Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Who doesn't love a friendly little robot side-kick? I mean, Luke had R2-D2 and C-3PO, and Sarah and John had...

...okay, well maybe not everyone wants to have a robot friend. But I do.

And I needed something creative to do in between pushing papers from one side of my desk to the other, so I decided I needed to build a vibrobot. The heart of a vibrobot is most often the little motor from your cell phone or pager, that makes your ass feel slightly tingly when someone calls. It's just a small electrical motor, with an off-set weight on the fly wheel. That's what creates the vibration when your phone rings. Complicated, high-tech shit, right? Who doesn't have several old phones lying around by this point? So I picked the oldest of the lot, and "delicately" disassembled my phone.

I left my favorite Stomper in the picture to provide scale, and well, because I love my Stomper. Ah! There's the motor we were looking for!

My workshop is pretty limited here at my desk. But there is always a way to use office supplies. Using an extra large binder clip, I suddenly upgraded my area with a "bench-vice";

Bristlebots (a vibrobot variant, built using the head of a toothbrush) are awfully popular, and seem to work well, but I didn't have an appropriate toothbrush here at work... besides the one currently employed to clean my teeth. So I settled on the idea of manufacturing my bots body out of a pair of paperclips. Once that was set, I just needed to solder some wires to the motor contacts. Luckily, I work in the IT department, so we have some soldering irons around, just for "old-times sake" I imagine. I quickly clipped the cable from discarded speakers, and I had wire. I tried to steal solder from a motherboard I had ripped out of a computer, but other robots were way too efficient with the amount of solder they use on the circuit boards. So I just brought in my own. Then it was just a matter of affixing the motor to the body, and connecting the wires to a watch battery I had lying around, and... IT LIVES!

I shall name him "Ralphie"

Not too bad for the first attempt. I have some other ideas for his body, but I need a pair of pliers for more advanced fabrication techniques. And then I just have to experiment some to see if I can control his direction... maybe slap on some LEDs so he can see where he's going... and maybe even see if any of my other phones have a stronger motor!

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