How to build a BugBot

Inspired by our Bug Lab exhibition and want to get crafty? Learn some robot-making skills by building your own BugBot at home.

Materials 

  • 1 paper cup
  • 1 12V DC electric motor
  • 1 AA battery
  • 60cm of light electrical wire
  • Insulation tape
  • 6 felt tip pens
  • 1 wobble top (we use a milk bottle top)
  • Material to decorate your bug bot e.g. googly eyes and pipe cleaners
  • Wire cutter
  • Wire strippers

Instructions

Step one: Attach felt tip pens to the coffee cup

Flip the cup upside down and attach pens using tape. You can alter the amount of movement of your BugBot by altering where the pens are attached. Just make sure all the pen nibs touch the surface and your BugBot can stand up!

Step two: Attach electric motor to your cup

We chose to attach the motor to the top of the bug in an off-centre position with tape. The sticky-out bit on the motor needs to be clear of the cup, so that you can attach the wobble top later on.

Step three: Fix battery and wire

This is fiddly so you may need ask an adult for some help. The battery can be attached with tape. You will also need to wire up the motor. On the motors are two terminals where wire needs to be threaded through the holes. These wires will also need to be connected to the two poles of the battery. You know you are successful as the motor will buzz and the shaft will spin.

Step four: Attach the wobble top

With a pin, pierce a small hole in the milk bottle top rim. This may require adult help. The hole needs to be small as it needs to snuggly fit onto the shaft. Once attached, wire up your motor and see if it spins. If it’s hitting the cup than you may have to move the motor around as it needs to spin freely.

Step five: Decorate your BugBot

You are free to decorate, add eyes, antennae, colour it in, add stickers, add fangs – go crazy.

Step six: Make it live!

Attach the wires from the motor to the poles of the battery (you may want to tape them on with insulation tape) if you have assembled your BugBot well then your BugBot will wobble. Remove the lids from the felt tip pens, place on paper, and let your bug bot scribble you a picture.