Intro: Adventure Time: Animated Felted BMO
Time for another Mathematical Adventure Time Project! Ever since I built my first BMO Gameboy case mod back in 2011, it's been an absolute thrill! My first major electronic project, it has since been featured on Kotaku and the Frederator Studios Blog and it's undoubtedly my most visited project on the site. I always loved this boxy video game system, but I never expected it to be such beloved by fans!
So this year, as a tribute to Adventure Time's third year anniversary and their fifth season running, I decided to revisit this character. Having just gotten into the wonders of needle felting, I created an adorable plush version, this time with interchangeable faces: Animated Felted BMO!
Step 1: Concept/ Design
Why Rebuild BMO?
As much as I love my GameBMO, one of the things I'll admit was how extremely complicated he was. A lot of fans have begged me to make one for them, and while I unfortunately don't have the time to make another, I did feel somewhat responsible. After all, what's fun about building such an awesome replica and not having it.....replicable? So this newer version I promise is much simpler.
A Plush Design
Ever since I started work on my first version of a BMO system I wanted to build a plush version of the character I could take with me to conventions. As much as I love the playable version, it's not so much a demonstration piece as it is a gaming console, so I figured this time I'd want to focus more on display. AND, having recently gotten into needle felting, I decided to make a felted version.
I got halfway through this project before deciding to make it electronic as well. Byobmo.com had a great little tutorial on how to use a digital picture frame as an electronic face, and I decided to incorporate a smaller version into this one.
Pre-Requisites: this project requires some low level electronic skills and moderate level needle felting skills. If you've never used a soldering iron before, I suggest checking out the "How To Solder" guide by Noahw. If this is your first time felting, I suggest visiting the "Needle Felted Embroidery" by Scoochmaroo.
Step 2: Materials & Cost
Needle Felting Supplies
- Needle Felting Needles (available for a decent price at websites like feltalive.com)
- Colored Roving or Pulled Felt (Turquoise, Lime Green, Black, Purple, Yellow, Red, Light Blue, Dark Blue)
- Cardboard/ Paperboard
- 3.5'' Digitial Picture Frame (Available on Amazon Here)
- 4 push button switches
- Insulated wire
Tools (General Purpose)
- Printer and Paper
- Soldering Iron + Solder
Step 3: Build the Cardboard Frame
To get a nice even shape for our BMO felted box, we will be needle felting not onto, but inside a cardboard box. This will enable us to get a great geometric shape for our plush figure.
Download the licensed Adventure Time paper cut out of BMO here and scale it up to around 150%. Your desired dimensions should be around 10 cm by 3.5 cm by 6.5 cm.
To reinforce the box, glue some used paper board onto the back of the paper craft. This will prevent the needle from piercing through later.
Step 4: Begin Felting
Start by taking your unprocessed turquoise roving (or unprocessed felt) and begin needling it together into the cardboard BMO frame (which I will now refer to as BMO box). Start felting into the BMO box until you have finished the floor as well as 3/4 ths height of the walls.
Editor's Note: You will also want to needle felt a small 3.5 mm * 3.5 mm * 1.5 mm box in the front for the power switch holder. Also, please head immediately to step 12 before you attempt this build- it will be very messy if you don't visit it first!
Step 5: Geometrically Sound
Algebraic! Once you're done with needle felting in the cardboard BMO box, it should look something like this. With your frame looking more and more like a box, continue needle felting the sides. I suggest starting from the middle and working outwards to create the sides.
Remember: We're going to be building a lid too, so you don't want your felted box sides to be the same as your BMO box. Just leave a half an inch height difference and you'll be fine.
Step 6: Tighten the Box
Once you have your BMO felted box shape finished (which I will now refer to as BMO's Body), we will now be tightening up the edges.
As you may have noticed, the needle felt inside the cardboard box is great for the small back and side edges but it leaves the front face soft and lumpy. Unless you want you're BMO to look like he is in the vital stages of LSP's Lumps, you'll want to tighten the edges by needle felting it again.
Step 7: Let's Make a Lid!
The lid for BMO is pretty simple. Using the same method as before, start by needle felting the front of the BMO box. This will function as the back "lid" of BMO's Body.
You'll also want to leave a small gap in the back for the AA battery pack. Using spare paper board glue a box exactly the same dimensions of your 4 AA battery holder with the battery connector attached on.
Step 8: The Battery Compartment
The battery compartment is a fairly simple "one felt sheet on battery hole" gap. Needle felt a small sheet of turquoise felt onto the back of the battery container. This will create a simple battery holder in BMO's butt :)
Step 9: Trading Faces
Now Beemo's face is one of the more fun aspects of this build, certainly the most design based! Since we're using a digital picture frame, BMO's face can be almost any picture you want. For my build, I used a bunch of emotional expressions available for download on the Byobmo.com site. You can also find a whole bunch of spare faces available even on Google Images simply by searching "Adventure Time BMO Face".
