Introduction: USB-Powered Apple

Picture of USB-Powered Apple

Well, the holiday season is quickly encroaching upon our otherwise uneventful and pleasant existences. Soon most of us will have to sit through many long meals with our family (or someone else's) and try to keep our sanity. I don't know about you, but during this time of year I could use some stress relief.

To keep with spirit of the season I made this USB-Powered Apple. It is really quite a simple device. It vibrates when a person grabs for it and does not vibrate when a person does not. Unlike your family, this apple is predictable and may relieve stress.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

Picture of Go Get Stuff


1 - Apple (real or otherwise)
1 - Vibrating motor (preferably 1" diameter... DIY vibrating motor)
1 - 1+1/4" diameter PVC pipe (or to fit your motor)
1 - Water bottle cap (should your motor not fit snug inside the pipe)
1 - Copper foil (the thinnest sheet of copper you can find)
1 - USB cable
1 - QT113H capacitance sensor chip
1 - 8 pin socket (optional)
1 - 0.047uF polyester film capacitor
1 - 2222 transistor
1 - 1N4004 diode
1 - PC Board Grid-Style (Radioshack 276-150)
1 - 5" shielded wire
1 - red and black 22 AWG wire
1 - Electrical tape


- Soldering iron
- Exacto knife
- Pocket knife
- Hot glue gun
- Drill or awl
- Needle nose pliers

Step 2: Carve a Lid in the Bottom.

Picture of Carve a Lid in the Bottom.

Carve a lid in the bottom of the apple as though you were carving a pumpkin. In other words, cut with the point of the blade pointing into the center of the apple so that when you hollow it out the lid won't fall back through.

The lid should be slightly wider than the PVC pipe that you want to encase your motor inside of.

Step 3: Hollow Out the Apple.

Picture of Hollow Out the Apple.

Whether your apple is real or fake, you are going to want to carefully carve out a cylindrical hole. You should try to go deep enough so that the motor can drop in with at least an inch to spare. For this you may want to use a blade that is a little stronger than your exacto knife (such as a pocket knife).

Step 4: Prepare the Plug.

Picture of Prepare the Plug.

Take your USB plug and cut off the end that will not easily plug into your computer. It should look like the picture below. The red and black wires are the ones that you will be concerned with later. Red is +5V and black is ground.

Once your wire is cut, make a hole in the side of the apple towards the base as thick as the wire. This hole should bore through until it hits the cylindrical hole you have already carved out. You can do this very carefully with a drill or an awl. Once the hole is complete, pass the wire through.

Step 5: Build the Circuit.

Picture of Build the Circuit.

Cut your PCB to be small enough to fit into the opening, but large enough accomodate the circuit (see secondary picture below).

Once the board is prepared, construct on it the circuit shown below. Note that the copper electrode should be connected to the circuit with shielded wire. The shielding should be connected to ground on the circuit, but not by any means touch the electrode.

Step 6: Construct the Motor Casing.

Picture of Construct the Motor Casing.

If your motor does not fit snuggly inside the PVC pipe then see if a water bottle cap can. If it can, then cut a hole in it so that your motor fits snuggly inside the water bottle cap and then shove that inside the pipe. Once it is established that the motor is protected and that the weight can spin around without hitting the walls of the case, using your hot glue gun, glue everything into place.

Now that the motor casing is built, it's time to wrap your electrode (copper sheet) around the outside. Solder and/or glue the electrode into place.

Step 7: Stuff the Apple.

Picture of Stuff the Apple.

Insulate the circuit board and any exposed wires with electrical tape. Carefully shove everything inside. Ideally you should put in the vibrating motor first and the circuit second so that the electrode is closer to the surface of the apple.

Should you want to increase the sensitivity of your apple, you can strip small sections of wire and pass them through the apple so that they are situated right below the skin's surface. Make sure that enough of the wire is sticking out within the cylinder so that when you pass the motor in, these wires will make contact with the electrode (but not so long that they will get caught in the spinning motor itself).

Step 8: Testing Testing... 1 2 3...

Picture of Testing Testing... 1 2 3...

Flip the apple right side up. Make sure the apple is not coming into contact with any strong electrical fields such as you or a cell phone.

Plug it in.

Nothing should happen.

Now put your hand around it.

It should vibrate.


If you plug it in and it starts to vibrate and never stops then you can have one of many problems:
1. Your wiring is wrong.
2. Somewhere on the circuit wires are being crossed.
3. Ground wires are making contact with your electrode.
4. You have not used shielded cable for your electrode.
5. You have wired your shielded cable wrong.

If you plug it and nothing happens and then when you touch it nothing still happens:
1. Your wiring is wrong.
2. Somewhere on the circuit wires are being crossed.
3. Your chip or transistor may be dead.
4. Your USB cable is busted.

