Circuit Art: Instructables Robot




About: I'm a student at UW-Milwaukee studying computer science with a passion for electronics. I'm always working on a project or thinking of new ideas. If you have any questions about any of my instructables, or w...

Since I was a kid I was fascinated with the connection between art and technology. The fascination began when I first saw Silicon Art on the Discovery Channel. Now that I make circuits of my own, I want to show tribute to those who continue to keep this art alive.

My Instructables robot circuit utilizes all the components and wires shown in the pictures to make the shape of the infamous robot. Every wire and every component is used in the circuit. The circuit is actually just a simple 555 LED fade circuit to make the robot's eyes fade, but don't let that deter you. Building it is truly a different experience, since there are two main missions of the circuit: to make a working fade circuit, and to make the shape of the robot.

This project is great for beginners and more experienced hobbyists since the circuit is simple, but it still has a twist to it that many are not used to. By the end you will have a personal electronic Instructables trophy that no one else has!

Step 1: Parts

You will need these parts:

-555 Timer

-9v Battery (with connector)

-Three 33uF (or close) capacitors

-200 Ohm resistor

-33k Ohm resistor

-any NPN transistor

-Two red LEDs

-Perfboard (5cm by 7cm)

You will need these tools:

-Hot glue gun

-Paint (with brushes)

-Breadboard (with jumper wires)

-Soldering Iron (with rosin)

-(also: Wire strippers, wire cutters)

Step 2: Breadboard It

Lets take a step back and just make the circuit on a breadboard. This circuit was designed by some generous person over at . Here is a link to the original webpage. I'm going to assume you can read a schematic, but if you can't click here for a reference. Also I have attached a video of someone on YouTube who puts together this circuit. I did not make the video, but please give the uploader a like on YouTube, it is a great resource for beginners and deserves some gratification. As motivation, once you finish breadboarding we can begin making our robot!

Step 3: Sketch the Robot

Before placing any wires or components, I suggest drawing a rough outline of our robot (in pencil) on the perfboard. Be sure to have the robot pulled up on your computer to get an accurate sketch! Here is a link. Keep in mind that we are only making the robot's head to mid-torso. The sketch doesn't have to be perfect, it should just be a guideline for later use. Also, be sure to heat up those soldering irons now because we will want them hot for the next step!

Step 4: Add 555 and 9v Connector

Place the 555 timer in one corner of the perfboard. Be sure to leave enough room for our wires we are going to connect later. Solder the 555 timer. Next attach the 9v connector's positive wire to pin 4, and its negative wire to pin 1.

Step 5: Make Inter-555 Connections

As seen in the schematic, there are some "inter-555" connections to make. We must connect pin 4 to pin 8 and pin 2 to pin 6. Using an old metal lead, I connected pin 2 to pin 6 on the bottom of the perfboard (to make things less cluttered). For pin 4 to pin 8, I cut a small stranded wire to make the connection on the top of the board. Before you move onto the next step, be sure that your robot drawing is well defined and dark since we will add some components to the robot in the next step!

Step 6: Add Capacitors

At last, we can begin adding components to make the actual robot! Lets begin with the capacitors. Place the capacitors on the three "buttons" on the instructables robot. On the capacitor closest to the 555, bend its longer lead (the positive lead) to reach pin 2 or pin 6 and connect its other lead to the next capacitor's longer lead (positive lead). Connect the second capacitor's other lead to the last capacitor's longest lead. Then connect the final capacitor's shortest lead to ground. To connect the capacitor to ground, use a black wire to form the robot's torso.

Step 7: Add a Resistor

To make those little red dots where the Instructables robot's ears would be, we will use resistors. However, we need to have a little bit of metal sticking out to be accurate to our robot (see a picture of the robot). So bend the resistor (as seen in the picture) so that one lead of the resistor goes through the perfboard and then out again. Solder it in. Then we can add some more of our robot's face with more black wires. Connect one lead of the resistor we added to one of those black wires and connect it to pin 3 and connect the other lead of the resistor to pin 2.

Step 8: Add More Wires

While we are on a roll, lets go ahead and add all of the black wires we will need for our robot. Take a nice look at the Instructables robot, and cut black wire to match the length you feel is accurate. Be sure to add all the wires I show in the attached pictures.

Step 9: Add LEDs and Resistor

Next, add two LEDs to make the eyes of the robot and one more resistor to make another "ear". Using the same technique described earlier, solder in the 200 ohm resistor. Then connect the positive lead of the LED (longer lead) to the resistor. Connect the other lead to the next LED's positive lead (longer lead). Finally connect the last available lead to ground. Try to use the robot's eyebrow to connect the the LEDs together.

Step 10: Add Transistor

Finally we can add our last component, the transistor! We are going to add this component upside down, since it wouldn't look all that good on our robot. Transistors have three leads: Base, Collector, and Emitter. Connect the Collector to 9V. Then connect the base to our 33k ohm resistor we added earlier. To complete our circuit, connect the 200 ohm resistor to the base lead on the transistor. Now when you connect your 9V battery your robot's eyes should be fading in and out.

Step 11: Touch Ups and Hot Glue

Lets make this circuit look pretty, and professional. First heat up your hot glue gun. While its warming up, we can trim some of those leads that are too long. Look for any resistor or transistor leads that are sticking out, and with a wire cutter, trim the leads. By now, your hot glue gun should be a pretty warm. Hot glue any wires that are not absolutely tight. Also, be sure to hot glue the 9V connector wires in since they easily get ripped out of the perfboard.

Step 12: Paint!

At this point, you should have a really clean, working Instructables robot circuit. Lets make it even more accurate, and give it a paint job. I used some yellow and red acrylic paint. I'm sure there are more talented painters out there who would do a better job than me, but you don't need to be very skilled to color in between the wires. Keep in mind, this step might get messy so you'll want some water and paper towels near by.

Step 13: Enjoy!

If you're still with me at this step, that means you are the owner of a new unique artistic circuit! I hope all you experienced electronics hobbyists learned how to be more artistic with your circuit building, and had a lot of fun doing so. And I hope all you beginners learned the basics of how to build circuits and how all these components fit together to build a circuit. I'd love to see your circuits on the comment section on this instructable. If you enjoyed my Instructable, please give me a vote in the Instructables Robot, Battery Powered, or Glue Contest! Thank you for your interest!

Instructables Robot Contest

Grand Prize in the
Instructables Robot Contest



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    14 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Thanks for the idea. I Made It! For some reason my photos will not upload. What am I doing wrong? It will let you drag image to (add images) section but will not upload.


    3 years ago

    Nice! How do you make your white background so white?


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you so much! You're a great member of the amazing Instructables community, I always love to hear your opinions!


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thanks so much sunshiine! You are one of the most positive people I've seen around here. Thanks for spreading some smiles around the site


    Reply 4 years ago

    Everyone needs a (((hug and smile)))


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is what I have been looking for for a while.

    Now lets see some art with PCB traces!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    A lovely robot ;)

    You "drew" the outlines of the robot so perfect. I like it even without the yellow paint!

    1 reply