Doodlebots are a great project for kids - and adults! We make them with kids from 4 years and up with very close supervision from very well trained staff. We like to use hot glue guns, which are really useful tools, but also a bit dangerous if not used correctly.
CHILDREN SHOULD ALWAYS BE CLOSELY SUPERVISED IF USING TOOLS!
If you would prefer not to use glue guns you can also use sellotape and/or double sided sticky foam tape. Be careful out there!
"Doodlebot" is a term some people (including us) like to use to describe a vibrating, drawing, chaotic, doodling robot with tons of personality.
A Doodlebot needs somethingthat vibrates and jiggles enough to move the body of the bot from place to place. We use an inexpensive DC motor with a piece of plastic glued slightly off centre to the spinning shaft. That piece of plastic could also be a cork, or a bottle cap or some other piece of material of a similar size. Likewise, that DC motor could be a wind-up motor, or a twisted-up rubber band.
Here's how we make them in MAKESHOP.
Step 1: LET'S GET ORGANISED
Here's what you will need to build a Doodlebot:
You can get some of these parts in MAKESHOP if you're in Dublin. We've provided links to a couple of online sources too.
- 4X felt-tip pens
- 2X AA (LR6) batteries
- 1X AA battery clip like this or this
- 1X small DC motor (sometimes called a hobby motor) like this one or this one.
- 1X counterweight — we used the little plastic motor adapter that comes with our motor clips. You could use a cork, a coin, a bottle cap, or lid... anything of that size.
- 1X motor clip — we use plastic motor clips with an adhesive pad like these or these. They let you try the motor out in a couple of positions, or change your motor if you need to. You could just glue the motor on if you need to, though.
- 1X paper cup — you can also let your imagination loose here and pick something else for the body of your Doodlebot. A lump of foam, a margarine tub, or a toilet roll insert would all work.
- Things to decorate with and imagination — you are responsible for choosing and providing these!
- Hot melt glue gun
- Side cutters or snips
- Wire stripper
Be very careful when using these tools!
Step 2: LET'S TEST THAT DC MOTOR
We're going to check our batteries and motor to make sure everything's working nicely.
- Strip a little insulation from the end of each of the wires coming from the battery pack.
- Pop your batteries in — 1.5 volts plus 1.5 volts (in series) gives us three volts. Our motors are meant to be used with 2.5 to six volts.
- Make a little hook in the end of one of the wires and hook it through one of the tabs on the back of the motor.
- Hook the other wire through the other tab. Touch the small bit poking out the front to see if it's spinning.
What would happen if you swapped the red (positive) and black (negative) wires? Give it a try!
REMEMBER: DO NOT CONNECT THE WIRES TO THE SAME TAB OR TO ONE ANOTHER. That would create a short circuit, and batteries and other components do not like short circuits.
Step 3: LET'S BUILD THE DOODLEBOT'S BODY
We're going to use a normal cardboard coffee cup to create the Doodlebot's body. We like these for their shape and availability, but you can use any light and reasonably stiff object that you can glue stuff onto.
We're going to make space on top of our cup for the battery holder.
- Here we've cut a couple of slits in the raised lip at the bottom of the cup, so we can fold them aside and make a nice neat channel for the battery holder.
- Next, put three little blobs of glue in a row along the length of the channel; we don't want to get glue on the batteries. That would make them difficult to replace later.
- Press the battery holder into the channel.
Good glue gun rules:
- Try to always put the glue on the larger item when you're gluing two things together. Trying to put glue on small fiddly things often ends with burned fingertips!
- If you're attaching something fiddly like googly eyes or pipe cleaner, or something thin like paper, wait 15 seconds before pressing the item into the glue. It should still be sticky enough, but it will have cooled down a bit.
- Larger blobs or pools of glue stay scalding hot for longer; use smaller, individual, pea-sized blobs.
Step 4: LET'S MAKE THE SHAKE
This step involved some fiddly gluing, so be careful!
Here's how to build the part that makes the Doodlebot shake and vibrate.
- To get a good bond, smear a little glue on the end of the shaft of the motor. Warm up the shaft by holding the tip of the glue gun against it for a few seconds.
- Put a blob of glue onto your counterweight. Here, we're using a plastic insert for a motor holder.
- Carefully attach the counterweight to the motor shaft, and wait for the glue to set completely. Make sure you are only gluing onto the spinning shaft of the motor, and not the motor body. You also want the counterweight to spin off centre.
Step 5: LET'S ATTACH THE SHAKE TO THE DOODLEBOT
Now we'll attach the shake so that it can send crazy shivers through our Doodlebot and bring it to life!
We're going to glue the shake on top of the battery pack, but you can try other locations. Just make sure the counterweight can spin freely without hitting anything, and make sure the Doodlebot will be reasonably well balanced (motors are relatively heavy). You should also make sure you have easy access to the tabs on the back of the motor.
- Make a cross or zigzag of glue where you plan to attach the motor. Remember that larger blobs of glue stay hot for longer.
- Press the motor into the glue. Make sure the holes on the side of the motor are not in the glue. Glue can get into these and jam the motor.
- Carefully hold the motor in place until the glue sets.
Step 6: LET'S GIVE IT LEGS
Doodlebots communicate via their legs, so it's pretty important to attach them properly!
- First, let's plan where the legs need to go. Mark the body of the Doodlebot for attaching four evenly spaced legs.
- For the first leg, make a line of three blobs of glue.
- Attach the felt-tip pen, keeping your fingers away from the glue. Hold the pen in place until the glue sets. We like to line up the lids of the markers against the bottom of the cup to ensure the legs are the same length.
- Do this for the rest of the markers, except the last one.
- With the last marker, stand the Doodlebot up and make sure all legs touch down.
Step 7: LET'S DECORATE
It's time to give our Doodlebot some personality!
Be extra careful when you glue small things like pipe cleaners onto a Doodlebot. Use a small amount of glue on the body of the Doodlebot and wait a few seconds for it to cool a little before pressing the decoration into it.
We've given this one an eye, two arms and a mouth!
Step 8: LET'S DOODLE!
First, lets' try out our Doodlebot with the lids (boots) on.
- Hook up the wires to the tabs on the motor again to turn it on; from now on, you can just detach one wire to turn it off.
- Is your Doodlebot staying upright? Good!
- Get a sheet of paper and take the Doodlebot's boots (Doodleboots) off.
- Pop it on the paper, turn on the motor and let it tell you what's on its mind!
- You might have to guide the Doodlebot a bit so it doesn't run off the paper.
Be careful not to get ink on any surfaces it's not supposed to get on — we don't want anybody getting in trouble!
Once your Doodlebot has introduced itself, maybe you can give it a name ... and try writing the name using the Doodlebot.
Step 9: LET'S MEET SOME OTHER DOODLEBOTS
Here are some other Doodlebot species we've encountered...
As you can see, this genus is varied but generally defined by the presence of the inky or draw-ey legs (graphopodia) and some sort of shake-y bit (quod tremefacio).
There are plenty of other ways to make a Doodlebot. You can use tape in place of hot glue; you can use whatever you like for the body, as long as it is light enough to be moved around by the motor. You could even try using pencils or paintbrushes as legs. Try different things out to see if they'll work.