Swimming Shark

by littleBits

Published on April 23, 2014

Look out, the Swimming Shark is coming! Bring this fearless fish to life by building a mechanical cam with the dc motor.

The Swimming Shark is a scaled down model of an installation featured in our MoMA Store window displays.

How To Make It


Take a power module and connect the battery cable and 9V battery to it. Be sure that the teeny on/off switch on the power module is switched to "on". Build the circuit as the follows: power + wire + dc motor + slide dimmer + rgb led. Note that instead of the slide dimmer you can really use ANY input you like. In our case we got picky and went for a pressure sensor to make it more tactile.


Use a purple screwdriver to adjust the color of the rgb leds to blue or whatever color you want your ocean to be. We'll make the seascape later.


Next, fold your paper shark! Print out the template attached below called "SwimmingShark_PaperTemplate.PDF". Then fold and glue the shark together.


Now we are going to make a mechanical cam. A cam is a device that converts rotary motion into linear motion. Basically, it uses the spinning motion from the dc motor to make the shark move side to side. Check out the template attached with more detailed instructions on how to create your cam. See template below- "Shark_Cam_Template.pdf"


Let's make the base for our shark. Our base is 6" wide by 20" long. The size is up to you though! Glue a dowel in the middle of the base. Glue your cam to one side of your base, with the moving arm facing inward.


We have to make a support structure to glue the paper shark onto. This structure will have a pivot point in the middle so that it can swing back and forth. See template attached below called "SwimmingShark_InnerStructure.PDF" for how to make that inner structure. We recommend making this structure out of chipboard or cardboard.


Now attach the support structure to the top of the dowel. We used a plastic bearing so that the structure swings smoothly with minimum friction. You can also just screw the middle of the structure into the dowel, but make sure it's loose enough that it can swing.


Create a hook out of armature (or bendable) wire. Tie a string to one end of the hook. Hook the metal into the end of your swinging support structure. The the other end to the top of your cam's arm.


Now it's time to glue the shark onto the support structure!


Almost done ... time to create your seascape. Cut shapes out of construction paper and glue them to the base. We cut out waves and kelp. What do you want your ocean scene to look like?


Finally the time has come! Squeeze the pressure sensor to watch your shark swim!

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