Sketchy Low-Budget Instructables Robot




Introduction: Sketchy Low-Budget Instructables Robot

I had such a blast writing up my first Instructable last week that I decided to make another. OK, I'm really making this project to enter the Instructables Robot contest and also to see how quickly I can create a project and publish an 'ible.

Keep your expectations (very) low for this one and we'll get along just fine.

Here's what I used for this project - it's what I had in my house:

  • A sports drink bottle (Gatorade - the chunky bottle)
  • A yellow(ish) padded mailing envelope
  • A couple of dead dry erase markers
  • A couple of rubber duckie antennas off of old wireless modems
  • some hard drive innards.
  • some pvc pipe
  • the keypad off of a dead cordless phone
  • a block of 2x4 wood
  • some copper wire
  • a few LEDs
  • a 3V coin cell battery


  • box cutter / Xacto knife
  • drill w/various sized bits
  • hot glue gun

Step 1: Get Your Body Ready

  1. Using your box cutter, cut the head off of your bottle.

  2. Drill a couple of holes in the bottom of the bottle for your legs. These holes should be about the same size as the narrow "tip" of your marker.

  3. Take the ink pieces out of your dry erase marker. Really. If you leave them in, you'll make a big ink splash on yourself and your workspace if the pen wasn't really dead. You may see some green smudges in some of my pictures. Anyhow, pull out the pen tip with pliers, remove the little bottom cap, and pull out the big ink reserve. You can then put the little bottom cap back on if your cat hasn't stolen it.

  4. Drill holes through the pens near the bottom. (This is where you'll wear the ink if you haven't removed it from the pen.) These holes will be for your copper wire that will connect your wheels.

  5. Now glue the legs in place using a liberal amount of hot glue, making sure the holes are on the inside/outside of the legs rather than front/back.

Step 2: Dress Him Up

  1. Now that you have a body with legs, you can put on his clothes. I used an old padded mailing envelope because it was free, puffy and yellow. Just cut and wrap your robot and secure with hot glue or packing tape. I basically made a cylinder that would fit and then jammed it on the bottle. If you make it too snug, you can always pop some of the packing bubbles! Tuck the top down into the hole.

  2. I made him some leggings in the same way and slipped them on. For his "knees" I drew with a marker, but you can also use rubber bands, which might give a better texture.

  3. Drill a hole on each side of the bottle (through the yellow envelope) for his arms. I chose rubber duckies because they allow for a little arm posing. Cut the duckies short with wire cutters and then glue them in place with hot glue. Now wrap them with more of the yellow envelope.

  4. Glue on some buttons. I cut some buttons off of a keypad from an old cordless phone and glued them on the front.

  5. Cut out a window below the buttons. This allows his inner light to show through. I made this too big, I think.

Step 3: Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

Now it's time for the robot's wheels. For these, I used some pvc pipe and some cool parts salvaged from old hard drives.

Note to yourself: Never throw out a hard drive. Your old data is safer when you disassemble the drive and scatter its parts to the wind. Plus, the parts are very shiny and cool. Kids love taking them apart, too. Oh, and there are some Really strong magnets in there that are fun to have around.

So for the wheels, I cut some pvc pipe (1 1/2") into slices that are about as thick as your markers. Then I hot glued two of the platter-spinning-motor-things from my old hard drives onto each one. Make sure the little holes near the edges of the spinny-things line up with each other.

Now run some copper wire through those holes and up through the holes in the dry erase marker legs. Glue in place if you can't get them tight enough to stay on their own.

I really like these wheels. The rest of the robot is a little lame, but I really like the wheels. .

Step 4: Get a Head Start

OK, now let's work on the head. I just used a block of 2x4 pine from my scrap bin. I did want to do more than have a block head on my 'bot, so I added a tiny bit of bling. I used two LEDs (one red and one color-cycling) and a 3V coin cell battery. It's basically just an LED throwie, with no soldering or fancy footwork necessary. We'll do the electronics in the next step. Let's make the head first.


  1. Cut your block to size

  2. Drill a large hole from the back of the head to very near the front. Don't drill all the way through.

  3. Drill eye holes (I used 1/4" bit) that intersect in the big hole you just drilled. If you make the holes a little cross-eyed, that works best.

  4. At each ear position, drill a large hole about 1/2" into the head. This will be for the pen cap ears.

  5. Now use a smaller (1/8") bit to drill all the way through the block from one ear-hole to the other.

  6. Finally, cut a saw kerf down the back of the head. You'll use this to hold the battery.

The Eyes have it:

Grab your hot glue gun and blob some glue on the front of the eye-holes you just drilled. The 'ibles robot has a slightly bigger left eye, so I blobbed some extra on there. Don't worry if some of the glue goes through the hole. This isn't fine art. When the glue is dry, use a marker to outline the basic shape. Eye-liner, if you will.

Ears to you, kid:

Drill small holes in the marker caps then glue the caps in place in the ear-holes. Run a piece of copper wire all the way through one ear and out the other.

OK, enough bad puns:

Use a marker to draw on the mouth and eyebrows.

Step 5: Bling It On

Now that our robot's head is assembled, we can put a little sparkle in his eyes. We'll use a red LED for his head and a cycling LED for his body.

  1. Strip the ends off of a couple of 6-8" lengths of hookup wire. This wire needs to be long enough to run from just behind your robot's eyes to the slot we cut in his belly.

  2. Twist the longer (positive) legs of your LEDs to opposite ends of one wire. Repeat with the shorter (negative) legs. (see pictures)

  3. Wrap the legs of the cycling LED in electrical tape so you don't short it out.

  4. Position the legs of the red LED on opposite sides of the coin cell battery. The long leg goes on the flat, positive side and the short leg goes on the negative side. Wrap this loosely with electrical tape so that when you squeeze it the lights come on.

  5. Now dangle the cycling LED into the body cavity show it shows through the belly-window and put the red LED in the hole behind the robot's eyes. The wire can go right into the saw kerf. Tape it in place so the whole thing doesn't end up in the robot's stomach.

  6. To light him up, just jam the battery into the saw kerf to squeeze the LED's legs to the battery.


After writing this up, I decided to add a couple more LEDs to his body cavity, so that's why the picture shows more intestinal bling.

Things I should have done, but ran out of time:

Fingers. I left out the fingers and the sleeve decoration. Use whatever you have lying around. Tic-tacs (do they still make those?) come to mind. Or dried beans of some sort.

Fatter. He should be fatter.

Shorter. Or maybe just fatter. I don't know.

I'm sure there are plenty of blunders and omissions in this Instructable.

It was a rush job.

And silly.

Please be merciful.

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