Motorized Quidditch Golden Snitch





Introduction: Motorized Quidditch Golden Snitch

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For all of you Harry Potter and Quidditch fans out there, haven't you really wanted to have a working golden snitch in your hand? Well, make this "prop" that seems to come alive with a few simple components. This is a great project for kids to learn about basic electronic circuits. Depending how you hold it, the tilt sensor switch will complete the circuit to power up the motors. You can also practice your soldering skills or learn how to solder if needed.

Vine of Golden Snitch in action

CAUTION: Small objects can be choking hazards. Do not take internally.

Step 1: Little Bits...

You will need:

a ping pong ball or other similar hollow sphere

some cellophane or clear tape to cover the wings

metallic gold paint, spray paint meant for all surfaces is probably ideal but use whatever you have

for the electronics:

coin cell battery (3 volt CR2032 Lithium, also used for LED throwies)

coin cell battery holder

two small vibration motors, the tiny ones that are used in cellphones or paging devices (they are regular motors with small weights attached to the shafts. Since the weight is offset a little, it causes the motor to spin out of balance. When it spins real fast, you get that vibration effect.) Regular motors would do but I used these because they are so small.

tilt sensor switch, this is an electronic component that is essentially a tube holding a small metal bead. At one end are the two contacts that are exposed inside. If the tube is oriented in the correct position, the metal bead will rest on the two leads completing the circuit. It has been called the "poor man's accelerometer." A rather ingenious device used to detect motion or orientation.

Connection wire

You will also need to do a small amount of soldering to put the simple circuit together.

Learn how to solder, it is fun but do it safe.

Step 2: Build the Little Bugger...

Take your ping pong ball and cut out an access panel or hatch for our circuitry.

You can use tape to create a hinge for the piece you cut away.

I have made a quick circuit schematic with Fritzing (open source, free software Play around with connecting the parts on your virtual breadboard.

On top of the ball, figure out where you want to place the motors where the wings stick out. Cut an X with your utility knife at those spots. You can then press in with your needlenose pliers or the tip of a pen/marker to enlarge the hole.

Since it is easier to feed the wires through first and then solder the components, cut pieces of wire for your wiring harness. I used some ribbon cable since it is pretty flexible.

This is a basic circuit of the battery connected to a switch and then to the motor. Since we are using two motors, they will be hooked up in parallel.

The trick to wiring small components is to pre-tin the wire ends. On the main wires I made a small loop to hold a tiny blob of solder. That way, I could just heat that up and embed the end of the wire from the pager motor.

I used masking tape to insulate any exposed wire from shorting out when it is stuffed back into the ball. The tape also acts as a strain relief for the fragile soldered joints.

Put the battery in to check that everything works. Get a feel for how that tilt sensor switch works and which way it should be oriented.

Step 3: Earn a Set of Wings...

Since these tiny pager motors do not have a lot of torque(force to spin), we will just be using tape to make the wings.

I had experimented earlier with trying to make the wings out of some very thin gold jewelry wire and tape but it was too heavy for the motor to spin. Also on a test circuit, in trying to solder the wire to the weight on the shaft, the heat might have damaged the motor or the additional weight of the solder was just too much.

Build up pieces of tape. Start by securing a piece of tape tightly wrapped around the motor weight. Add more tape to make a stiffer rib. You can then use a sharp pair of scissors to cut the feathers and shape the wing.

Test as you go along to see that the tape does not interfere with the rotation of the motor shaft or if it is too heavy.

These pager motors had a rubber sheath around the motor. It helped with the friction fit of the motors in the mounting holes but I wanted it to be permanent so I removed them and hot glued the motors in place.

Step 4: All That Glitters Is Gold...

Use a gelled fabric paint to make your 3 dimensional designs on the ball. The bottle has a needle applicatior so all you do is paint on your design and let it dry. Customize the golden snitch to your liking. Go Team Adafruit.

Since the ball was smooth plastic, I actually gave it a quick coat all over with mod-podge to act as paint primer.

Paint the ball with a metallic gold color. I used acrylic paint.

When dry, you can pack the innards.

Put the battery in the holder and orient the tilt sensor switch in the golden snitch.

The cover for the opening should fit back in the ball. You can tape that in place if needed.

For a real fancy golden snitch, you can add an on-off switch so you don't have to hassle with taking the battery out if you leave it around for a long time or don't want it to operate when you pack it somewhere.

There is plenty of room left in the ball for LEDs. Look up any "LED calculator" to figure out what resistor to use so the LED does not burn out.

Make a motorized golden snitch and have fun.

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Building this today with my 11 year old & we got it to work just fine with the breadboard and 3.3V power supply, but the CR2032 battery won't turn the motors. We had to hook up 2 CR2032 batteries in parallel to get the motors to spin. I did purchase different components than the exact ones that you posted, but got 3V motors, so I assumed we wouldn't have any problems...very strange. I'll post pics when we're done.

1 reply

Nice! Those coin cells aren't really designed for high discharge like for a motor, even tiny ones(not high rated in milliamps/capacity). I did have a multi-pack of coin cells cheap off the auction site so I think I ran through a few since they didn't last too long. If you could squeeze in some alkaline AAAs or a small lipo battery even better. It's a great project to tinker and see what/why it works. Thanks for sharing!

this is so awesome! I'm doing it for my nerdy pe teacher plus I'm a bit of a geek. Love it!

1 reply

Thanks! Post a pic to show what you made. You don't have to be a nerd or geek to make.

this is so awesome! I'm doing it for my nerdy pe teacher plus I'm a bit of a geek. Love it!


I had a very hard time building the circuit as I don't have a solder or solder wire, and I'm not in a place where it is available cheap, or in small quantities. The motor wires also got detached and now I'm left with only the two metal nodes at the end of it, with no way to connect wires to it. Do you have any suggestions? I'm desperately trying to build this for my Potterhead girlfriend, and her birthday is coming up soon! :O

1 reply

Since the motor vibrates, soldering is the best method for connecting wires. But, I would isolate those metal contacts on the motor by taping around or painting on some glue around it while leaving the contact exposed. You can then coil up the end of the wire lead to make a bigger contact pad. Press together tight and tape it. Then wrap it up more with tape so it doesn't come loose. Make sure the shaft can still spin. Hope that works. Good luck.

Hi, thank you, I will try it out, and if I have any problem, may I ask you any questions?

1 reply

Sure, we accept all maker wizards in training...

Lesson 1: You can use the reply button to continue the conversation.

Sorry, but this site is about handing off the information and inspiration so that you can build it yourself. This project can be sourced very cheaply from bulk electronic parts found on *bay, lot of 10 motors/tilt switches - enough for a harry potter party, find a friend interested in electronics to help out. Nothing really too difficult to do craftwise. Besides, shipping the thing by post would actually cost more than getting a bunch of parts and making several of them. Good luck.

This. Is. The. Awesomest. Thing. I HAVE EVER SEEN! I absolutely love Harry Potter, and this is definitely for all you geeks out there like me! Wonderful 'ible!

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Enough talking...make one yourself.

Thanks. Time to make one for yourself.

Hmmm.....I can see adding a couple magnets (one in the base base, one above, and two in the ball) and doing a hovering golden snitch....will have to play with this idea. :)

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Doo it! Doooo it! You can also get those jewelry magnetic brooch pins that is either the magnet or metal plate. Put the corresponding part inside the snitch so you can just stick it on your clothes or pull it off to use.

I wonder if using a rubber ball of some sort would be an improvement. Ping pong balls seem so fragile. Maybe a racquetball? Anyway, very clever. I have a couple Potterheads in the house. I may make these as stocking stuffers.