If you plug it in and it vibrates for 10 seconds every time you touch it then you probably are not using shielded electrode wire. The sensor is timing out and recallibrating itself every time it is triggered. Use shielded cable or fix your wiring.

Step 9: Close It Up.

Picture of Close It Up.

Once you are sure that it works, close the apple up. Take the lid and position it into place. With your hot glue gun, glue it shut however you see fit. Make sure it really works well before you do this.

Step 10: Relax.

Picture of Relax.

Plug it in and grab for it every time your relatives call.

Bzzzzzzz......ahhhhhhhhhh...... I make dinner this year? Sure.... fine..... ahhhhh.........


jsine (author)2012-11-30

If heard of Apple software but this is ridiculous

randofo (author)jsine2012-11-30

This is Apple hardware.

c3ralki1l3r (author)randofo2013-02-20

Its Apple FRUITware

techboy411 (author)c3ralki1l3r2013-08-01


plmqaz1243 (author)2011-10-01

I see you have an apple of the styrofoam variety.

vishalapr (author)2011-07-05

At first when I just saw this I thought what on earth is a USB apple, butthen after a little bit of reading, I found out that its a really cool instructable!

tigerbomb8 (author)2011-06-19

i give Steve Jobs a month be for he take this and makes a sound system to sell for 250$

sattu94 (author)2011-05-07

You know a cross-sectional Image(drawing) of where everything should ideally be(inside the apple), will really help the beginners like me. Nice Instructable though.

snowluck2345 (author)2011-02-26

I think its amptereage that kills you but you need enogh vaults to geth through the resistance of your skin and all the flesh to get to your heart.

loltae (author)2009-05-25

cool a vibrating apple

dewnorth (author)loltae2011-01-18

umm yaaa...

AlternateLives (author)2010-10-30

And for your next trick: Bluetooth!

juanvi (author)2010-07-30

did you think of this usb apple after loosing your sanity?

REA (author)2009-03-10

nice! i think ill make a macintosh!!

tinkerC (author)REA2009-03-13

He already has an Apple, with a screen too. A PowerBook G4 laptop, an Apple computer.

REA (author)tinkerC2009-03-15

i was actually talking about the mackintosh apple, not the Apple Mac.

tinkerC (author)REA2009-03-16

Could you please be clear? Until recently, there were Power Macintosh computers, and that is how Apple shortened the name to Mac. The long name for an Apple Mac is an Apple Macintosh.

REA (author)tinkerC2009-03-16

OI! its a play-on word. im talking about these mackintoshes:

tinkerC (author)REA2009-03-16

Ah. BTW, that is why Apple chose Macintosh as the name for the apple computers.

REA (author)tinkerC2009-03-17

yes it is. Jobs and Woz used to be all about fun. also, the Lisa was named after Jobs's illegitimate daughter.

cj72396 (author)REA2009-05-31

I have a powerbook G4. I hate it so much and I want to get a macbook pro.

REA (author)cj723962009-05-31

to be honest, the only thing i like about apple's computers is that the default graphics card is built for gaming and the screens are large. other than that, its a waste of money. OS X Leopard is also good and i can say after using both, Leopard beats Vista.

tinkerC (author)REA2009-06-02

Other than that, the processors are based on a strong architecture, so are fast; they have built-in sound, so you don't need to mess with sound cards; and the operating system is stable.

REA (author)tinkerC2009-06-02

yes, for got about that. the only problem is, since all of that is built into it, if you want better things in it, its hard to do it. i saw the inside of a newer mac and it looked confusing compared to a tower. but still, this round, Apple wins. just wait till M$ makes the Microsoft Surface available to the general public.

tinkerC (author)REA2009-06-04

You could probably still add a sound card to it. The thing is, the things inside the computer are the best, with Digital out and in, analog in/out and built in speakers. None of this annoying "The only thing my computer can make for sound is a beep" business. Your talking about the MacPro, so I'll tell you why. There are no wires. You slide the optical-drive in, and it goes 'click' onto the logic board. There are four trays. You slide one out, put a hard-drive in, and close it. Your drive is now connected. The RAM is on a board you plug into the Logic board. No wires, more compact. What is Microsoft Surface?

tinkerC (author)cj723962009-06-01

Are you a gamer? G4s are great, for me.

AnarchistAsian (author)2008-11-17

yeah, uhh... nice... but anyways, for the vibrating motor, you can get one out of an old cell phone. (they have them because of the vibrate function)

i just took apart 3 phones recently and i got 1 circular one like in the picture up top and 2 uneven ones like in pagers...and i got speakers too! thats the cool thing!


