Introduction: Simple Bots: Barreller

Picture of Simple Bots: Barreller

A Barreller Bot is a device that has seemingly eternal forward propulsion in a given direction. In other words, there is a motor that acts as an off-centered weight inside of a can. When the can rolls forward in the direction of the weight (the weight, being the motor), the motor turns upwards, hence, causing the can to roll forward again. Now, imagine this happening really quickly and for a sustained amount of time. It would give the can the appearance of rolling forward on its own and even cause it to do seemingly impossible things, like rolling up inclines. This bot is great fun! If you don't believe me, build one for yourself. It is quick and easy to do.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

Picture of Go Get Stuff

You will need:

(x1) continuous rotation servo modified for direct drive **
(x1) paint can (or similar)
(x2) 1" paintbrushes
(x1) 4 x AA battery holder
(x4) AA batteries
(x1) tilt switch (Mouser #107-2002-EV)
(x1) assorted zip ties
(x1) template (see below)

**Learn to remove a servo controller board at this page.

Step 2: Disassemble the Brush

Picture of Disassemble the Brush

Take apart the paint brush such that you are left with the two wooden handles.

Step 3: Zip Tie

Picture of Zip Tie

Put batteries into the battery holder and lay it down on top of a zip tie with the batteries facing down.

Place the motor on top such that the servo horn (the gear-looking object) sticks off perpendicularly in one direction and the wooden handles are sticking off in the opposite direction.

Zip tie it all together until it is one singular unit and won't fall apart.

Step 4: Wire It Up

Picture of Wire It Up

Twist together the black wire from the motor with the black wire from the battery holder and solder the connection.

Solder the red wire from the battery holder to the little spike that sticks out of the tilt switch. Solder the red wire from the motor to the round metallic body of the tilt switch.

It makes it easier to solder to the tilt switch if you place a small pool of solder on it first.

Step 5: Clean the Can

Picture of Clean the Can

Remove from the can anything that will prevent it from rolling, such as handles, and clean out anything that may already be inside.

Step 6: Drill Holes

Picture of Drill Holes

If you have not done so already, print and cut out the template.

Tape the template to the bottom of the can and drill the four smaller holes with an 1/8" drill bit or one appropriately sized for your zip ties.

Step 7: Put It Together

Picture of Put It Together

Slip the zip tie between two of the batteries in the battery holder such that it is parallel with them. However, make certain this doesn't short out the switch. If you are concerned, wrap the switch once around with electrical tape.

Zip tie the servo horn to the holes that you drill in the bottom of the can. You may need to drill and/or widen the holes in the servo horn to accommodate the zip tie that you are using.

Trim the excess piece of zip tie when you are done.

Step 8: Case Closed

Picture of Case Closed

Put the lid back on when you are done.

If you store the can upright (in its normal position) it will keep the device from turning on.


rocketbhoom (author)2018-01-15

AWESOME! I made one with my own design (inspired by you) and it is great. thanks for the idea.

randofo (author)rocketbhoom2018-01-17

Glad it worked out for you. If you can, you should share a picture so others can see what you made :)

HisDivineShadow (author)2010-08-09

I'm going to have to be the one to say aren't I? *sigh* DO A BARREL ROLL!


aouate3 (author)HisDivineShadow2010-08-12

if u were to make two of them, half the width they are now, and have seperate control board, attach the two together so they can move freely, would it turn, if u get 2 board with the same frequency, it may be possible to use the same remote for forward, reverse, and steering if i had the time i would try it, but sadly i dont

GASSYPOOTS (author)2012-01-08

i made a non robot one

ahaz (author)2011-07-10

wooohhh astig..

axeman911 (author)2010-12-23

where can i get a servo motor?

axeman911 (author)randofo2010-12-24

srry but sorta like hobby town?

randofo (author)axeman9112010-12-25

Yes. Indeed.

mangomango (author)2010-12-09

I made something like this but with rubberband power. on one end the rubber band glued or something and the other end is connected to a stick on the outside of the can. as the rubberband would unwind it would push the stick against the ground and push it forward. i might just make an 'ible for it now. Anyway, somewhat different ideas but excellent work

M4industries (author)2010-08-19

This is how they did the Chef Boyardee commercial a while back. Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters was hired to do the effect.

aouate3 (author)2010-08-10

Did anyone try my idea? i tried it, but i found more success by using a belt instead of a gear, but u have to make the weight a little heavier

randofo (author)aouate32010-08-11

Do you have any pictures for people to see what you have done?

aouate3 (author)randofo2010-08-12

I gave the one i made to a friend because i wasnt happy with the way it came out, it worked fine, but i did a diy with the barrel, and it was coming apart, im going to make a new one and ill take pictures, once i find some plastic xD, i got a heatgun so ill probably melt the plastic together instead of pvc glue

CaseBoy (author)2010-08-11

hay just found you and your amazing simple bots, and i have one suggestion. you could use those brushes for a-mazing bristle bot

ChrysN (author)2010-07-29

Cool, are you writing another book?

randofo (author)ChrysN2010-07-29

Nope. Just making bots.

hellvig (author)randofo2010-08-11

Please, what are the paint brush handles for? Could they be replaced by something else, and in that case what would the requirements be then?

randofo (author)hellvig2010-08-11

They are there mainly to add a little extra weight across the can. Also, they help with zip tying the battery pack to the motor in an off-centered fashion (as it creates a larger surface area than the motor body). Replace them with anything you like.

