1+ 2+ 3 Vibrobot
By Mark Frauenfelder
Make a twitchy, bug-like robot with a toy motor and a mint tin.
You will need: Metal candy mint tin, wire coat hanger, 1.5V motor from a battery-powered toy, small metal
washers ( 4), small bolts and nuts ( 2), about 1' of insulated wire, paper clip, ¼M flat plastic faucet washers
L" OD ( 3), AA battery, hot glue gun, hot glue, cable tie
When my 3-year-old daughter dropped the $1 battery-powered fan I bought her, the plastic case cracked,
ruining it. I promised her I’d make something even better using the fan’s motor. I’m a fan of Chico Bicalho’s
wonderful windup toys, so I made a robot inspired by his designs. I call mine the Vibrobot, and you can
make one in a couple of hours or less.
1. Prepare the
Sand the paint off the
tin, if you wish. Punch 2
holes through the bottom of the tin on either
end, using a hammer
and a Phillips screwdriver. You’ll use these
holes to attach the legs.
Punch a hole through
the lid near one end.
This hole is for routing
2. Make the legs.
Snip off 2 long pieces of
wire from a coat hanger
and bend each into a
V-shape. Bend the tip of
the V into a right angle,
and then bend a little
“foot” at each end (
Figure A). Attach the legs to
the holes in the tin using
bolts, nuts, and metal A
washers (Figure B). Add
a dollop of hot glue to
each foot to give them
rubber tips. B
3. Install the motor.
Photography by Carla Sinclair
Push a paper clip through one of the plastic flat
washers, and attach the washer to the spindle of
the motor. Solder 2 wires to the 1.5V battery, insert
the battery in the candy tin, and thread both wires
through the hole in the lid. Solder one wire to a lead
on the motor, and solder a third loose wire to the
other motor lead. Put 2 plastic flat washers between
the motor and the candy tin, and secure the motor
to the tin using a cable tie.
Mark Frauenfelder is editor-in-chief of MAKE.
To operate the Vibrobot, twist the loose battery wire and the loose motor wire together (you can also solder
an alligator clip to one of the wires for a switch). Experiment with the critter by gently bending the paper clip
and legs into different shapes and observing the effects. Watch a video at makezine.com/10/123_vibrobot.