Super Simple Spin Bot
I put this spin bot project together during the Fab Lab Maker Camp at the San Diego Central Library during the summer of 2014. We hosted our camp during the ‘Make: Believe’ portion of the Maker Camp online workshops and Hangouts. I wanted to include animatronics and papercraft with our electronics and electricity unit, so we made these spin bots, as well as more complicated Arduino-controlled papercraft creatures and motorized animatronics.
I like this little project because it is basic, yet satisfying as an activity – it only requires a handful of simple parts, and results in a lot of movement. This is a fun project to lead into during an introductory talk about electricity, circuits, and making things move. This project also does not require soldering, so it is great for groups or younger makers. We’ve worked on this project with kids as young as 6 years old with great results.
A few more things to consider: if you host this activity with a group, it is important to have helpers on hand. Kids of any age who have not practiced using a hot glue gun are prone to hurting their fingers. For our young makers, we’ve had one adult to every seven kids in order to make sure that everyone has help if they need it.
Below you’ll find the parts list and instructions. I hope that you have a great time building this with your family, friends, or other makers!
This project is open for your use, to be shared and remixed under a ShareAlike Creative Commons License.
Katie Rast, Fab Lab San Diego
1) 1.5-3 Volt DC Motor:
2) Holder for 2 AA Batteries
3) 9 Volt Battery Snap
6) Hot Glue Gun
7) AA Batteries
8) Wire strippers
Parts per Kit:
2 AA batteries
2 tongue depressor ends
1 9V battery snap
1 holder for AA batteries
1) Cut the ends off of the tongue depressors. The cut pieces should be about ¾ inch long. This requires a good pair of scissors or shears.
2) Use the battery holders (without any batteries in them) to attach the tongue depressor ends. You’ll want to use hot glue to attach the depressor ends to the bottom of the battery holder. Keep the ends at approximately 45 degree and angle, and so that they will touch the ground evenly.
3) Use hot glue to attach the motor to the end of the battery pack. This should be the end opposite the side with the terminals. The shaft of the motor should be pointing down (in the same direction as the tongue depressor ends). Again, be sure that it meets the ground evenly with the tongue depressor ends so that all make contact.
4) Attach the battery snap to the terminal ends of the battery pack.
5) Connect the red and black leads from the battery snap to the motor. Do this by making sure that there is enough metal wire exposed – it’s best if there is about 1/8 inch exposed from the insulation.
6) Thread the exposed wire ends through the leads on the motor. Make sure that they are all the way through. Twist the metal wire ends tightly so that the wire is making contact with the motor leads.
7) Add a drop of hot glue to the motor shaft so that it has more traction.
8) Pop the batteries in and see if the motor spins. If it doesn’t, check your connections. You can add a little hot glue if contacts need to secured.
9) Disconnect the battery snap from the battery holder so that the circuit is broken. You can disconnect only one terminal on the battery snap – that way, everything stays in place, but the motor is off.
10) Decorate your spin bot! Use the craft foam to cut a ‘body’ – the flat piece that will go on top of the battery pack (on the side opposite of the tongue depressor ends). Put a small drop of glue on the top of the battery pack, just use a little bit so that you can still access the batteries.
11) Use construction paper or more foam and hot glue to decorate the body.
12) Plug the battery snap back in and watch them spin! You can also set up tracks or obstacles with cardboard, tape and markers.