Vibrobot From Old Camera


Introduction: Vibrobot From Old Camera

About: Mostly a programmer and random computer guy, but like to mess with hardware and other real life objects sometimes.

Inspired by the large bristle bot and Evil Mad Scientist (I'm having something of a crush on them lately) I decided to build a vibrobot. I used parts from a camera and some tape, less then a dollars worth total in my case. It's not terribly detailed and since the specific camera isn't likely to be found, it's more of an inspirational writeup of what one might do with scraps.

Cameras with a flash contain a capacitor that may be charged even after the batteries are removed. Touching it's leads may discharge it into you, i.e. shock you. Opinions differ on how much actual danger is involved, but either way you do not want to touch it. There are a few other articles on instructables and elsewhere on how to safely discharge them (such as locating them and shorting them with an insulated screwdriver). Otherwise, disassemble while aware that some leads or components may have power in them despite the lack of battery.

Step 1: Materials

As mentioned, I used an old camera. I bought this one at Goodwill for 75 cents. I wasn't specifically aiming to use it for this, but it did obviously have a motor in it (to advance the film), as well as clearly some other possibly useful parts (including two LCDs, some LEDs including an IR and some various other actuators). Clearly something to be used and this fine day when most people worry about the superbowl, I used it for this. I also used some duck tape (generic), perhaps six inches.

Step 2: Rip It Up

Unscrew all screws. Take apart further, unscrewing new screws you get access to and repeat until it's in pieces. If intending to salvage other parts, try not to break them. Keep ripping until you have the motor by itself and a pile of assorted parts.

Step 3: Build

Strip the ends of the wires to the motor. See what it will run on power wise. This one seemed to run ok off one of the two included AA batteries. Attach an offset weight to it. Here I use the battery compartment door, as it had a small springy part that snapped fairly tight to the cog on the motor. I then taped the motor itself to the top of the front of the camera case, as it kept the spinning (and wobbling and vibrating) battery compartment door off the ground. Tape the battery to the other side (or anywhere else it fits).

Step 4: Attach Inclined Flexible Part

Tape something mildly flexible and longish to one side. I used a part of plastic formerly on top, which seemed flat and long enough to work. Remember that this part will "ratchet" the device as it's moving, so it needs to be somewhat flexible and at an angle.

Step 5: Power Up

Attach wires with tape. The more ambitious might solder, perhaps add an on-off switch or something. This particular camera had only membrane switches, nothing especially useful as an on-off. For purity purposes, I used nothing beyond tape I didn't get from the camera itself so it's stick tape on/peel tape off to start/stop the action.

Step 6: GO!!

Put it on a flat surface and watch it scuttle around. If it is biased toward a direction (in this clip it tends to turn left) try to straighten the inclined part. The straighter it is the more erratic it tends to be since putting more pressure on one side tends to make it turn the opposite direction. Conversely, if you like it going mostly in circles tilt it slightly (it doesn't take much) and it will say in a fairly stable pattern of going in circles.

My kids think it's very amusing and my cats are a little unnerved by it. I can certainly think of worse ways to spend an hour and a dollar.



    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Casting Contest

      Casting Contest
    • Clocks Contest

      Clocks Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    mine shocked me after I took the battery out. ???

    6 replies

    There is a capacitor for the flash in flash cameras that may or may not be charged. They deliver a pretty heavy punch if touched. I should probably have mentioned that, in fact I'll go ahead and add it now. Sorry to hear and sorry I didn't think of mentioning it, I've been messing with cameras too long to realize perhaps that needs reiterating.

    You can connect a 10W 10 Ohm resistor to empty the capacitors...

    cool could that in sum way be hooked up to the screendoor handle to punch the friend you invite over as a gag ?

    Yea I figured that out a while ago but didn't feel like posting it.

    Still good thing to point out, perhaps someone else will like to hear it ahead of time.

    before you take the battery out take a picture with the flash on (if you can) and quickly remove the battery so the capacitor will not be able to recharge. the capacitor will contain less (or no) charge.

    Yes. They probably cost even less now (if anything), seeing as no one needs a cheapo 35mm camera anymore. A good SLR still has some tiny value but bad instants really no longer do.

    Now I agree with your job which is well done....I have the same camera and has a film processing problem (maybe a gear is damaged).

    Off topic question: What model of keyboard is that in the background of your pictures?

    2 replies

    I'm not quite sure. I think it was a logitech wireless of some sort. Most of the keys were worn off so for fun I cleared them all to straight black. It was kind of interesting to notice I actually did look at the symbols a little without noticing. Whole thing gave out (recycled some of the switches, tossed the rest) so can't mention exact model.

    Ah, okay. Yeah, I noticed the all-black keys, and I thought it looked Logitech-ish or Dell-ish. That would explain it. Cool Instructable by the way, but the keyboard is what really caught my attention; I've considered getting a Das Ultimate keyboard, just for the blank keycaps. Maybe I should get a Logitech and just mod it. That would make an awesome Instructable. (Hint, hint!)

    Ever notice a little thing called "the entertainment industry"? Yes, people have money and time to "wast" - people often use time and money (lots of each) for simply entertaining themselves. As I mention in step 2, runner up was watching the superbowl to please those around me. I instead opted to spend a fifth of the price of one foam finger to entertain myself and maybe, just maybe, learn something in the process.

    There was an LED in the camera? Wire it back into the bristlebot and you can enter it into the LED contest!

    1 reply

    Good point.. I only drove it at 1.5v though, so to get there I'd have to probably shove on more batteries.

    Cool! Try making it circle around your cats if you can, it'll be funny, nice job. ;-)