Crochet Big Daddy With Working LEDs




This is for the wired portion of Big Daddy with pictures to show how I created the battery housing and made his light-up helmet with hot glue. The crochet pattern can be found on Ravelry. It would be neat to use this technique in other dolls. I wish I had a 3D printer, it would have made the helmet much faster and easier! Instead, I used lots and lots of hot glue.

Step 1: Creating the Helmet

To create the helmet with port holes I needed to make 8 crochet circles and stitch them all together. I did this by making magic rings and just leaving them open instead of cinching them closed as usual. I also used a tiny hook.

After I had all of the circles sewn together in the right pattern I filled in the gaps with tiny crochet squares. I would make a little 2x2 crochet square and then sew it into place. I needed to make this flat piece a sphere so I began to crochet around the outer edge of the circles chaining between each gap an equal amount. These are my notes for creating the helmet shape.

D hook
mr 14 make 8 and sew together

F hook
To create a round shape do the following stitches starting on the right circle of a set of two. 2sc, ch 3, 2sc, 6ch, 2sl st, 6ch, 2sc, 3ch, 2sc, 6ch, 2sl st, 6ch
This will evenly space sc around 42 foundation stitches for a total of 5 rows.

Fill in the holes with 2 (ch3, sc across 2) squares. For the side holes sc along one side between two circles then ch 1 turn and sc. Sew to fill in hole.

Step 2: Hot Glue!

If I had a 3D printer this part would have been a lot better. Since I don't, I winged it at home with some hot glue. You'll need to create the port holes and head portion to diffuse the light through all of the holes.

I made each little port hole first by wrapping a straw in foil to create the shell to fill with hot glue. A hard plastic straw just happened to be the perfect size for the holes. I'd pick something else to make the tubes with next time. Foil was a pain in the butt to pick off the hot glue. I filled each tube with hot glue then lifted up slightly to let some ooze out to create a base to stand. After they cooled I could pick the foil off.

When all of the foil was gone I trimmed them down to about a centimeter tall. Just tall enough to push through the holes of the helmet and be flush with the outside. The base of the tubes keeps them from poking all the way through.

Since it's yarn I needed to line the inside with something to keep the light inside of the head and not shining out everywhere. I chose foil and carefully placed it around each port hole and up the sides. Then I filled the cavity up with hot glue just above the side lights.

Step 3: Add Your LEDs

I bought two VERY bright LEDs from Fry's. One red and one yellow. You can make Big Daddy light up with just one color but the wiring diagram will be for two. If you want only one light it will be a lot less complicated since you will only need an on/off switch.

To diffuse the LEDs you'll need to add another layer of hotglue and then push your LEDs into it side by side pointing towards your portholes and let the hot glue cool before letting go so they stay pointing straight. You can trim the posts if needed. Ignore the wiring in this picture, I was testing and using a toggle switch initially and it was way too large.

Step 4: Battery Housing

A mini M&M tube works perfectly with a 2 AA battery holder. I just had to trim it down to the right size. The end of the tube is the top of his tank and I used the lid of the tube to carve out the switch holes for the bottom of the tank. You'll follow the tank directions except instead of creating a solid tank you'll make 2 open ended tank parts. One long enough for the battery holder and the other only a few rounds for the switch box.

To connect the two I trimmed a brown zipper down and sewed it in by hand. I attached the tank halves together with matching brown yarn in the back. The sewn zipper will hide under the M&M tube and the switch box to give it a polished look. You won't want to secure the tube until you have the wiring completed, but in the end I put a few dots of hot glue to keep the tube in place. Leave the tube out for now.

Step 5: Covering the Tank

I made the valve with wire.

  1. Create 4 Ls with wire and hot glue the Ls to the top of your M&M tube.
  2. Slide this into your crochet tank and poke the wires through the top of the crochet.
  3. Wrap the base with gray yarn for about a centimeter then bend the wires down tightly against the yarn.
  4. Wrap each leg with gray yarn.
  5. Create a circle of wire and wrap this with red yarn.
  6. Place the red circle ontop of the wires and bend the wires where they will meet the red.
  7. Trim the wires to about 2 inches so they are easier to work with and poke them through the yarn of the red valve and wrap them around once to secure the silver bars to the valve.

Step 6: Wiring Diagram

You'll follow this wiring diagram to create the switch box (and the rest of the doll). You won't be able to mess with this later so I'll put this here to get the switch part done.

I carefully cut out the holes for the switches from the lid of the M&M tube. You'll need a SPST rocker switch and a SPDT slide switch. The rocker will be for on/off and the slide will change the lights between red/yellow.

