Edwin Sanook (makedo/littleBits elephant)

by littleBits

Published on April 23, 2014

This adorable creation was made with Makedo's elephant kit and brought to life with littleBits. The sound trigger Bit makes the elephant buzz and shake its head and behind when you clap. The motion sensor makes the elephant move toward you. Both littleBits and Makedo enable those without a design or engineering background to create by reusing the material around them. It's exciting for us to combine the two products for this project and we hope you'll attempt to make your own at home!

How To Make It


Step 1. Based on the instruction sheet inside the makedo Elephant kit, prepare all your materials. Most of the materials can be found in your recycling bins. You will need a shoe box, two paper plates, four plastic cups, two coffee cup lids, one take-out tray, a paper towel tube, and a sheet of cardboard. Although the circuit seems complicated, you'll find it's not too difficult as you start snapping all the pieces together. We know it seems intimidating, but fear not! With a a little patience and some prototyping, you'll be able to work through the project and make your own elephant just like the design team at littleBits did!  


Step 2. We want the elephant to walk towards you while you are getting closer to it. So we need a motion trigger as an input and two dc motors separately embedded in its two front feet. The circuit for this part is: power + branch(first end for the motion trigger) + wire + motion trigger + pulse + wire + fork(first end for the elephant's front left feet) + wire + dc motor(direction: right); fork(second end for the elephant's front right feet) + wire + dc motor(direction: left).


Step 3. Let's start with its front LEFT foot. You will need to get two toy tires to create its walking feet. Those toy tires are really common, you can find them in lots of other toy kits(e. lego carry different sizes of them). Then you need to embed a d shaft disk inside the tire. To make your life easier, we recommend you buy the toy wheels from Pololu(, those wheels come ready for you to directly connect to the dc motor's D shaft. Then, you will need to Get a plastic cup, poke two holes with the safe-saw from the makedo kit and x-acto. One hole is for a makedo re-clip to connect the foot to the body, the other hole is for the wire bit to go through. You can pull the wire's JST connector out from the bit snap, it's a very helpful tip we use all the time when making projects. In that case, the hole on the top of the plastic cup for the wire bit only has to be the size for the JST connector, not the size of the whole Bit. Make sure you switch the direction to RIGHT for this dc motor. Attach one toy tire to the D shaft, make sure the tire is sticking out of the surface of the cup's bottom surface. The elephant with be able to move forward only if the DC motors are switched into this position.


Step 4. Almost repeat the same thing for the RIGHT foot. Only for this foot make sure to switch the direction of the DC motor to LEFT. Poke two holes for each front foot location on the shoe box, so the cup can be connected and the wire JST connector can go through and re-attach to the bit snap to connect to the fork bit. Now you can connect two front feet to the elephant's body with re-clips. For elephant's back feet, they are simply two plastic cups connected to the shoe box with re-clips.


Step 5. Now let's make the elephant's head! Poke two holes on the take-out tray's front top with the makedo safe-saw's back end. For the elephant's eyes, connect two coffee cup lids to the take-out tray with two re-clips. Poke two holes on each of the edges of the tray, connect two white paper plates to it. Finally connect a paper towel to the bottom of the tray with one makedo lock-hinge and two re-clips.


Step 6. Now we are going to embed the motion trigger onto the elephant's face. We actually hid the motion trigger behind one of the elephant's eyes. The drinking hole of the coffee cup lid is perfect for embedding the motion trigger and even make its detective area and direction more focused. Use duct tape to secure this circuit part.


Step 7. We also want the elephant to shake its head as a greeting, and buzz back when when you talk to it. So we need a sound trigger as an input for this part, and buzzer + servo(coming soon) as outputs. The circuit for this part is: power + branch(second end for the sound trigger) + wire + sound trigger + branch(first end for the servo) + servo; branch(second end for the buzzer) + wire + wire + buzzer.


Step 8. Poke a hole at the backside of the shoe box, the size needs to be big enough for embedding the sound trigger. Duct tape the servo horizontally inside the end of the shoe box. Use a string to connect the servo arm and the end of a sheet of cardboard. Switch the servo mode to "TURN", and make sure to adjust the servo's turing degree to go from 0-90 to the shoe box surface.


Step 9. Embed the buzzer to the very front area inside the shoe box. The reason we used two wires to separate the buzz from the sound trigger is their effects are conflicting. When they are too close to each other, it generates a noisy infinite loop…


Step 10. Organize and tape down the whole circuit. Double check that everything's functional before you secure the circuit. Now poke two holes at both edges of the cardboard sheet; then connect the cardboard to the shoe box with the two re-clips to finish the body part of the elephant. Finally, attach the elephant's head to its body with one lock-hinge and two re-clips. Snap the wires to connect the circuit.


Step 11. Now your lovely makedo elephant is all done! Plus it's powered by littleBits! Walk towards it, talk to it, and hug it!

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