Make a Junkbot




Introduction: Make a Junkbot

About: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with!
In this Instructable I'll show you how to make a junkbot and bring it to life!

A junkbot, for those who don't know, is a robot made from virtually any old bits of discarded material.  I like to use old electronics, especially vintage parts.  The robot doesn't actually move or do any of the things that you would expect a robot to do - it just looks cool.  

I have made a few miniature ones which you can see below, but I wanted to test my mettle and make a larger one.  I started scavenging from my local tip and pulling apart some old electronic do-dads. 

The below is what I came up with.  My junkbot (I named him Jo!) has flashing lights and can also record your voice and play it back.

Here's a clip of Jojo in action:

Step 1: Junk and Tools

The first thing that you will need to do is start collecting junk.  The best places to do this are:

• Hard rubbish days (for those who don’t know, this is when your local council collects more than just the normal rubbish.  It’s a chance for your neighbors to throw away some of the bigger things)

• Your local tip.  Mine has a shop where you can buy some really cool, old electronics for next to nothing.

• Friends and family.  I promise you they’ll have some old, vintage electronics sitting in their garage.

When you get your hands on something start pulling it apart.  Nothing better than un-screwing some vintage electronics and seeing what’s inside.  Keep all of the bits that look like could be used in making a robot.  You have to really visualise and imagine what each part could be used for.  Even if you’re not too sure if it could be used for anything; keep it anyhow as you never know.

Jojo, my junkbot is made up mostly of parts from an old VCR, an old multimeter, capacitors from an amp and some other bits and pieces. 

Tools and materials:
1. Plyers
2. Soldering iron
3. Hot glue gun
4. Good super glue
5. Wire cutters
6. Dremmel
7. Screwdrivers
8. Various wire (best to have this as thin as possible)

Guts of Jojo
9. LED’s (multiple colours)
10. Bike Light – eBay
11. Voice recorder – eBay.  This is the one that I used, but this one would probably be easier

Step 2: Making Junkbots

Below are a few of my other, miniature junkbots that I've made.  If you want to get inspired, check out these links "junkbot" and "junk robot"   Some of these are truly amazing - one of my all-time favourites is the Atom-a-tron by Jesse Gee.  Check out his fantastic junkbot below.

Step 3: Getting Started - Adding LED's

First you need to get an idea of what your junkbot will look like.  Start by deciding what parts to use where. Mix and match until you are happy with what he will look like.  The following steps are what I needed to do to make my junkbot.  These will probably be slightly different for you as your one will be unique.

1. First open the back of the multimeter and pulled out the guts.  Mine were all rusted so there wasn’t much I could scavenge.

2. Next use a dremmel and removed all of the plastic flanges etc to make room for the electronics

3. Locate all of the places that you want to have LED’s (2 in the positive/negative holes on either side and one right in the middle) and made these holes large enough to accommodate a 5 mm LED.  I used different coloured LED’s.

4. Once this is done attach wires to each of the LED legs.

Step 4: Adding LED's to the Head

I wanted Jojo to have some lights in his head as well.  I thought that this might cause some issues but I managed to pop off the back to the VCR plug inlet and drill a couple of holes to add LED’s

1. Remove the back cover on the VCR plug inlet by twisting the 2 metal tabs in the middle.

2. Drill a couple of holes where you want the LED’s to go.

3. Trim the LED legs and solder on wires to each of them.

4. Replace the back and make sure that the wires are coming out the bottom.  There were a couple of holes which I managed to use for this.

5. Drill some holes into the top of the multimeter – this is where the wires from the head will be threaded through.

Step 5: Hacking the Bike Light

Now you have all of the LED's with wires attached it's time to solder them onto the bike light circuit board.

1.  First pull apart the bike light and remove the circuit broad.  It is only held in place with 1 screw.

2.  Cut or de-solder all of the LED's making sure you take notice of the polarities of the LED's.

3.  Solder on some wires to each of the battery terminals on the circuit board.

4.  Do the same to the end with the switch.  This can be a fit fiddly as the copper on the circuit board is only thin.  Just take your time and only add a little solder.

