Introduction: LittleBitty Joe

About: Welcome Innovators! Glad you can join me on the journey of Making! The quest began twelve years ago, when I received my first set of Snap Circuits. Since then, I was intrigued with the possibilities of creatio…

Say Hello to littleBitty Joe! Joe is my school's mascot! Speak to Joe and watch his eyebrows lift, whiskers vibrate, eyes illuminate, heart spin and hear him ROAR! Not only does his roaring affect work with our project, but it can definitely work with your littleBits project too! Your project could talk, scream, or say just about anything!

I am deeply passionate for helping others and I am currently volunteering at a local school to assist their robotics club, STEAM Club, and to also serve as a mentor. Ultimately, I want to teach urban & "at-risk" students the art of Engineering by using Art & Music to gain their interest within the subject! After meeting Ayah Bdeir and using littleBits, I recognized the teaching potential littleBits has while students engage in fun & interactive activities that sparks their creativity. I am currently in the planning process of creating my own littleBits workshop to schools & community centers within the community I live now. I plan to provide them an inspiring education in engineering with the use of what they are normally engaged in, art & music. "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." -- Benjamin Franklin. Students should be deeply involved in what we learn.

Parts for Head:

LittleBits: Power Bit + Sound trigger + Branch + Vibration motor (2) + Wire (3) + Fan + Servo + Long LED (2) + Bright LED. 330 ohm Resistor (1), 4.7 K ohm Resistor (1), Adafruit Audio Wave Shield (1), Arduino Jumper Wires (red, yellow, black), Arduino Power Supply (1), Arduino Uno, Black fabric, Cardboard, Chicken Wire (3 ft.) , Electrical tape , Fish wire or thread , Flour , Masking, Tape, Newspaper, Photodiode, Pipe Cleaner (10), Power adapter & Cable for Arduino, Red fabric, Scotch tape , Sewing pins, Solder, Speakers with Auxiliary Cord, Styrofoam mannequin head, Tiger Striped fabric, Water, White "Fuzzy" fabric, Zip ties (10).

Parts for body:
2 to 3 rolls of duct tape, one extra large trash bag, plastic wrap, (2) 1-1/2 in x 10ft. PVC Pipe, (4) T-Connectors, (4) 90-degree elbow connectors, (2) 45-degree connectors, old shoes, styrofoam, needle & thread, sewing machine

Mixing bowl, spoon, Computer with Arduino IDE, Dry Towel, Hot Glue Gun, MakerBot Replicator 2, Scissors, Soldering Iron, Hacksaw, Filing Tool, ABS Solvent Cement, black spray paint, white spray paint, Exacto knife, electric knife, a black Sharpie, workbench, measuring tape & an extension cord.

Roaring Effect
Additionally, the roaring affect can be used with other littleBits projects, so feel free to use it! Skip to steps 7, 8, & 9. Can't wait to see what cool projects you invent with littleBits!

Step 1: LittleBits Circuit

Let's begin with building the circuit: power + sound trigger + branch. Add (1) vibration motor to each arm of the branch, which will be used for whiskers. On one of the two vibration motors, add a wire bit and fan. The fan will be used for the heart. Connect (2) wire bits and add them to the head of the branch. Attach the second wire bit to the second half of the circuit: long LED + long LED + servo + bright LED. For now, the bright LED bit can be placed to the side, as it will be used later through the tutorial. Lastly, set the servo to swing-mode.

Step 2: Mount the LittleBits to Cardboard

Secondly, let's mount the circuit to two separate rectangular pieces of cardboard. The dimensions of each piece of the cardboard should be close to 2'' x 4''. It is best to tape each bit link together with scotch tape to avoid disconnection. Use two strips of scotch tape to mount the first half of the circuit to the cardboard, excluding the wire bits. Apply the same process to the second half of the circuit, excluding the wire bit; the wire bits should be free of mount. Lastly, test the circuit to ensure it's functionality.

