Introduction: Mini Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Man

Picture of Mini Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Man

I wanted to fix a bunch of old hairdryers I found at the scrap market here in Cairo and put it to a better use. So I made a lil wacky waving inflatable tube man, of course. In case you'd want to make one yourself -and you certainly should- here is how one makes a lil wacky waving inflatable tube man.

This tutorial is based on fixing and reusing things you already have to build this, the video attached shows more details. But you can skip all the fixing steps and just get and assemble new parts!

Disclaimer: I am not an engineer and I had no idea what I was doing when I made this, so this might not be a complete proper guide for some. But on the bright side, if I could do this then certainly anyone can! Plus I'll share all the mistakes I've made so that you'd avoid them!

Step 1: You'll Need:

Picture of You'll Need:
  • An old hairdryer (both the body and a working blower fan inside- usually it's a 12V DC Motor fan)
  • Plastic tube bags (I used some old plastic bag tubes that was packaging for something)
  • 12V power adapter
  • Switch
  • Scrap wood
  • PVC tube (diameter depends on the plastic tube bags you have)
  • Screw driver + screws or wood Glue if you decide to glue the wood instead
  • cotton buds + electronic cleaner
  • Soldering iron + solder
  • Rotary device (Dremel) or a saw to cut the wood
  • Paint that sticks to plastic (Optional)
  • The basics: pencil, ruler, tape, etc...

Step 2: Fixing the Adapter

Picture of Fixing the Adapter

First we need to fix the adapter (if it needs fixing). This particular one just had the two main wires loose and no longer attached to the prongs so I just changed the wires with a bit longer ones and re-soldered them (the white wires in the picture, ignore the zipper around it!). Most of the time it's just a loose wire inside, but you might find a broken capacitor, you'll find it a bit ballooned at the top, first disconnect the adapter and discharge the capacitor by touching the top with a metal object (with plastic handle), you can remove it from the board and test it, if it doesn't work then just replace it.

To test the whole adapter, attach the end of the adapter to your multimeter, the negative wire has dotted white lines on it and the positive is the other end. Connect the negative to the black probe and the positive to the red probe, then check the DC voltage of the adapter, it should read a bit more than 12 volts.

Step 3: Fixing the Adapter - Things to Note...

Picture of Fixing the Adapter - Things to Note...

I busted mine to open it since many I opened earlier had no screws and were just glued shut together, but this one had a screw hidden underneath the sticker! So make sure to check there before you break it in half like me!

Step 4: Understanding How a Hairdryer Works

Picture of Understanding How a Hairdryer Works

A hair dryer has two main parts the heating element (missing the coil in the picture) and a blower fan that runs using 12V DC Motor. In order to power the fan when plugged in, first the power is used to heat the coil then operate the fan, that way the heating element acts as a resister and voltage is reduced to 12V, the 4 diodes attached to the Motor transfer the current from AC to DC.

So in order to use the fan in our lil project we need to remove the 4 diodes and any attached wires. Keep the wires aside, we can reuse them later to attach the switch and adapter to it.

Step 5: DC Motors - Why Would It Stop Working

Picture of DC Motors - Why Would It Stop Working

Some motors are just really rusty and greasy. Detach the fan blade, open the motors by flicking the small tabs in the metal case up, lift the plastic lid of the motor and remove the Rotor coil.

Why would a Motor stop working?

  • It's rusty and dirty
  • The rotor coil is dented, broken, or got detached
  • The brushes in the lid are broken
  • The little piece of magnet on the brushes fell

Step 6: Cleaning/Fixing DC Motors

Picture of Cleaning/Fixing DC Motors

Since I had so many motors I simply cleaned some and mixed and matched broken parts from other motors to make several working motors. You can find tutorials on youtube on how to recoil or re-solder the coil or how to add an extension to the brush if it's broken.

To clean the motor parts spray some electronic cleaner inside the parts, be generous and clean it using a cotton bud, make sure when cleaning the coil that you are not actually causing any damage to the coil itself.

To test if the motor works or not, simply attach the ends of the adapter to the motor tabs and check if it works! The motor will have the positive tab marked on the plastic lid.

