Introduction: Bubblepunk: Wearable Bubble Machines From Cheap Toys

About: I want computers to be wilder. Running a Jungle makerspace in Panama.…

There is a new wave of bubble blasters that are self-contained and use peristaltic pumps! No big dipping baths that make mess everywhere. You can take a $9 kid's toy and hack it to run for HOURS! We have also included open-source files we designed so you can 3D print or laser cut holsters that make these Bubble Blasters portable and even WEARABLE!

This basic guide will get you started hacking your own bubble machines quickly and easily. Not much electrical experience needed!

We also published a full zine with even more info and designs about hacking bubble machines for fun, celebrations, and science! Get it for free at: (We have included several pages from our zine in this

Stay tuned for even more Bubblepunk how-to's , videos, experiments, stickers, and workshops!

(And everything Bubblepunk is 100% OPEN SOURCE! Newest files are also here )

Designed and tested in the rainforest on the Panama Canal.


The basics are quite simple and everything can be made for under $50.

  • Bubble Blaster ($6-$10)
  • Needs to be the new kind that have peristaltic pumps and a "bubble nipple" (more on that in the next step and in the zine)
  • (You can find them easily online, but i don't feel like posting direct links to big billionaire corporations)
  • USB Battery Pack
  • The batteries that have a dedicated on-off switch are the best, because some have an auto-shuttoff when not being powered.
  • Small battery packs are usually more than enough! The blasters consume about 700mA so a small 5,000 mAh battery can last about 7 hours!
  • Old USB cable
  • We are going to chop off its end, so make sure it's not your favorite USB cable
  • Any cable with a normal end (Type A) that you can plug into your battery pack will work!
  • Old Bottle
  • This will be the storage tank for your bubble juice!
  • Any watertight bottle with a lid we can drill some holes on will work
  • Long and thin are easier to make wearable!
  • Long and flat (like dish soap bottles) are fantastic!
  • They run at about 500mL/hour
  • Bubble Solution
  • There's several recipes shared in the bubblepunk zine! (excerpt included here in the pics)
  • My favorite recipe just needs: Water + Dish Soap + Water based lube (Propylene glycol)
  • Bubble Module Holsters
  • I've shared all the 3D files i designed in Fusion360 here:

Step 1: Choose Your Bubble Blaster

The best common bubble blaster i have found is the one generically labeled "Super Bubble Dinosaur Gun" that often sells for $9. They seem the most well made for the price ("Snow Princess" seems to have slightly better construction, BUT costs $20!). So i have built many designs around it. In general they all contain a main bubble module that you can follow the steps and attach a new battery pack and bubble tank to! I have also made designs for a 3 pack of bubble blasters you can get at Costco/pricesmart and the Snow Princess Bubble modules! More to come probably! If you find a bubble blaster you like, please contribute open designs to our github!

If you want to nerd out about the subtle differences between different cheap kids' toys I created some VERY THOROUGH reviews of different bubble blasters on our youtube channel:

If anyone finds a way to purchase just the bubble modules (like off aliexpress or something), let me know!

Step 2: Disassemble

With many of the bubble blasters, disassembly is really easy! You just unscrew all the screws you see and the toy comes apart in two!

The Dinosaur bubbler even comes with a tiny screwdriver to open the battery compartment, but all the screws can be taken out with it!

Step 3: Extract Bubble Module

Once the toy is open, you can pull all the guts out from the plastic casing. So all you should have left is just the bubble module and some wires and tubes dangling out of it!

Step 4: Add Mounting Holster

Take the 3D design files (link in materials section) and print it on a 3D printer. You can use pretty much any kind of filament; PLA and PETG work fine. (We make our own filament out of plastic water bottles and printed it with that and it works great!)

After the holster has been printed, just zip-tie the parts together around the bubble module. Then get an M5 bolt and nut, and you can attach it to any Gopro-style mount you fine! You can even print many custom Gopro mounts that people share on printables and thingiverse!

*For some of the bubble machines, like the dinosaur bubbler, you can save some of the parts and use them as a holster, but you have to figure out yourself how to attach them to things!

Step 5: Connect Electronics

Now we are ready to connect our own electronic power supply. First get an old USB cable, and chop off the end that usually goes to charge a phone or other device (don't chop off the part that plugs into your USB battery!).

Strip the plastic outer insulation and you will see several wires. We only care about the Red (power +) and Black (ground -) wires. If you see a bunch of other colored wires, or fluffy insulation stuff, ignore it or cut it off; we only care about the power and ground!

When you have the black and red wires free, strip their ends and connect them to the old battery terminals of the bubble machine. The negative side connects to the springy thing. the positive side connects to the other side. If you aren't sure, use alligator clips to connect your wires and test that everything works before soldering it all together!

You can also decide if you want to add your own button or other type of control.

Connect the black wire directly to the wire with the battery springy thing.

Style A- Original) If you just want your machine to turn on whenever the little button it came with,

Style B- Always on) If you want your machine to be ALWAYS ON whenever it is connected to a battery, then connect your red wire to the right side of the original button (towards the bubble module).