5.  Attach the wires from the LED''s to the circuit board making sure that the polarities are correct.

6.  You can now test everything by adding a battery and touching the switch wires together.  All of the LED''s should come on.

7.  Next you need to add a momentary switch so you can turn it on .  I added one to the side of the multimeter and wired it up.

Step 6: Adding the Voice Recorder

Next thing to is to mod the voice recorder.  The one that I used was quite large but it made it easier to add things like wires etc.


1.  If you have an old VCR around it's a great source of momentary switches.  De-solder a couple of these.

2.  Drill some holes in the side of the multimeter so the wire on the switches can go through.  Solder on some wire to each of the ends of the switches making sure that the wire is long enough to be threaded through the leg.

3.  Next drill a hole in the front of the multimeter and add a small microphone.  Attach wires as well.

4.  I used a small speaker from an old toy and drilled some holes in the back of the multimeter so the sound would be loud enough to hear.  Again, add some long wires if necessary.

4.  Drill a hole through one of the capacitors which will be used as a leg and thread the wires from the switches and microphone through it.

5.  Don't solder the wires onto the voice recorder yet - this will happen a little later 

Step 7: Start Building Your Junkbot


1.  Once you have all of the wires coming out of the bottom of the multimeter (you'll need to drill a hole in the bottom of it and thread them through) you can do the back up of the multimeter.  

2.  Hot glue the capacitors to the multimeter.  Remember you have to get back into the case to change the batteries so make sure you only glue to one half of the multimeter.

3.  Do the same thing with his head.

Step 8: Add the Arms

It's time to add the arms.  I found these the most trickiest as I wanted them to be a little complicated looking but still look like vintage robot arms.


1.   Attach a couple of old momentary switches as shoulders.

2.  I used metal cotton reels (I think they're called bobbins.

3.  Lastly add the arms.  The arms are actually from a remote control handle that I modified.

Step 9: Soldering the Voice Recorder

Ok - so now it's time to solder on all of those wires coming out to the voice recorder.


1.  Find an old tine box and use this as the base of the junkbot.  Drill a hole in the top and thread the wires from the let into it.

2.  Add one set of the wires from the momentary switch in the multimeter to the back of the record momentary switch on the voice recorder.

3.  Do the same for the play button.

4.  Solder some wires to the Vcc and Ground connections on the voice recorder.  Attach one end to a switch and then to the battery terminal and the other directly to the terminal.

5.  Lastly attach the speaker.

6.  Test and make sure that when you push the record and play buttons on the junkbot everything works ok.

7.  Superglue down the capacitors to the tin


Step 10: Finished

That's it!  Hopefully you have a pretty cool looking Junkbot and all the lights and sound work.

The only thing that I would change is I would place the batteries for the LED''s into the vase.  Not too sure why I thought it would be a good idea to have them in the multimeter, but when they run flat I'll move them to the tin.

If you decide to make one and have any questions, let me know in the comments below.


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    6 years ago

    That is awsome I love it


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Haha! This is great! I would've built in something to move that galvanometer needle around like crazy, though!
    Great thingy! :)


    6 years ago

    wanna sell me one of these? email me chrisrockscc@gmail. com


    6 years ago on Introduction

    good instructable and good step by step assembly


    6 years ago

    Very Cool! I don't have an artistic brain so I probably won't make one. But it seems to me that you have a giant rotary switch on the front of your bot that could maybe be used. Seems like an awful waste to not make it do something like change led colors/pattern, or something. Just a thought.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I did think of that initially but as the LED's are a momentary switch i though it would be too time consuming. Although thinking about it now I could have made a couple of metal contacts that slide over each other each time the knob is turned which might have worked ok.

    man, make the needle move and have a speaker on the chest and it could become an ipod player that would sell like pancakes lol. awesome robot creations


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Not a bad idea! You could easily stick a bluetooth speaker into one of these.


    6 years ago

    Nice, thanks for the idea. If I build something nice like "JoJo". I might justify my "strategic stockpile" (junk) of electronic parts in my garage. Then my wife's contempt for the stuff may be quenched. Thanks for posting.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Haha - yeah I hear you. My "junk" is called artistic material but my wife doesn't buy it.