Step 7: Making the "container"

Picture of Making the "container"

I tried using several plastic containers and boxes to house the fan but they all failed to direct the air with the same power in order to blow the plastic tube.

So I ended up using the hair dryer body itself, I thought it would actually look cooler! I cut the nozzle a bit and cut the part of the handle since it wont be needed. You can do this using a rotary tool like a dremel or a hand saw. Or you can use the whole hairdryer, as you wish!

Step 8: Making the Base: Cutting the Sides

Picture of Making the Base: Cutting the Sides

I used some scrap wood to make the base that will incase the hairdryer part inside. I made it an open box, so I removed two faces to allow air in and show the hair dryer, If you'd like to completely hide the hair dryer you can use a complete box, just make sure to drill out an opening to allow air in for the fan.

Make sure to allow some space around the hair dryer part so that it wont actually be touching any sides to decrease any noise caused from the vibrations. You can also add some padding if you wish.

I cut 4 equal pieces (measurements will greatly depend on the size of your hair dryer). I decided to screw them all together, so I added an extra measurement of the depth of the wood piece to each piece. One side (the top) will have a big opening for air to come out and another will have a slot for the switch.

Step 9: Making the Connector Piece

Picture of Making the Connector Piece

Cut a little piece of pvc pipe about 2-3 cm in length, this piece should sit in the top side of your box and be positioned in the drilled out hole. We will tape the plastic tube to the other end. The diameter of this piece will depend on the diameter of your plastic bag tube, it can be a bit smaller since we are taping the plastic tube, so it doesn't have to be exactly the same size.

Step 10: Making the Base: the Top Side

Picture of Making the Base: the Top Side

I drilled an opening the same diameter as my pvc piece, but not all the way through, this allows a bit of a base for the pvc piece to rest on, on the other side I drilled out an opening the same shape of the nozzle of the hairdryer. It almost looks like it's just the round opening, but it's actually two different holes on each side. Later after assembling all parts I also fixed the hair dryer to that opening using a glue gun, that way it holds the hair dryer in place and it sealed any open parts so that the air flows right into the tube.

Step 11: Add the Switch

Picture of Add the Switch

I drilled out an indent to hold the switch at the back (or side) piece, then I drilled two holes where the wires would go from the hairdryer to the switch. And this left no visible wires to be shown. That particular switch just had a metal ball inside that wasn't in the right place, I took it apart and put it back in place, also cleaned it as well and it worked just fine.

Step 12: Coloring the Tube Man (optional)

Picture of Coloring the Tube Man (optional)

I used a Posca marker to color the inside of the plastic bag tube, it's not the best option since it doesn't completely stick to the plastic, it will still wear off when the tube bends, but it was the best option available to me at the moment. Use something that adheres to the plastic and doesn't make a thick layer or else the tube might not be able to move.

The tube needs to be open from both ends, If you try powering the fan and the tube wont move properly, try making the tube shorter.

Step 13: Coloring the Tube Man: Things to Note...

Picture of Coloring the Tube Man: Things to Note...

I tried spray painting the plastic bag but it didn't stick, after some research I found out only one type of spray paint called 'krylon' can bond to plastic. You can also use copic markers in an airbrush attachment. Or just tint it using copic markers!

Painting with acrylics will create a thick layer and wont allow the tube to move, it will also not bond to the plastic and it will actually stick to each other if you paint the inside like me.

I cut some "hair" and drew a face on the from of the tube. I also added some arms that I colored and just taped together. Next time i will try to use the soldering iron to fuse the plastic instead of using tape.

Step 14: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

I went with the lazy way and screwed all the parts together, I pre drilled the holes before putting in the screws. Tape the plastic tube to the connecter piece and insert it in, you don't need to glue this part in. I did however, glue the hairdryer nozzle in the top part.

Step 15: Voila!

Picture of Voila!

And voila! A mini wacky waving inflatable dancing tube man!

