Make: Volume 81 – Robot R-R-Rumble

Put your bot-building skills to the test by going head-to-head with your best pals in radio-controlled, weapon-laden robot combat … It’s Robot Rumble time! 

From antweight to heavyweight, we show you what you need to know to build, fight, and WIN! Get an overview of popular combat robot types and the best starter kits, or jump right in with step-by-step instructions to build your first antweight combat robot for cheap! Learn expert tips for victory in the arena, and go behind the scenes to see what it takes to start a combat robot league from the ground up.

Plus, 53 projects and tips including:

  • Hack your sleep with a wearable dream incubator
  • Hot-rod a K40 laser cutter with hacks and mods
  • Light up your outfit or costume with wireless, inductive LEDs
  • Build a musical drum robot as a doorbell or MIDI instrument
  • And much more!

Table of Contents


Welcome: Performing Live with Robots

How a magic show with robots reminded us of the importance of communal experiences.Page 06

Made on Earth

Backyard builds from around the globe.Page 08


Get a Grip

Overcome those shaky hands with these useful adaptive devices and hacks.Page 12

Sick Sniffer

Building an AI nose that “knows” fungal pneumonia for an 8th grade science fair.Page 16

Robot Rumble

Getting Involved

Robot sports aren’t just combat — there’s something fun for everyone. Page 22

Know Your Combat Robots

Your field guide to the key competition weight classes and weapon types. Page 26

Expect to Be Destroyed

Norwalk Havoc Robot League brings the professional experience to all combat bot competitors.Page 34

Combat Kitbots

So you want to fight robots? Try these battle-hardened kits for building 1lb “antweight” combat bots.Page 40

Build Your First Combat Robot

Fast and easy to build, this winning 3D-printed “plastic antweight” design is great for learning robot construction and battle skills.Page 44

The Roboteers

The magic of fighting robots is discovering the community love. Page 50

Cage Match!

Build a DIY arena for safely watching robot mayhem.Page 54


Hack Your Dreams

Build the Dormio “dream incubator” to influence and access your hypnagogic lucid dreams.Page 56


Build a self-playing, musical meditation drum actuated by seven 2-axis mallet-wielding robots.Page 64

Squishy Tech: Inductive Adornments

Send electrical power through the air to light up LEDs wirelessly.Page 70

Smart and Sour

Create a monitoring system to get the right rise from your sourdough starter every time.Page 78

Zoom of Doom

Build a spooky, real-time video head-in-a-jar for your haunt. Page 84

Servos and Micro:bit

It’s easy to connect servomotors and program them in Make:Code!Page 88

Remaking History: Sarah Mather and the Aquascope

Build an underwater viewing scope to inspect boats, find fish — or spot enemy submarines.Page 92

Deep Space Transformer

3D print this James Webb Space Telescope model and unfold it like the real thing. Page 96

The Arduino ARM Family

Classic Arduinos use AVR processors, now there’s ARM too — which is right for you?Page 98

Amateur Scientist: How to Become an Amateur Scientist

Adventures from a life of DIY electronics, instruments, and experiments.Page 102

Toy Inventor’s Notebook: Making Fun

What if famous artists went beyond the canvas to re-create your favorite novelty toy?Page 108

1+2+3: Plastic Bag Ice Cream

Make a batch of this sweet treat with simple ingredients and a little elbow grease. Page 112

Skill Builder

Make That Laser Blaze

What are the best DIY upgrades to add to your cheap K40 laser cutter? We break it down.Page 114

Plane Spotting (and More!)

Put your spare gear to use as a feeder for community-based data exchanges.Page 120



Gear up with the latest tools and kits for makers.Page 124

The Last Word


The makerspaces aiding the defense of Ukraine.Page 128