As with our wigglebot, this homemade wobblebot is not technically a robot since it doesn’t have any sort of decision making capabilities. However, it is still a lot of fun to make and a great first “robotics” project for young robot enthusiasts.
Like the wigglebot, the inspiration for this project came from the book, Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future. However, in that book, the power source was supposed to be a cheap solar panel. Well, we took the solar panel out of a solar lawn light from the 99 cent store, but when we were putting together our bot, we found that it wasn’t powerful enough to power the motor even in bright sunshine. Not wanting to disappoint my 5 year old, we re-used the battery pack from his wigglebot instead.
To make this project a little more advanced than the last one however, this time we added a switch into the circuit, since removing the battery from within the Slurpie lid would have been basically impossible. To add the switch, my son got to use wire cutters and wire strippers to make a wire to connect the switch to the motor. When we were finished, my kids ended up liking this project just as much, if not more than their wigglebot. It’s movement is a little quicker and more unpredictable, which was exciting.
Check out this YouTube video to see the wobblebot in action.
Since we didn’t get to use our solar panel this time, for our next project, we will likely connect a few solar panels together until we have enough current to power our inexpensive motor. If you’d like to be notified when that tutorial is available, please consider subscribing to our newsletter.
Recommended Age Range: Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle School (younger kids will need adult supervision and assistance since this project uses hot glue)
Time Required: ~30 minutes
Cost: Less than $10 in used supplies (or much cheaper if you buy supplies in bulk. Buying individually, the motor was $3.50, the battery holder was $1.50, and the switch was $2.50 at Radio Shack (our local electronics store). We actually reused the motor and battery pack from our Wigglebot.)
- Blank or unwanted CD or dvd
- Dome-shaped lid from Slurpie or similar drink
- 2 “AAA” battery holder (affiliate link)
- 2 “AAA” batteries
- 1.5-3 V DC Motor (affiliate link)
- SPST (single pole single throw) switch (affiliate link, be sure it’s labeled push-on/push-off, not momentary)
- Short piece of wire (I used 22 gauge, but it’s not really important)
- Pencil with eraser
- 2 Googly eyes (optional)
Supplies & Tools:
- Wire cutters
- Wire strippers
- Needle nose pliers
- Hot glue gun
- Tape (I used electrical, but any kind will work)
- X-acto knife or other cutting tool
- index card or other safe surface for using X-acto knife
- Scissors for cutting tape if needed
- Cut a short piece of wire (only a couple inches long is fine).
- Next, adjust the screw and nut on your wire strippers so that the hole is about the size of the metal core within your wire.
- Use the wire strippers to pull the outer layer off the wire.
It should look about like this.
- Use the needle nose pliers to bend the ends of short wire to make it easier to attach the wire to the motor and switch.
- Use the needle nose pliers to bend one end of the wire around one of the motor’s 2 lead and the other end of the wire around one of the switches leads.
- Next use the same technique to connect one of the wires coming from the battery pack to the motor’s free lead and the other wire coming from the battery pack to the switches free lead. You should end up with your 3 components (motor, switch, battery pack) in a big circle. It doesn’t matter which order or orientation the pieces are in.
- Next cut the eraser off of the pencil.
- Push the eraser into the motor.
- Hot glue the motor onto the cd with the eraser sticking through the hole. It doesn’t matter which side of the CD faces up.
- Next, tape the battery pack to the motor and CD
- Tape the dome lid over the motor and battery pack with the switch sticking through the hole in the top. (Note: At this point, if you’re paying attention, you’ll realize that our switch has magically changed from black to red. That’s because in my carelessness, I accidentally bought a “momentary” switch instead of a push-on/push-off switch, so the wigglebot only worked when we held down the button. We had to make another trip to the electronics store to remedy the situation.)
- Glue on some googly eyes.
Click here for more Robotics activities for kids.