The Butterfly Bristlebot




Introduction: The Butterfly Bristlebot

Origami is both unique and timeless. Today, we're taking these timeless creations, breathing new life into them and giving them the ability to move. In this instructable I will show you how I have joined both my passions for electronics and paper-crafting and re-purposed it to create this wonderful and unique little project that anyone can do in less than an hour.

There are many variations around the Instructables website and on the internet for creating a butterfly for your project, feel free to find one that fits you.

Here are a couple examples of such butterflies you can use in your project.


If you like my tutorial then please vote for me in the 'Homemade Gifts', 'Tech', 'Robotics', and 'make it glow' contests. Your vote is very much appreciated and will help me on my way to creating even more awesome crafts in the future.

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Step 1: Supplies

These are the materials you will need. Some of these materials I got locally.

  1. Glue Gun (Hobby Craft Store)
  2. Glue Sticks (Hobby Craft Store)
  3. Dollar Bill (2.61 x 6.14 inch paper)
  4. 30mA - 50mA Vibrate Motors (eBay)
  5. LEDS (Amazon)
  6. 3v Watch battery cells (Dollar Store)
  7. Toothbrushes (Dollar Store)
  8. Dremel (For cutting the toothbrush. Use whatever works for you)
  9. Dremel Cutting Disk
  10. Soldering Iron (Amazon)

Step 2: Making Your Butterfly

Warning: Clicking on the View All button will open up 98 images.

Making the butterfly is the longest part of this instructable, but don't fret; follow the instructions in the video or follow along in the pictures that I've provided. I highly recommend the video as it is in motion and easy to understand when a fold is occurring or when the paper is being flipped over.

The xacto blade that you may see floating around in my images is to help me flatten and straighten folds. It is not required.

Congrats on making your cute little butterfly. Now we'll be moving onto the hardware of things.

Step 3: Start by Tinning All the Short Things on Your LED and Motor Wire

Here, you will now want to grab your soldering iron for this. First, tin the shortest leg of the LED, this will make it easier to solder with other wires. Now do it again this time with the shortest wire on the vibrate motor.

(Fact: tinning is the process soldering or brazing a metal by applying a thin layer of solder to the surface)

Step 4: Solder the Short Leg of the LED and the Short Wire of the Motor

Here, you will carefully solder the short leg and wire of the motor together, as depicted in my awesome drawing. You will want to wire it this way because you will be pushing the LED on and off the contacts of the battery. Having the wire wired any other way, I found, resulted in the connection breaking over time.

(Fact: The longest leg on an LED is the anode, the short leg is the cathode.)

Picture 2 shows the completed result.

Picture 3 shows the Wiring Diagram.

Step 5: Test to Make Sure All You Connections Are Good.

Test to make sure that the LED glows. The non-soldered wire (aka. the longest one) from the motor will be soldered to the under-side of the battery in the next step.


If you've connected everything together correctly, connecting the LED to the + and - terminals on the battery and the Motor's other free wire to the + side of the battery, the LED will glow and the motor will vibrate.

Step 6: Tin the Longest Wire on the Motor

Prepare this wire for soldering to the battery by adding some solder to the wire.

Step 7: Prepare the Battery by Sanding It Down (Optional)

Sand down the flat side of the battery. This will remove most of the grease and coating that would make soldering harder. Not only that, it will create scratches in the battery that will allow for the solder to hold on to.

After sanding it should look like Picture 2. The spot that you see in the middle of the battery is from me attempting to solder without sanding. If you do not have a sanding tool (i.e. Nail File), you can skip this step.

Step 8: Tin the Battery and Solder the Long Wire to the Battery.

Disclaimer: It is generally discouraged to ever solder directly to a battery. I highly recommend not doing this! If you can, Glue the wire to the battery instead.

I myself did not experience any adverse affects during my soldering on this coin cell battery.

Exercise good judgement and do not overheat your battery. Please be safe!!

Onto the rest of the instructable

First off! You don't want to be holding your iron too long to the battery.

You simply want to cold solder the wire onto the battery such that there is a decent connection between the wire and the battery. To do this correctly, I further tinned my wire such that there was excess solder on the wire. I then placed the wire on the battery followed by the soldering iron, and dragged the soldering iron across the wire onto the battery pulling the solder along onto the battery. I did this a couple of times until I could lift the wire lightly and not feel the wire coming loose.

The glue that we will be using in a later step will be the one holding the wire in place, and prevent it from being pulled off. Once soldered, the connection should be strong enough to hold everything (picture 3).

While you're at this stage. Test everything by connecting the LED to the battery. The motor should move, and the LED should glow (Picture 4).

Step 9: Cut Your Toothbrush

Using your cutting tool, whatever that may be, go ahead and cut your toothbrush head off. Make sure to wear eye protection so as to not get plastic bits in your eye.

Step 10: Glue the Battery to the Toothbrush

After you've cut off your toothbrush head, you'll now add a long dab of hot glue to stick the battery to.

Quickly take your battery and sandwich the wire, that you soldered, between the toothbrush and the battery (Picture 2). It is imperative that you make sure to not break the wire connection to the battery, or you'll have to resolder everything back together. Make sure the battery is parallel to the toothbrush and isn't falling to one side. (Picture 3)

Step 11: At This Time, Make Sure That Your Connections Are Still Good

Once the glue has dried you'll now test to make sure that your motor is still working. You will do this by taking the LED and pushing it onto the two contacts on the battery. If the motor vibrates and the LED lights you're in good hands.

Step 12: Time to Glue the Underside of Your Butterfly (optional)

Grab your butterfly.

We will now begin gluing the inside of the butterfly so that it won't open up while we are gluing it to the battery. This is an optional step, you don't need to do this unless you want to. I find doing it this way is easier as this butterfly's underside has a tendency to open up.

Step 13: Time to Prep Battery and Glue Your Butterfly

Add a dab of hot glue on top of the battery for where the butterfly will be placed. (Picture 1)
A dot of glue should be enough (Picture 2).
Push the butterfly into the glue until it feels solid enough that it won't fall off.
If you find that you're butterfly falls off, melt the glue on the battery and on the underside of the butterfly and try again.

Step 14: Do Some Final Checks to Make Sure Your LED and Motor Are Good

Once again, check to make sure your LED and motor are still working. Gently push the LED's legs onto the contacts of the battery, short leg on top side of battery, long leg on bottom side of battery. The LED should light up and the motor should vibrate.

Step 15: Final Step: Glue Your Motor on the Top Between the Wings

Carefully put a small dab of glue between the wings. Make sure to give enough berth for the motor to rotate it's head. I made the mistake of not giving enough room, and the motor jammed itself in the folds of the paper.

Step 16: You're All Done! Plug in the LED and Enjoy Your New Little Bristle Bot

That's it. You're all done! Plug in the LED and watch them go. If everything went accordingly, the light on the LED should glow, and the motor should vibrate.

And when you're all done playing with them, simply pull out the LED and this will turn them off.

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    4 Discussions


    4 years ago

    very creative!


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you! :)


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you :D