Introduction: Prototyping With Strawbees

About: YuKonstruct is a non-profit society which provides an enthusiastic community of makers and entrepreneurs affordable access to space, equipment and knowledge. This community serves to embrace the individual and…

Our makerspace wanted to build something fun for the Yukon Gay Pride Parade and the Canada Day Parade (Two parades just 3 days apart! How could we not build a float?!). After tossing around a few ideas, we decided to build a giant bubble machine.

Having never built a giant bubble machine before, we wanted to test out our ideas on a small scale before committing to such a big project. Fortunately we happened to have a bunch of Strawbees and straws on hand from the May Build Night, so we were able to quickly test out our design.

YuKonstruct is the first makerspace in Canada's north. Our mission is to provide access to shared space, quality tools, available expertise, and a collaborative environment to help makers build anything!

Step 1: Design

After looking at some small battery-powered bubble machines, we realized that we had a problem: to make a giant bubble machine we would need a giant-sized tank of bubble solution.

Since our plan was to pull the bubble machine by hand on a little wagon, we needed to reduce the weight of the water and soap.

What if we rotated the bubble wands so they would dip into the solution horizontally, parallel with the ground? Could we then get away with just a shallow pool of bubble juice?

Time to test it out.

Step 2: Building and Tinkering

After sketching a rough design on the whiteboard, we set to building a small prototype with Strawbees.

The great thing about Strawbees as a prototyping method is how easy and quick it is to make adjustments. If you're not getting the angles you want, you simply cut the straws shorter or replace them with longer pieces.

We proceeded to put together a ferris wheel-like structure with triangular supports.

Regular straws were used for the wheel spokes and a thicker frozen drink straw was used as a spacer in the center.

Step 3: Conclusion

Once we had built the prototype we came to the conclusion that we would need to go back to the drawing board.

While the design could work, building it full scale would be too complicated and expensive. The full-sized version would involve complicated connections and construction techniques that were not feasible in the short time span we had to build our float.

Fortunately we found a solution to the issue of the bubble solution weight in the form of a truck and trailer!

Check out the instructable on how we ultimately built the giant bubble machine.