Introduction: Animatronic Bubble Blowing Robot - Blows Real Bubbles!
She blows real bubbles!
This project was part of our $25 Maker Quest! A group of other makers and I sent boxes of stuff to each other and had to make a project with the supplies. My box came from Hannah Makes who sent me a bubble wand, a Trilobite plush, and some creepy tongs with hands on the end of them. This was a tough one - what do you do with that?!?
I decided to try my hand at animatronics and make the Trilobite into a bubble-blowing robot. It was a lot of fun because I had never tried to "move air" before so I learned how air blowers work and made my own out of cardboard. I also used a servo motor to make his mouth open and close so that he could literally "blow" the bubbles!
It was so much fun to make this, and it has inspired me to make more stuffed animals and puppets which is something I loved as a kid. I hope you will try to make one! It could be a great addition to a kid's birthday party where you could modify the project to showcase their favorite plush or fictional character. :)
You can watch the whole process here or follow along with the photos below:
I hope you enjoy this tutorial! If you want to see more of my work, you can follow me here on Instructables and on Instagram and YouTube - Please Subscribe! You can also buy tech-craft kits designed by me at TechnoChic.net.
Maker Quest Items:
Additional Craft Materials:
- A Circular Metal Tin (mine was old, used to hold buttons) or another similar cylindrical container
- The spool from empty wire
- Red Felt
- Clear Tubing
- A small piece of Craft Foam
- Aluminum Foil Tape
- Super Glue
- Floral Wire (for inside the whiskers)
- Armature Wire
- A Small Dowel
- A Toy Motor & Motor Heads (I got this set of many to choose from)
- A Servo Motor & Motor Head - I used a Geek Servo with a Technic Lego Arm
- An Arduino that can run a Servo - I used an Adafruit Feather because that's what I had on hand, but that was overkill for the simple opening and closing of a mouth. A Nano or Trinket would be cheaper and work fine too. :)
- X-Acto knife and straight edge to cut the cardboard
- Needle & Thread to match the purple Trilobite and the red felt
Step 1: Seam-Rip a Mouth
- First, seam-rip the Trilobite's mouth underneath the lip. Stop at the little fins on both sides.
Step 2: Remove the Stuffing
- Remove the stuffing, but save it for later!
Step 3: Create the Air Chamber
After having the wrong idea about how to make air move through a funnel, I found this tutorial on YouTube that shows how to make an air blower from PVC pipe. I didn't have any, but I did have cardboard, so I replicated the design, and it worked! If you don't have a metal tin like mine, you may be able to try a pipe or other cylindrical item.
Use a cylindrical tin with a lid to make the air chamber:
- Make a hole in the exact center of the bottom for the motor.
- Make a large hole on the top of the lid for air intake.
- Make a large hole in the side of the chamber for air outtake.
Step 4: Create the Air Propeller
- I cut a cardboard circle with a diameter that is about 0.5 inches smaller than the diameter of the cylindrical container (so that the propeller will sit inside.)
- I divided the circle into 8 segments (think of cutting it like a pizza!) I found the center and drew a smaller circle about 1.5 inches in diameter.
- I used the core from a roll of tape to draw a radial pattern onto the cardboard as shown.
- I put a hole in the center to attach the motor in a future step.
Step 5: Make the Fins
- I removed the paper from one side of the cardboard to reveal the corrigation on one side.
- I cut strips of cardboard the width of the height of the cylinder container, minus .5 inches.
- I curled the cardboard over the end of my table to get it to keep it's curve.
- I measured the first "fin" along the line to determine the correct length and trimmed the other 7 fins to the same length as the first.
- I used Super Glue to adhere the fins along the lines I had drawn.
Step 6: Add the Center Piece
- I used a tiny gear from my toy motor kit to act as a connector to the motor. The gear provided the right size hole in the center for the motor shaft and plenty of grip for the gear's teeth. I superglued it into the cardboard for a secure connection.
Step 7: Connect the Toy Motor
- I added one of the larger gears from my toy motor kit over the hole on the inside. This was to create a spacer so that the cardboard wouldn't rub on the ground floor of the metal container.
- I added a piece of craft foam to take up the slack between the motor's body and the head area, making a sort-of "shoulder." Fun fact - I used a hole punch to make the hole - and it fit perfectly over the motor's neck!
Step 8: Place the Propeller
- I placed the propeller onto the motor shaft inside the tin.
- I put the lid on - you can see how it looks thru the hole in the second picture.
Step 9: Seal & Stabilize
- I used aluminum foil tape to seal off the connection between the pipe and the hole on the side of the blower.
- I used an old wire spool to stabilize the motor and keep everything plumb - you can see that the toy motor fit perfectly inside the spool! The two wires even had pre-drilled holes ready to let them escape. :)
Step 10: Position the Pipe
- I Seam-ripped a spot in the Trilobites' rear end to allow the pipe to slide thru and trimmed the pipe to the correct length.
Step 11: Code & Motor Time!
- I used the "Servo.h" library from Arduino to write a simple sketch that opens and closes the mouth. I originally considered having an arm as well so that he could hold a bubble wand, but it ended up looking wrong ( he looked disjointed!) so I simplified it to just one servo for the mouth.
I loaded this code onto an Arduino. Most Arduinos should work with it.
Once I was happy with the way the mouth moved, I used foil tape and the wire handles from the tongs to connect the motor to the pipe and re-stuffed the plush so that she looked like a stuffed animal again.
Step 12: Create a Mouth Interior
- I sewed red felt into the top of the mouth under the lip.
Step 13: Create a Bottom Lip
- I used armature wire, floral wire, and a dowel to create the shape of a bottom lip and attach it to the Lego arm of the servo.
- I sewed the faux fur around the edge of the wire to create a bottom lip.
Step 14: Finishing Mouth Details
- I used another piece of red felt to fill out the bottom of the mouth.
- I pushed pieces of floral wire inside the corded whiskers to make a mustache that I could pose!
Step 15: Give Her Hands
- I removed the hands from the tongs and pressed a small dowel into each of them.
- I glued them inside the ends of the arms and sewed the holes closed around the wrist.
Step 16: Hide Everything in a Box
- To make the project more presentable, I placed all the electronics and the blower inside a red box and covered my cut marks with red tape.
Step 17: BLOW SOME FREAKING BUBBLES!
I plugged everything in and held up the bubble wand for effortless bubble-blowing action!
Thanks for reading until the end! I hope you enjoyed this project!
Runner Up in the
Make it Move Contest 2020