Buckbeak's Flight (Harry Potter and the Hippogriff)

by timothy.high

Published on November 4, 2016

With the help of littleBits, you can re-enact the scene of Harry Potter going for the ride of his life on his new friend, Buckbeak the Hippogriff!

Using only components from the Gizmos & Gadgets 2nd Edition Kit, you can use a smartphone to fly a Lego creature through the sky by dangling from a string.

The circuit is a bit like a modified version of the BitBot circuit, except it only uses one Bluetooth LE component, and uses the the motors/wheels together to roll across a string in one direction. Start with the battery and power components, and connect them to the Bluetooth LTE component. Next, connect a wire to two DC motors in series, facing at each other. Set them to opposite directions so that when they spin, they are both spinning in the same direction. Finally, put these on the mounting board to hold it all firmly in place, and use some tape to keep the battery from swinging around.

The whole thing works by having the motors turn a wheel in one direction. The speed that your creature flies at depends entirely on the size of your "wheel". As you can see in our video, we started by using a tiny Lego wheel that was slanted inwards to provide balance and security to keep the wheel from sliding off the string. That first version moved nice and sloooooow. Next, we taped the big wheels that come in the G&G kit together, and used some thick strings to make a track to safely roll on. With that setup, the creature REALLY MOVES.

Next, we made our Lego version of Harry Potter's friend Buckbeak, the Hippogriff. For added fun, we drew Harry himself waving his wand with his hair blowing in the air on some paper, cut him out and placed him rather precariously on Buckbeak's back.

Finally, for scenery, we printed out a picture of the lake in front of Hogwarts, extra large (4 sheets wide by 2 sheets tall), and taped them all together. Hurray!!

Duration: 1 hour

How To Make It


Build the circuit Connect the battery and cable to a power component. Add the Bluetooth LE Bit next, followed by a wire to give some room. Finally, place 2 tethered DC motor components on the wire, all in series.


Affix the circuit to the mounting board Attach the circuit firmly to the mounting board. Place the first half on one end, and then the motors at the other end, arranged so that the tethers hang off the end. Arrange the circuit so that it is as evenly balanced as possible. The circuit will be hanging from a string, and good balance will help keep the wheel from rolling off. Finally, tape the battery to the middle of the board to keep it from swinging, and to ensure an even balance.


Choose a wheel for your motors The size of the wheel you choose will determine how fast your creature will fly. The bigger the wheel, the faster it will go, but also, the more difficult it will be to keep it on the string. Whatever you choose, it must be able to attach to the DC motors. It must also somehow be grooved in the center so as to prevent the wheel from just rolling off the string. Our first wheel was made from small Lego pieces, chosen by the way they fit together to form a nice little groove.


Optional: Turn the wheels into one big grooved wheel If you want to use the big wheels from the Gizmos & Gadgets Kit for your "gondola", then you will need some tape (I chose masking tape, which is wide and doesn't leave a mark). First, tape the wheels together, with the motor attachment axles sticking out. Next, you will need a thin rope, a thick string, or some other flexible but substantive material that can be used to make the groove. I tried using the string that was used for the rest of the project, but found it to be a little too thin. Still, with patience and care, it can be wrapped around enough times to make a nice ridge. In my case, I found a thin nylon rope to use. Tape the start of the rope to one of the wheels. Wrap the material around the middle of that wheel until it makes a nice ridge. Use scissors to cut it off, then use more tape to hold it in place, then cover it over so it doesn't move around. Do the same to the other wheel. Use extra tape as needed to make sure you have a nice, even groove in the middle of your one big wheel.


Create your creature You can, of course, use anything you want (shocker: it doesn't even have to be a hippogriff!). We chose to build ours out of Legos after we found some wings and Lego googly eyes. We also decided to make our Harry Potter just out of a piece of scratch paper, drawn by my daughter and cut out to fit our Lego beast. Just make sure, whatever it is, that it won't be too heavy for your circuit, and for the string you will be tying in the next step.


Tie your creature to the mounting board On the other side of the mounting board from the motors (i.e. at the "bottom"), tie your creature using nylon fishing line, or some other preferably invisible string. Use a fisherman's knot to make sure it doesn't slip out. If your creature can hang from the line without needing to be tied itself, all the better.


Tie a string for your wheel to roll on Wherever your creature is going to fly, there needs to be a string for it to hang from. Make sure you choose a place that is sturdy enough to hold the tension of your string with all the extra weight. Also, the whole piece, from wheel to mounting board to hanging creature will be pretty long, so make sure you choose the right height.


Add scenery We chose a photo of a lake that looks like the lake in front of Hogwarts. Using Microsoft Paint, we were able to choose a page layout across multiple pages. Using tape on the back, it was easy enough to put them together into one big backdrop.


Place your creature on the string and go! Fit your wheel onto one of the two DC motors. Then, place the wheel on the string, making sure that it is in the middle groove, and plug the other motor into the wheel. Your project should not be able to fall to the ground now that you have a tether on either side of the wheel. Make sure that the motors are switched to opposite directions (one clockwise and one counter-clockwise), and that neither is switched to the middle ("variable"). Turn the circuit on. Now get out your smartphone, open the littleBits app to the Bluetooth controls, and choose the Slider control. Once you connect to the BLE component, you can start turning up the juice. If all goes well, your creature will start to fly! If you are using the big wheels, be careful not to go too fast!

Related Projects