Step 3: 3-D Printing

Before we begin to build the head of the tiger, let's 3-D print a few cool items. We used the MakerBot Replicator 2 to print the eyeballs, teeth, and claws. Download the .thing files and upload them to a MakerBot. This process may take a few hours, so check the status of the items frequently. If you don't have access to a 3-D printer, ping pong balls can be used for eyeballs and the teeth can be made from white colored play-doe. Once the teeth and claws are printed, spray paint the claws black and the teeth white.

Step 4: Head Assembly

Now, let's begin the assembly of the tiger's head. Use the styrofoam mannequin head as the support of the frame. Starting from the back of the mannequin, wrap the chicken wire around the head to form a one layer frame; cut the excess chicken wire using the wire clippers and tape the frame together with masking tape. The chicken wire should circle around the mannequin with at least 2 inches of space between the mannequin and the frame on each of the head. Since the height of the chicken wire is over two feet, you can cut and bend the wire to form a dome shape as top of the head. First, cut the chicken wire around 6" down the back of the head, fold the back sides inwards towards the middle, cut the sides, and overlap the front of the head backwards towards the middle of the mannequin. Now, use 8 strips of masking tape to tape to secure the wire down. Each strip should intersect at the center of the dome and continue it's path to the bottom of the frame. The main section is complete.

Step 5: Assembly of Nose & Mouth Sections

Next, is the nose and mouth section. Cut a length of 22" of chicken wire and fold it into an arch. Curve 2" of the bottom of both sides of the arch towards the inside of the arch at a 45 degree angle. Tape this section of the mouth as the top portion of the mouth to the main section of the head. Complete this process for the bottom of the mouth, but tape it to the main section at a 315 degree angle instead. Tape four strips of masking tape to the top portion of the mouth, starting from the main section of the head to the opening of the mouth. Complete the same process for the lower section of the mouth. If you don't like the shape of the head, add folded pages of newspaper to create the form you want and use masking tape to secure the newspaper. It is recommended to add more newspaper to the joint of the main section and the top of the mouth. Additionally, on the top of the dome.

Step 6: Paper Mache Skin

We have made it to the sticky step of the tutorial; it's time to form the skin of the tiger! Ensure that there is enough tape on the head for the newspaper & paste to stick to. First, we need to create a paper mache paste with newspaper + flour + water + mixing bowl + spoon. Mix 1 part water with 1 part flour in the mixing bowl and tear 3" x 7" strips of newspaper; also keep some bigger sheets as well. Work on a dry cloth inside or work outside, this will be a very sticky step. Dip a newspaper strip in the paste and start to shape the head from the top of the dome. Cover one layer of newspaper, one strip at a time on the entire head. Be sure to shape the section where the main section of the head and the mouth section joins. Allow the head to dry. Once dried, add another layer to the head and allow the head to dry again. On the third layer, fold larger strips of newspaper together to form ears. Allow to dry. Complete this layer process two more times. This step may take a few hours so feel free to rest. Once the head is completely dry, move to the next step.

Step 7: Voltage Divider Circuit

In this step we will design a voltage divider circuit: bright LED + 4.7k ohm resistor + 330 ohm resistor + photodiode + jumper wires (red, black, yellow) + electrical tape + solder + soldering iron. First, twist the leads of the two resistors together and twist a black jumper wire to the second lead of the 330 ohm resistor. Next, twist a yellow jumper wire to the other lead of the 4.7k resistor (both leads should face the same direction). Twist the combined leads of the yellow wire and the 4.7k resistor to one of the photodiode leads. Next, twist a red wire to the second lead of the photodiode. After all of the necessary leads are twisted, pull out your soldering iron & start soldering! Solder each of the twisted leads together. After each lead is soldered, secure the soldered joints with electrical tape. In the next step, you will need: bright LED + electrical tape + photodiode. Take the photodiode and place the face of it onto the LED of the bright LED; ensure that it is placed directly on the LED. Lastly, use electrical tape to secure the photodiode in place.

