This miniSADbot was created for the Kickstarter backers who supported the original SADbot exhibit that Ben Leduc-Mills and I created. Thank you! Here you will learn what to do with the kit of parts we sent you. If you didn't back the project but still want to make one, a full parts list is included. There's not much to it so it's an easy first solar project.
Step 1: Gather Materials
- small DC toy motor like the CAT# DCM-368 from AllElectronics.com shown here
- small solar cell like the CAT# SPL-61 from AllElectronics.com shown here
- some wire - ideally red and black
- a 4.5" x 4.5" piece of cardboard
- 2 markers or pens
Step 2: Solder Wires to Solar Cell
Use tape, glue, or putty to hold the two longer lengths of wire (red and black) onto the thin metal strips on the back of the solar cells. CAREFULLY solder each side - the strips are very fragile! The black wire goes on the side marked - in black permanent marker, and red on the other.*
*It doesn't actually matter what wire color goes where in this case. However, it's standard to use black for negative/ground/- and red for positive/power/+ and will matter in other solar projects. So, it's good to get in the habit.
Step 3: Solder Wires to Motor
Take two short lengths of wire and solder them onto the metal tabs on the motors. Use the holes in the tabs to first stick the wires through and bend them so they stay put while you solder.
Step 4: Create the Base
If you're building this from the kit, you already have the base done. If not, use the template here (made in Inkscape) or just cut a 4.5" x 4.5" piece of cardboard with X marks for the pens/markers and a cut out for the motor.
Step 5: Final Assembly and Soldering
Stick two pens or markers into the X marks so about a 1/2 inch sticks out the bottom. Then stick the motor in, shaft down, until it sticks out the same amount. The markers and motor should fit snugly, but feel free to reinforce with duct tape or glue.
Now place the solar cell on the cardboard base. Twist the end of each wire coming from the solar cell together with the matching color wire coming off the motor. Then solder this twisted connection.
Now take it outside! This setup will only work in direct sunlight - hence the name miniSADbot: short for Seasonally Affected Drawing robot (named after a mood disorder of the same name). Experiment with different marker colors, putting something on the motor shaft to create different swooping patterns, etc. Watch a video of one in action here.