Five Fun Microcontrolled Bots to Build

Five Fun Microcontrolled Bots to Build

Yellow Drum Machine from MAKE Volume 27

Looking for some fun microcontrolled bot builds to get started on this weekend? Here are five project ideas with full build instructions on Make: Projects, from the simple One-Hour CoasterBot to the more complex but super cool Yellow Drum Machine shown above.

1. Last year on Makezine, we ran a cool CoasterBot build project and contest. CoasterBots are mini robot development platforms, made using CD/DVD media as the main body components, and Matt Mets shared a super simple one with us using an Ardweeny microcontroller. Check out Matt’s One-Hour CoasterBot.

One-Hour CoasterBot

2. My Robot, Makey was created by former Make: Labs engineering intern Kris Magri for MAKE Volume 19, as an accessible autonomous robot that can be programmed to follow objects around and avoid obstacles. Makey has become iconic here at MAKE, and there are a few running around the Lab.

3. These next two bot builds are from the current issue of MAKE, Volume 27, the Robots issue. First up, with its infectious grooves, is the funky little free-range drumbot that roams, finds surfaces to makes beats on, and even samples itself: the Yellow Drum Machine (YDM) from Let’s Make Robots‘ Frits Lyneborg. Frits also does the Latest in Hobby Robotics column here on Makezine. Check out Frits’ column, then check out this video of the YDM action and prepare to fall in love.

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4. The second bot build from MAKE Volume 27 is Spazzi the Solenoid-Powered Dancebot by Marek Michalowski of BeatBots. The Italian word “spazzi” is a reference to sweeping, which is suggestive of the arrangement/movement of the antennae/eyebrows atop Spazzi’s head as he boogies down to your beats. Check out these moves!

5. And last but certainly not least is the winner of our Volume 27 Robot contest, Russell Cameron’s Chopsticks the Spider Robot. Chopsticks’ legs are made of bamboo chopsticks and polymorph plastic and he has an Arduino brain. Watching him play peekaboo will make you smile.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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