A few years ago I saw Backyard Brains' smartphone controlled cockroach, and it just blew my mind! I tried to get my mom to let me buy it, but the mention of cockroaches convinced her otherwise. :) I started doing projects with the Arduino a few years later. I remembered how much I wanted to do the cockroach experiment, so I convinced her that cockroaches weren't gross at all. Then I ordered a couple of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. Once they arrived, I started coding, testing, recoding, retesting. Finally I found out how to do everything right and temporarily change the cockroach's behavior as you will see in this video:

This is not a toy it is a scientific experiment to teach neuroscience. It is similar to someone getting a cochlear implant (which has returned hearing to more than 324,000 people.) Cockroaches can regenerate lost antennae and limbs. The cockroaches in this project were fully anesthetized during the “surgery.” Everything I did is reversible and was reversed at the end of the experiment. Also, I used Cyanoacrylate (super glue) in this project but it isn’t harmful because a similar chemical was used in the Vietnam War to seal wounds on humans.

Step 1: How It Works

How does it work you ask? Well as do many insects, cockroaches have antennae which are directly involved in navigation. By stimulating the antennae with variable frequencies (that mimic neural signals) from the Arduino you can make the cockroach think that there is a wall in front of it when there isn't. When that happens the cockroach turns in another direction. Although after a while the cockroach starts ignoring the stimulus and continues walking as if it didn’t have the backpack.

<p>you might have noticed I entered this project in a few contests so if you like it just hit that vote button and select the contests! </p>
<p>Wow..! i did hate roaches, but from now i look at them as living Arduino shields !! xD</p>
<p>Its hard for me to order Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches in my country. Can we use other types of cockroaches? Can the ones I find in the corner of my house work too?</p>
<p>they should work but they need to be big enough for the backpack to fit on</p>
Why do you have to be mean to such a innocent creature!?!
<p>In case you didn't notice - it is a COCKROACH, not a baby panda.</p><p>Also, they're not exactly an endangered species...</p>
<p>Neither are humans an endangered species. Maybe you should try it on a human next time. I like your logic.</p>
<p>Hey, maybe he should.</p><p>Except, you know... </p><p>...it's illegal.</p>
<p>Neither are people, does that mean we should be cruel to people?</p>
<p>Have you ever thoughtlessly eaten an innocent animal? killed spider? Yeah, me too. This doesn't seem so bad. Also it is probably far more complicated to test it on humans.. That being said if you volanteer - I would be happy to give it a go.</p>
<p>Have you considered using an ATtiny for this project? That is a large roach and seems to be able to carry pretty heavy loads, but if you could follow these instructions from MIT's High-Low Tech page and use your code on a tiny, it might make it easier on your little friend. <br><br><a href="http://highlowtech.org/?p=1695" rel="nofollow">http://highlowtech.org/?p=1695</a></p>
<p>thanks but I'm not familiar with the ATtiny. On the page you linked to in the list of working functions it doesn't say that the tone() function works. Also, if a hissing cockroach were a person it would be able to lift thousands of pounds.</p><p>thanks for the comment!</p>
<p>In the movie &quot;5th element&quot; there is a thing like that</p><p>(a spy roach)</p>
<p>i love it!</p>
I think step four is wrong, as it has the same discription as step three. or could the problem be with my device
<p>fixed that thanks!</p>
Very cool!
<p>You need to extend your bio: ... and insects xD</p><p>Next you need to spend some time in creating smaller circuits (or you need to buy bigger cockroaches....).</p><p>Very interesting!</p>
This is awesome. Try it on a human next!
This is just so erong but so dam awsome i cant decide.Were on flipong earth did you buy those things.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm 15 and I love welding, grinding, sawing and all types of making
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