Solar Cockroach Virbobot

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About: I used to teach middle school science, but now I run my own online educational science website. I spend my days designing new projects for students and Makers to put together.

Intro: Solar Cockroach Virbobot

*** The 1.5V solar cells and little nokia vibrating motors can no longer be found online. I've written a new guide using new parts.***

I had a blast making bristlebots with my 4th grade science club a few weeks ago, so I started thinking up new ways to make simple vibrobots to give away as gifts.

I came up with this very simple Cockroach Virbobot. It only costs about $2.50 and 20 minutes of time to make. Super cute and super simple.

Step 1: Supplies

What you need.

Soldering Iron + solder
Hot glue gun
(A helping hand is nice as well)
Wire cutters or strong scissors

1.5V solar panel ($1)
Small DC Vibrating Motor (AKA Pager motor)
Two paper clips
Scrap wire (I used the ends from a couple of resistors I had cut down. They can be anything.)

Super Cute Option: Googley eyes

I bought a pack of 10 solar panels off ebay for $10. Great for a lot of projects.

I bought my motors from the online store Electric Goldmine for $1.10 each. I like the ones they have because they trigger at only 0.5V, whereas most trigger at around 1.5V. The lower trigger voltage you can get the better because it means that your roach will work under less sunlight. If you do buy from them be SURE to get the motors with the blue casing, not the silver. Silver ones suck for a variety of reasons.

If you don't want to buy these in bulk, I have a kit and prebuilt ones for sale on my website. It's a fun project you can do with kids or makes a great little gift you made yourself.

Step 2: Solder the Motor

Put the motor in one clip of the Helping Hand and a wire in the other. Solder on.

Do the same to the other side.

You want the wires point out.

BE CAREFUL! You don't want to use too much solder, nor do you want to put your soldering iron on the tab for too long. Too much heat and you'll melt the motor.

(Another reason I love the motors from Electric Goldmine is that they have very big solder tabs that are easy to solder. You want the ones with the blue casing, the pure silver casing ones melt with the slightest touch.)

Step 3: Connect to Solar Panel

Now align the two wires to the two solder points of the solar panel.

Positive and negative don't matter in this case.

I like having my motor hanging in the middle. You can have it any which way you like.

Simple, no?

No, you don't need anything else.

No, you don't need a diode.

No, you shouldn't try fitting a capacitor in there. (I tried, it's not worth it.)

Step 4: Paperclips

Straighten out your two paper clips. I usually only use about 2/3rds of a small paperclip. It all depends on how long of legs you want.

Then bend them in half. We're making nice little Vs here people.

Using the Helping Hand and Hot Glue Gun, glue the legs on.

Again, the position of the legs all depends on you and how you want the roach to stand. I like my roaches short and slightly angled forward. This way I can point him at the sun for max power.

(As someone was so kind to point out, don't let the paperclips touch the wires that run to the motor, otherwise you'll get a short. If you're worried, just throw some hot glue between the legs and the motor wires.)

Step 5: Enjoy!

Your're now done.

To make your roach extra cute I usually add on some little antennas via a single strip of thin wire.

You can also go full crazy and add googley eyes to make him extra personable.

I've made quite a few and given many away. Below are a few I have in my room (including one with a capacitor, something that didn't work at all for me) to give you an idea of different ways to do the legs.

If you'd like one I have some for sale on my website, etsy store, and available as kits.

If you want a cheap and easy project you might as well put a cockroach together.

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74 Discussions

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jean ranido

1 year ago

that was so cute , i love it

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ReniA1

2 years ago

Its really awesome & cute

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tlm67

2 years ago

must have¤

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good engineer

2 years ago

this will problary help me win my science fair prodject

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luna0221

2 years ago

so cute!!!!!!!!! i love this. i have to make this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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coppermaniac

3 years ago

Nice ,can someone please make a instructable about making a multipurpose helping bot? And really nice cockroach
I don't know how to make my own instrucable can someone help me ?

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Lrobot8

3 years ago on Introduction

Is there a special kind of soldering iron required? On amazon there's a 30watt soldering iron and a 40watt soldering iron. Does it matter which one you buy?

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Pwag

5 years ago on Introduction

How do these work under fluorescent lighting? I was thinking of putting one on my secretaries desk under a sheet of paper...

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czorse

5 years ago

I do stuff like this and I take Motors and wire out of toys

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lah.gofar

6 years ago on Introduction

hmm ..
ya really want right hand materials of manufacture is simple ..?

your idea is simple and nice too . i like it but please tell me how will the vibrobot walk . my id (mritunjaygupta4@gmail.com)