My kid enjoys popping bubbles, but 2 problems arise:
I can’t blow bubbles fast enough.
I get tired of blowing bubbles.
I figured the logical solution was to build a bubble machine. I would simply fill up the reservoir flip on the power switch and let it’s magic take over. Kid would be entertained endlessly and I could just enjoy sitting outside on the patio relaxing. Rather than plan out the build and document it as I went along I decided to just half-ass it and see what happened. Due to this lack of planning there aren’t good photos of how the thing went together or worked. I did snap a couple after it was built and those will have to suffice.
- PC case fan (1 each)
- Scrap DC motor (1 each)
- Wand from bubbles (4 each)
- Small wooden disk (1 each)
- 4×6 index card box (1 each)
- 6 volt lantern battery (2 each)
- 2 “D” battery holder (1 each)
- Note: single cell holder would have been fine, I only used 1 battery
- toggle switch (2 each)
- Scrap piece of wood, about 2″ x 6″ x 1/4″ (1 each)
- Floral wire
- Zip-lock (or other brand) medium container approx 6″ x 3″ x 3″ (1 each)
Hot glue gun
The bubble machine went together very quickly and was quite sloppy, as you can see from the few photos.
Step 1: I measured the pinion gear that was mounted on the DC motor and drilled a hole of the same size halfway through the wooden disk.
Step 2: I held the motor on top of the index card box and measured the approximate maximum depth the bubble wands could be. Then I cut them all about 1/2″ shorter.
Step 3: Hot glued the bubble wands to the disk equally spaced apart (like a compass rose).
Step 4: Hot glued the disk onto the pinion gear of the motor.
Step 5: I placed the motor about where I wanted to mount it and drilled 3 pairs of holes through the wood on either side of it. Then I ran pieces of tie wire around the motor and through the holes and twisted the ends on themselves to mount the motor on the board.
Step 6: I drilled holes and mounted the fan in the same way as the motor.
Step 7: I Set the piece of wood on the lid of the card box and drilled 2 sets of holes through both the wood and the lid on either side of the box. I then ran tie wire through the holes (1 piece on each side) and twisted it up to join the wood and lid.
Step 8: Drilled holes through the wood and lid of the box to run the power out from inside the box.
Step 9: Drilled 2 holes in the lid of the box to mount the toggle switches.
Step 10: Wired the 6 volt batteries in series. Then wired in the case fan and one of the toggle switches (case fan is 12v dc, so this should provide ample power).
Step 11: Wired the D batteries in series (initially had 4 batteries wired to provide 6v for the motor). Then wired in the motor and the other toggle switch.
Step 12: Replace the lid, fill the bubble reservoir with bubble fluid and place the reservoir in the appropriate place.
Step 13: Turn on and let the kid have a blast (almost).
The first problem that I ran into was the DC motor spun WAY too fast. It basically just flung soap about 4 feet to either side of the machine. It started at 6 volts and I ended up pulling batteries until I was only using 1 D battery at 1.5 volts. Even with the diminished power supply it ran too fast and still flung soap, just not quite as far.
The second problem that I ran into was that I bought momentary switches instead of toggles without realizing it. So my plan of turning on the bubble machine and letting it do its thing was never realized. To make the damn thing run I had to hold down BOTH switches. The fan I kept open all of the time, and then I manually pulsed the motor switch to reduce the amount of soap flung, and to let the bubble wand stay in position in front of the fan long enough to make bubbles.
When I rebuild this machine (I have 2 daughters under 2 years old, so it seems like this is only a matter of time) I will make a number of changes. First I will plan it out in advance, rather than just cobble it together on the fly.
The bubble reservoir was far too big. For the next incarnation of this machine I will probably use a much narrower reservoir. Maybe 1/2″ to 1″ deep. I just need enough room for the wands to clear the sides and pick up soap.
Obviously I will be purchasing toggle switches for the next build, rather than momentary. I will also wire a potentiometer into the circuit that controls the motor. This would allow me to fine tune the speed it runs at, which should alleviate the problems I had with soap flinging.
Re-purposing bubble wands works well- the textured portion around the rim holds more soap and allows for more bubbles to be blown each time the wand is dipped. I tried to make a bubble “disk” out of a whipped cream container and it didn’t work as well. I will put more thought into how they are mounted to the motor and try and get them aligned and balanced better.
The housing was trash. The wire to mount parts was hideous. The entire Frankenstein project was a mess. Next build I will figure out a housing that conceals the motor and fan, and that the reservoir either is a part of, or mounts to.
While this bubble machine was the world’s crappiest, it did work (more or less) and was a good starting point. Once I got the timing down on pulsing the motor switch it filled the back patio with bubbles, sometimes (whenever she took a barrage to the face) my daughter would ask me to stop making TO MANY bubbles. While the idea of too many bubbles is ludicrous, it did validate that the design more or less worked.