Steampunk Bristlebot Mk1





Introduction: Steampunk Bristlebot Mk1

Bristlebots are about as simple as it gets, even in non-robot terms, they're simple. So, I thought, "Why not eliminate electricity and make a clockwork bristlebot?" Indeed! A tiny mechanical wonder! 

Step 1: Bill of Materials

One clockwork motor sufficient to shake a small robot

Two brass wire brushes of your choosing

A small wood saw

A drill whose size of bit shall become clear in the following steps

Some kind of strong glue of your choosing 

Step 2: The Mechanism

Not wanting to build my own clockwork motor I searched out clocks, toys and tools both old and new that held the geared motors I would need to choose from for my bristlebot. 

I eventually settled on a mechanical penguin. It was perfect! 

I carefully disassembled the tin beast and removed it's innards leaving them completely intact. 

Step 3: The Brushes

Determine the length of the robot chassis and cut the brushes to size with a wood saw. This is not a complex operation. 

Step 4: Fitting the Motor

The construction of the motor dictated the method of mounting for this project. I had originally intended to cut slots to hold the metal tabs and quickly discovered that drilling holes was a far more practical option. 

I simple held the motor in place for the first hole and let that be the anchor for the others drilling each in turn after the first. There was a slight but inconsequential variance in the placement of the holes that was easily corrected. 

With the holes drilled I simply mixed some two part epoxy. You could use about anything, I'm just not fond of waiting for glue to dry and prefer to use something faster. 

Fill the holes with glue and slip fit the brushes to the motor. Simply hold it in place until the glue sets. 

Step 5: Turn It Loose!

Once the glue is dry make check to make sure everything is sound and secure then simply wind it up and let it go. 

(....check out the video at the beginning.) 



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    It looks like the Mars rover. :)

    A miniature version of this engine and a tiny boiler would be sweet.

    This is more gearpunk. What it is, is awesome. I will try to make a candle engine version to "steam" it up.

    you killed the penguin huhuhu Lol

    Fantastic. You should draw some eyelashes on the holes in the key, and a nose in the middle.


    Is that Instructables HQ? I didn't know you worked there... Great instructable, though!

    6 replies

    Cool. It must be pretty great working there.

    You can always drop by and find out. :) Lots of nice marinas over here.


    Yes there is! :D The only difficult part would be the panama canal. It twice to three times the amount of one plane ticket and in season, there is at LEAST a one to two week wait to get through. I may be going to California to visit some relatives soon so maybe (I hope!) I could stop by.

    That would be awesome! If you drop by give us a short lead time and there'll be some sort of tasty baked goods!


    Tasty baked goods?! All the more reason to come!

    Very neat, the goggles are a GREAT touch! Did you see any other likely candidates besides the old penguin?

    1 reply

    I did find other likely candidates. At least one ought to work if I can score a few of the right gears to speed up the drive mechanism. Finding that was what made this model the Mk1. I'll hopefully have a Mk2 soon.