Introduction: Water Wiggler

About: I love building things, from electronics to wood projects. I especially like projects that include LEDs.
A water wiggler is a device you put in your bird bath stir up the water. By "wiggling" the water it keeps mosquitos from laying eggs in what would otherwise be a stagnant pool of water. I was with my Mom shopping for bird baths the other day and they tried to sell her a device like this for $30. I told her I could make it for about $10. Here's a really good alternative to that overpriced store bought item. Let me appologize for the bad images up front too. Time to buy a new camera!

Step 1: Laying Everything Out

The first thing you want to do is lay out everything. You can see all of my supplies and my tools in the attached photos. I got the hangers and cream cheese container for free from my Mom. The rest of the items I got at my local Radio Shack for about $11.

The list of supplies:
- Two Wire Hangers
- One Cream Cheese Container
- Two AAA Batteries
- One AAA Battery Holder (holds two batteries)
- One 1.5 - 3.0 Volt DC Motor
- One Rocker Switch
- One 25 Ohm Rheostat
- Assorted Wires

The list of tools:
- Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
- Exacto knife
- Soldering Iron and stand
- Solder
- Wire Cutters
- Needle Nose Pliers

Step 2: Building the Base

The base of the water wiggler is the lid to the cream cheese container. It might be a good at this point in the process to make sure you've bought plenty of bagels. You'll need them so you have somewhere to put all that cream cheese. Maybe invite a friend over to help eat those bagels too!

Once you've cleaned out your container take off the lid and cut three holes in it. The one in the center is for the DC motor. The second largest hole (right) is for the Rocker Switch. You'll then cut a small hole for the Rheostat. Make sure you get a tiny slit in the lid to secure that rheostat.

Don't be worried about lining up the holes. As long as you have the motor in the center you can mess the rest up. Also, on the top of the cream cheese lid (where the label is) you might see a circle imprinted. That circle happens to be the right size for the motor.

Lastly, if you cut the hole to big the motor will slide right through. Cut the hole only big enough so the motor will fit snuggly on the lid. Use the inner diameter of the casing and not the outer diameter as your guide.

Step 3: Putting It Together

Now is the time to put everything in place. First you'll want to put in the Rocker Switch and the Rheostat. They both come with nuts so that you can secure them in place. The motor will have to be attached with the glue gun in order to hold it in place. Use the photos to see how I have oriented everything.

Hint: The Rocker Switch should be easy to flip on and off while the device is on. In order to do that you'll want to position it sideways so that it is just as easy to do both operations. The photo should make this description more clear.

Step 4: It Needs More Power

Now you'll want to attach the battery holder and wire up the device. You'll want to do this in two steps. Step one is to glue the battery holder in place with the glue gun. You might want to stick in the batteries at this point and make sure (as I'm sure you did before you got started) that you can get power to the motor. Step two is to wire up the device and solder the wires down.

You can see how I've wired the device in the picture I've provided. If for some reason yours doesn't work with the same wiring, which would be amazing, just change the wires around. Your most likely problem will be with the rheostat. Notice I only use two of the three leads from that device.

Once you've done this step have fun turning it on and off for a while. I know I did! Play with the rheostat to see how fast and how slow you can get the motor going. You'll notice that by turning the resistance all the way up you can actually stop the motor.

Alright, now stop doing that! You'll waste the batteries:P

Step 5: Happy Feet

Next you'll want to put together the feet for this device. Ideally you'll make this into a tripod. You probably could make a set of four feet for it, but that might make the device more cumbersome.

What I did was to take apart two wire hangers and bend them into the shape I needed. Fortunately they already come premade in a fashion close to what I desired. I've lined up the pieces I took from the first hanger next to the second hanger so you can see where I got everything from. The feet are about four inches high.

Make three feet and use a leftover piece of the first hanger to use for the wiggler. You'll attach that last piece to the motor later.

Step 6: Attach the Feet

To attache the feet I put holes in the base about an inch apart. Then I bent the top of each of the feet pieces and pushed them through the holes. Make sure you bend the top of the feet at an angle towards the inside of the base. That way you can still close the bottom of the cream cheese container over it.

You'll want to use the glue gun to secure the feet. The feet should point out a bit. That's to make sure the wiggler doesn't swing out and hit them. Also, a wide base will be a bit more stable. Make sure you don't accidentally glue in the batteries. The only other rule I have here is to ensure that you can get to both the switch and the rheostat. Otherwise, have at it!

Step 7: Attach the Wiggler

The last piece is the wiggler. It's just a piece of the wire hanger that I attached to the motor with generous amounts of glue from the glue gun. I found this to be the hardest part of the project as I'd never really attached anything to a DC motor before.

Be aware that the glue from the glue gun isn't rock hard when its dry. This might cause it to bend a bit and the wiggler might hit your fingers the first time you turn it on. Don't worry, it doesn't hurt ... much! Just kidding.

Also, put a weight of some sort inside the lid. A small rock or some quarters might do. It's a little too light to stand still on its own. The store bought one used D cell batteries to overcome this. I used a rock. Go figure.

Now check out the movie to see it in action!

One last thing, and this is critical: The water wiggler is supposed to stand on the three legs in a body of water. I don't show that position very often, but that's how it works. Don't try to float it in the bird bath upside down. It might scare or injure the birds you want bathing in your bath.

I hope you enjoyed my first instructable!