Introduction: Walking Box

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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.


hornbadoing (author)2008-09-16

can you make a vieo of making this pleas

rickharris (author)2007-08-31

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?

big dawg (author)rickharris2007-09-03

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

reedzilla (author)2007-03-18

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 :)

big dawg (author)reedzilla2007-03-18

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

T3h_Muffinator (author)big dawg2007-03-18

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

mikesty (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-03-18

Yeah, there definitely is a centrifugal force.

T3h_Muffinator (author)mikesty2007-03-18

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.

We learned that in 8th grade...

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.

LasVegas (author)royalestel2007-03-19

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.

royalestel (author)LasVegas2007-03-20

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.

LasVegas (author)royalestel2007-03-20

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.

royalestel (author)LasVegas2007-03-20

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.

LasVegas (author)royalestel2007-03-20

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.

royalestel (author)LasVegas2007-03-21

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.

big dawg (author)royalestel2007-04-30

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

royalestel (author)big dawg2007-05-01

Yeah, we took it to Private messaging.

royalestel (author)royalestel2007-03-21

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

Moogle (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-03-18

In short, the 'fake' force that everyone means when they say there's no centrifugal force is that if you're sitting on a merry-go-round, the outward pull you feel is not a 'force' like gravity, but rather the merry-go-round pushing you in a circle (exerting centripetal force) instead of the straight line your inertia would carry you if you let go.

The REAL centrifugal force, which big dawg is using *absolutely* correctly, is force that the ball is exerting on the spinning mechanism to make the box jump.

T3h_Muffinator (author)Moogle2007-03-18

Hmmm, I'll ask my physics teacher tomorrow. I get what you're saying though. Newton's third law, since there's a force pulling in on the ball, there's also a force pushing outward.

big dawg (author)T3h_Muffinator2007-03-18

if there isn't then i mean the force that pushes spinning things outwards

big dawg (author)big dawg2007-03-18

also its not supposed to have any uses. its to be built to amaze freinds and family

CameronSS (author)2007-03-18

Did you actually make one of these, or just see the idea and draw pictures of it? Photos? Video showing how it works?

big dawg (author)CameronSS2007-03-18

i did, but i cant seem to put it on the page.

lemonie (author)big dawg2007-03-18

Exactly what problem(s) do you have uploading pictures (one of us should be able to help you)?

big dawg (author)lemonie2007-03-19

well, i save the image and then i browse and its not there

lemonie (author)big dawg2007-03-19

You can find the .jpg with e.g. MS Explorer, but the 'Browse' doesn't pick it up? Does 'browse' pick up any files on your machine?

big dawg (author)lemonie2007-04-11

only my pictures

lemonie (author)big dawg2007-04-12

Right, so perhaps it's where or how you save the images?
Unless you meant that you are not able to upload pictures to the site, but you believe you be doing the right things, it just doesn't work?

royalestel (author)big dawg2007-03-19

Yeah, post the photos, bud. I think this is a cool idea, but we gotta see the thing, man. And a video would be super nifty too.

InfamousKirch (author)royalestel2007-03-19

A video would be real nice to see exactly how this thing moves .... why exactly can't the batteries be inside the box???

big dawg (author)InfamousKirch2007-03-19

they can be, but then you would have to open the box to change the batteries

InfamousKirch (author)big dawg2007-03-19

Alright, just thought that this might have depended on a very low weight for it to work... neat idea though

CaptainBalsa (author)2007-04-10

This thing really does work, I built one about 20 years ago from plans originally published in Popular Mechanics back in the 1950's or 1960's . . . their version pulled a niffty little wagon (wooden box with four wheels and a switch) to house the batteries. It took some tinkering to get it to work and it's no speedster, but it is a really neat toy. It goes up and down a slope at about the same speed as it moves on a falt suface and it you try to stop it with your finger it just keeps gently nudging you to get out of the way.

Aeshir (author)2007-03-18

What's a "metal rail and slider"?

big dawg (author)Aeshir2007-03-18

its like the things on sliding doors that lets the door move.

LasVegas (author)big dawg2007-03-19

The things on sliding doors that let the doors move have wheels. That's how they slide! I don't think you made either one of your Instructables. The general ideas are fine. Their implementation is flawed though. Try building one or both of them and when you have working prototypes, show us!

Aeshir (author)Aeshir2007-03-18

Is it a ruler?

LasVegas (author)2007-03-18

Did you actually build this device? Or is it just something you thought up? Without a prototype, you've got nothing except a guess as to what it will do. You should build this and document the process with photos. Also add a movie of the device running. So far, this is nothing more than an idea.

Weissensteinburg (author)2007-03-18

Do you have a video? Or anything to show that you made one?

yes but i cant get the pictures on the page

mrmath (author)2007-03-18

What does it do? What's the point?

big dawg (author)mrmath2007-03-18

if it is built correctly, it will slow but steadily move forward.

reedzilla (author)2007-03-18

one other appears to me that if the device makes enough lurches the wires between the motor and the front socket would twist up pretty good (the motor rotates with the can, yeah?) and possibly yank themselves from their leads. Unless I have the whole concept of the design wrong in my head, which is entirely possible!

big dawg (author)reedzilla2007-03-18

the motor doesnt spin. only the can does

reedzilla (author)big dawg2007-03-18

hrm...I guess that makes sense; if it rotated with the can like I was thinking it wouldnt really provide any power would it

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