Step 8: Program the Arduino & Waveshield

Let's start programming. In this step, you'll need: computer with Arduino Uno IDE software + Arduino Uno + Adafruit Audio wave shield + SD Card + the programming cable. Place the wave shield on top of the arduino and load the arduino program on the computer. Download the arduino code file and download it to the IDE programmer. Make sure the programmer is connected to the correct communications port. Upload the code to the arduino and waveshield. Once the code is uploaded, remove the arduino from the computer. Now, download the tiger-roar2.wav file to the SD card. You can use this process to upload different sounds and audio to the SD card for other projects. If you want to use specific audio saved in different formats ( .mp3 .mp4 etc.), be sure to convert these files to the .wav format. Download and extract the file to the SD card. You have officially programmed an arduino and wave shield!

Step 9: Combine Both Circuits

We will now combine the littlebits circuit with the arduino circuit. In this step you will need: voltage divider circuit + Arduino & Adafruit Audio wave shield + Solder + Soldering Iron. We will solder the jumper wire leads to the 5 Volt pin (red wire), GND pin (black wire), and the digital input/output pin 8 (yellow wire). Ensure that the face of the photodiode is still in direct contact with the LED of the bright LED bit; this is the main link between the littlebits and arduino. The bright light from the bright LED bit lowers the resistance of the photodiode, which allows voltage flow through the signal wire (yellow) to trigger the arduino & waveshield. More light activates the circuit, less light deactivates the circuit. To test the combined circuit, connect the arduino to a power supply, connect the wave shield to the speakers, power up the littleBits, and snap your finger in front of the sound trigger to activate the arduino. Immediately after the snap, there should be a loud "roar". If nothing happened, check the volume level of the wave shield, ensure that the face of the photodiode is in direct contact with the LED, check for cold solder joints in the voltage divider circuit, ensure the file on the SD Card is in a .wav format, or reprogram the arduino. Additionally, you may need to add electrical tape to the metal casing of the A/B USB port on the arduino; this may cause a shortage in the waveshield.

Note: Use a wall adapter instead of a 9 V battery, the batteries will drain rather quickly.

Step 10: Fabrication

Since the voice is finished, let's check back on the tiger's head. If the head is dry, it is time to fabricate it. You will need: scissors + hot glue gun + glue sticks + tiger striped fabric + white "fuzzy" fabric + black fabric + red fabric + pipecleaners + fish line. First, drape the tiger fabric over the head and measure the amount of fabric you will need. Measure the fabric towards the opening of the mouth and cut an opening to accomodate the opening of the mouth. Make sure there is enough fabric to fit over the ears. Now it's time to start gluing the fabric to the head. Start at the dome towards the back of the head and glue the fabric. The more wrinkles in the fabric, the more realistic the tiger looks. Glue the rest of the faric to the head and cut accordingly. Let's move to the mouth and ears using the white fabric. Cut & size the fabric to seperate pieces; top section of the mouth, bottom section of the mouth, & inside the ears. Glue the pieces to the face and ears. Now let's give the tiger a nose by gluing a folded piece of black fabric to the nose. After the nose, we'll move to the inside of the tiger's mouth. Use a 10" x 10" black strip of fabric; this will work as a "basket" for the first half of the circuit. Cut a small slit in the middle of the wire bit through the inside of the mouth to the main section of the head. Glue the fabric to the curved portion of inside of the mouth. We now have a basket while creating the image of a dark mouth, as well.

Step 11: Final Touches

You have finally made it to the final steps of the head; mounting the littleBits and arduino. First, cut a 1/2" x 1" hole through the fabric and hardened paper mache in the middle of the forehead to mount the servo. Use scissors to poke two holes into the face of the tiger to feed the (2) Long LEDs through, as eyeballs. The holes should be the same size of the holes in the 3-D printed eyeballs. Glue each eyeball over the two LED holes on the head. The long LEDs will be the pupils of the eyes. Using the wire clippers, cut a small hole big enough to feed the wire bit through the mouth to the main section in order to connect to the first littleBits circuit. Cut a 3" by 3" strip of cardboard to mount the arduino/waveshield. Use a zip tie to mount the arduino to the cardboard. Mount the second half of the circuit on the inside of the forehead in between the long LEDs and the servo hole with zip ties. Feed the servo throuh the servo hole and mount directly on the forehead. Using zip ties, mount the arduino next to the second half of the circuit to keep a stable connection with the bright LED bit. Take two pipecleaners and twist them together to form the shape of an eyebrow. Using a pin, mount the eyebrow to the head. The pin will serve as a pivot point for the eyebrow to lift up and down. Connect the eyebrow & the servo arm using fishing line or thead. It needs to be tight enough to allow enough lift from the servo arm. Complete the same process for the second eyebrow. Next, fold the red fabric to the shape of a tongue and glue the flaps down. Add the teeth using the double-sided tape in front of the mouth. Last, but not least are the whiskers. With masking tape, tape 3 pipecleaners to each vibration motor & secure them to the sides of the mouth with white fabric.


