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CoolRunnings: Hi Speed mouse/hamster wheel for 3 euros

Picture of CoolRunnings: Hi Speed mouse/hamster wheel for 3 euros
Hi everyone

This is how i provided a simple and effective way to the (too)many mice that me and my girlfriend are growing. Living in a tank may not be that much fun, so mice need to have toysand exercise tools in their homes to avoid becoming way too fat.

The obvious solution is a mouse/hamster wheel, but this toy tends to be a problem since it tends to get noisy at night.

Surfing the 'Net you can find "Silent" wheels that cost about 20 dollars/euros, but that's too much IMOHO and a very nice challenge trying to do i t myself. So I decided to make my own, spending far
less money (about 3 euros) and recycling things.

I named it "Cool-Runnings", just because I think it needed a name and this was the best I came up with :-)
 
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Step 1: Tools and Materials

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Materials:
- 1 CD/DV Spindle cover, from a 25 or 50 Disk spindle
- 2 HD magnets (with metal base attached)
- 1 skate ball-bearing (20mm)
- Some nuts, washers, and bolts,
- small short wood screws
- 4cm x 15cm x 1cm wood board

Instruments:
- heavy duty drill (not pictured)
- hobby rotary tool
- 18mm flat wood drill bits
- hacksaw
- measuring tape, multi tool, pencil

I paid my ball-bearing 3 euros, that is much more than what you might pay for it on line or at a sate shop. You don't need a super-ceramic extra professional one... just one that spins smoothly enough

You can get the magnets form an old HD. I need the magnets and they must be strong since I use them to fix it to the walls of the plastic tanks I use as cages. If your cages are metal bars or net
you can find different ways to fix the wheel like zip-locks or metal wire

Step 2: Prepare the wood board

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PAY ATTENTION: this step involves the use of power tools that may injure you. Pay close attention and wear protective gear like gloves and mask

Use the hacksaw on your board and cut a piece about 15cm. The board should be at least 4cm wide (twice the diameter of the bearing) and longer than the spindle cover, but be sure it will fit inside the cage.

Using the flat wood drill bit cut a hole in the middle of the board.

NOTE: The hole will have to contain the bearing as firmly as possible. For this reason I prefer to cut a smaller 18mm hole (that tends to be 19mm) and then slowly make it larger to house the bearing.

Step 3: Insert the bearing

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Keep widening the hole with the rotary tool and try to fit the bearing inside.

Press the bearing into the hole. Note that you want to press hard to get it inside: the more strength you use the more friction you will have between the bearing and the wood, and thus the more stable it will be. Just try not to crack the board...

Step 4: Prepare the spindle

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Remove any strange shape from the CD spindle. Watch out for plastic pieces used to close the spindle cover to it's base. Those small wings might hurt your mouse when the wheel will be spinning fast !!
Also using a knife make many scratches to the inner surface of the spindle parallel to the rotation axis of the wheel, so to provide enough friction to the paws of the mice or they will just slide on the wheel

Step 5: Assembly 1

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Fix the bolt into the center of the spindle. try to do this as precisely as possible since if you miss the center the wheel will not turn in it's axis. Lock the bolt with a washer and a nut on the other side.

Try to spin the wheel holding the bolt to check how balanced the wheel will be.

Step 6: Assembly 2

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Now you need to fix the bearing to the bolt.

Take a small washer whose diameter is about the diameter of the inner (spinning) cylinder of the bearing, make sure the washer will not touch the outer cylinder (fixed to the board)

Put the washer over the nut, then insert the bearing. Use another similar washer on the ohter side, over the bearing, and a nut to lock things in place. Before turning firmly the nuts check again the balance of the wheel.

Step 7: Assembly 3 and placing

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Time to fix the wheel to the cage.

I prefer doing this by using magnets from old HD, but you can do what's best for you according to the type of cage you have.

Fix one magnet on his metal base to one end of the wood board using the small wood screws. Again try not to crack the board when turning the screws. I use to make a small hole in the board to help inserting the screw.

Step 8: Place it into the tank

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Place the wheel inside the tank, let the side of the board without the magnet to get to the bottom of the cage, so that it will sustain the weight of the wheel and mice inside it.

Place the magnet on the wall of the tank and use the other magnet to fix it.

TAKE CARE: HD magnets are very strong, do not clamp your fingers or your mice
tails in between them. Hurts a lot. Really :'-(.

Step 9: Enjoy your Cool Runnings !!

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Check that the wheel can turn freely without any obstacle like bedding or such

Allow a couple of days to your mice to get used to this strange thing and to
understand how to use is.

After a few tries they will have fun and love their new toy.

If you used a 50xCD spindle sometimes mice will also run side by side... if they agree witch way to go ;-)
John_Edward3 years ago
I got my inspiration from this, and replaced the really noisy ballbearing of my "silent" spinner with a new and better one.
The act of replacing the bearing is closer to rebuilding the whole housing from scratch though, so if it had been possible in my terrarium, I would have gone with your mounting method

But now it truly is a silent spinner; I did a blind test, and I cannot hear if the wheel is spinning at a distance of about 30cm!
Even when I put it right next to my ear, the noise is just barely audible.
The annoying racket of my hamster running has been turned into really adorable sound of her tiny feet going like the wind.

Thank you :)
squishysim3 years ago
Thanks for the idea EmcySquare, I made one for my little winter white hamster as she was starting to get a little large for her 4' silent spinner. I really didn't want to spend another $20 on larger wheel. Shes in my bedroom next to the bed so a quite wheel is a must for me.

I didn't use the same mounting method though but drilled a hole in the center piece, took off the those locking clips, added texture lines and popped it onto the old wheels stand.
Rye21215 years ago
hey thanks. i used this and my hamster loves it. he found it hard to move the wheel so i drilled about 15 small holes, or 5 larger ones, into it and its perfect. sanding it helped, but it made it easier to move with the holes. thanks again! -Rye2121
Bongmaster6 years ago
now if u made it so it generated a bit of eletric to charge batterys then it would be cooler XD
EmcySquare (author)  Bongmaster6 years ago
I've seen such a project from MakeMagazine, but it only provided enough electricity to light up a led... The point is basically that all the power comes from the mouse muscles and a single mouse migh weight up to 15 grams... not much... ... of course you might thin of using BATTERIES of mice in parallel... ... ma parallel distributed mouse powered genreator... why not... ... based on this we might rewrite "The Matrix" !!
great now i have just imagined a field of towering matrix battery things with mouse wheels on instead of people bulbs -_-
theRIAA6 years ago
that's a great job, and an amazing concept. At first I thought the magnets were for stopping the wheel for when you wanted to get sleep, but I imagine that's quite quiet.
EmcySquare (author)  theRIAA6 years ago
Mice generally are more active at night (got great sense of smell and hearing but poor sight) thus they are far more likely to run at night. If you stop or remove the wheel at night it's like removing it at all... poor mice.. By the way, you can obviously also use light oil to prevent any friction and any remaining noise