I cut a small hole to run the wires out, too. This little pod will fit in the bottom of the tank. I cut a section of the tube out and created the bottom by filling it carefully with hot glue. You'll need to block off your switches so hot glue doesn't get inside of them. Hot glue will protect everything from getting bumped while in the tank.

Step 7: Location of Components

Here my husband demonstrates the lights changing between yellow and red. Again ignore the wiring, this was during testing and using the too-bulky switch.

The wires for the battery will go down and out of a hole in the back of the tank. You will need to create this hole in the plastic before you place the plastic tube inside of the crochet.

The wires from the switch box will also go up the tank and out of the same hole.

When you have the whole doll made and wires attached to the LEDs from the helmet you'll feed the LED wires through the body and out of the back where the tank wires will meet them. You'll solder them together on the back side, tape them, and poke all of the wire back into the body.

Step 8: Crochet Big Daddy!

More pictures of him are here.
You can find a lot of my progress on my Facebook page Nichole's Nerdy Knots. He was an interesting experience! My first time soldering.

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    24 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Absolutely love this!!!


    4 years ago

    I just have to say that this is a really well done project. Good job!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Really beautifully made and well thought out! Should you enter this in the mind for design contest, since you plotted some things out digitally?

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    This is one of the most interesting instructables I've ever seen, and I've been on here for years, Bioshock is one of my favorite games of all time and my most favorite horror game ever, and this project makes me want to learn how to crochet (although I've been thinking about it for about a year), all of the details are perfect and the whole thing looks really really nice! And I love the zipper on the tank, just makes everything look more toy-like and loveable.

    You said you wanted to print a base model but instead used alot of hot glue, do you think that with wire or enough stuffing it could be a soft plush (minus the battery enclosure and support for the helmet bits obviously)? Also, do you think you'll do any other game characters? Like the Songbird from Bioshock Infinite (which had a similar toy in-game) or Sackboy from LittleBig Planet (an actual crocheted plush)? What about something more complicated like a Half-Life head crab or a Kingdom Hearts nobody or a Helghast helmet?

    7 replies

    What an amazing comment! Thank you!

    Absolutely! His body, arms, and legs are stuffed and squishy except for a wire skeleton I put inside of him so he could be posed. That was optional. I thought it would help to make him stand up on his own since his top was so heavy. (And he was able to stand on his own! yay!) If I make him again I'd really like to keep him all plush since the wired legs only helped a tiny bit (balanced but a breath of air could knock him over). I'd like to create a stand (that won't look like a doll stand) to keep him up and redo his wiring to be powered through USB as well as the battery. I thought it would be super neat if he could sit on a desk/shelf all day long without worrying about eating batteries.

    I've had my eye on Songbird. I love the way Songbird looks. The wings have me stumped so I've been brainstorming on how I want to approach those and make them look amazing. Sackboy would be adorable! I haven't thought of the others at all but I love the way they look.


    Reply 4 years ago

    I'm very glad that you like my comment :)

    whenever I see a standing doll it usually has weighted feet and reinforced legs. A big daddy has those pipe-like parts that extend around his mask and jut out in front of his port-holes, so obviously those need wire for reinforcement, but perhaps if that wire connected inside to some wire that ran through the legs to the weighted feet then the upper body could have support and it would stand better on its heavy bottom. I do love the battery in the air tank, but if it's back-heavy perhaps the battery should be placed inside to the plush's center of gravity, maybe there would even be a way to put one battery in each leg and the battery holder would act as a brace to keep the legs from buckling, instead of the wire. Also, the hot glue mass adds alot of weight, I'd recommend using styrofoam or floral foam (it's smoother and tougher), or to paint the inside with a resin and still have a cavity instead of a solid glue brick, he won't be so front-heavy. And the USB power is a great idea, you could even use a tiny Ardunio to make his lights change color if you get an email or something if he was plugged into your computer.

    I must say again, your details are wonderful. The red and green lights, the proportion of the holes, the slump of the shoulders that gives it some appearance of weight, the thickness of the limbs, it looks better than an official toy.

    Speaking of official toys, have you seen the LittleBig Planet 3 Plush Edition Sackboy? It's one of the worst ones I've ever seen, no one has ever gotten his mouth or head shape or zipper right, and everyone uses black thread for his clearly light stitches, it would be so cool to see someone do it right.

    Finally, what's the largest piece you've ever made? Do you generally make pieces about this size or have you gone all-out and made, I dunno, a full-sized knit jacket or a huggable-sized Totoro? (which would be amazing) I'm just curious

    That would be a very good way to keep him upright. Weighted boots would be easy to modify into the design of him.