aouate3 (author)2010-08-02

if you make sure the container is sealed, you could use it in water, it may float, and if it floats, it may be able to move around, and if you make it HUGE enough it may be able to go up things, QUICK SOMONE FIND A HUGE CONTAINER AND USE MY DIAGRAM, REPLACE THE ELECTRIC MOTOR WITH A WEED WHACKER ENGINE AND WEIGH IT DOWN WITH A CHAIR then follow these steps step one : get in step 2 : seal it up step 3, sit down step 4 : start engine step 5: pull throttle step 6: go down the street with it xD see peoples reactions step 7: try driveing it into a lake and see if it floats step 8: if you made it big enough, try going over things

aouate3 (author)2010-08-02

here is the diagram

aouate3 (author)2010-08-02

Here is part of the diagram, this takes care of the hard part, all that needs to be done now is to connect the postive and negative wires from the motor to the drive motor wires on the rc car circuit board, add a battery pack (use a mini rc car, may be easiest because bateries can get big, and the elctronics have to hang from the motor, along with a weight if needed... concept is that the motor is in a fixed postion but is moving the shaft, since the moter itself cant move in this configuration (if the motor has a weight on it) whatever is on the shaft will move, in this case being the round container... i havent tried it, idea took me seconds to think up, someone try it, i think it will work, as do a lot of my ideas

aouate3 (author)2010-08-02

if you want i can make a diagram

aouate3 (author)2010-08-02

take a cyliner like that, take a rod, put it through the center of the cylinder, attach a gear to the middle of the rod and a motor hanging on the rod freely and, add a remote control race car's controller board and hang it from the motor along with a battery and a weight, that school make it work a lot better, make go forward and backwards as long as the terrians incline isnt too high, i have been working on things like this for years, im 15 btw

J_K (author)2010-08-01

to steer it is impossible, isn´t it?

randofo (author)J_K2010-08-02

I was thinking of perhaps installing a moving weight along a track inside where the brush handles are. This, in theory, should make it slowly drift in one direction or the other.

xenor (author)J_K2010-08-02

Pretty much, but I have seen a robot named Rotundus that was the same basic idea but in a sphere.

xenor (author)2010-08-02

We used to make a low-tech version of these as a kid, with an old tin, an elastic band and a few washers for weight. You'd basically wind it up by rolling in one direction, and let it go. Would roll up inclines quite well.

DoKToR2006 (author)2010-07-31

Cool robot. if there were no hole on the tube or bottle or what is it, it could run on water, too. Or use a sphere instead of the cylinder, and you have an atv. cheers.

TTSDA (author)2010-07-31

I will make it :) When its done I will leave a picture

napalm008 (author)2010-07-30

If i ad one of these things i would not have a clear housing and just let this thing roll down a highly populated area and watch people freak out.

kcls (author)2010-07-30

So all of your simple bots are using servos. Where are you getting your servos from? And what price? I'm going to try to make one of each bot and let them all go next to each other.

randofo (author)kcls2010-07-30

I'm getting them from Parallax. They are about $10 a piece.

zack247 (author)randofo2010-07-30

could this work with a regular motor too?

randofo (author)zack2472010-07-30

It would be harder to use a motor directly. The servo is nice because it is basically a geared motor which means that it both has more torque than a normal motor and spins slower.

hunter1125 (author)2010-07-30

This reminds me of the commercial with the ravioli can that travels to reach the one kids house. Its an old commercial that was on a few years back that I remember.

sageserver (author)2010-07-30

Cut the can in half and add another servo. Then put a rc set-up in and you can have a rc-atv(All Terrain Vehicle)-vehicle.

mrklaw (author)2010-07-30

I don't understand the purpose of the paint brush handles. Wouldn't it work the same without them? Are they there to support the wires inside so they don't drag?

Kiteman (author)2010-07-30

Make it in an opaque can, paint the words "follow me" on the outside, and then let it loose across a large open space.

Make sure you are videoing the result from a distance, of course...

randofo (author)Kiteman2010-07-30

You would be surprised how many people asked me if it was a bomb when we were filming with it downtown. Speaking of which, we were kicked out of the private "public" space at 555 Howard St for filming robots. If anyone were to making a robot and want to film it, I recommend visiting 555 Howard St in San Francisco.

Kiteman (author)randofo2010-07-30

Over the road from the Temple Night Club?

(Although, going by Google Street View, 555 is a car park under a bridge... )

randofo (author)Kiteman2010-07-30

It's the giant skyscraper the car park is connected to.

Kiteman (author)randofo2010-07-30


Kiteman (author)Kiteman2010-07-30

Oh, no, stencil the words "follow me" in translucent paint on the clear can, then paint it black over the rest of the can.

Light inside the can with LEDs, and then set it off across an open space at night.

cory.smith (author)2010-07-30

Very Cool. I love the paint brush handles.

KellyTheAlien (author)2010-07-29

What is/where did you get the clear can? I think the cool part of the project would be being able to see the motor inside at work, so I don't want to work with an opaque paint can.

Kiteman (author)KellyTheAlien2010-07-30

Try a sweet-shop - our local sweet-shop gives the empties away for free, and some of them are cylindrical.

randofo (author)KellyTheAlien2010-07-30

There is a craft store chain in California called Beverley's. They sell it to use for party favors (presumably).

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previously life I had founded and run the Instructables ... More »
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