If you enjoyed this instructable vote for me! And you might like my youtube channel as well and if you'd like support me become my patron on Patreon! Annnd I do a bunch of other tinkering stuff on other places on the wide web like Instagram


aCuriousCreator (author)2017-09-27

Yes! Such a good instructable! Voted for you :)

MisterHighway (author)2017-09-01

Excellent video and instructable! Just a tip, with wood even that thick, a coping saw and a drilling a hole could have cut your hole for your fan. That way on your next projects you won't have to rely on that incompetent carpenter! If you didn't have the saw or the drill, and could still obtain the blade, a hammer and nail, I think you could probably fashion one yourself. But again, great project and I hope to see more soon!

dinaaamin (author)MisterHighway2017-09-05

Thanks! I did not think of this! Will try it next time. Thanks for sharing :)

mocinoz (author)2017-08-25

Great instructable. Love the end result and I love the story of how you got there.

dinaaamin (author)mocinoz2017-08-25

Thank you!!

Ham It Up (author)2017-08-24

diaaamin, very creative! I like your re-use of parts from the old hair dryers. I like to re-use motors and parts from old appliances. I have a couple of old hair dryers. I need to use one of them to build a "tube man".


dinaaamin (author)Ham It Up2017-08-25

Super! Post a photo here when you make one, would love to see it :)

DiegoM241 (author)2017-08-23

Very good instructable, congratulations, I Like you work

dinaaamin (author)DiegoM2412017-08-24

Thank you Diego! Glad you liked it!

YaronShemesh (author)2017-08-24

Very nice idea and execution!

dinaaamin (author)YaronShemesh2017-08-24

thank you!!

askjerry (author)2017-08-23

For the work with the electric motor I salute you!

I do however think that you should sew a new body from yellow rip-stop nylon or polyester material. It will be much more flexible, and reactive. The pattern would be pretty simple... just a rectangle with two edges sewn together... then turn it inside-out.

I think tee-shirt material would be too heavy at this scale... but the ripstop would probably work well. If you make one like that... post it!

dinaaamin (author)askjerry2017-08-24

Thanks Jerry! I didn't know of ripstop nylon! Thanks for the suggestion, I'll try getting my hands on some and try it out! :)

askjerry (author)dinaaamin2017-08-24

It's called "ripstop" because every 5mm or so there is a thicker thread... it is used in parachutes... the thicker thread will stop the material from ripping.

If you have a sewing machine, it is very easy to sew... one of my favorite cloth materials. (I sew) The colors are usually very vibrant too.

More Information Here

dinaaamin (author)askjerry2017-08-24

Interesting! I can do a lil bit of sewing. Thanks for sharing!!

DrummerD23 (author)2017-08-22

You're on your way to your very own "Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man Emporium"

gravityisweak (author)DrummerD232017-08-23

Thank you. I was waiting for someone to post this. Now the emporium is finally possible! Maybe someone will try a version where the head is sealed and both arms are open.

dinaaamin (author)gravityisweak2017-08-24

Haha! If someone tries this, make the arm holes really big so that there is enough air pressure difference to make it dance!
Also, someone named him 'fry' because in yellow it looks like a 'french fry', so I imagine a whole pack of 'fries' dancing! One day I will bless the internet with this haha!

dinaaamin (author)DrummerD232017-08-22

HAHAHAHA! This made my day! Well, I've got a bunch of other hairdryers to "fix"

hodavame (author)2017-08-23

Very good instructable, congratulations! I like that you use recycled materials. Also I liked your video, you're so sweet.

dinaaamin (author)hodavame2017-08-24

Thanks Hodavame! :)

CarolinaHunrichse (author)2017-08-23

love it!


ljhopkins (author)2017-08-23

Very nice job.

dinaaamin (author)ljhopkins2017-08-23

Thanks again! :)

ljhopkins (author)2017-08-23

ok that is cool.

dinaaamin (author)ljhopkins2017-08-23

thanks! :D

wrickwalt (author)2017-08-23

I learned so much from this instructable! Thank you, and I plan to make something similar soon! :)

dinaaamin (author)wrickwalt2017-08-23

Yay! Awesome! Share a photo of it here when you do!!

bob3030 (author)2017-08-23

Very clever idea! Thank you for sharing.

dinaaamin (author)bob30302017-08-23

Thanks! Glad you liked it!

