Introduction: Spinning Tardis

This instructable was created in fulfillment of the project requirement of the Makecourse at the University of South Florida (

Purpose: To create a Tardis that will spin and light up when buttons are pressed on a remote.

This instructable will provide a list of the parts needed for the Spinning Tardis and a step by step walk-through for its construction.

Step 1: Part List


  • 1 Arduino uno board
  • 1 Breadboard
  • 1 Pack of wires (male and female)
  • 1 220k ohm resistor
  • 1 Ir Reciever
  • 1 Ir Remote
  • 1 USB cable
  • 1 Stepper motor
  • 1 large white LED
  • 1 ULN2003A motor driver module

A kit like this one will contain all of the electrical parts (except the large white LED) you would need: )


3D Printed Parts:


  • Drill and bits
  • Dremel
  • Super glue
  • needle-nose pliers/wire cutters/screw driver
  • Duct tape
  • Copper-plated fiberglass (or something similar)
  • Scissors
  • Tooth picks
  • Paint (blue, yellow, white, black) *Optional*
  • Pads for the bottom of furniture

Step 2: 3D Parts From Inventor

As can be seen in the pictures, two 3D printed parts are used in the construction of this project: the body of the Tardis and the top (or lid) of the Tardis. These should be printed (via a 3D printer such as the makerbot) at about 130% larger than depicted in Inventor. These parts should preferably be printed in blue, but they could also be printed in a light colour, such as white, and painted blue. (Note: it can be a bit tricky to paint; I used toothpicks to paint details such as the words 'Police Box'.) The ipt files for the two parts can be found below.

*The black box can also be 3D printed or it can be bought. A STEP file for the box has also been included below.

Step 3: Breadboard Setup

The photo shows the set up for the breadboard and how the electrical components are wired together.

On the arduino uno board, the LED is connected to pin 3, the ir sensor to pin 2, and the stepper motor to pins 8-11. (Be careful when hooking up the stepper motor-- the wires cross each other.)

Step 4: Arduino Code

The above video will give an in-depth look into the arduino code used to control the electrical parts in the project. The code uses the Arduino.h, and Stepper.h libraries already included in the Arduino IDE and it also uses an IRremote.h library which I have included the file for (called The file should be unzipped and then saved in the arduino 'libraries' folder. The attached ino file titled TardisCode.ino contains the the Arduino sketch needed to run the stepper motor and LED (comments throughout TardisCode describe the functionality of each part of the code) . Download the file to your computer, plug in the USB Cable connecting the computer to the Arduino Uno board and upload the sketch to the board.

Step 5: Assembly

After the 3D parts have been printed, the breadboard circuit has been built, and the code sketch has been uploaded to the Arduino board, the next thing to do is assemble it all together. The pictures should aid in the assembly.

First: Drill 5 holes in the box (for the USB cable, ir receiver, stepper motor, and 2 wires for the LED).

Second: Glue the stepper motor to the lid of the box with the super glue. Put some duct tape over it to keep it in place as it dries. Glue the wires so that they stick out the holes on the top of the lid. Tape (or glue) the ir receiver so that it's sticking out of the hole you made for it in the box. Put all of the arduino components inside the box and hook up the ir reciever and other ends of the wires that you glued to the lid.

Third: Using a dremel, cut out two squares from the copper-plated fiberglass that fit inside each other (but not snugly, they're not supposed to touch!) In the small square, cut a slot in the middle for the shaft of the stepper motor to fit into. Also make sure to cut a small hole in both the large and small squares so that the wires can be soldered to the copper. Super glue the copper to the bottom of the tardis (one inside of the other) as shown.

Fourth: Solder the wires to the bottom of the copper. Try to do it as smooth as possible in order for the the wires to not catch or get stuck when the tardis spins.

Fifth: On the lid of the black box, if you put both of the wires coming out on the same side of the stepper motor (as I did) you will need to add the furniture pads to the other side of the box so that the tardis stays level when spinning.

Sixth: Glue the large white LED to the 'lid' of the tardis so that the two prongs are coming out the bottom.

Seventh: Run the two wires that you soldered to the copper-plated fiberglass on the bottom of the tardis up through the body of the tardis. Attach them to the LED that's on the lid. You may also have to put a weight inside of the tardis to stabilize it as it spins.

Eighth: Set the tardis on top of the stepper motor shaft coming out of the lid of the black box. Make sure that the two wires coming out of the lid of the box are touching the copper on the bottom of the tardis and will still be touching when it spins (one wire on the large square, and one on the small square). Run the USB cable through the hole you made in the box attaching one end to the arduino uno board and the other to your computer (not necessarily to upload the code again, just to power the arduino).

Now when you press the buttons on your ir remote (making sure you're pointing it directly at the ir receiver), the tardis should light up and spin!

Have fun!!

Step 6: Demonstration and Discussion

This video demonstrates a fully-functional final version of the Spinning Tardis project.

Here are some things I would do better next time:

-I would NOT use stiff wires that grind along the bottom of the copper. I would instead use two thin, flexible wires.

-I would NOT put both wires on the same side so that I have to stack furniture pads on the other side to keep the tardis stable and lit up the entire time.

-I would solder the wires on the bottom of the copper more smoothly.

-I would use a more powerful stepper motor so that the tardis could spin faster and never stick.

Live and learn!

Thank you to everyone who helped me in the construction of the Spinning Tardis-- all in all it was a fun experience and I can't wait to play some more with arduino!