OR you can create your own! Just know the dimension of your picture frame and then open a photo editing program (like PS Express or even MS paint), thrown on a lime green background and add two eyes and a mouth. Easy!
Step 10: The Monitor
OK, now that we're fine and dandy into the crafting half, let's switch gears and work on the electronics side.
BMO's face is a simple 3.5'' digital picture frame with the casing removed. Start by unscrewing the digital picture frame and then removing the circuit board and the digital picture screen. You can then throw away the outer plastic housing of the picture frame- you will not need it for anything else.
Step 11: Converting to DC
So this is where things start to get a little more technical.
Because the 3.5'' Digital Picture Frame relies on AC/ USB outlet for power, we need to find a way to power the screen without any needless wire attachment. The digital picture frame requires a 5 volt wall adapter (the same as in an iPod/ iPhone) and is connected through a micro USB plug.
I bought the individual components at RP electronics, but you can also pick them up at Radio Shack. From the picture with the micro USB jack facing up, connect pin 5 GND to the Negative polarity of your battery connector and the pin 5 red to the positive lead of your battery connector.
To power it by batteries, I found that you can actually compensate for this voltage using 4 NiMH batteries (which each produce 1.2 volts) for an overall voltage of 4.8. I tried this out and success! Battery power for BMO.
Soldering the Wired Buttons
Because we want BMO to have actually functioning buttons, you will want to solder wires to the buttons to connect to the circuit board. This is fairly simple- you don't even need to remove the buttons from the circuit board itself, just attach brand new buttons to the board.
Step 12: Beemo- What Have They Done to You!?
ATTENTION: This is the place where I made a mistake in my build! If you are building BMO for the first time, please read the instructions before you attempt to make it, otherwise you will fall into the same trap as I did.
After I was done with the main body of BMO, I ran into a small issue- how to get the digital picture frame into the body. I wanted a nice smooth look, with nothing obtrusively sticking out of his face, so I knew I couldn't needle felt the screen onto the box. Nor could I needlefelt behind the box, as there was not enough space between the walls to accommodate a large screen.
What I ended up doing was having to destroy the front face of the box entirely and form a disgusting hole in BMO's lovely face in order to fit the screen. What I should have done was lightly glue the screen onto the back of the BMO box where the face should be, and needle felt around it.
My BMO has some relative misshapen parts because of this, but I suppose you can't tell.
Step 13: Fitting in the Screen
Thankfully, if you've already looked at step 12, you won't have much to worry about in terms of fitting the screen into the box. Just needle felt the front side into the box, connect it back into the circuit board.
Next, take your soldered wired buttons and fit them through the front of your box. Start by unsoldering the new buttons from the wires (while still leaving the wires connected to your circuit board) and then fit them through the front of BMO body. Remember to leave enough space for the final step: Needle Felted Buttons!
Step 14: Felting Buttons
One of the coolest aspects of this version of BMO is that he has real working front buttons. These are really simple to make and can be accomplished simply by needle felting over the existing electronic buttons. BMO has three main colors: Light Blue, Lime Green and Red for his left side and a yellow control pad on his right.
From the Digital Picture Frame, I made the Light Blue Button attached to the "Left" scroll, the "Red button" connected to the "Select" button and the "Lime Green" button attached to his "Right" scroll.
For his yellow control pad, I just made it a lid for my 3.5*3.5*1.5 hole and needle felted a simple D Pad controller to cover it up. That way, it looks authentic just like in the episode Guardians of Sunshine!
Step 15: Detailing & Batteries
Finish the build by adding in the batteries and arms!
Arms and Legs
These are fairly simple needle felting project. Just take a roll of light blue piece of felt and roll it up into a cylinder. Then felt it into an arm or give it a small bend for a leg.
The battery pack for BMO is really simple. Just needle felt as spare piece of felt cloth onto the back to secure the batteries.
Step 16: Finished!
You now have a totally awesome, Digital BMO Plush with Emotional abilities! Just be careful: this little guy has been known to run around your room when you're not there, pretending to play "Cops and Robbers" or doing detective work to find your missing belongings!
Tune in next time, when I attempt to turn a microwave into a familiar Pie Throwing Robot!
Step 17: Addendum: BMO at Sakura Con
A few weeks ago in March, I attended Seattle's Sakura Con with a group of friends from Vancouver. We all had a fantastic time, got to meet a bunch of amazingly fun Adventure Time fans and I got to showcase an unfinished BMO prototype.
Here's to the fans!