Water Wiggler




Introduction: Water Wiggler

I love building things, from electronics to wood projects. I especially like projects that inclu...

A water wiggler is a device you put in your bird bath stir up the water. By "wiggling" the water it keeps mosquitos from laying eggs in what would otherwise be a stagnant pool of water. I was with my Mom shopping for bird baths the other day and they tried to sell her a device like this for $30. I told her I could make it for about $10. Here's a really good alternative to that overpriced store bought item. Let me appologize for the bad images up front too. Time to buy a new camera!

Step 1: Laying Everything Out

The first thing you want to do is lay out everything. You can see all of my supplies and my tools in the attached photos. I got the hangers and cream cheese container for free from my Mom. The rest of the items I got at my local Radio Shack for about $11.

The list of supplies:
- Two Wire Hangers
- One Cream Cheese Container
- Two AAA Batteries
- One AAA Battery Holder (holds two batteries)
- One 1.5 - 3.0 Volt DC Motor
- One Rocker Switch
- One 25 Ohm Rheostat
- Assorted Wires

The list of tools:
- Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
- Exacto knife
- Soldering Iron and stand
- Solder
- Wire Cutters
- Needle Nose Pliers

Step 2: Building the Base

The base of the water wiggler is the lid to the cream cheese container. It might be a good at this point in the process to make sure you've bought plenty of bagels. You'll need them so you have somewhere to put all that cream cheese. Maybe invite a friend over to help eat those bagels too!

Once you've cleaned out your container take off the lid and cut three holes in it. The one in the center is for the DC motor. The second largest hole (right) is for the Rocker Switch. You'll then cut a small hole for the Rheostat. Make sure you get a tiny slit in the lid to secure that rheostat.

Don't be worried about lining up the holes. As long as you have the motor in the center you can mess the rest up. Also, on the top of the cream cheese lid (where the label is) you might see a circle imprinted. That circle happens to be the right size for the motor.

Lastly, if you cut the hole to big the motor will slide right through. Cut the hole only big enough so the motor will fit snuggly on the lid. Use the inner diameter of the casing and not the outer diameter as your guide.

Step 3: Putting It Together

Now is the time to put everything in place. First you'll want to put in the Rocker Switch and the Rheostat. They both come with nuts so that you can secure them in place. The motor will have to be attached with the glue gun in order to hold it in place. Use the photos to see how I have oriented everything.

Hint: The Rocker Switch should be easy to flip on and off while the device is on. In order to do that you'll want to position it sideways so that it is just as easy to do both operations. The photo should make this description more clear.

Step 4: It Needs More Power

Now you'll want to attach the battery holder and wire up the device. You'll want to do this in two steps. Step one is to glue the battery holder in place with the glue gun. You might want to stick in the batteries at this point and make sure (as I'm sure you did before you got started) that you can get power to the motor. Step two is to wire up the device and solder the wires down.

You can see how I've wired the device in the picture I've provided. If for some reason yours doesn't work with the same wiring, which would be amazing, just change the wires around. Your most likely problem will be with the rheostat. Notice I only use two of the three leads from that device.

Once you've done this step have fun turning it on and off for a while. I know I did! Play with the rheostat to see how fast and how slow you can get the motor going. You'll notice that by turning the resistance all the way up you can actually stop the motor.

Alright, now stop doing that! You'll waste the batteries:P

Step 5: Happy Feet

Next you'll want to put together the feet for this device. Ideally you'll make this into a tripod. You probably could make a set of four feet for it, but that might make the device more cumbersome.

What I did was to take apart two wire hangers and bend them into the shape I needed. Fortunately they already come premade in a fashion close to what I desired. I've lined up the pieces I took from the first hanger next to the second hanger so you can see where I got everything from. The feet are about four inches high.

Make three feet and use a leftover piece of the first hanger to use for the wiggler. You'll attach that last piece to the motor later.

Step 6: Attach the Feet

To attache the feet I put holes in the base about an inch apart. Then I bent the top of each of the feet pieces and pushed them through the holes. Make sure you bend the top of the feet at an angle towards the inside of the base. That way you can still close the bottom of the cream cheese container over it.

You'll want to use the glue gun to secure the feet. The feet should point out a bit. That's to make sure the wiggler doesn't swing out and hit them. Also, a wide base will be a bit more stable. Make sure you don't accidentally glue in the batteries. The only other rule I have here is to ensure that you can get to both the switch and the rheostat. Otherwise, have at it!

