Walking Box

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Introduction: Walking Box

this is a box that uses a unique form of motion to move without wheels or treads. it is simple and inexpensive to build.

parts list:
any durable box
metal rail and slider
a flat metal can with a lid
a steel ball
a small flap of plastic
any type of DC motor
around 10" of wire
small socket and plug (earphone jacks are good)
a battery holder
a toy car to put the battery holder on (optional)

Step 1: The Frame

First, screw the rail into the box at about a 30 degree angle. Screw the lowest screw slightly more loosely so the slider won't slide out of the rail. Also insert the socket by drilling or cutting a hole in the side. Insert short wires into the socket before it is mounted onto the box.

Step 2: The Movement

Take the flat metal can and glue the plastic flap on the inside so one end is connected to the edge and the other end is in the center of the can. Put the steel ball in and glue the lid shut. Attach short lenghts of wire to the terminals of the motor and attach the motor to the lid of the can.

Step 3: Putting It All Together

Take the movement mechanism and attach (preferably with hot glue)the motor to the slider and splice the motor wires and the socket wires together. make sure the movement mechanism can slide freely on the rail.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

Add wires to the plug and connect the wires to the battery holder. Optionally, you can connect the battery holder to a toy car so it won't be dragged along the ground. To use the walking box just plug in the batteries and watch it go. Make sure the wires attached to the plug are put in the right way or it won't go anywhere.

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    48 Discussions

    I am an engineer but fail to understand where your motor is attached, does the metal can spin? is it connected to the motor shaft? What is connected to the slider, the motor or the can. What does the steel ball do and the plastic flap. Will this move more effectively if it was on wheels?

    1 reply

    the can spins, the motor is attached to the slider, and it relies on friction to move so it wouldn't move if it was on wheels

    I would assume from the schematics that the box sort of "lurches" forward when the motor rotates the metal can, from the force generated by the can sliding along the rail from gravity, assuming there's enough force generated to break the friction between the box and whatever surface it's on (otherwise it'll just kinda shake and shimmy I suppose). It would be pretty cool to see in action but I'm having a hard time thinking of practical uses...have you come up with any ideas for it? Maybe there could be a second sliding rail assembly on the front perpendicular to the first, controlled remotely by servos so you could "steer" it :)

    16 replies

    the steel ball makes centrifugal force which makes the whole motor and the can hit the loose screw. backwards motion is adsorbed by rail friction and gravity. also, it is impractical as it will not move if places on wheels

    I'm sorry, but there's no such thing as centrifugal force... centripetal force perhaps? Although, this guy seems to disagree =P

    If you haven't taken physics yet, then I won't argue with you because until you do take physics, you won't believe me. If you were being sarcastic then revoke what I said above, as well as what I'm saying now.

    Yeah, but sometimes people don't believe their teachers until they start failing their tests =P

    Well, a lot of crap in science books is all theory and semantics anyway . . . teachers just never tell you that. I think it's a good thing to approach science what you are being taught with a bit of scepticism, unless you REALLY trust the teacher.

    Your science books are not teaching you semantics. There's a big difference between a theory and hypothesis as well. Theory is science! Physics are the laws of science (facts, not theories). A theory has been proven in at least some manner and has not been proved false. A hypothesis has not been proven. IE: "Evolution" is a theory, while "Intelligent Design" is a hypothesis and "Gravity" is a fact. The existence of the ether of space and the planet Vulcan were theories that have since been proven false.

    Empirical evidences are facts. And, as I said, theories are what fills most science books. The semantics I refer to are the nice way everything is spun in science books to "illustrate" the veracity of theories. But one is never told that the "whys" in a science book are mostly theory, not fact. Took me a long time to realize that we ought to rewrite science books (and museum plaques) to encourage people to think, not memorize.

    Theories are is fact valid. Until a theory has been proven false, it can be assumed to be true. This is what science is all about. If everything were known, there'd be no progress. I have a book that teaches the Right Hand Rule for current! Believe it or not, until the invention of the Transistor, the theory was that electricity moved from positive to negative. When the transistor proved that theory wrong, all the textbooks had to be rewritten. Of course, the idea that electricity (electrons) move from negative to positive is still just a theory and could be proven wrong tomorrow.

    Yeah, you're right that we have to make assumptions. But I believe it is very important that we do not teach as truth that which is only assumption, or theory, as you might say. Understanding that so much of human knowledge is changeable and fluctuating really opens eyes to the infinite possibilities that life presents.

    Theories should be taught as theories and as such, should be considered true. It should and is taught that theories are true until proven otherwise. Theories are not assumptions. Without scientifically demonstrating that a theory can't be proven false, it is a hypothesis and not a theory. A hypothesis, on the other hand should be considered false until proven otherwise. This is why I used Evolution and Intelligent Design as examples. There is a certain crowd that insists that our children be taught Intelligent Design as fact, when it is only a hypothesis (cannot be proven true or false). They go on the assumption that because they believe it to be true than it must be. This is not science. It's religion. Evolution, on the other hand, has all sorts of empirical evidence that proves it true and none proving it false. Hence, a theory. Until there is evidence proving evolution false, it should be considered a fact.

    Eh? Theories should be taught as theories, I agree with that. That's what I've been at. But the only theory I was taught in high school (as far as I was told) was the theory of evolution. You say theories aren't assumptions, but what would you call it otherwise? Sure there's the scientific definition, but that still boils down to assumption. While we have to assume that theories are reliable to make any sort of practical progress, we don't have to assume that they are true. It's the philosophical equivalent of saying we have to assume cars are reliable, or we'd never try driving anywhere in them, but we don't have to assume they run perfectly in order to use them. Most theories survive simply because we don't have a better explanation of phenomena. I completely disagree that we should consider theories as fact. Merely reliable instead. Considering them as fact has a tendency to close the mind to other possibilities and undercut true discourse. Like the global warming (or evolution/creationism) debates, neither side listens to the other because both sides believe their viewpoint is fact (the incontrovertible truth) and not a reliable assumption (theory). Closemindedness and lack of trust prevent discourse.

    how long did it take you to write that? is this still about the instructable anymore?

    We're sure getting philosophical on a walking box page, eh?