I started with this Chinese Dragon decoration that I found on Amazon. It's a good medium-sized dragon, perfect for puppeting by one person.

For the control sticks, I'm using repurposed venetian blind control sticks. They're about 3 feet long with a hole in one end. Perfect! You could also use wooden dowels from the hardware store with a hole drilled in one end. 

I want to attach these very securely to the head and the tail. I used zip ties: one at the top and one a few inches down. This gives me really good control of the head. I can twist or shake the stick around and the dragon responds beautifully. 

Find or make a couple holes in the tail end and attach a second control rod in the same manner.

My dragon has a string running the length of the top, going through a grommet in the center of the body section. If I pull this string, it lifts the middle of the dragon up.

I ran this string through the hole in my rear control stick so I can control how much he arches his back when I pull on it. The zip tie keeps the string from pulling out but I left it loose enough that I can adjust the string's tension with some gentle pulling.

This dragon was made to be a stationary decoration, not an animated puppet. I used more zip ties and clear packing tape to reinforce the snap-together pieces and hold them permanently together, so my dragon's head doesn't fall off when I shake him too hard.

I diffused my Circuit Playground's onboard lights with a little handful of pillow stuffing. Run some hot glue around the edges of your Circuit Playground, being sure not to get glue near the delicate components or into the reset button or USB port. Stick the fiberfill down onto the glue.

I bent the tongue piece in my dragon's mouth and attached the Circuit Playground to the front with a piece of industrial velcro. I threaded the wires through the back of the head, and slipped the NeoPixel strip down through the body. 

The rest is wire management. I coiled the switch wire around my front control stick until it was held firmly in place, and attached the battery to the opposite side of the head with more industrial sticky-back velcro. This makes it easy to remove the battery for charging. 

Shake it all around and make sure everything is tight. Use more zip ties, packing tape, and glue as needed. You don't want your electronics shaking loose in the middle of your parade.

This guide was first published on Mar 14, 2023. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Build the Puppet) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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