    I was trying to think of a way to get to his batteries if they’re in his body. Crochet is worked in a spiral around so I couldn’t think of a way to work his body piece and leave an opening that could remain stuffed but also allow access to replace batteries. I thought about maybe doing a rechargeable battery setup. I’m not sure! His tank solved the problem of switch placement and easy to access batteries but it would still be better if I could cram everything into his body some way. That was my original plan with the switches sticking out of his back until the battery stumped me.

    I used hot glue to diffuse the LEDs across all 8 holes instead of needing to cram his mask full of LEDs or having some port holes brighter than others. With the hot glue I was able to use a single red/yellow in the center to light all of them evenly through the mass of hot glue. I was going to use a ping pong ball but that didn’t work out very well (way too small). I couldn’t think of how to create a rounded shell with windows that lit up all evenly. I’d love to figure out something lighter than hot glue. I think a light plastic shell filled with something lighter that also diffuses would work wonderfully.

    I really love your idea of incorporating an Arduino. I might have to consider using a series of small LEDs to light each individual porthole in order to get rid of the bulk of the hot glue. If I did this there would be a lot going on in his helmet with wiring but then all I’d have to figure out is the shaping and your ideas for that would all be great options. I could still even make the port hole lenses with hot glue if I can’t figure out something else to diffuse the individual lights. This would cut back on the weight considerably. If I can cut back the hot glue I’ll have a lot of room for goodies since his helmet has to be a firm shape perfect for stuffing. Then I can easily balance him out to stand via the other methods (wired legs, weighted boots, ect)

    The official toys are sometimes so bad! The small Creeper from Minecraft is pretty bad, too. Difficult to make squishy things squared but it isn’t even proportionally correct. I’ve wanted to create an accurate creeper.

    I’ve made a large Baymax. He’s the biggest I’ve made. Most of my dolls are about this size but are easy to make bigger by doubling up the yarn. Or by using huge yarn. For example with Baymax I just used my existing pattern and substituted this huge plush yarn and he came out almost 3 times bigger than the original.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Oh! I'm sorry I thought you used the hot glue for support, guess I didn't read too thoroughly :)
    I do love how it looks though, the diffused light looks way better than an LED, if you want another solution you could try fiber optic cables, it would still look diffused and would be squishy. Perhaps you could also make little port hole covers out of hot glue and behind each one use a flat LED or OLED, they could be on a piece of cardboard, like what's on the inside of a baseball cap when you buy it, something to keep the round part firm. Flat LEDs could also probably just be attached to the hot glue in the port hole, like a little diffusion lense on the LED, and then run a wire to the battery (all LEDs could share a ground and a positive to make for less wires, just wire them together, then all of them to the battery with 2 wires).
    Also, you could just put a zipper on his back and make a small pouch inside out of any kind of cloth to place the battery, perhaps you could cover the zipper if you wish with the air tank. Maybe you could also create the legs in a similar way to the tank and make them open, being able to place one battery in each side.

    I was actually going to ask you about your interest in making a creeper and Baymax, I just didn't want to be annoying and ask too many questions :) and I love it, the stitchwork is super even and all of the joints on the neck and arms and such are spot on, I know how hard it can be to get those right

    Ask away! I love chatting about this stuff!

    I love both of those ideas! I hadn't planned on making another one for a long while but now I really want to try out all of these ideas. Since this was my first project with electronics I had a bit of a learning curve working with soldering and wiring. It's awesome thinking of all of the different ways to improve him in the future. I think I might make a TARDIS next to try out all of these techniques so I can focus on the wiring and not worry about the crochet and trying to find places to put everything (TARDIS will be much simpler to crochet, or maybe I'll try another medium). Practice on that before trying again with Big Daddy. I gave him away and I've been wanting my own anyway.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Do you mainly do plushes or have you worked on apparel? like hats and scarves and such? If that's the case I think it'd be an amazing chance to create some wonderful nerdy knots pieces, like what about a rainacorn scarf? Or the iconic Skyrim iron helm with big plush horns? (would probably need a hair band or something to hold it on)

    I mainly do plushies and blankets. I've tried plain hats but other than making them for myself (so I can try it on over and over to get it right) I haven't had any luck. I love being able to make free patterns and something about hats, it's hard for me to get them to fit right for myself so I'm not confident about making them into patterns. Scarves would be much better!


    4 years ago

    I don't even play bioshock and I want one of these.


    4 years ago

    Wow! That's amazing!


    4 years ago on Step 8

    Dude, you have way too much time on your hands! That is amazing, well done!


    4 years ago

    That's incredible! Well done!