Introduction: Robot-O Awesome-O Disc-O the Disco Robot (decoration)

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My niece is going to be having a Disco themed birthday party, and as light up disco decorations can be expensive, I decided to make some cool decorations myself.  Over the holidays, there was a TV commercial featuring a disco robot  As a complete geek myself, the idea of building a disco robot seemed like the perfect party decoration.  Naturally, I wasn't going to spend the money to build a real robot, so decided on making a cardboard robot instead.  This cardboard robot was also inspired by the South Park episode where Eric Cartman makes himself into a cardboard robot called AWESOM-O

The following Instructable shows how I built a light-up disco robot with an animated video of a dancing robot inside.  I am still working on ways to get the robot to actually move and dance, so I might append this instructable later as I try to turn this into something more like a real robot.  At this point, the robot is only decorative and does not actually move.  It should make for a very awesome-o party decoration though! 

Cardboard Boxes:
2 small flat boxes to use as feet.
1 large box for the body
1 medium sized box for the legs
1 medium sized box for the head
1 Long cardboard tube cut in half (Like sort from wrapping paper) or two short cardboard tubes (like that from paper towel rolls).  The thicker the cardboard tube, the better.
Cardboard sheets
Tin Foil
Spray Paint
CD (an old scratch CD or DVD)
2 tripod legs (can substitute cardboard)
Multi-colored tissue paper
2 inch Brads
Nut and bolt
Heavy gauge bendable Wire or wire coat hanger
Packing Tape
Masking or Duct Tape
Clear / transparent  tape
Permanent markers
Exacto Knife or sharp knife

Small Brads
Foam circle spacers from blank CD pack
Cardboard ring from empty masking tape
TV Now Player -OR- Small Video Player
Decorative items such as broken electronic bits, switches... anything you might want to decorate robot with.

Please Note: Some of the pictures of this cardboard Robot were taken using a 3D camera and are for viewing with Red Cyan (Blue) Glasses.  If you don't have a pair, check out this Instructable on making 3D glasses
(I don't know if it actually works, but at least I won't be the only one wearing silly 3D glasses).

If you have any very simple suggestions of how I can get the robot to move or dance (something that someone with no electronic knowledge or money can do), please let me know!  I am thinking of adding a large vibrator inside to turn it into a vibrator bot... but still working out how to do this.

Step 1: Collecting the Boxes

Robots can come in all shapes and sizes, so I didn't specify specific box sizes that you will need.  The image below shows a few possible configurations for various boxes that will all give a good robot-like appearance.  The best thing to do before you begin is to gather several boxes of various sizes and stack them to see which configuration looks the best.  Keep in mind what you will be using your cardboard robot for.  If the robot is for a children's party like mine is, you don't want the robot so big that it would be scary, but large enough that it can be seen.  If you want to do something like insert a remote control toy car in the bottom to make it move, the last two body shapes would be ideal.

The most important part of the robot will be the robot's head as this is what ultimately makes a robot look like something one would think of as being a robot.  The robot's head should be large enough to insert a flashlight. 

Step 2: Assemble Legs

The next step is to assemble the robot's legs.  For my robot, only the legs, arms, and head needed to be painted as the body of the robot was a nice blue box.  As we were almost out of paint, we wanted to spray paint only the visible areas.  By assembling the legs first there was less surface area to paint later.

The legs for my robot consisted of three cardboard boxes.  First, I laid out the boxes as I wanted them to appear.  Next, I used some masking tape to hold the boxes in place.  Finally, through the boxes opening, I inserted several Brads to ensure that the boxes held together.  Alternatively, you could use glue or just tape.

Step 3: Cut Out Robot Face

The robot's face is the most important part of the robot as this is what gives the robot personality.  You will need a piece of cardboard that is the size of the opening of the box that will be the robot's head.  Take a cardboard tube (either from paper towel center or wrapping paper) and trace the circles for the robot's eye holes.  It is important to keep the cut out circles for use later.  Cut a long rectangle for the robot's mouth.  You may also want to save this scrap piece of cardboard for use later.  When you finish, you should have a friendly looking robotic face. 

Step 4: Cut Out Hole on Bottom of Robot Head

On the bottom center of the cardboard box that will be the Robot's head, trace the base of your flashlight.  Cut with scissors or an Exacto knife this circle.  Your flashlight should have a larger head than base.  If your flashlight is not tapered, you may have to wrap tape around the head of the flashlight so it is larger than the hole.  The flashlight should sit in the hole without falling out, only the handle of the flashlight sticking out through the hole.

Step 5: Spray Paint Robot

Now that you have all the parts for the body of your robot, you will want to spray paint the robot the color of your choice.  As my robot was going to be used at a Disco party with Black-lights, I spray painted the robot with a neon orange that will glow in the light of a black-light.  A battle-ship gray is the most typical Robot color, but any color will do.  If you do not want to use spray paint, you can also cover the cardboard in Tin-foil (which can be expensive) or construction paper or solid color wrapping paper.  Remember that it might be good to make the robot look a little rough, so you may want to give it just a light coat of spray paint.  For my robot, the legs, arms (cardboard tube), face, and head of the robot were all painted.

Note: Spray paint apparently does not work well in sub-freezing temperatures.  It would seem that it turns to brightly colored snow.

Step 6: Antenna and Head Interior

In order for the eyes and mouth to glow, the light from the flashlight will have to be reflected on the inside of the box.  To do this, I lined the back of the inside of the box that will be used as the Robot's head with tin-foil.  If you have any flaps on the opening of the box, cut them back so they are just large enough that you can attach the robot's face without blocking the eye holes or mouth holes.  For a decorative touch, I took a piece of brass wire I had laying around and made a zig-zagging antenna for the top of the robot's head which I held on with two Brads.  Make sure that when you attach the antenna, that it is on the top of the box and not the bottom where the hole is cut.