Step 7: Attach the Wiggler

The last piece is the wiggler. It's just a piece of the wire hanger that I attached to the motor with generous amounts of glue from the glue gun. I found this to be the hardest part of the project as I'd never really attached anything to a DC motor before.

Be aware that the glue from the glue gun isn't rock hard when its dry. This might cause it to bend a bit and the wiggler might hit your fingers the first time you turn it on. Don't worry, it doesn't hurt ... much! Just kidding.

Also, put a weight of some sort inside the lid. A small rock or some quarters might do. It's a little too light to stand still on its own. The store bought one used D cell batteries to overcome this. I used a rock. Go figure.

Now check out the movie to see it in action!

One last thing, and this is critical: The water wiggler is supposed to stand on the three legs in a body of water. I don't show that position very often, but that's how it works. Don't try to float it in the bird bath upside down. It might scare or injure the birds you want bathing in your bath.

I hope you enjoyed my first instructable!



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    33 Discussions

    Hi & Thank you. I live in Canada and am NOT going to spend hugh dollars to buy one of these. Your idea will work great, as have owned one before bought in the States. I did find a DC Motor on Ebay with an 85mm shaft that should work just fine FYI. Thanks again.

    Help! This is a great project & my daughter has made it for a class assignment. The motor worked and everything was great until we attached the wiggler. Maybe we put it in the wrong spot on the motor or got glue somewhere it wasn't supposed to be but the motor wouldn't work. I removed the glue & wiggler and the motor works again but i still need to attach the wiggler. some detailed instructions would be great. Please help!

    1 reply

     I'd love to help:)  I'm not exactly clear on what happened.  I glued the wiggler directly to the motor shaft.  Maybe a picture would help.  Just make sure it's offset if you want it to wiggle.  Hope this project works out for you!

    yea the solar cell thing is what i was thinking. if you put caffeine in stagnant water it also kills mosquitos, just add instant coffee, of course for somethings that would not work. it weould be cool to just make a ltille boat that constanly swimss in circles

    2 replies

    I wonder how birds feel about coffee ... But the boat thing would be cool. Maybe you could dress it up to look like a leaf floating around so the birds want to hang out. Or maybe make it into something they could ride. That would be fun to watch:)

    Caffeine is dangerous to birds, but they're attracted to a little rippling or dripping water, so your device probably makes the bath even more attractive to them.  Thank you for the instructable.  I'm going to try a solar powered one.

     couldn't you put the power switch and the rheostat on the other side of the container so you waste half a second in turning the device over :p

    1 reply

    You're right, only I thought it looked prettier this way.  Also, I wouldn't have to seal the buttons on the top in case it rained.  

    I think this is a Gd instructable Helps quite alot But could you make it anymore waterproof (not that it needs it) I'd secure the batteries in a Ziplock Bag Just to be sure hehe! Great ible

    im bout to make a bird bath and saw this...great job mr mallow...u get more of a shock from an orgasm then u do from the puny batteries he applied

    thats real smart! elecricity and water... do you want to electricute birds?!?!?! do u do it often???

    2 replies

    Yeah, just bringing a battery near anything somewhat moist will electrocute everything in a three mile radius. Get a grip. (Haven't you ever licked a battery?)

    Hmmm since the circuit - being the wiring and armature design, by it's very nature isolates the current from the bird bath, and so therefore there is no electricity flowing through the water, and it's only a few volts, and at no time do the birds ever form part of the circuit, how do you guys come to the conclusion that the birds are actually going to get electrocuted?

    Nice idea, and nice use of the recycle container. As other have noted, you do need to work on a more power efficient system than using a rheostat, though. Your system looks like it'll draw around 100ma, which mans a set of batteries will only last 25 hours. One of Mark Tilden's solar engines would be great:


    Alright first off 3 volts made from to batteries is not going to electrocute birds.Your multimeter.

    A few years ago, someone made a device that was to kill mosquito larvae and eggs in bird baths using a form of solar power. It was a wire mesh made of two different kinds of metal. When warm, the mesh was flat, and stayed under the water. When cooled at night, the different thermal expansion characteristics of the two metals caused the mesh to warp into an arch, slowly lifting itself above the water level in the middle of the shallow water. This would lift any mosquito egg rafts and some larvae above the water level, drying them at night. He has a patent on this and other devices, so a Google patent search may reveal the details.

    If your bath's big enough, or it's a rain-water butt you want to protect, you can just plonk in a fish or two (e.g. goldfish). Yyou don't want the water to go stagnant so make sure the fish are live.

    Wait, if this is dancing around in the water, then the birds won't come. Dosen't it defeat the purpose?