Additionally, I added a lamp inside of the mouth of the Tiger. You will need a Color changing light bulb & a lamp kit from Home Depot. Assemble the lamp & mount to the inside of the mouth. Feed the plug through the inside of the mouth into the main section of the head. Place the bulb into the fixture, plug the wire into an outlet, and watch the colors illuminate! Very cool effects.

Step 13: Tiger's Head Finished

You have officially finished the head! Power the circuits up and give it a snap! Change the sensitivity of the sound trigger to your preference. Now, we'll move on to the body.

Step 14: Body

In the next few steps you'll need 2 to 3 rolls of duct tape + one extra large trash bag + plastic wrap + (2) 1-1/2 in x 10ft. PVC Pipe + (4) T-Connectors + (4) 90-degree elbow connectors + (2) 45-degree connectors + Hacksaw + ABS Solvent Cement + Scissors. We will build a life-sized mannequin and you will definitely need a partner to assist you with the next few steps.

Step 15: Skin

First, cut three holes in the trash bag for your head and arms to fit through. Pull the trash bag over you and wear as a dress [lol]. Your partner needs to cut slits in the front and back of the bag towards your waist, so the bag can wrap around each leg. Also, your partner should wrap each leg with plastic wrap towards the ankles. Grab the tape and start wrapping from your ankles to your waist. Be cautious not to wrap too tight around your legs, you may pass out! Wrap two layers to ensure stability. Now do the hokie pokie, then you turn yourself around! Once the entire lower section is wrapped, cut the duct tape down the sides of each leg. Once the "pants" are cut, tape them back together with duct tape. No rush to cut them off, I promise you that you would not want to deal with the bloody aftermath!

Step 16: Torso Skin

Now, we will repeat step 14 for the torso portion of the mannequin. Wrap the torso with two layers of duct tape. Once the torso is completely covered, cut straight down the backside of it, remove from body, and re-tape it with duct tape and masking tape. After the torso is finished, move to the arms. Use plastic wrap as the underlayer of your mannequin skin. You can make any solid gesture you want with your arms, as long as you can find the correct angle of a PVC pipe connector to support that gesture. To keep it simple, hold your arms out as if you were hugging a tree in the jungle! See what I did there? Tiger? Jungle? It was worth a shot!

Step 17: PVC Skeleton

The skeleton will be placed inside the duct taped suit. You will need the PVC pipe + (4) T connectors + (4) 90-degree elbow connectors + (2) 45-degree elbow connectors + PVC Cement + Hacksaw + workbench + measuring tape + sharpie + filing tool. First, measure the length of your legs, arms, and torso. Measure your shoulder & waist width. With those measurements, use the hacksaw to cut those lengths into the PVC pipe. Using the connectors and the measured PVC pipes, create a frame for the suit. Refer to the second picture. Use a T Connector on the bottom of each leg as the base of the frame. Before sealing the frame with cement, stick it through the legs of the suit & pull the torso section over the shoulders of the skeleton. Use two 6" pieces of PVC pipe in the front of the bottom T-Connectors to balance the mannequin. Seal the skeleton with cement, except the T connector that connects the spine to the hips and also the arms.

Step 18: Stuffing

In this step, you will need many stacks of newspaper and much strength to stuff this Joe! Starting with the legs, crush sheets of newspaper together and begin packing. Pack until you can't pack any longer! It is much needed! :) After packing the legs, remove the torso along with the spine and shoulders. Place a piece of cardboard at the bottom opening of the torso to avoid the falling balls of newspaper. Now, pack the torso. After both are packed, place the torso back on the legs portion and tape them together. Stuff the arms and use the cement to glue them to the mannequin. Wrap the arm joints with duct tape. How do you like the image of your body (mannequin)?

