Introduction: The Motorized Desktop Ferris Wheel

I was always looking for something fun and creative to put on my desk to hold little supplies I always seem to need and can never find, like paperclips, pins, or staples. After hearing about this project I was trying to figure out what could move but also be useful. So I thought of making this motorized ferris wheel. The ferris wheel is a foot not including the stand and it is made completely of wood, powered by a 4.5-6 volt motor and a AAA battery pack. The carts were designed on an app called Inventor and then 3d printed. The carts are big enough to hold the supplies I designed it for and was an easy build.


  • 1/8" piece of plywood
  • 1/4" piece of plywood
  • 6 3d printed carts
  • jigsaw
  • miter saw
  • 1/4" doll rod
  • 1/8" doll rod
  • sand paper
  • 6 volt motor
  • AAA battery pack
  • pvc pipe
  • drill
  • nail gun and air compressor
  • 1x4 wood
  • washers (optional)
  • compass
  • protractor
  • super glue

Step 1: Step 1: Designing the Ferris Wheel

First I started off by sketching my design so that I knew what I was doing. I made two 1' diameter circles on a piece of 1/8" plywood using a lid from a bucket that was already the correct size. If you do not have an object the correct size you can attach a string that is 6 inches to a nail and then tie the other end to a pencil and put the nail into the wood and draw a circle using the pencil. Then after drawing out the circles take a jigsaw and cut the two circles out. Make sure you keep the center of your circle marked which will help with the next steps.

Step 2: Step 2: Cutting the Circles

Then I evenly spaces out each of my carts and marked every 60 degrees using a protractor on my 2 1' circles and made a line going from the middle of my circle to the edge of my circle, so that I knew where each cart was going. Then I made a circle 1" in from the outside of the circle using a compass so that there was room for me to place my doll rod for my carts. After doing that I used the lines I marked every 60 degrees and went 1/4" out from each side of the line and made a line all the way across leaving me with 6 pizza typed shapes. Then to cut those out I used a drill and drilled 2 holes right next to each other so I could start using my jigsaw and cut those pizza shapes out.

Step 3: Step 3: Cutting the Doll Rods and Pvc Pipe

Next I cut the doll rods for the carts to sit on and the the doll rods for the center of the wheel. I took a long 1/8" doll rod and cut it into 6 2-3/4" pieces creating my rod to hold my carts. I then took my 1/4" doll rod and cut it into 1 6-1/2" piece placed in the center of the ferris wheel used to make the entire wheel spin. Then to make sure that the wheel spun properly and not sideways I cut a 2-1/8" piece of pvc pipe and glued that in the middle of the wheel making sure the center of the pvc pipe and the center of the wheel are lined up so that the pvc pipe does not interfere with the spinning of the wheel. After cutting out my rods and pvc pipe I took a drill and drilled a 1/4" circle in the middle of both of circles and then 6 1/8" circles where I wanted all of my carts and used super glue and places all of the cart rods in place. I did not glue the middle doll rod in yet, I just placed it there to make sure it would work okay.

Step 4: Step 4: Creating the Carts

I wanted the carts to be 3d printed instead of made out of wood because I thought it would be cool. So I designed the carts that I wanted on an app called inventor. The body of the cart is 1-3/4" x 1-3/4" x 1-3/4". Then I made a 1-1/4" pole on both sides with a 1/8" hook so that it could easily be hooked onto the doll rod.

Step 5: Step 5: Creating the Stand

I wasn't completely sure how I wanted to make the stand at first so I just played around until I found the size stand that was needed. I used the circles and I traced the triangles onto a 1/4" piece of plywood, but using the outermost side of each triangle and then made my line go about 2 inches past the bottom of my carts so that I knew the cart would clear the stand. I then went in an inch from each side of the triangle so that i would have a triangle shape with a triangle cut out inside. To make my stand look nicer I rounded the top of the triangle. I then used the jigsaw again to cut out the sides of my stand. Then I took a 1x4 piece of wood and used that as a block on the bottom to nail the triangles into. I cut it down to about 13 inches. I then took the center of the triangle and drilled a 1/4" hole so that the doll rod could go through the stand too. After drilling the hole I took my wheel and put it between the two triangle pieces and placed my doll rod through one side of the stand, through the wheel and then through the other side of the stand making sure it would be enough to hold it. After that I kept that triangles and wheel attached and I used a nail gun and shot the nails through the bottom corner of the triangles and into the bottom block on all sides.

Step 6: Step 6: Adding the Motor and Battery Pack

Now that I had the ferris wheel basically completed I needed to add the motor. I ordered a 6 volt motor that has a piece on the end that spins allowing me to drill a hole into the center doll rod and insert it into the hole. This was a very simple task; however, you have to make sure you are drilling straight into the doll rod or else it will not spin right. Then I cut a little piece of wood and glued it onto the side of the stand right under the motor and glued the motor to it so that the motor does not spin when or move and only the little spinner moves. Then I stuck the battery pack to the side of the stand and organized the wires the way I wanted them so that they looked nice (this is not a necessary part depending on how neat you want it to look). The wires to the battery pack are taped to the motor wires with electrical tape. Now whenever I want to use it all I have to do is hit the on/off switch on the battery pack making it nice and simple.

Step 7: Step 7: Finishing Touches

Now that I have basically all of the wheel assembled I added some finishing touches. If the wheel was moving and hitting the stand you could add washers onto the doll rod between the wheel and the stand stopping it from rubbing and creating friction preventing the wheel from moving. If you are not running into those problems than you are pretty much completed with the ferris wheel. To prevent the doll rod from slipping out, you can place washers at the end of the doll rods and then glue the outer side of the washer to the doll rod so that it is no longer able to move. Once I was done with my design I was ready to glue the two circles to the doll rod as stated in the beginning so that everything was now completely in place and nothing is able to move or slip away, completing my motorized desktop ferris wheel.

Make it Move Contest 2020

Participated in the
Make it Move Contest 2020