Picture of Cockroach Control System (via psychological manipulation)
Allows a microcomputer (e.g. basic stamp) to autonomously control a cockroach's direction of movement. You could also make a remote control system. The basic stamp sends TTL signals to a uLN2803 chip which amplifies the current enough to contract a nitinol (shape memory alloy) strand. The contracting nitinol strand flips open one of two flaps which hang on either side of the cockroach's antennae. This creates an illusion for the cockroach of
--"wall left, open right", and
--"wall right, open left"
which in turn controls the cockroaches movement (it's not going to move left if it feels a 'wall' on the left.

I recently realized that probably a better way of controlling the cockroaches movements is by just putting one LED on each side of its head, since they run away from light. Just turn both on to make it go forward, and one on to make it turn left or right. LEDs would require a lot less power and mechanical complexity. I'm going to try it out.

Cockroach backpack paradigm being tested, cockroach responded as desired to the backpack commands

Cockroach backpack being tested, nitinol constriction moves antenna flap.

Step 1: Making the Backpack

Picture of Making the Backpack
When I put together the backpack, it was my first electronic project ever, so it ended up being excessively heavy. I used a camera flash battery to supply the pulse of current needed to contract the nitinol, but you would want to use a capacitor and a smaller battery to reduce weight. I used periplaneta americana which is strong and moves a lot. I also tried giant madagascar hissing cockroaches but they just sleep all the time and are very slow. You should buy these from animal supply places, otherwise you'll have to wait a long time for the roaches in your kitchen to get big enough (about 1.5 inches).

I used really crappy materials that I had on hand to make the backpack, it could be built a lot better with different materials. Apparently nitinol can be soldered, which I didn't know at the time, so I crimped the nitinol at its ends (pretty friggen annoying).

If you reduce the weight enough you could make it remote controlled (instead of controlled by preprogrammed commands from the basic stamp). See the remote control diagram. You could also add sensors and make the basic stamp use the sensors to control the roach.
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Rebreg3 years ago
Cockroaches are funner to step on than waste time with
yaly3 years ago
cool but ewwwwwwwwwwwwww gross :P
Icepick8 years ago
Cruelty,simply cruelty. :-( how would you like it if someone controlled you?HUH!
leevonk (author)  Icepick8 years ago
if you watch tv you are being controlled too
I don't care how old this reply is; it rocks.
sjs229 Icepick6 years ago
but we are not nicking on anyone's stuff like thieves
You've never been to my house... We have so many roaches, you would hate them too... I ended up burning them, (flamethrower ftw!!) crushing, smearing, flipping them on their backs and backing them over with my mom's van, one accidentally got into the dishwasher one time while my mom was in the kitchen...she locked it in and turned the dishwasher on... We never saw that roach again.
hubo5764 years ago
Cockroaches aren’t so hard to control. You simply need to familiar with the symptoms that you have a roach swarm, and next you have to find out where their shell is. Then you must discover a way to acquire at the case to take care of it. Oh, and you have to know how to do those action methods for the highest optimistic result.

Chanio4 years ago
I once thought of spraying some perfume over a rat collony to cause a civil war. Since they are very aggresive if they are not able to recognize their neighbour's odor...
I fancy these projects. Most of todays best inventions were product of crazy ideas like this one!
I know this thread has been dead for a while but I felt like commenting on those who said this was cruel and those who might. 

I acknowlege that this isn't how a cockroach might normally spend its day but it is by no means cruel.  The author has taken the time to prevent damage to the cockroach that might prevent it from surviving if freed.  He also provides an easy means of taking the backpack off without causing harm.  As for the CO2 used to "anesthetize" the cockroach, this does no harm.  In fact, most roaches can live for close to an hour without any air at all.

As for the actual device that is being used.  It is no more "controlling" the cockroach then the lines on the highway control you when you drive.  They guide you and this works to guide the roach by using it's natural navigation mechanism in non-invasive/reversible way.  The roach maintains any free will it might have had and it doesn't have to follow the path set for it.  It follows it because that is what it is programmed to find comfortable.

It is important to ensure everyone and everything is treated kindly and fairly but knee jerk reactions have no value and have held back progress for centuries.  People died terrible deaths because people didn't see value in experimentation.  Sure, this and other experiments have no immediate applications but think of what could be done if it is perfected.  Educate yourself on things you don't understand before expressing an opinion and accept your opinion is likely flawed if you don't.  Today, with the internet, there is no excuse for being ignorant of facts and just because you disagree with fact doesn't make it less of a fact.  Prove it wrong if you are so sure it is.

I thank you for allowing my rant and I am done now.
hruodger5 years ago
I would like to see my cats driving my car!!! lol
radiorental9 years ago
similar to this: http://loom.corante.com/archives/2006/02/02/the_wisdom_of_parasites.php

(o; cool project.. even if it creeps me out a little
Cruel? No no, this is bad ass. people who feel sympothy for cockroaches clearly have never lived with them.
Absolutely !
Berserk876 years ago
the awesomeness of this guide blow my mind.
snipir6 years ago
aha now thats an interesting concept xD
you have way too much time on you hands
leevonk (author)  evilgenius 3987 years ago
Everyone has the same amount of time. Some, like you, waste it sleeping while others, like me, do more interesting things.
Derin leevonk6 years ago
I don't have my own time.I borrow it.
bowmaster Derin6 years ago
I steal it. Then spend it pinning stuff to other stuff with shuriken.
Derin bowmaster6 years ago
bowmaster Derin6 years ago
It's fun. You should try it.
i like your thinking
Spazzapan9 years ago
This is disgusting and cruel.
you are are stupid simply stupid, not the kid who made the instructable, that's ingenious
Horses get to like people cuz we give them carrots. I agree this is a bit cruel, but can't say it really bothers me. :)
leevonk (author)  Spazzapan9 years ago
Is riding on a horse cruel? That's exactly what this is, but with a robot instead of you sitting on it.
i agree with icepick, you guys are lousy!!!
NetReaper6 years ago
How did i get to this by searching for signal amplifier?
Very nice instructable, I gotta do this at my house! I could attach other things to it, so as to get rid of the rest of the roaches in my house at the same time! Muahuahahahahahahahaha!!
add a tiny poison bomb and a camera then let the roach go back to the group and boom no more roaches>:)
you should make one for a hamster or cat or something cause my mom hates cockroaches
Grey_Wolfe7 years ago
Radio controlled insects. How interesting.
McMoogie7 years ago
LOL... thats how I felt when I first discovered it
all_thumbs8 years ago
Reminds me of a fascinating scientific (well) article I have read. The author had figured out how to build miniature, indoor airplanes powered by flies. That's right. He attached a fly to each plane, and let them flap their wings, propelling the plane. One of the cheapest forms of motorized, heavier than air flight possible, I would say. Very funny, too.
My great grandpa showed me how to do that once. I want to try, but flies are kinda small...
Well now we need to make a "Super size" ray and make them huge. Then ride them into the sunset... Yahhh! cockroach
bob5558 years ago
time to take over the world atach a small firebomb a becon for a smart bomb the posiblitys are end less and if u start a nucler war the roaches will survive
sure the roaches would live but the controllers would be incinerated
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