He doodles, he dances, he's... ArtBot! A simple-bot using inexpensive materials. This is a great project to do as a family with children or as a class for young people, as it helps introduce circuits and simple-bot technology.
- Electric toothbrush (dollar store) with battery
- Pool noodle (dollar store), cut into a small piece. (I cut off 6 inches, but it doesn't matter too much. A sharp bread knife works perfectly on a pool noodle.)
- Cheap, thin markers (dollar store)
- Duct or electrical tape
- Decorating supplies - I went with a Sharpie, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes
- Possibly a needle-nose pliers
Step 1: Decorate Your ArtBot
Add decorations onto the vertical noodle piece. Be as creative as you like. I went with googly eyes, a sharpie face, and pipe cleaners for arms and hair.
Step 2: Deconstruct the Electric Toothbrush
Take the end off the electric toothbrush. Peer inside the main piece. You should see a plastic cylinder inside which would hold the battery. You need to pry that out - you might be able to use your finger, but if not, a set of needle-nose pliers will do nicely.
Once it's out, the metal motor should slide out as well. If not, bang the toothbrush on the table a bit and it should pop out.
Now your toothbrush should be in four pieces: the plastic top with the bristles, the motor, the plastic cylinder that holds the battery, and the end with the on/off switch.
Step 3: Reconnect the Motor, Cylinder and Battery
Your plastic cylinder should have a little metal arm that connects it to the copper piece of the motor. Carefully reconnect them. Make sure the spring is still attached to the other copper arm - the spring is what will connect the negative end of the battery.
Put the battery in the toothbrush end, then connect the cylinder's OTHER end's metal arm with the metal bit coming off the end piece. All the metal needs to connect for the circuit to work. Test the circuit by switching the toothbrush end "on" - the motor should start vibrating. Don't worry; it's safe to touch!
Once your contraption is vibrating, go ahead and tape the whole thing together so the connections are all good and stuck.
Step 4: Attach the Motor to the ArtBot
Jam the whole toothbrush motor into the top opening of your pool noodle. Make sure the on/off switch is still accessible. (You can throw away the bristle portion of the toothbrush; you don't need it anymore.)
Step 5: Attach the Legs
Finally, attach three or more thin markers to the base of the ArtBot using tape. Make sure the markers' tips will be pointed down since that's how the ArtBot will make its art.
You might have to adjust the markers to make sure that A) the ArtBot will balance, and B) the ArtBot will move around. If you make the legs TOO sturdy, it won't move much. Experiment and figure out the best "stance" for your Bot.
And TA-DA! Take the marker caps off, turn it "on", put it on a piece of scratch paper and watch it dance.