Introduction: Give the Gift of Robot Invasion

Picture of Give the Gift of Robot Invasion

Solar powered robot ornament wishes you holiday greetings during the day but when the lights go out radios home for reinforcement.

Step 1: Parts:

Picture of Parts:


2N3904 Transistor
Rectifier Diode
1M resistor
Blinking LED
2 Rechargeable 1.5v batteries
Solar panel

Misc. Parts:

Copper plumbing parts
Brass & copper wire
LED holder
Copper mesh or beer can
Hot Glue

Step 2: Battery:

Picture of Battery:

For some of these I used 2 cells from a rechargeable 9v. Others I used rechargeable button cells. Be careful soldering to batteries.

Step 3: Circuit:

Picture of Circuit:

I found the circuit I used here:

I really like the simplicity of this circuit and wish I had done a better job showing it off.

Step 4: Robot Shell:

Picture of Robot Shell:

I decided to use copper plumbing parts because I had them on hand but this part could really be anything that has enough room to put the electronics in or on.

Drill holes in the end cap for the eyes and in the body for arms, belly button, satellite pole and wires. I use a hand drill and go slow, starting with a small bit and stepping up bit size incrementally.

I made the mouth with a Dremel and a cutoff wheel, but a hacksaw would work fine.

If you're feeling fancy and/or have them on hand finish the holes with aluminum grommets. On some I just used rivets for eyes on others it's a grommet + rivet mix.

Step 5: Soldering Arms:

Picture of Soldering Arms:

I used a small hobby torch to solder the wire arms onto the body. Spending some time fitting the wire so it makes good contact with the inside of the body will make for a much stronger joint. I also sand both pieces I'm soldering right before.

I went with a four finger hand approach because it was easier to use small V's of wire.

I like to pretty much get the arms and fingers into position at this point because If you didn't do a very good job soldering they will break off. It's easier to fix now without the electronics inside.

Step 6: Satellite:

Picture of Satellite:

This could also be anything that kind of resembles a dish. I happened to have some fancy copper mesh/fabric, so I went with that. If this part seems like a pain, you can cut out the bottom of a beer can and use it as is.

If you have the fancy copper you still need a beer can. Turn the can over and gently work the copper mesh into the bottom, I used the handle end of a screwdriver. Once you have the shape cut the excess off with scissors.

Punch the hole in the center after you form the dish, if you do it before the hole will warp and spread.

I also solder some wires onto the led at this point. The led holders I used have a rubber cork that has to be on the led before soldering.

Step 7: Get Ready:

Picture of Get Ready:

Turn the body over and put a piece of tape at the bottom of the neck, this is important because at the end we will be pouring epoxy into the neck.

When I used the 9v cells I kept the batteries on the outside like a backpack, with the button cells I just stuffed them inside. Either way we need to get those leads ready, either though a hole in the neck if they will be on the outside, or out on the desk if they will be inside.

The LED wires need to be strung through into the interior.

The leads for the solar cell need to be put through the belly button, better too long than too short.

Step 8: Solder the Circuit:

Picture of Solder the Circuit:

NOTE: Diode terminology is confusing, I'm going to call the end of the diode with the white stripe the negative (-) terminal.

Solder the components together.

+ Solar
+ Battery

- Battery
+ Diode

- Solar
- Diode


After you have it soldered together cover the solar panel and make sure the led starts to blink. Tape everything up so the leads don't touch and fold it into a shape that is going to fit inside.

Step 9: Attach Solar:

Picture of Attach Solar:

Solder the solar panel to the leads. Carefully position the panel into the hands. Flip over and hot glue panel in place. I also use hot glue to hold the electronics inside.

Attach satellite dish to pole and position at a rakish angle.

Step 10: Put Your Head On:

Picture of Put Your Head On:

Use epoxy to glue spring inside the head. After it cures mix another batch of epoxy and pour into the neck, hold head in place until epoxy cures. This creates a nice "Bobble-Head" effect.

Step 11: Write Your Message:

Picture of Write Your Message:

If you're anal or just like to make life easier for yourself, you should probably do this step before you attach the solar panel.

I used a semi-fine point silver paint pen. Leave most of the solar panel exposed so the batteries can charge.

Step 12: Start the Invasion:

Picture of Start the Invasion:

Box these up and give them away. I packaged mine a couple of days before Christmas and they were still blinking when they were unwrapped.