Step 19: Feet

In this step you will need a 2" block of styrofoam + old shoes + masking tape + Exacto knife + electric knife + hot glue gun + white fabric + tiger striped fabric + (8) 3-D printed claws + scissors. Start with tracing the outline of the front half of the shoe on the foam block and with the sharpie, draw four toes from the outline. After drawing the outline of the shoe and toes, use the electric knife to cut the excess foam off. With a pair of scissors or the exacto knife, round the toes into the shape of tiger toes. After rounding, use the hot glue gun to glue the toes to the front of the shoe. Cover the entire shoe with masking tape and poke four holes into the toes to accommodate the claws. Begin to add the tiger striped fabric onto the shoe. Remember, more wrinkles = realistic look. Mount the claws with hot glue inside the holes. After the tiger striped fabric is complete, cover the bottom portion of the shoe with white fabric. Do the same process for the other foot. After the feet are finished, put them on the mannequin & attach the arms.

Step 20: Fabricate

Since the mannequin is finished, we can now fabricate it. Starting at the heart of the tiger, wrap the tiger striped fabric around the mannequin. Make only one layer and pin the fabric with sewing pins. After the fabric is pinned, cut down the middle in the shape of a “belly”, such as the white underbelly of a tiger. Cover the belly with white fabric. Sew along the seams of the tiger striped fabric & the white fabric. I recommend using a sewing machine to save some time. Cut off the excess white fabric. Stick the neck of the styrofoam mannequin head inside of the opening hole to the suit. Tape the head to the mannequin.

Next, use a strip of tiger striped fabric to connect the suit from the back to the front; cover the shoulders & neck area. Leave two openings for the arms and cut an opening for the neck area. Sew the pieces together. Cut a slit down the middle of the back, just in case you need to remove the suit. Wrap the arms with tiger striped fabric and glue them together along the seams. Glue the arm sleeves to the openings accommodated for them. Glue a patch of white fabric on the elbow section of the sleeves. Glue a “D” shaped piece of white fabric to the top portion of the suit. Create pants legs by gluing the excess tiger striped fabric from the suit. You will have to cut a slit up the bottom of the back side of the suit to create pants. Once cut, glue the front and back seams together around each leg. Tuck the bottom of the white fabric under the crouch of the tiger. Seam the backside of the tiger back together with hot glue, but leave a hole in the bottom of the seam for the tail.

Step 21: Paws

The paws are fairly simple. Have you ever drawn a turkey with the trace of your hand? This will be the same concept, just create gloves! Trace your hand on the inside of the tiger striped fabric and the white fabric. Once traced, cut along the outline of your hand with scissors. Turn them inside out, sew the two fabrics together, and stuff them with cotton. Use hot glue to glue the claws on the fingertips. Glue the hands to the sleeves of the arms.

Step 22: Tail

The tail is simple, as well. All you need is something long to wrap. We used a small drainage hose from an old washing machine. Wrap the hose with the tiger striped fabric and seam together with glue. Add a white tip with white fabric to the tail. Tape the tail to the inside of the hole and finish gluing the seam.

Step 23: Finalize

We have finally made it to the last instruction! Plug the auxiliary cord into the waveshield, give power to the arduino, and power up the littlebits! Now we can mount the tiger's head directly over the styrofoam head. Align the head to the mannequin. Grab a sheet of red paper and cut a heart shape out of it. Glue the heart to the fan bit and mount to the suit using pins. Connect a wire bit from the fan to the inside of the mouth. Hide the wires on the side of the head.

Step 24: Test

Congratulations! You have officially created littleBitty Joe. Give him a snap in the mouth and he will roar back at you! You can also change the sensitivity of the sound bit in case the roar starts to loop from the echoes of the speakers. Remember, you can use the roaring affect with any littleBits project and practically any other project that has a bright light. We have created one link out of many links between the arduino & littleBits! I’ll be working much harder to establish an official connection. Happy innovating; can’t wait to view your new littleBit creations!

Supercharged Contest

Finalist in the
Supercharged Contest