My ten year old son, Jack, really likes bubble machines. Unfortunately, store bought bubble machines available in toy aisles are prone to breaking easily and are not built for repair. Additionally they are typically built with non recyclable plastic. This summer I'd like to be better prepared with an open source bubble machine that uses a household fan (or wind), a homemade paper pinwheel, and 100% reusable LEGO gears and beams. If our machine fails, we will redesign and fix it ourselves. A successful outcome will teach us a thing or two about wind power and will result in us contributing one less plastic toy in the waste stream.
The goal for day 1 was to make a mechanism with LEGO studded beams and gears to convert speed from one axle (where the pinwheel will be) to strength at another axle (where the bubble wands will rotate). The mechanism completed on day one is a 1:36 ratio; for every 36 times the pinwheel turns, the bubble wands rotate once. We tested with homemade paper pinwheels to see if a typical household fan could move three bubble wands. These initial tests were successful, however the pinwheel blocked wind to the bubble wands. Also, the gadget is prone to toppling in the wind and the paper pinwheel loses rigidity of it gets wet with bubble solution.