01 Jun

Zelda’s Bow

It has been a long time since I have posted anything, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been working on things. I have finished the True Master Sword, have the Hylian Shield about 75% printed, a large Majora’s Mask is ready for painting, and I have most of the design finished for the new scabbard. Unfortunately the thermistor on my printer burned out yesterday, so I am stuck waiting for parts from the UK. In the mean time, let’s work towards getting caught up with a big post about Zelda’s Bow.

Zelda's Bow yellow

Before I get into the post, I wanted to point you to my Instructable for this build. It was featured on Instructables and is currently entered in a contest over there. I’d appreciate your vote!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my wife is going to be dressing as Zelda for Halloween and potentially for a con this year. Zelda needs a cool weapon, so I figured that Zelda’s Bow would be awesome, and that it would be even better with lights.

As usual, I created this model in 123D Design. I first traced an image of the bow in Inkscape to get a vector path, then imported that into 123D. I extruded the surfaces and created a shell of one side of the bow, then subtracted the clear sections to get just the colored section. I used mirroring and added pegs for magnets to hold the sections together, then added a handle that is the same size as the one used in the True Master Sword hilt. This one is hollow for wires to pass through. I created a door on the handle to put the buttons and switch onto.

I didn’t take screenshots of the 3D modeling portion this time, so we’ll jump ahead to the 3D printed pieces.

3D printed side

You can see the joints on this quarter section. I used dovetail joints on the 4 pieces to give them better strength when glued together. I used Plastruct Plastic Weld on the flat part, then Gorilla Glue on the sides to smooth the gaps.

3D printed inside 3D printed inside with magnets

Notice here how one side has the magnet columns recessed and the other side has them extended. They meet in the middle and the height difference keeps the pieces from sliding apart.

I used 1/4″ x 1/16″ neodymium magnets for this build. For each pole, I took a pair of magnets, marked the outsides with a sharpie, and glued the marked sides down in the matching spots on the two pieces. Once this is done, the two sections snap together and hold very well.

Zelda's Bow 3 pieces

Here you can see 3 of the 4 sections laid out without the clear pieces.

Bow section with clear pieces

And here I test fit the clear pieces in place. They required some sanding to fit well, but I got them in. They do not get glued in place until after painting.

Light Trays

To hold the lights in the center of the bow, I made these light trays. They are held in place with the same magnets, and this lets me remove all of the electronics if I want to.

Arduino Gemma

Here is the bow with the Arduino Gemma and Neopixels installed. I used mounting putty to hold everything in place so that it can be moved around. Note the custom AAA battery tray that I had to build to make the batteries fit. It isn’t the prettiest, but it works and will let me replace the batteries easily.

At the top of the above photo, you can see the handle glued into place. It was glued in with Gorilla Glue between the top left and bottom left sections of the bow. The right sections remain loose so that I can get at the electronics whenever I need to.

Handle door

I can’t put the switches on until after painting, but here is the handle and door for the switches. The only thing I’d change is the magnet poles on the door. They aren’t offset like the others, so the door can slide around. It is a minor annoyance.

Note the quick disconnects I used here. These are in place for the 3 switches and for the light trays on the top half of the bow. I couldn’t fit disconnects between the light trays on the bottom half because of the batteries taking up too much space.

Time to paint! I used Rustoleum sandable filler primer, then some Rustoleum gold spray paint.


Finished piece

Here is the final finish with the clear pieces glued in place. No clear coat for this one as we don’t want to ruin the metallic finish.

electronics bottom electronics top

One more quick look at the finished halves of the bow.


I coded the Arduino with 3 effects for the 56 Neopixels. If the bow remains idle, it has a pulse animation every 5 seconds or so. The top button cycles the color between yellow, purple, green, red, and blue. The bottom button is a “fire” effect where the lights go to 100% brightness before dimming back down. The power button at the top lets me control the power to the Arduino without having to toggle it from the Gemma itself.

Zelda's Bow yellow Zelda's Bow purple

Pictures don’t really do this build justice, so here are a couple of videos:

What would I change in version 2? Soldering the lights was very tedious, though mostly because of cutting the correct wire length to put the lights directly underneath the clear parts. I’d like to make that easier somehow, perhaps by creating a custom PCB using photo-resistive laminates and using LEDs with the leads on the top instead of the bottom. I’d also modify the handle door slightly to keep it from sliding, though I can probably come up with a temporary fix for that if it becomes a problem. A rechargeable battery would be nice as the AAA batteries will likely only last about 1.5 hours or so.

Overall, this turned out pretty well. It will be fun to see it with the rest of the Zelda costume.

Once I get my printer back up and running, I’ll finish up the Hylian Shield and the scabbard. I’m waiting to post about those until I have all 3 as they do interlock with each other and I want to show off the whole system at once. Stay tuned for other posts about Zelda’s crown and shoulder armor. I’m also working on finishing up some bedroom art created using 3D printing, and learning to airbrush with a large Majora’s Mask replica.

2 thoughts on “Zelda’s Bow

    • Hi Jorge,

      I’d love to see what your crown looks like. I’ve printed a couple already, but I’m going to do a new one to get a better finish than I got on the first versions.

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