I recently built these two tiny robots from coin cell batteries. I love the coin cell battery holders because they let me solder a permanent connection to the pager motor. My red-eyed bot actually has a switch, which I salvaged from some old electronics. Some “helping hands” and a magnifying glass made the soldering fairly simple. This robot was made possible after viewing “How to Make a Mini Bug Robot.”
Coin cell robot with glowing red eyes.
“Lenny”, shown below, is made from electronic components I salvaged from a variety of e-waste items. His body is built from a pcb once inside a kid’s calculator. While Lenny lacks a switch, he makes up for it in character.
I was looking for a way to make a vibration robot from salvaged electrical components. I wanted the bot to simply vibrate across a surface and wanted his electrical hook up to look tidy. I made his body from a capacitor and soldered 4 resistors on for his legs. Note: It’s not necessary for all of his legs to touch the ground, in fact, he will tend to move more erratically if just 3 legs are in contact.
I hot glued a small motor to the top of the capacitor, gluing a small object to the shaft to help wobble the bot. I then soldered the positive and negative leads to a coin cell battery holder.
I was able to hot glue two google eyes onto the motors leads (use just a little hot glue as too much will melt the back of the plastic eye). I think he’s quite attractive. Don’t you?
There are many ways to recycle the fans from unwanted electronics. Here’s one way our class gave new life to a supply of dusty fans. Simply break off 3 blades: the blades must be consecutive to create the wobble. After removing the stickers from the fans (this would help the hot glue hold better), we attached a 9volt battery and a battery cap. We attached our wires to the correct leads from the fan and wrapped them in heat shrink. A small alligator clip was attached to the positive lead to create a handy on/off connector.
Mention the word “bot” and you’ll get a large crowd of kids gathering around you. This was the case in my elementary school computer lab. The kids were so interested in robots, they practically beat down the door with requests for after school classes focused on building robots. They’d stop me in the hallway to ask if I had sign-up flyers ready to handout. Luckily, my school site tech kept me supplied with out dated technology from our surrounding schools. So, I had a large supply of DVD drives waiting for transformation. I searched YouTube and came across this fabulous project from #GrandadIsAnOldMan.
I studied the video and prototyped a similar version for the kids. I elected to solder the students’ wires to their switches, giving them a reliable connection. With almost 30 kids taking the class, this resulted in several long nights in the classroom–something similar to Santa’s workshop, but with one exhausted elf.
A parking lot of crawlerbots.
Students loved ripping tape from the VHS reels to get the cogged wheels.
9V battery snap connectors split in half.
I used Radio Shack’s SPDT Mini Toggle Switch #275-0635. I wanted the wiring to be easy for the kids, so I decided to use 9V battery snap connectors, cutting open the vinyl cap and then cutting the postive and negative connectors apart. I also added a tiny alligator clip to help with on/off.
I jazzed up the front of the bot by applying a section of decorative duct tape to the plastic section from the soda bottle. Behind the plastic, toward the bottom, I glued a popsicle stick horizontally, thinking it would make the lower section more rigid and might help the bot move more efficiently.
Here’s a video of my bot in action.
[1. I learned this the hard way: make sure you extend the dvd’s tray forward before hot gluing the batteries in place; otherwise, the glue will flow down through the holes below, cementing both parts together. You will then have to drill out the excess glue to separate the parts.]
CRES students in computer lab’s “Hot Rods from E-Waste” class made great use of electronic waste. These photos feature a sampling of their work. Their vehicles will be displayed on October 10th at the Rotary Club’s DogFest3. This event features “Vettes & Pets” and is co-sponsored by the Rancho Murieta Corvette Club. The event takes place in Rancho Murieta at Stonehouse Dog Park, 11am – 3pm.
Getting kids prepared for working with electronics by providing them with electronic waste is a wonderful way to encourage creativity and spark invention. Kids become incredibly inspired when given the tools necessary to take things apart to see what’s inside that makes them “tick”.