Hawaii00000 (author)2007-11-01

Hey it would be funny if someone ate it lol how many volts come out of a usb port?

randofo (author)Hawaii000002007-11-01

5 wonderful volts... at I think somewhere between 300 - 500mA. I forget.

shadowfluid (author)randofo2009-03-12

i'm geek enough to know that there were 5 volts but u sir, even knew the mA....i'm impressed. i commend your knowledge. (idk why, i just felt like saying that whole thing. thank you for your time.)

Hawaii00000 (author)randofo2007-11-01

How many milli amps will kill you (and how much does it take to feel)

randofo (author)Hawaii000002007-11-01

The US Army torture manual says anything over 500mA will harm a person and anything over 1 amp will kill a person. Although, it is unlikely that 1 amp will kill a person unless the voltage is high or they have a heart condition, but it's good to keep in mind that it may not take all that much to zap a person out of existance....

The USB port puts out about as much current as 3 AA batteries in series... I wouldn't worry too much about it.

When I made Tazer Tag (, people were getting shocked by 80 - 120 volts at around 10mA. I couldn't ever recommend doing such a thing to yourself or others.

In short, I would venture to say that anything that is both under 800mA and 12v is nothing to worry about.

randofo (author)randofo2007-11-01

Let me reaffirm... DON'T SHOCK YOURSELF OR OTHERS! Especiallly in locations in which the electricity will pass through the head or heart.

Killa-X (author)randofo2008-03-29

Yeah. Let's go with that. but i find over 1 amp 320V capacitors that burn you, now those are fun to shock people with! and your self. But u cant say the amps is a problem. Explain this 800mA transformer i got for a train set, 2 figures on, im not dead. EXPLAIN!

randofo (author)Killa-X2008-03-29

Yes, I can say amperage is a problem. 1 amp is all that it takes to kill someone if a combination of factors are correct (this is straight out of the US military field manual on torture). Those features include a high enough voltage and the proper path for electricity to travel through the body to ground. Your transformer was probably not more than 12v. Correct, a transformer that is 12v and 800ma will not harm you. A person could also easily withstand 120v @ 10ma with little more than some slight muscle spasming. It is the combination of a high voltage and a high amperage (but an amperage that could be as low as 1 amp) that will harm you. And yes, a 320v capacitor will burn you and yes, it could potentially kill you. Most shocks that people receive by these are small surface shocks where it just shorts on the skin and at worst leaves a nasty blister. I have, however, had the electricity discharge through my right hand and out my right foot to Earth's ground. That was unpleasant. If it had discharged through my left hand, it would have taken the shortest possible route to Earth's ground which would be through my heart and out my left foot. I'm pretty healthy and don't have a heart condition, so I probably would have survived that, but there is always the chance that I may not be able to survive such a shock passing through my heart. Again, it would depend on a number of factors such as whether I was sweating (skin conductivity), where in the cycle my heartbeat was, dumb luck, etc.... I think the point of what I am saying is that you shouldn't mess around with electricity. I've melted screwdriver tips discharging camera flashes, so as to why you would willingly stick your finger inbetween the leads of a camera flash to shock yourself is well beyond me. Isn't there some better way to be spending your time?

mitchell931993 (author)randofo2008-11-18

voltage doesnt play a factor in killing you. at the most it makes u spasm and fly against a wall very hard, that might kill you, the wall.....

MJTH (author)randofo2008-10-21

Its something like 0.01 amps required to kill you, and somehting like 32000 volts.

chadcad (author)MJTH2008-11-17

a static discharge on a dry fall day can exceed 1 million volts. Volts don't kill, amps do. My understanding is that the higher the amperage the lower the volts need to be to kill ya. So while 1 amp at 9 volts wouldn't do the trick 1 amp at 1,000 volts would.

Yerboogieman (author)Hawaii000002008-11-17

6mA across the heart will kill you

pez4piggy (author)2009-03-07

I wish i could make it but i cant get the supplies >_

lawizeg (author)2009-02-16

Is there an exploding version of this?

PeterTheUnGreat (author)2006-11-21

Thank you for making me laugh. My collegue suggested a clockwork mechanism would be more subtle as it wouldnt have a wire sticking out. Pete

The wire makes it funnier and more suspicious, though. Still, a clockwork orange is almost as good as a USB apple.

jasper (author)PeterTheUnGreat2007-03-02

A clockwork orange perhaps ?

randofo (author)jasper2007-03-02

Brilliant! Coming soon.

merseyless (author)randofo2008-11-12

how about a clockwork grapefruit! ( if you play kingdom of loathing you would know about this!)

aditya0210 (author)2008-12-19

(laughing)Don't you think it would rot?

chibipowered (author)2008-03-29

gee that's great.... won't it rot?

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Randy and I founded the Instructables Design Studio. I'm also the author of the books 'Simple Bots,' and '62 Projects to ... More »
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