Last year I did a project with a group of middle school students and purchased a “BrushBot” kit, which consisted of a toothbrush (you only need the head), a cell phone vibrator motor and a coin watch battery. The students seemed to enjoy having a SumoBrushBot challenge with two BrushBots in a cake pan, in a “last bot standing” type competition. We also held BrushBot drag races on a race track that I made with a starting gate for up to four BrushBots to race against each other.
Skip forward now about six months and I am in the Lego store in our local mall, while my wife is shopping, and I see some of the projects built by local Lego builders groups. One of these caught my eye. It was a bug that looked like a housefly.
In the true spirit of a maker, I immediately thought about putting these two together, and hence, the BugzBot was conceived. The nice folks in the Lego store let me take pictures of the design that they had on display. I did modify the design slightly to reduce the number of parts needed and also to accommodate the battery and vibrator motor.
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Step 1: Assemble the Parts
BugzBots are very easy to make, the hardest part is waiting for the parts to be delivered from Lego. The whole project can be built for less than $10USD.
Here are the parts you need from Lego. You will need to order them from the “Pick a Brick” page on their shopping website. Here’s the link for your convenience.
Choose your bricks by the ElementID listed below and you will exactly the right brick in the colors designated. If you don’t like my color scheme, you can find the same type of brick in a limited range of other colors. Be creative.
Element ID, Description, Color, Quantity
4160857, 2x4 Right Wing, White, 1
4161326, 2x4 Left Wing, White, 1
4221775, Legs and Proboscis, Grey & Black, 7
473326, Body, Black, 5
473326, Eyes, Purple, 2
CR2032 3v Coin Battery (Can be purchased anywhere watch batteries are sold)
3v 10mm vibrator motor (Cheapest on eBay, it may be cheaper for you to buy more than one)
You will also need a small (24mm, 7/8” ) piece of single sided tape, not shown. It doesn’t have to be electrical tape.
Step 2: Let's Get Started
The first step is to construct the body by attaching 3 of the body parts end to end. On the end that has the button, we’ll call that the head end, attach the other two body pieces to hold the eyes and wings.
Step 3: Attaching the Legs and Proboscis
Now attach the six legs to the bottom of the body assembly. Be sure to have the legs aligned so that they all move in the same direction. This will come in handy later when you can make the BugzBot move in different patterns, like bees do in a hive to give directions to nectar to other bees. Finally, attach the proboscis to the head end.
Step 4: The Eyes Have It . . . (sorry for the Bad Pun)
Attach the eyes to the front of the head end of the BugzBot.
Step 5: . . . and Now the Wings.
Attach the wings by the last place on the short end of the wing, left and right
Step 6: Build the Power Pack
Begin by carefully stripping about 3-4mm of the insulation from each of the wires on the vibrator motor and give each end a little twist so that the strands on each wire stay together.
Next, take the small paper cover off the sticky pad on one side of the vibrator motor. Take the stripped end of the positive wire (red one on my motor) and place it on the sticky pad. Then press the sticky pad, with the wire attached, to the center of the top of the coin battery.
Step 7: Test and Finish the Power Pack
To test it before we go any further, simply touch the stripped end of the negative wire (blue on my motor) to the bottom of the coin battery and the motor should begin to vibrate. If it doesn’t check to make sure the wire under the sticky pad is positioned where it touches the metal on the top of the battery.
To finish the power pack, position the piece of tape, sticky side up, on a flat surface. Then, simply place the stripped end of the negative wire under the bottom of the battery and press the battery directly on to the middle of the sticky side of the piece of tape. The motor should begin to vibrate.
Step 8: Install the Power Pack and Watch It Dance
Carefully insert the power pack from the rear of the BugzBot so it is positioned under the wings. The tape will want to stick, so be careful. Also if you push too hard, the wings will move or even fall off, so proceed with caution. The tape should be just long enough to stick to the underside of the wings to hold the power pack in place.
Your BugzBot will now “dance” around on a flat surface. Harder surfaces will work best due to lower friction. You can even change the motion of the BugzBot by changing the position of the legs. By opening the legs on the front in a wider stance you can make the BugzBot move forward. With careful positioning you can make it move in a circular motion. Experiment with different leg positions and see what you can make it do.