Introduction: Zombiebots

About: I have the best job ever! I get to do science assemblies for elementary schools and after school science programs along with science summer camps and birthday parties! I love learning new things and creatin…

Here is a REALLY FUN project where you can get creative and make as many variations as you can think of. This is a great project to encourage kids to be creative and try out different ways to make these zombiebots move and look.

There is no wrong way to make one of these and decorating them can be just as fun as building them. Make sure to watch the video to see how they all move differently.


Small DC motor

Empty pop can




Hot glue



Drill and bit

Soldering iron

Step 1: Let's Start With the Easiest One to Build, the on That I Call "Spidy"

This Zombiebot moves due to vibrations that are created using a counterweight attached to the motor. We started this one by cutting a red bull can in half. You can use any pop can, this just happened to be the can at the top of the recycle bin.
Be careful when cutting the can as it will create a sharp edge that can easily cut you. I like to use a razor knife to make the initial cut and then go back and clean up the edges with a pair of scissors.

Step 2: Install Motor in Bottom Half of Can

Use a step drill bit and drill a hole in the center of the bottom half of the can, just large enough for the motor to fit in snugly. Insert the motor from the inside of the can so the shaft is protruding out through the bottom as shown and glue it in place. Hot glue works well for this.

Step 3: Attach a Counterweight

Attach a counterweight to the motor shaft. This can be as simple as an eraser that is mounted so that it is offset with the heavier end extending out to cause the motor to vibrate when running. I found a small piece of plastic that looked like a propeller that had tiny holes down each end and a large hole in the center. I cut off one end and placed a screw into the large hole. I then glued the motor shaft onto one of the small holes in the other end to create my counterweight.

Step 4: Choose Your Switch and Power Source. Install Switch.

I have a box of various switches that I have either purchased or salvaged from old toys, etc. I decided to go with a push button switch located on the top for this build. Use your step bit again to drill out the correct size hole for the switch you will be using. Note: I also removed the tab from the top of the can so it wouldn't get in the way. I also chose to go with a 9 volt battery for the power source since it seemed to fit better than going with one of the AA battery packs that I had on hand.

Step 5: Solder Connections

Solder all of your electrical connections to make sure that they do not come loose. It is also a good idea to use shrink tubing to keep any connections from shorting out.
For the kids that are just learning about circuits, you will want to solder one of your battery wires to one of your motor wires (it doesn't matter which one) The other battery wire will be connected to one of your switch wires. The other wire from your switch will then be connected to the remaining motor wire. Now your switch can complete the circuit to provide (or cut off) power to your motor.

Step 6: DON'T Forget the Battery!

It's time to install your battery! go ahead and connect your battery and it would be a good idea to glue your battery in place since this robot moves due to the vibrations created from the counterweight on your motor.

Step 7: Re-connect Your Can

Now you can close the can back up by carefully sliding one open end into the other open end. I found that sometimes it helps to make a small slit up the side of one of the halves to allow it to compress a little easier. Once you get them together, you can either glue it or use tape to hold them together. Duct tape and electrical tape both work well but if you have any of this aluminum tape, it works REALLY well.

Step 8: Cut and Attach Your Legs

I used some thin wire that I had in my shop to create the legs. You will want to make sure that all four legs are close to the same length. I made a bend in the base to create "feet" so that I don't have to worry about it scratching the floor. I also made a couple of bends in the leg where it attaches to the can to prevent them from twisting and make them a little more secure. I first attached the legs using the electrical tape to hold them in place and then wrapped the entire can with another couple of layers of the aluminum tape.

Step 9: Now It's Time to Make Him (or Her) Look Good.... and Go in the Right Direction

You can paint your "spidy" zombiebot to make it look even better. I found several different colors of paint (silver, black, red, and several shades of brown) and randomly kept spraying different colors until I got the look I was going for. I also had some shrunken (apple) heads that we had made a couple weeks prior so we decided to add them on as well.

When you first turn your zombiebot on, it may go forward, backward, sideways or just spin in circles. You can adjust this by bending the legs slightly. Play with the angles of the "feet" as well as the angle of the body and the front and back legs to see how it affects the way he moves

Step 10: DON'T Stop Building and Creating.....

Whenever I have something that is broken or doesn't quite work right, I don't throw it away. I keep these old misfit toys in a bin to tear apart and make something new. I used a couple of old RC trucks and removed the battery holders, motor and drive axles for some other really cool zombiebots. One called the zombie can and the other is a crawling zombiebot.....

Step 11:

Here are some examples of other zombiebots that I created to give you more ideas. Remember, NEVER stop creating! The Zombie can used one of the axles and motors form an old RC truck. I drilled holes in the sides of an old soup can near the bottom for the wheels to attach to the axle and motor, but I wanted it to "walk" like a zombie. On one side, I cut the whell in half so that it would only move that side on half of the rotation and on the other side, I removed the tire and added a dowel with a small piece of the tire so that it would cause the zombie can to raise up and "limp" forward on each rotation. We also added some colored tubing that we had from a previous project and added another shrunken head on top of a spring.

For the "crawling" zombiebot, I cut both wheels in half but on opposite sides to make it kind of "wobble" as it crawled. We laid this can down on its' side and attached another can for it to drag connected with an old slinky.

Step 12: "Machine Gun Marty" Zombiebot

This one I call "Machine Gun Marty." This was another soup can but I cut it short and placed the motor one one side with the switch on the opposite side. Since Machine gun Marty only has one wheel (that is pretty chopped up) he kind of bounces around and around. The top was an old remote control laser shooter for some battle drones that I used to have. Of course we added another shrunken head and one of his arms just looked better hanging from a spring so he drags it around with him as if he was injured in battle.

Step 13: Zombie Hand

You know, if you are building zombiebots, you must have a zombie hand crawling across the floor, right? This was an old Halloween prop that I had and I figured it would look good crawling across the floor.... BUT, it couldn't just move across the floor without a wobble to it. I have these kits for my grandkids and the soda can robot had these oblong wheels on it to make it "wobble." Well, we took the thing apart and made it fit into the end of the plastic hand with the wheels coming out of the sleeve. We had to cut a hole in the bottom of the wrist (which is hidden under the sleeve anyway) so that we could turn it on and off but it looks really cool ""crawling" across the floor. At least I thought so,...the dog didn't like it much but that's ok.

Step 14: Thanks for Checking This Out, Now Go Build Some and Send Me Some Pics!

If you didn't watch the video, please take a moment to watch it and you can see how each of these zombie bots move. I encourage you to try building some of your own and get creative and see how you can get them to move in different ways. I hope to see some pics of some really cool zombiebots that you all have built. Have fun building and decorating and DON'T throw away those broken toys. Do something with them to make something new!

Battery Powered Contest

Participated in the
Battery Powered Contest