You can play with the resistor value to determine how sensitive the solar panel is. With the 1M resistor it has to be pretty dark before the LED starts blinking. With a 100k resistor it will blink in a lit room but turn off in direct sunlight. It all depends on how sneaky you want your robot to be.


Wasagi (author)2009-12-12

 A few questions, what is the wattage of the resistor? Also, why is the transistor necessary? What exactly does the rectifier diode do? Do you think that I could butcher a solar cell from a calculator?

Great work!

Jodex (author)Wasagi2009-12-22

The wattage of the resistor doesn't matter on this project. Something like ½ watt is okay. Rectifier diode rectifies the current so it can flow only one direction.
Negative will go this way->  |<   <-and positive that way on the schematic symbol. The stripe is is also on the diode witch shows the cathode(negative). And a solar cell from an calculator may not have enough voltage or current for this project. Of course you can connect couple of them in series and try! And I don't know why is the transistor necessary. Seems like its amplifying the signal there..(?) I dont see anything why you can't make it without the transistor a bit different way... Well, I don't know too much about transistors so I'm not very very sure about what I said :-D

sponge212 (author)Jodex2011-12-17

After analyzing the diagram I think the transistor is a switch to turn off the LED while the battery is charging. If the LED is ON the battery is not charging. It won't charge and run the LED at the same time.

Wasagi (author)Jodex2009-12-27

 Ok, thanks! I don't know very much about them either...

Mrlzeppelin (author)2010-01-10

Where can you find a solar panel as such? What are the values on it?

Thank you

sponge212 (author)Mrlzeppelin2011-12-17

Seems to me the solar panel would need to produce at least 3 volts to begin to charge the 2.4 volt battery which is in series with a diode which has about 0.6 volts of drop across it. More that 3V would be better.

Beduk (author)Mrlzeppelin2010-04-30

you can buy them on ebay.You get many of them fo a few bucks.You can also buy them in the electronic store or radio shack near you.

Misac-kun (author)2011-12-17

is posssible to use a LDR instead of a Solar panel? (solar panels are a bit expansive on my country)

also, great idea! i think i will be making something similar for my friends Xmas gift! (i think i will use normal leds cus the hight briliance ones costs 1,50 where i live)

sponge212 (author)Misac-kun2011-12-17

Solar panel generates electricity to recharge the batteries. An LDR is a light dependent resistor and produces no power.

FrozenIce (author)2011-12-17

CHRISTmas people... NOT Xmas!!! YA HERD???

l8nite (author)FrozenIce2011-12-17

actually it should be Xma$$

black hole (author)FrozenIce2011-12-17

Xmas does mean Christmas, if you take the time to look it up. From the book Imponderables by David Feldman:

"The X in Xmas actually the decendant of the Greek equivalent of Ch as in 'Christos' which means 'Christ.' The letter X has stood for Christ since at least A.D. 1100, and the term 'Xmas' was first cited in 1551. 

So, if it's not on a Christmas card, Xmas is okay to use. : )

canucksgirl (author)FrozenIce2011-12-17

just so you know its HEARD... HERD is a group of animals...

golddigger1559 (author)2011-12-17

looks like the humping robot from robot chicken

controlledwrinkles (author)2011-12-17

Excellent Instructable, well written and well photographed. Kudos to you for getting to be the Instructables project of the day.

canucksgirl (author)2011-12-17

Very cute. The expression on your robot is priceless. I love it. (and I have no idea how to make it yet). LOL :D

ignoblegnome (author)2010-02-22

I loved your idea so much I just had to make some of them. I made some modifications and came up with a bunch of different designs. I gave them out as gifts to my whole family this year, and they were a big hit!
You can see my version of this robot at

I credited this post on Instructables, of course. Great work; thanks for the inspiration!

Your robots inspired several that I made this year as Christmas gifts. Want too cute.

My boards said "Do the robot" or "Robo boogie!". Those being my two favorite forms of robot dancing.

BrownDogGadgets (author)2011-01-18

I made a couple of these as Christmas gifts, people loved them!

If anyone is looking to have some made, contact me or visit my website I can easily make one of several variations, and could always use some funding for my personal projects.

MeCareFree (author)2009-11-15

 Newbie here:  What are the voltage and mah of the solar panel and where can I get one that looks like the one in this instructable?  Thanks for the great project!

Hi newbie Mecarefree!  welcome aboard the coolest website on the internet, with the kindest and most creative members in cyber space!!

Jodex (author)MeCareFree2009-12-22

Try searching online. That might be the best or at least the easiest way.. Maybe

qwertyuiop5433 (author)2009-12-13

Where did you find your solar cell? Iv been looking around and can't seem to find a good one. Great project!

