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This Instructable will show you how to build an art robot out of a Solo cup, pencils/pens, and a few pieces of hardware.

The instructions here are divided into four 'sections' that demonstrate you how to:

Build Your Power Source (Steps 2 - 6)

Set Up Your Robot Frame (Steps 7 - 10)

Attach Your Motor (Steps 11 - 16)

Turn on Your Art Robot (Steps 17 - 20)

Required Materials:

  • A Solo cup (preferably one with a square, ergonomic body)
  • Heavy nuts and bolts (or old batteries)
  • Two doorbell wires with stripped ends
  • Scissors
  • Four pencils/pens
  • A rubber band
  • Two brass fasteners
  • Electric tape
  • An alligator clip
  • A battery
  • A 1.5V motor

Step 1: WARNING: Protect Your Eyes

Wear eye protection at all times while building and operating your robot. Please ensure that all humans and pets in the vicinity of your robot are also wearing eye protection.

Step 2: Build Your Power Source (Part A)

To build your power source, you will need the following items:

  • A battery
  • Two doorbell wires
  • Two brass fasteners
  • A rubber band
  • Electric tape (not pictured)

Step 3: Build Your Power Source (Part B)

First, wrap the bare end of your wire around the stem of the brass fastener.

Step 4: Build Your Power Source (Part C)

Then, complete the following steps:


  • Use your thumb to measure approximately 2'' of electric tape. (Then cut the tape.)
  • Part the "stem" of the brass fastener
  • Position the top of the brass fastener against one end of the battery.
  • Hold each stem piece so that it lays flat against a side of the battery.
  • Tape each of the stem pieces to the sides of the battery, ensuring that you maintain good contact between the head of the brass fastener and the end of the battery.

Step 5: Build Your Power Source (Part D)

Perform the same steps from 'Part C,' but this time attach the brass fastener to the other end of the battery.

  • Use your thumb to measure approximately 2'' of electric tape. (Then cut the tape.)
  • Part the "stem" of the brass fastener.
  • Position the top of the brass fastener against one end of the battery.
  • Hold each stem piece so that it lays flat against a side of the battery.
  • Tape each of the stem pieces to the sides of the battery, ensuring that you maintain good contact between the head of the brass fastener and the end of the battery.

Step 6: Build Your Power Source (Part E)

Place a rubber band around the ends of your battery. Now your power source is complete!

Warning: Do not allow your wires to touch. Doing so may blow up your battery.

Step 7: Set Up Your Robot Frame (Part A)

To set up your robot frame, you will need the following items:

  • A Solo cup
  • Electric tape
  • A scissors
  • Four art pens/pencils
  • Nuts and bolts

Step 8: Set Up Your Robot Frame (Part B)

First, hold the "bottom" of the overturned solo cup and use the scissors to poke four evenly spaced holes around the "top" of the cup.

Warning:Do not hold the sides of the solo cup as you are poking holes as doing so may result in a hand kabob.

Step 9: Set Up Your Robot Frame (Part C)

After you have cut holes around the cup, locate places for your bolts inside the cup, ensuring that the bolts do not cover the holes that you have cut. Tape each of your bolts to the inside of the cup using 3-4 pieces of electric tape.

Note: The position, number, and weight of your bolts will influence your robot's motion. Less weight will make your robot's lines more staccato. More weight will smooth your robot's lines.

Step 10: Set Up Your Robot Frame (Part D)

Once you've positioned your bolts, slide each pencil through a hole so that it protrudes from the "bottom" of the cup. Each pencil should protrude approximately the length of a fingernail. Then, tape each pencil in place.

Note: Offsetting the pencils slightly will make the movement of your robot asymmetrical.

Step 11: Attach Your Motor (Part A)

To attach your motor, you will need the following items:

  • Electric tape
  • A 1.5V motor
  • An alligator clip

Step 12: Attach Your Motor (Part B)

First, measure a section of tape that is approximately the length of your fingers. (Then cut the tape)

Step 13: Attach Your Motor (Part C)

Next, wrap and fold the tape around the motor shaft.

Note: Do not allow the tape to touch the motor casing as this will interfere with the rotation of the motor shaft.

Step 14: Attach Your Motor (Part D)

Then, attach your alligator clip to the middle of the shaft.

Step 15: Attach Your Motor (Part E)

Once the motor is ready, place it between two pencils on the "top" of the robot.

Note: Be careful to position your motor so that the alligator clip clears the robot frame when it spins. Contact between the clip and the frame will drain the battery more quickly and disrupt the robot's motion.

Step 16: Attach Your Motor (Part F)

Finally, use several pieces of tape to fasten the motor to the top of the robot.

Step 17: Turn on Your Robot (Part A)

To get your robot moving, first tape your power source to the back of the robot.

Step 18: Turn on Your Robot (Part B)

Then, thread one of your wires through one of the tabs on the back of your motor.

Step 19: Turn on Your Robot (Part C)

Finally, position one of your fingers next to the alligator clip and thread your other wire through the other tab.

Warning: Do not allow your wires to touch. Doing so may blow up your battery.

Step 20: Turn on Your Robot (Part D)

Let your art robot draw!

Note: You can use a small 'pen' made of textbooks to keep your robot on the canvas.

<p>I've never thought of using a solo cup to make an artbot. This is a great idea! I would love to see some of it's artwork! A video of it in action would be great to see as well!</p>

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