Introduction: Build a Motorized Dinosaur Using Plastic Trash, in 55 Minutes or Less!

About: I'm Mario Caicedo Langer (M.C. for short), a Colombian STEAM educator living in Azerbaijan, BSc in Naval Sciences and former Navy officer. I am a CAD and 3D Printing enthusiast and an artist specialized in jun…

Hello. My name is Mario and I love to build things using trash. One week ago, I was invited to participate in a morning show of the national TV channel of Azerbaijan, to talk about the "Waste to Art" exhibition. The only condition? I had to build one of my creations in 1 hour or less... in live television... broadcasting to all the country!

I created a small rolling dinosaur named "Yoshi", using a discarded charger, the handle of a cat-hair cleaner and dental floss containers. It took me 30 minutes to build it. I couldn't take a lot of photos because of time limitations and besides, I gave away the dinosaur as a present for the show. But if you want to see it, this is my Instagram video of Yoshi exploring the TV studio.

Nevertheless, I loved the design so much that I created Yoshi 2.0, so I can share with you how to build your own up-cycled motorized dinosaur. It took me 55 minutes to make (including time for photos and some setback during the process); but if you have all materials and tools ready for action, you can make this in 1 hour or less.

I'm participating in the "1 Hour Challenge" of Instructables. If you like my project, your vote will be appreciated.

Oh, and I timed the process. You can check for the chronometer in some of the photos.

Ready... set... GO!


Materials are relatively easy to find, and even, you can get substitutes:

  • 1 dual shaft gearbox with motor (like this one)
  • 1 AA battery holder with switch (like this one)
  • 2 AA batteries
  • Wheels: 2 circular dental floss containers.
  • Body: 1 discarded cellphone charger (or the cat-hair cleaner handle I mentioned. Any plastic piece that looks like a body and where you can attach the gearbox and the battery holder will do the trick)
  • Head: 1 discarded power converter
  • Arms: 2 Mini-brushes for dental care (like these ones.) You can also use hard plastic mini spoons.
  • Claws: triggers from toy guns. I leave to your choice what item to use to replace them.
  • 2 paperclips
  • Hard plastic pipe, that fits into the dental floss containers and can be attached to the gearbox's shafts. Your best option are the sticks for party balloons, or even, discarded pens.
  • 2 plastic gears or 2 googly eyes. For the eyes.
  • Shoulders: 2 bottle caps
  • Screws, nuts, bolts and washers
  • Superglue
  • Hot glue
  • Soldering tin

TOOLS: Dremel rotary tool, screwdrivers, Leatherman multitool, pliers, soldering iron, hot glue gun, heating gun, cutting blade.

NOTE: Links are given just for information. I'm not endorsing any product or seller.

Step 1: Let's Start With the Head...

Open the power converter using the screwdriver. Remove the transformer and the board. Leave the case and the screws.

Step 2: Now the Body...

Probably your cellphone charger won't have screws, so use the cutting disc of the Dremel to open it, repeating the process of the previous step. Check that you can fit the gearbox inside. Using the Dremel, open a hole on each side, checking that the gearbox shafts are not in contact with the case. Don't attach the gearbox yet.

Step 3: The Tail

The battery holder will act as the tail and counterweight. Inspect the case of the charger and define the best place to attach the tail. Open small holes in that area and on the bottom end of the holder (the one opposed to the switch's end.) Use screws, but be careful of not damaging the battery holder, drilling too much.

Step 4: Now Fix the Gearbox to the Body

Connect the cables of the battery holder to the motor's pins of the gearbox, checking the direction of the rotation. To attach the gearbox, you can use hot glue, screws or a zip-tie.

Step 5: The Wheels

I wanted to use green caps for the wheels. However, the pink dental floss containers matched perfectly with the arms, so I decided to not use them at the end.

Cut two segments of 2 cm each from the party balloon sticks; insert the gearbox shaft in one end, and insert the other end inside the dental floss containers. If the size is perfect, it will work by pressure. If not, use carefully a little of hot glue, without melting the tube.

Step 6: Arms

Cut the dental care mini-brushes, drill three holes on each one and build the claws.

Step 7: Returning to the Head...

Arrange the two cases from the power converter to make it look like a dino-head. Use the heat gun if it's necessary to mold the plastic.

Attach the head to the top of the body, using screws.

Step 8: Shoulders

The bottle caps will act as shoulders, giving a necessary space between arms and body for the crank mechanism. Attach the arms and shoulders to each side of the body. Don't tight too much the bolts of the shoulders: you need arms to be loose enough to rotate freely.

Step 9: Eyes

Attach the white gears or put some googly eyes on the head of our dinosaur.

Step 10: Crank Mechanism

Take both clips and put them straight. On one end, bend the clip 90 degrees and insert it in the middle hole of the arm. On the other end, create a loop, and attach it to the wheel using a screw and some small washers. Bot end must rotate freely. Check the rotating movement of the wheels and the ascending/descending movement of the arms, to detect if it cannot move freely in some point.

Step 11: RAAAWWWRRR... Dinosaur!

Place back the cover of the body, to hide the gearbox. Use hot glue.

And your dinosaur is finished! Time to take Yoshi for a walk.

1 Hour Challenge

First Prize in the
1 Hour Challenge