Ron-Ray (author)2009-10-20

They have the 'cutest' little faces!  : |

{*idea} .. What if you used a thin hollow tube (empty ballpoint pen refill, etc.)  for the dish pole and ran wires inside...? 
{*idea} .. Could you use the "arms" themselves to conduct the charge voltage [+ | -}  (insulate inside body) and have no wires...? 
{*idea} .. Could you use a tiny micro-switch (through a rivets) to disconnect the system, for storage until next year...?

ReeceLV (author)2009-09-26

Could anybody tell me if you could have a motor on it, because then you could make him drive away, or let the Satellite dish turn. Thanks in advance

LordOlimar (author)2009-08-27

Where did you get your rechargeable button cells?

XkidXhavocX (author)2009-05-05

Name him Chester Copperbot

LordOlimar (author)XkidXhavocX2009-08-25


H-Sama (author)2009-08-20

instead of a spring in the head, could one run another LED in the head so that the eyes and mouth would glow too? (or instead of the satellite?) and also would this electrical setup run 2 LEDs?

pnorcross1 (author)2009-08-17

Why not just get a green blinking LED, pop that on the dish, then a red led, and put that in the head. That way, the eyes glow an evil red when it gets dark, and then the alien/robot starts to "phone home". A nice plus for getting Christmas colors worked in there too!

koolaidman8 (author)2009-06-11

these are so cool

evilmadscientistman (author)2009-04-04

heres an idea...why don't you add the blinking LED inside of the head and just use pop rivets so that it can shine through the holes and it looks all demonic with it's red eyes

That would be sweet...

frikkie (author)2009-05-16

I dont wanna be cruel but.....I like youre instructable.

mntbkrguy (author)2009-05-13

This is such an awesome idea! Thank you for sharing your design.

raykholo (author)2009-04-01

from a distance it kind a looks like a big stack of pennies, but in a good way i like it and its definitely really cool 5*

ChoseTruc (author)2009-03-25

Bravo! MrMunki. I gave you a Hi-5. LOL
Your Bot's face is so cute, because of the K.i.S.S. approach.
It's look like IronMan. Let's call it = COPPER_FACE. Haha!!
I go along with what cyc4015 wrote " googley-eyes."
I like the inspiration you provided, by sharing your creation.
Proof is=Comments from; influx/Dec 25 2008, and masynmachien/May 13 2008.
Now, if I may,..., I have one suggestion for the welded connections:
:> Heat-Shrink Wraps, instead of Duct-Tape...To avoid shorts.
And those were my 2 cents..
Hoping that you, and the lucky receivers, had a 2006 Christmas to remember.

cotton (author)2009-03-22

he is cool and cute i bet the girl i like would like one

jinshengruan (author)2009-03-21

That is so cute,very cool

nick9321 (author)2009-03-20

thats really cool, nice job!

oldanvilyoungsmith (author)2009-02-17

that guy is cute, I'm gonna havta try that someday.

influx (author)2008-12-25

Here is my robot. I changed it a little, I used LED holders for the blinking LEDs.

masynmachien (author)2008-05-13

Inspiring! Inspired by several solar light hacks and your instructable I have been using the parts from solar powered garden lights making several different kinds of "robots"from solar powered garden lights. Solar powered garden lights are an easy and cheap source for the parts, but they do not allow the use of a blinking led. Most solar powered garden lights use only one battery cell and convert the 1,2 Volts to a higher voltage with a switching circuit. The higher voltage is not stabilised and the led is constantly being reset at high rate and there is no blinking to see.

spiffytessa (author)masynmachien2008-12-19

Those are so cool!

Ghost Wolf (author)2008-12-17

I see you camera in the photo Great idea very nice

Thelonelysandwitch (author)2008-12-15

now if you can use a mini servo to make him walk and some mini sensors to make him walk around obstacles, it would be the coolest thing.

cyc4015 (author)2008-12-05

I love the copper, and the way the rivets look almost like googley-eyes. also, it took me awhile to realize that the solar panel was the sign. this is pretty darn cool.

masynmachien (author)2008-12-02

You have continued to inspire me and now I have met yet another invasion army of my own, this time consisting of cyborg zombies feeding on “dead” batteries. I have made an instructable
on it.

Bam2169 (author)2008-11-30

This is great i'm making some for sure

acornsloth (author)2008-06-20


About This Instructable




Bio: Space Monkey Pirate Robot
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