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Invasion of the vibro-bots

The favourite after-dinner storybook at our house lately is this:

Basic Electronics, by Alvis J. EvansBasic Electronics by McWhorter & Evans

Remember how you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover? As if! Judge away! I think this cover says it all, actually. As my mother-in-law would say, “boring as batshit.”

But not to hubby and Stella. The dining room has been covered with all sorts of mechanical pieces and manuals and tools. I’ve been keeping my distance, but Max will sneak his way in and manage to emerge with something interesting, like a pair of plyers or some other equally dangerous implement.

They’ve been busy making vibro-bots — robots that move using vibration. These little robots look a lot like insects, dancing around with quick twitching legs. Here’s a photo of one of their creations:


The manual hasn’t been used to actually make the robot, just to have some good visuals for explaining all the science behind it. Hubby is forever a teacher — going step-by-step through the building process and explaining circuits, conduits, kinetic movement.

Instructions for making these little robots are readily available online. So if you think you might like to try it as your after-dinner activity too, here are links for you:
Video showing what they look like when moving
How to build a (super cute!) beetle-bot
How to build a bristle-bot (from toothbrush)

I had never heard of these robots before, but apparently they are pretty darn popular. And kids love ’em!


  1. Those are some awesome clips. If I end up secluding myself to the quiet task of making robots day after day night after night, I will hold you responsible — but in a good way. :)

  2. Ya…ummm…I’ll get right on those links and that book…not…yawn

  3. Thanks Julie…. I am going to look this up for an activity to do with my little engineer! he will love it!

  4. Very cool… where does one find little electric parts? Radio shack would have been my guess..

  5. Brenda – I saw them pulling apart other things to get parts. I think an old computer maybe? Who knows. Things disappear on me all the time around here … like my iron got destroyed on behalf on a snowboard making production. But, yes, Radio Shack (or The Source as it’s called now) would have what you need. But most hardware stores would also have this stuff as well, in case that’s closer.

  6. Okay, I’ve just been informed!

    Here’s the goods: the concept of BEAM (biological electronic aesthetic machines)is that the material is harvested or found from other sources, like an old walkman or whatnot.

    But here is the even better news (if you asked me), this company called Solarbotics in Calgary sells kits and all the little bits you need. Check it out! Even I’m kinda interested now that there’s a package kit!

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