Invasion of the Christmas Robots

Art & Sculpture Craft & Design Robotics Technology
Invasion of the Christmas Robots


Merry Christmas, or the secular, religious, or pagan holiday of your choice.

I love this little Christmas ornament from Instructables, so I decided to build some a few years ago and give them as gifts. The pictures show my completed bots.

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I tried to put personality into each bot; each bears an individual holiday greeting. Chef has a hand-hammered knife and an LED ‘Open’ sign. Cy included a spring bobble-head so the LED displays the classic Cylon wandering eye. Leia has her signature hair-do and a blaster.

I had trouble getting the original Instructables circuit working, so I substituted this Darkness Detecting circuit from our friends at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. The cool thing about this simple little circuit is that the solar panel effectively acts as the dark detector. When there’s no light to power the solar panel, a PNP transistor is activated, which allows the flashing LED to be powered from the battery. While the lights are on, the LED is off.

I extended a copper wire down through the robot body, which can either be used to make a stand, or you can put one of these little fellas on a Christmas tree by wrapping the wire around a branch.

Surplus cell phone batteries are charged by the solar panels. I found a cheap source for small solar panels at the Electronic Goldmine. The panels I got produced about 3.5V, which worked perfectly for my purposes.

My friends and family still enjoy their robots, and display the proudly.

2 thoughts on “Invasion of the Christmas Robots

  1. SaluteL'invasione dei robot di Natale | Salute says:

    […] Dare il dono di ornamenti robotici questa stagione di festa! È possibile effettuare questi raffreddare ornamenti piccolo LED che si accendono quando le luci si spengono. […]

  2. 10 of Our Favorite DIY Tree Ornament Projects | Make: says:

    […] made some of these solar-powered LED robots one Christmas and had a ball. It’s a perfect project for the electronics newbie, and for a […]

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Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and author of How Things Are Made: From Automobiles to Zippers. Andrew is also an electronics and robotics enthusiast and has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children's Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Enrichment in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.

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