Step 7: Glowing Eyes and Mouth

To give your robot that colorful glowing eyes and mouth, I taped pieces of tissue paper to the back side of the robot's cardboard face.  You can alternatively glue the tissue paper to the back.  If you are worried about the tissue paper ripping, first tape down a piece of clear plastic such as plastic wrap before taping on the tissue paper.

Step 8: Assemble Head

To complete the head, slide your flashlight through the hole of the bottom of the head box.  The handle of the flashlight and the switch should be through the opening, and the head of the flashlight on the inside of the box.  If your flashlight falls through, you may have to wrap the head of the flashlight with either tape or rubber-bands... or find a different flashlight.  The one I used was a small LED flashlight bought at the dollar store.

Line the face panel up with the opening of the cardboard box.  Using Brads, insert two brads on the right or left side and open them on the backside.  Next, put two Brads on the opposite side. (You won't be able to spread the last brads apart on the back, but they should hold the face panel on the box.  If they don't hold, use clear tape to tape the face panel to the box opening.)

Step 9: The Body

Cut a circle the size of the flashlights base on the top of the body of your robot.  The head of the robot will rest on here with the flashlight body sliding into the hole of the box.  To turn the flashlight on or off... you may need to remove the robot's head. 

To make the robot look better, take the cardboard ring from an empty roll of masking tape and use this as a spacer between the robot's head and the body.  Use markers to color the cardboard ring or paint.  Tape it to body as needed.

Step 10: Two Arms

There are several ways you can make the robot's arms.  For my robot, I took the large center cardboard tube from a roll of Christmas wrapping paper.  I measured the center of the tube, and then cut the tube into two equal halves.  I spray painted the tubes.

For the claw hands of the robot, I just happened to have two plastic tripod legs left over from an earlier Instructable's project   This pair of tripod legs came from a camera mount commonly available at a large number of Dollar Stores and other retail stores. I removed the camera mount portion removing a single screw at the base of the tripod (save for later use).  Next, using the two cardboard circles that I had cut out for the Robot's eyes, I mounted the cardboard circle to the top of the tripod by placing a small brad (or small nut and  bolt) through the screw hole of the tripod.  Tape the back of the brad down so it does not fall out.  Next, using clear packing tape or masking tape, I taped the cardboard circle with the tripod legs to the bottom of the cardboard tubes.  The tripod forms the Robot's hands, and the tubes forms the robot's arms.

Note:  If you don't have a pair of tripods, you can simply use a Brad to attach a large "C" shaped cardboard cut out to form the robot's hands.

To attach the arms to the body, I punched a hole at the top of the cardboard tube on the opposite side of the hands and inserted a brad.  Next, I attached the arms to the body of the robot.

Note: You can use a foam CD spacer ring as a spacer between the Robot's arm and the Robot's body.  That will let the arms move more freely.  CD spacer ring is a small foam donut shaped ring often used as a spacer when you buy a box of blank CDs.  They are also used as shooting-disc for some children's toys.

Step 11: The Body Assembly

If you haven't already done so, attach the body to the robot's legs using either tape or Brads.  At this point, you should have something that resembles a robot.

Step 12: Decoration

This is the fun part... decorating your robot.

Rather than covering the whole body in tin-foil, I used just a single sheet on the front to give the robot a metallic appearance.  I used clear tape and brads to hold the tinfoil to the body of the robot.

  For my robot, I wanted to have an old-fashion sortof dial.  To make my dial, I took an old scratch AOL CD, and colored the shiny back end in Red, Green, yellow and Blue using permanent sharpie markers.  I wrote "Danger, Groovey, Disco, and Boogie" for each color in sequence.  Using a scrap of cardboard from the robot's mouth cut-out, I made an arrow.  I taped the CD to the box and used a brad to hold the dial arrow with a CD foam circle spacer in-between. 

Don't forget, Instructables robot stickers make a great robot accessory!

Step 13: Optional Video Player

Years ago, my sister gave me a Tiger TV-now video player which is something like an old-fashioned Ipod . You can still find it available at Amazon and on ebay.   It lets you record short video clips from a TV or DVD player.  Alternatively, you can use any video player that will fit inside your robot's body.  I decided to create my own little robot animation using a program called Anime Studio Debut for the video playing the song "Dance! Disco Robot" by Craig Pulsar.   As the video player is very low resolution, I made the animation very simple.  For voice, I recorded a robot voice using a program called Talk-it.  For the disco party, I am contemplating making a "Simon Says" video such that the robot will play Simon Says.  The Anime Studio Debut file is attached if you have this program and wish to modify my animation.  Otherwise, you can download the  video at ...

Step 14: 3D Pictures and Shameless Self Promotion

Now that you have built this awesome Disco Robot, be sure to check out my artwork on all sorts of fantastic items from T-shirts and prints to clocks and camcorders at my DarkRubyMoon stores following web locations.

* DarkRubyMoon Store CafePress:
* DarkRubyMoon Store Zazzle:
* DarkRubyMoon Store Printfection:

View these pictures in 3D!  Don't forget your Red Cyan (blue) glasses!

Step 15: Safety: Robots Amuck

A cautionary note.  As with any Robot, they inevitably turn against their creator and run amuck in a robot rampage destroying cities and smashing things as all robots eventually turn evil.  So, on behalf of the fair citizens of the world, use your robot responsibly... and should you see a Disco Robot running amuck in your neighborhood... take cover immediately and call the air-force and National Guard.

Step 16: Visit

Finally, Don't forget to visit  for all sorts of great stuff I have been working on!


-Check out DarkRubyMoon store for a wide range of Apparel, Clothing, Gifts, Art, Prints, and much much more!

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