I wanted to fix a bunch of old hairdryers I found at the scrap market here in Cairo and put it to a better use. So I made a lil wacky waving inflatable tube man, of course. In case you'd want to make one yourself -and you certainly should- here is how one makes a lil wacky waving inflatable tube man.
This tutorial is based on fixing and reusing things you already have to build this, the video attached shows more details. But you can skip all the fixing steps and just get and assemble new parts!
Disclaimer: I am not an engineer and I had no idea what I was doing when I made this, so this might not be a complete proper guide for some. But on the bright side, if I could do this then certainly anyone can! Plus I'll share all the mistakes I've made so that you'd avoid them!
Step 1: You'll Need:
- An old hairdryer (both the body and a working blower fan inside- usually it's a 12V DC Motor fan)
- Plastic tube bags (I used some old plastic bag tubes that was packaging for something)
- 12V power adapter
- Scrap wood
- PVC tube (diameter depends on the plastic tube bags you have)
- Screw driver + screws or wood Glue if you decide to glue the wood instead
- cotton buds + electronic cleaner
- Soldering iron + solder
- Rotary device (Dremel) or a saw to cut the wood
- Paint that sticks to plastic (Optional)
- The basics: pencil, ruler, tape, etc...
Step 2: Fixing the Adapter
First we need to fix the adapter (if it needs fixing). This particular one just had the two main wires loose and no longer attached to the prongs so I just changed the wires with a bit longer ones and re-soldered them (the white wires in the picture, ignore the zipper around it!). Most of the time it's just a loose wire inside, but you might find a broken capacitor, you'll find it a bit ballooned at the top, first disconnect the adapter and discharge the capacitor by touching the top with a metal object (with plastic handle), you can remove it from the board and test it, if it doesn't work then just replace it.
To test the whole adapter, attach the end of the adapter to your multimeter, the negative wire has dotted white lines on it and the positive is the other end. Connect the negative to the black probe and the positive to the red probe, then check the DC voltage of the adapter, it should read a bit more than 12 volts.
Step 3: Fixing the Adapter - Things to Note...
I busted mine to open it since many I opened earlier had no screws and were just glued shut together, but this one had a screw hidden underneath the sticker! So make sure to check there before you break it in half like me!
Step 4: Understanding How a Hairdryer Works
A hair dryer has two main parts the heating element (missing the coil in the picture) and a blower fan that runs using 12V DC Motor. In order to power the fan when plugged in, first the power is used to heat the coil then operate the fan, that way the heating element acts as a resister and voltage is reduced to 12V, the 4 diodes attached to the Motor transfer the current from AC to DC.
So in order to use the fan in our lil project we need to remove the 4 diodes and any attached wires. Keep the wires aside, we can reuse them later to attach the switch and adapter to it.
Step 5: DC Motors - Why Would It Stop Working
Some motors are just really rusty and greasy. Detach the fan blade, open the motors by flicking the small tabs in the metal case up, lift the plastic lid of the motor and remove the Rotor coil.
Why would a Motor stop working?
- It's rusty and dirty
- The rotor coil is dented, broken, or got detached
- The brushes in the lid are broken
- The little piece of magnet on the brushes fell
Step 6: Cleaning/Fixing DC Motors
Since I had so many motors I simply cleaned some and mixed and matched broken parts from other motors to make several working motors. You can find tutorials on youtube on how to recoil or re-solder the coil or how to add an extension to the brush if it's broken.
To clean the motor parts spray some electronic cleaner inside the parts, be generous and clean it using a cotton bud, make sure when cleaning the coil that you are not actually causing any damage to the coil itself.
To test if the motor works or not, simply attach the ends of the adapter to the motor tabs and check if it works! The motor will have the positive tab marked on the plastic lid.
Step 7: Making the "container"
I tried using several plastic containers and boxes to house the fan but they all failed to direct the air with the same power in order to blow the plastic tube.
So I ended up using the hair dryer body itself, I thought it would actually look cooler! I cut the nozzle a bit and cut the part of the handle since it wont be needed. You can do this using a rotary tool like a dremel or a hand saw. Or you can use the whole hairdryer, as you wish!
Step 8: Making the Base: Cutting the Sides
I used some scrap wood to make the base that will incase the hairdryer part inside. I made it an open box, so I removed two faces to allow air in and show the hair dryer, If you'd like to completely hide the hair dryer you can use a complete box, just make sure to drill out an opening to allow air in for the fan.
Make sure to allow some space around the hair dryer part so that it wont actually be touching any sides to decrease any noise caused from the vibrations. You can also add some padding if you wish.
I cut 4 equal pieces (measurements will greatly depend on the size of your hair dryer). I decided to screw them all together, so I added an extra measurement of the depth of the wood piece to each piece. One side (the top) will have a big opening for air to come out and another will have a slot for the switch.
Step 9: Making the Connector Piece
Cut a little piece of pvc pipe about 2-3 cm in length, this piece should sit in the top side of your box and be positioned in the drilled out hole. We will tape the plastic tube to the other end. The diameter of this piece will depend on the diameter of your plastic bag tube, it can be a bit smaller since we are taping the plastic tube, so it doesn't have to be exactly the same size.
Step 10: Making the Base: the Top Side
I drilled an opening the same diameter as my pvc piece, but not all the way through, this allows a bit of a base for the pvc piece to rest on, on the other side I drilled out an opening the same shape of the nozzle of the hairdryer. It almost looks like it's just the round opening, but it's actually two different holes on each side. Later after assembling all parts I also fixed the hair dryer to that opening using a glue gun, that way it holds the hair dryer in place and it sealed any open parts so that the air flows right into the tube.
Step 11: Add the Switch
I drilled out an indent to hold the switch at the back (or side) piece, then I drilled two holes where the wires would go from the hairdryer to the switch. And this left no visible wires to be shown. That particular switch just had a metal ball inside that wasn't in the right place, I took it apart and put it back in place, also cleaned it as well and it worked just fine.
Step 12: Coloring the Tube Man (optional)
I used a Posca marker to color the inside of the plastic bag tube, it's not the best option since it doesn't completely stick to the plastic, it will still wear off when the tube bends, but it was the best option available to me at the moment. Use something that adheres to the plastic and doesn't make a thick layer or else the tube might not be able to move.
The tube needs to be open from both ends, If you try powering the fan and the tube wont move properly, try making the tube shorter.
Step 13: Coloring the Tube Man: Things to Note...
I tried spray painting the plastic bag but it didn't stick, after some research I found out only one type of spray paint called 'krylon' can bond to plastic. You can also use copic markers in an airbrush attachment. Or just tint it using copic markers!
Painting with acrylics will create a thick layer and wont allow the tube to move, it will also not bond to the plastic and it will actually stick to each other if you paint the inside like me.
I cut some "hair" and drew a face on the from of the tube. I also added some arms that I colored and just taped together. Next time i will try to use the soldering iron to fuse the plastic instead of using tape.
Step 14: Assembly
I went with the lazy way and screwed all the parts together, I pre drilled the holes before putting in the screws. Tape the plastic tube to the connecter piece and insert it in, you don't need to glue this part in. I did however, glue the hairdryer nozzle in the top part.