Make a Simple Motorized CD Gyroscope




About: I am an American teaching English at Shangluo University, Shaanxi. I like making machines that do interesting but fairly useless things - I call them Quixotic Machines.
Warning: cd rotors are dangerous! One of mine was cracked and it exploded. Wear safety glasses if you don't want to go blind.
Make this quick and simple gyroscope using a toy motor, cd, and plastic pulley. Please be aware that the speed of the gyroscope is pretty fast even using a single AA battery and it is not suitable for young children.

Watch this video to see it in action:

Step 1: Make the Hub for the Cd

The hardest part of this project is finding a suitable hub to fill in the hole of the cd. I happened to have some plastic pulleys made for toy motors that almost fit. I had to clip off the outer edge of pulley with some wire cutters and then it fit into the cd hole perfectly.

The second photo shows how I just hotglued the pulley into the cd hole.

Step 2: Fit Pulley/cd to Motor and Add Battery

Finally just slide the pulley/cd assymbly onto the motor shaft which should be a tight fit.
I soldered a plug onto the motor but you can just solder two wires to the motor contacts.
I then used some tape to tape the wire ends to the battery but of course a battery box with a switch would work best.

I use just a single battery as the rpm for two or more batteries is very high and makes the cd a little dangerous.

You can probably get an even more gyroscopic effect by gluing two or three cds together for a heavier flywheel (rotor).



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    9 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Nice one,
    And just an advice regarding gyroscope - there is 4000yrs old toy called Diabolo...

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    That gives me an idea for a project; to make a robotic diabolo, thanks.
    Yeah, I played with a diabolo that a student of mine had given me in China. Could only get it going and throw it up in the air a couple times. I saw a show there where these girls had trained from childhood with them - very skillful. Gyros are really cool and come in a lot of forms. Check out my automated gyro-toy - one of my favorite projects. Wish it was still around.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Wow... you went from this simple beginning to the arduino-controlled steerable gyrocar? That was yours, right? That's inspiring! I was looking for something to use to teach my kids about gyroscopes, saw the gyrocar and thought I'd love to make something like that but thought the learning curve would be too steep. Seeing this as the beginning... Well. :) Thanks!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you. Yes it was a pretty logical progression once I got the initial gyroscope balancing - that was the hard part because no one out there was telling how to do it.
    Now I will expand on this a bit: the first gyro balancing you notice is pretty shakey - that is the only reason it worked because the slop in the works allowed it to balance. Any uneven pressure on the gimbal on one side or the other will make it fall over. The only way to consistently make it balance is to use the counter-weight which was the next step. That always works. Then it was just a matter of adding power to the wheel and steering. But, it still will fall over in a sharp turn or left turn - you really need two gyros so they counteract each other in a turn.
    That said, please note this is a passive gyro that must be top heavy (more weight above the rotor - usually the motor) or it won't work.
    The other kind of self-balancing gyro is where a servo is directly attached to the gimbal - but it must be computer controlled and I have not been successful making one of these - this is what the C-1 Lit Motors motorcycle/car uses.
    Probably too much information but if you have any issues, please contact me. Jim.


    4 years ago

    Where do you get the supplies at? I would like to get into making things like this but I'm not sure where to start. Thanks!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago

    I am in china so order specialized things like motors and controllers and robotic stuff off the internet ( but most of my projects are built reusing old broken cd/dvd player parts (motors) or toys which supply most of my stuff. That and a gluegun and a hand drill and a few other tools are all you need to build my projects. Lately I do use an Arduino Uno board for most of my projects. Radio Shack, internet and old toys should supply all you need.


    Grate project i always was fasinated with the way a gyroscope moves i would love to see a 2 axis gyroscope for more controle and stablization be implemtet in a remote control air plane or something like it!

    2 replies
    GrantB1PRO DR MR BOB

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Dr. Bob, that was GRATE comment dude. I was FASINATED by your CONTROLE of the english language. Let's IMPLEMTET this thang!