Steinzel (author)2017-08-22

This is great! I love it! I am definitely going to build one, or more.

I used to work at a recycling plant. Keurig Coffeemakers are a tinkers dream machine. You should try to get your hands on a few, lots of stuff to mess with in one of those. Pumps, fans, electric valves, lots of silicone hose too.

dinaaamin (author)Steinzel2017-08-23

Cool! Share a photo here when you make one!

Ooo I'll try to find one! I spent all last year taking products apart but I never took a coffeemaker machine apart before! Thanks!

Steinzel (author)dinaaamin2017-08-23

Most coffee makers dont have all of the gadgets inside like the Keurig does. People were throwing these away left and right, that's why I never bought one. Haha
I will post a pic when I make one of your dancing guys!

dinaaamin (author)Steinzel2017-08-23

HAHA! I'll try to find one then :D

HP_II (author)2017-08-22

Love this, great idea! The zipper on the power supply made me laugh too, never would have thought of that - though there is a reason they are hard to get apart :D

HP_II (author)HP_II2017-08-22

Doh! I just read the info (I only watched the video first), you said to ignore the zipper

dinaaamin (author)HP_II2017-08-23

Yea, the zipper doesn't really touch the insides, but still it has metal parts though, so you gotta be careful just in case :D

dinaaamin (author)HP_II2017-08-22

hahaha True! I should have wrote a disclaimer 'zip at your own risk' :D

StacyS31 (author)2017-08-22

jpdl879 (author)2017-08-22

Ok, this is awesome, but I have one issue. It's called the Wacky Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man, if it was named correctly this would litterally be the best instructable i've ever seen.

dinaaamin (author)jpdl8792017-08-22

Hahaha! My apologies, I am from Egypt, not really familiar with the proper name. It took me a while to figure out the wacky waving inflatable tube man part alone! I thought they are actually called air dancers, but Wacky Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man sounds way more fun!

Eh Lie Us! (author)2017-08-22

One of the best instructables for me. From Concept to Design and to Completion. What makes it GOLD for me is that you upcycle broken hairdryers and trying to figure out the 'how and why' and not just going down to the shop to buy new things. You make them or you make them work. There is so much discarded that can still be used. I love the interaction with the carpenter. Do your thing, girlfriend!

When I lived in Florida, there was one of these on my way to work and I always found it hilarious and I wasn't even drinking! I drew so much inspiration from that tube person thing. I started to see myself in it. Sometimes it looks like it's going to fall flat on it's face in defeat and hit the ground but ....NO! It comes right back up. Smiling, full of spirit and waving it's arms then it's sad again but wait... NO! It made me laugh so much.

Keep on tinkering and if you're ever in Northern California I can introduce you to a whole group of like-minded people who love to learn, fix and build.

dinaaamin (author)Eh Lie Us!2017-08-22

Thank you!!! Yesss! I love reusing or making my own things and love spreading this. We throw away too many valuable things, if you see the amount of perfectly usable things at scrap market here in Cairo you'll be shocked! (I'll share videos of the markets soon on youtube). The carpenter was a disaster lol You know he didn't have one single clamp! How he makes whole kitchens is beyond me! hahaha!

Your wacky waving inflatable tube man analysis is on point! Couldn't agree more haha. Thank you so much! Maybe one day, who knows!

Kdemon (author)2017-08-22

Fantastic, I just got a small fan now I know what to do with it.

dinaaamin (author)Kdemon2017-08-22

Awesome! Share a photo here or a link when you make one!! Would love to see it!

PLpremium (author)2017-08-22

Wow! I love those guys! Great work...

dinaaamin (author)PLpremium2017-08-22

haha thanks! There should be a 'I love wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men' club or something haha

foolproof (author)2017-08-22

Very well made instructable. Thank you

dinaaamin (author)foolproof2017-08-22

Thanks! Glad all steps are clear!

About This Instructable




Bio: I tinker... usually with things others throw away, I take them apart and make puppets and stop motion videos.
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