Bubblesteen Bubble Machine




About: I am a glass sculptor with a shop and gallery located in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia. Besides being a dad and running my business, I have a strong interest in electronics, and physical computing.

Is it a 3D Spherical Atmosphere Encapsulated Phosphorous Printer?   YES!

Is it a CNC Anti Gravity transparent Orb Machine!   YES!

Its The Bubblesteen Bubble Machine! The spherical miracle that kids and cats have been waiting for. It comes complete with robotic edge detection( when a bubble hits an edge it pops, thus the edge has been detected).

Turn up the sound and watch Lester the cat battle it out with the Bubblesteen!

* No animals were harmed during testing.

This project came about after playing around with pan and tilt using servos. Most of the pan and tilt senereos I saw involved using webcams or some type of camera, which pan and tilt is perfect for. There are some good instructables and how-to's on the web for this very thing.

I may not have an available camera, but I did have some bubble mix :)


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Step 1: Things You Will Need

This list is mostly for the electronic and mechanical stuff. How you create your own Bubblesteen will depend on your creativity and what you have laying around.

I will also include small tips on the materials I used and things to be careful of
  1. 1. Arduino Duemilanove  $30.00
  2. 1 motor shield  $19.50 (www.adafruit.com) * It is made to fit the Duemilanove
  3. 2 micro servos- I used Hextronik HXT 500 $3.50 each (www.hobbyking.com)
  4. 1 DC toy motor- something between 3v and 12v - easy to find, motor shield docs will help you decide if what you may already have will work.
  5. 1 thing of bubble mix. - find at CVS or a dollar store. Some work better than others
These things I used, but are not critical. This is where your own creativity will need to come to play.
  1.  1 roll of perferated metal tape- any hardware store
  2.  nuts and bolts of various sizes - thread count not critical :)
  3.  diamond plate- local scrap yard
  4.  aluminum channel- local scrap yard 
  5.  1 threaded rod hanger/ plate
  6.  earthquake putty or museum wax
  7.  5 minute epoxy
  8.  1/4" acrylic sheet- about 6" x 6" worth
  9.   acrylic adhesive
The tools you need will once again depend on what you build yours out of.

Step 2: Dealing With the Micro Controller

I am going to assume that you have some experience with the Arduino. If not, you can check out either the web or this site for starting with arduino.

 I will say that Ladyada's site www.adafruit.com is great for tutorials and buying arduino related stuff. In fact, you should refer to her site about using  the Adafruit motor shield anyway.

The instructions on using the motor shield will tell you where to hook in the servo and DC motor, so I will not go into those details.

The code I used is posted below. 

It is not the most elegant and for the most part hobbled together, but it works. Make sure you have the library for the motor shield

Step 3: Putting It Together

I had some diamond plate at the shop, so this became the platform.

Tip # 1 - The reason the arduino will be mounted below the platform is so it won't get wet.  I am pretty positive a wet microcontroller doesn't work very well. Stuff will spash around!

Step 4: Arduino & Motor Shield Platform

These are just photos showing the construction of the microcontroller platform. I decided to have an on-off  switch and a power jack.

Step 5:

Tip # 2 - I used museum wax to hold the servos together. It is fairly strong, but removable in case you need the servos for something else.


Step 6: Additional Photos

That is about it. Here are some additional photos.

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    44 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Could I use a Arduino One?


    Question 1 year ago

    1.Podrias poner un pequeño esquema de las conexiones? Gracias!!

    1 answer

    2 years ago

    How about 1 fan blowing 24/7, and another "fan" blowing a slow speed.

    Attach 1 bubbble soap device on each moving part of the slow blowing fan.

    Then add a bowl of soap, so the slow fan is 1/3 covered in soap.

    Now let the slow fan rotate, and the fast fan blow at the slow fan. so the slow fan can focus on reloading with soap, and the fast fan just blows!

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Not a bad idea! If you build one, let me know; I would love to see it.

    When I made this, I wasn't trying to be efficient... In fact, I kinda wanted it to be sort of absurd-cartoon-factory-conveyor-belt like. :)


    Reply 2 years ago

    i don't realy have the time & tools for it.
    But i wold love to see someone else making it ;)


    3 years ago

    My wife also did it



    5 years ago on Introduction

    Lawrence Welk would have loved this!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    What is not to love about yet another frivolous use of a microcontroller? That is my problem with them, I've never found a valid use for one yet. I'm still hoping that someday I will...

    4 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Frivolous! ... ok, it probably is. But frivolous sometimes keeps it fun when learning and experimenting.

    If I was using microcontrollers while developing a complex anti-locking braking system for Ford (which i'm not), I probably would not make an instructable about it.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Probably? You mean you've some doubt? You cause me wonder as to why you wouldn't share a more worthwhile project. We're worlds apart.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Why share a companies research? that is how they stay on top. Honda cant tell Ford and Chevrolet how they program their traction control systems because they will just copy them. car companies want something fresh that no one else has. they may tell you the features, but they wont tell you how they designed them.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Second video refuses to play. "This video contains content from SME, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds."

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, I know. It is another case of Sony being d**ks. The soundtrack was the Rocky theme song. You can see and hear the video from my Youtube channel
    http://www.youtube.com/user/bernardkatzglass scroll down a bit. However it is blocked in about 1000 countries, but still plays in the USA and Antartica, but just in the part where the sun don't shine.