World’s Greatest Bubble Machine born of Space Program

[GordonKirkwood] needs soap bubbles. Big soap bubbles. Why does he need soap bubbles? Because – soap bubbles!

Actually, [Gordon] is a photographer, and he wants to capture candid moments and fleeting expressions. What better way to inspire wonder and amazement than to be able to produce a giant soap bubble on demand? And what better way to do it than with an intricate, computer controlled giant bubble machine?

[Gordon’s] inspiration for the bubble producing mechanism comes from the end effector of the Canadarm robotic Space Shuttle arm, which used a cable-grapple design to snare and secure payloads. [Gordon] uses a similar principle to interweave bubble juice-soaked strings and pull them apart in a plane to form a soap film. A puff of wind or a quick shot from a fan inflates and launches the bubble, which the mechanism can pinch off for precise control of size.

The amount of work [Gordon] put into the machine is impressive. His Instructables post is incredibly detailed and goes into not only his build but also his design process and prototyping, the science of soap bubble instruments, and even a nod to the work of other pioneering bubble enthusiasts. And he thoughtfully includes a recipe for professional-grade bubble juice, with a secret ingredient that may surprise you.

You say your bubble-producing needs run more toward quantity than quality? Try using the juice in this homemade bubble robot.

Continue reading “World’s Greatest Bubble Machine born of Space Program”

Mechanical Iris Will Make You Want a Laser Cutter Even More

Mechanical irises are very intricately designed mechanisms that are mesmerizing to see in action — and if you have a laser cutter, you could make one in less than 10 minutes.

Our “Teacher of Science”, Instructables’ user [NTT] has revised a previous Instructables design on a mechanical iris to improve it. The original design used three layers of components and dowel pins for every joint. What [NTT] has done is reduced this to two layers, and eliminated half of the pins required by designing clever circular cutouts. The result is a very slick mechanical iris that is very easy and quick to build — provided you have the tools.

Stick around to see the original iris open and close — unfortunately there’s no video of the new design — but we think you can imagine the differences.

Continue reading “Mechanical Iris Will Make You Want a Laser Cutter Even More”