Style C- Controllable) If you want to connect YOUR OWN BUTTON or ARDUINO CONTROL then you need to: remove the original button. Connect your positive USB wire to the new button (or arduino control), and then connect the other side of the button (or arduino control) to the wire that went between the old button and the bubble module.

Step 6: Add Lights (If You Want)

Most of these bubble blasters have little LED lights that turn on when the bubble machine goes. These are to make the bubble machine more fun, and you can add even more lights to your device really easy too!

The devices already have a resistor that makes the 5V-6V power more appropriate for the 3V LEDs, so in general you can just connect extra wires IN PARALLEL with the LEDs that are already there. Connect your Positive side of your LED to the positive side of the other LEDs and connect the negatives to negatives, and they will light up!

If you have those fun LED noodles, you can tell which side is positive because the electrode sticking out has a tiny hole in it.

Step 7: Prepare Bubble Tank

Once the USB battery pack is hooked up, our bubble machine can run a really long time! But we need to replace the dinky tank with a new one!

Again, upcycling is the key! You can find any old plastic bottle and just drill a hole in the top!

This is a point in your design that calls for some strategy!

A 500 milliliter water bottle (normal bottled water size) can last for about an hour, so if you have something that needs to run longer you will need a larger tank. You probably don't want a 4L jug mounted on your head if that's what you are building, so finding a balance can be important. (i have been thinking you could also use something like a camelback style backpack bottle for really long lasting bubbling!) You might not want to continuously run the bubble machine for more than 30 minutes, in which case a smaller bottle would be better!

Once you have selected your bottle, also need two pieces of tubing

  • 1/8in inner diameter tubing
  • 3/32in inner diamter tubing (semi optional)

Cut them to length, especially so that the 1/8in tubing will reach to the bottom of your bubble tank. The other piece of tubing just needs to go through the lid a bit. Next get a drill bit that is about the size of the OUTER diameter of your tubing. Drill a hole in the lid for each tube to fit snugly through. It's generally better to aim smaller and use the drill bit to widen the hole more if you need. Squish your tubes through.

Remember that your bottle will need an orientation towards gravity such that when it starts getting low on juice the fluid should be near the end of your tube you insert.

Step 8: Connect Bubble Tank

Connect the tube with a 1/8in inner diameter to the inlet tube coming from the bubbler. This is where the bubble juice will go INTO your bubble machine. The soft silicone tube from the bubblers will slide nicely into your 1/8in ID tube!

The other tube connects the RETURN valve of your bubble module. This is where the extra juice gets collects and can get reused back into your bubble tank. The dinosaur bubbler actually doesn't even connect anything to this outlet in the original toy, and it just makes a slow drippy mess. (the snow princess bubbler properly connects this extra tube).

You don't really need to connect an extra tube here, the amount of spilling isn't that much. But the main reason to connect this second tube is that if you only have one tube going to your tank, it creates a pretty small vacuum (See the attached image of what happens when you just have one tube going to your bottle!)

Now that your tubes are connected to your bubble tank, you are set to go! The 3D design files also include some bottle holders for 500 mL water bottles that i designed if you want to use them. Or else you can just zip tie your tanks to whatever you are making!

Step 9: Example Wearable Bubble Machines

Your hacked and sweetened Bubble Blaster is ready to go! Now you can incorporate it into any kind of project you want! Here's a list of some example projects I have done for inspiration! Hopefully i will get around to posting full how-to articles for each of them!

Double Bubble Helmet Blaster

Classic in mobile bubbling. A rough and tumble helmet that can protect your head at high speeds while unleashing a joyous deluge of bubbles on all that you pass. The two-parrallel bubble modules mean that if one breaks, you can keep bubbling! A small 3000mAh phone charger can keep this thing running for almost 5 hours!

3D print the holsters, and then simply zip-tie the battery, bottles, and bubble modules to your helmet.

Love Bubbler

Originally created for the Panamanian Queer Activist group, SalvaElGrillo (’s Queer Valentine’s Picnic.

An Arduino and transistor control the bubble module inside. The device is programmed with a 1-wire ADC cap touch sensor that connects to the wearer’s forehead. This turns their entire body into a capacitive antenna.

When their electromagnetic field is significantly altered (such as when hugging someone or a large plant like a tree), the machine will light up the glowing heart, and trigger the bubble module to share the bubble-love.

Moss Breathe

Combines ideas from a NYU workshop, “Thinking With Moss” and the bubble pollination paper.

Leptojlejeunea moss (actually a liverwort) is ground up in a low-soap solution. A temperature sensor in the mask detects breathing, and blows bubbles of moss to colonize other nearby surfaces.

Solar Bubbler

Got a sunny day and some bubble fluid? Skip the battery pack altogether and just use some cheap foldable solar panels!

Trash Bubbler

An alternate Bubble helmet that was made from as much recycled plastic as possible! complete with a faux-leather LDPE laser cut holster.

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