Make: Projects

Building BrushBot Kits

BrushBots are easy to make and fun to race!

Building BrushBot Kits

Turn a toothbrush into a robot! BrushBots are easy and fun to build and race. The tiny vibrating motor turns the bristles into thousands of little legs, then they scoot like crazy bugs!

You can find all the parts you need to build 4 BrushBots in the MAKE BrushBot Kit — inspired by the original Bristlebot how-to from our friends at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

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Steps

Step #1: Check the contents of your kit.

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Building BrushBot Kits

You should have 4 toothbrushes, 4 tiny motors with wires attached, 4 batteries with wires attached, and 2 pieces of double-sided tape.

Step #2: Cut the toothbrush.

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Use strong scissors or diagonal cutters to cut the toothbrush head off the handle. Make sure to cut it close to the bristles, as shown here.

Step #3: Cut the tape.

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Use scissors to cut one piece of double-sided foam tape into 4 smaller squares.

Step #4: Trim the battery wires.

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  • Cut the battery wires about 1" long.
  • Then use wire strippers to strip about 1/4" of insulation off the end of each wire.

Step #5: Test-fit the battery.

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Building BrushBot Kits

The battery has a natural "curve" to it. This curve should be bent upward, to allow the battery to sit flat on the toothbrush.

Step #6: Attach the battery.

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Use a small square of double-sided foam tape to attach the battery to the toothbrush head.

Step #7: Attach the vibrating motor.

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Peel the sticker off the motor, and stick the motor firmly on top of the battery.

Step #8: Twist the wires and go!

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  • When you're ready to run your BrushBot, twist each battery lead together with a motor lead to connect them. (The polarity doesn't matter, so you can twist black to black, or black to red.) Your BrushBot will start vibrating!
  • Let go and watch it run around!

Step #9: Modify your BrushBots (optional).

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  • After you build your BrushBots, mod them for more fun!
  • Connect 2 bots together with tape or a bit of wire.
  • Trim or bend the bristles to make the BrushBot change direction.
  • Add stabilizing wire legs. This way the BrushBots can crash into each other without tipping over.
  • Make up a racetrack and see whose BrushBot wins!
Marc de Vinck

Marc de Vinck

I'm currently working full time as the Dexter F. Baker Professor of Practice in Creativity in the Masters of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship Program at Lehigh University. I'm also an avid product designer, kit maker, author, father, tinkerer, and member of the MAKE Technical Advisory board.


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