Make a Shake Bot

What you will need:

  • One 1-liter plastic soda bottle
  • One salad size plastic picnic plate
  • One 3 to 6 volt DC electric motor (hopefully one with wires coming off it rather than the type with little metal tabs for soldering.) (Radio Shack)
  • One 6 volt (4 AA) battery pack (Radio Shack)
  • One hot glue gun (high-temp is better) (Hobby Lobby or Radio Shack)
  • Duct tape
  • Soldering iron, solder, goggles (Radio Shack)
  • Sand paper (a nail file should work)
  • A small wooden spool that fits the shaft of the motor (Hobby Lobby)
  • Super Glue (Hobby Lobby)
  • Dried beans or rice

You are about to create your first robot. I call this base form of robotic life a "Shake-Bot." It has the ability to shake about and carry small objects from one place to another. (I know some parents who fall into this category.)

Phase One - The Motor Circuit
Batteries have two sides, a positive and a negative. So do motors. The idea is to get the positive side of the battery pack (red wire) to connect to the positive red wire (or tab) on the motor. The same goes for the negative (black wire). If your motor requires soldering, find someone to teach you how to do it safely. Most motors do not care if the battery is connected in reverse. This just reverses the direction in which the motor spins. Give it a try. You will not ruin anything. Just don't connect both battery wires to the same side of the motor. You will short out the battery, draining it quickly (and possibly bursting it open.) To turn the motor on you will insert the battery into the battery holder. I'm sure you can guess how to turn it off.

Shake Bot diagram Phase Two -The Shake Weight
With the motor on, rub the sandpaper or nail file against the spinning motor shaft. This will scratch it up so that the glue will stick better. Using super glue (not hot glue), attach the spool to the shaft. Let it dry thoroughly before touching it or turning it on. (Be careful not to get super glue down into the motor. It is safer to set the spool on the table, fill its hole with glue and then stick the motor shaft down into it.) Using duct tape, attach another spool to the side (not the top) of the spool that is glued to the shaft. The idea is to make an off-center weight that will cause the motor to vibrate. The more spools you attach, the more the motor will shake about. Be careful that your weights are securely attached. If not, they can fly off, becoming dangerous projectiles.

Phase Three - Putting It All Together
Using your trusty roll of duct tape, attach the motor, shaft pointing upwards, to the drinking end of the plastic soda bottle. Leave the battery pack outside of the bottle so you can turn your Shake-Bot on and off.

Glue the bottom of the bottle to the center of the plate. Scratching up the bottle bottom and plate with the sandpaper will help them to stick better. Use hot glue (or super glue) to secure the two together.

Secure the battery pack to the plate with glue or tape. If the wires are not long enough to reach the plate, tape the battery pack as close to the bottom of the bottle as possible.

At this point, your Shake-Bot should be able to scuttle around the floor. If it tends to tip over, put some dry rice or beans in the bottom of the bottle. Paint or construct a face and some arms. Give it some clothes to make it a respectable member of the family. Make a little pet robot on a leash and let the Shake-Bot take it for a walk.