his pants to where the stuffing stopped (basically I only stuffed his legs enough to be a good doggy pillow--so just where a dog would lay on our legs when we're sitting on a couch: just on the thighs), and then sewed where the stuffing ended (by hand-sewing with a simple straight stitch) to keep the stuffing in.
Step 11: He's Finished!
Here's a short video clip showing Bob in action (after my daughter turned him on, the fan head was still finishing its rotation, so it takes a couple seconds before his arm moves):
Step 12: The Many Sides of Bob...
So, you want to add hair to Bob? Well, I will have you know that Bob's happy demeanor makes him the perfect candidate for just about any hairstyle you can think of! Here are just a few we played around with :)
Have fun with it!
Step 13: Things I Would Add or Change...
Here are some things I would add or change, should there be a Bob Version 2.0:
- I would add a pouch flap to the top of the nearest butt pocket, so when transporting Bob, you could easily store the cord there.
- I would probably use two pieces of plywood to make a "seat" (with one piece being the back and one piece being the "seat" that Bob sits on), so that way he would sit up straighter, have more support, and it would be easier to transport him. The backing being wood would make it easier to keep the fan head sturdy (using PVC clamps to connect the pole to the backing instead of my approach with cardboard).
- I would make a sturdier stand for the pole using wood and/or metal. Or use metal pieces for the "seat" from bullet point two (or an old metal seat itself) and weld the pole directly to the seat base.
- I would make the arm and hand part sturdier (to get better movement and better petting capability). To accomplish this, I was thinking of somehow using a rod to steady it (which I couldn't do on my Bob because I already cut off the base of the pop bottle). But if you have your pop bottle intact, you could get a threaded wooden rod (or even an old wooden broom stick handle that's threaded), and screw it into the base of the pop bottle. Then you could attach a hand to it properly, and surround it all with stuffing. Doing something like this would also give the arm a look of it being bent at the elbow, instead of it just dropping. Not like the dog cares, but you might. ;)
- I think it would be cool to have different "attachments" for Bob's hand...so you can have a scratching attachment, a petting attachment, and maybe even a massaging attachment? I don't know...experiment with it!
Let me know below how you'd better Bob. Thanks for visiting!