Robotics is an intimidating field. To be really good at this, one must possess an above-average understanding of physics, computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, systems engineering, and advanced mathematics.
But what if you only have something, or worse still none, of that make a tiny robot knowledge and still want to learn about the field?
How to Make a Tiny Robot
Well we all have to start somewhere and this make a tiny robot guide is designed to demystify robotics by teaching anyone with even a modest ability to use hand tools to build their own incredibly simple robot.
The robot you will build here is a small robot in the simplest sense. It will move and react to obstacles in its environment, reversing the motors and circumnavigating them when necessary on its own.
You’re probably not going to automate any industrial lines or explore any lunar craters just because you built the world’s simplest robot, but it’s a good introduction to the field of tiny robotics and a fun project for an afternoon after work or a weekend afternoon.
In total, it costs around $ 50 to build and the enjoyment is well worth the investment.
Make a Homemade Robot
This robot is modular and will give you a starting point from which you can modify your machine to perform more complex tasks or design your next robot with some objective in mind.
If you have children, you may want to include them in this project. If you have trouble following the steps in the guide, want help customizing your tiny robot for more complex behavior, or want to order or build a machine that is considerably beyond the scope of this make a tiny robot article, please send me a message.
I am always happy to discuss ideas and help people build the machines of their dreams for a variety of applications.
All right, I get it.
You Want to Build Something
This guide originally included links to tools and parts on a popular online shopping site to make ordering everything you need to get started easy. I had some issues with the terms of service for that site. To fix those issues, I posted the links here.
That being said, if you have similar things around your house or prefer to customize your machine a bit more. You can still build or make a tiny robot something great using different parts than the exact ones you link to.
You can probably save some money by recovering parts from broken electronics or surplus stores. . This guide is designed to be remixed and I am happy to answer any questions about using parts other than the ones I directly recommend.
Screwdriver: to assemble the 1-inch tiny robot chassis kit if used. The kit also uses nuts, so pliers or a set of socket wrenches can come in handy too, but you can get away with it using your fingers and / or needle nose pliers.
- Tweezers, tweezers or needle clips
- Wire stripper (you can replace the scissors, but you can end up hating yourself)
- Welder (optional / some skill required)
- Soldering (optional / soldering iron and skill required)
- Glue gun
Lighter (Get a BIC lighter if you’re using heat shrink but don’t have a heat gun. This is a considerably less expensive option if you’ve never used heat pipe shrink before and want to try it out without committing to new tools)
Necessary Parts Prices are Approximate
- 1x – 400 tie-down test plate – $ 6
- 1x – 2 wheel drive robot chassis kit – $ 20
- 2x – SPDT Micro lever Switch – $ 10
- 1x – Pack of 40 male to male jumper cables – $ 5
- 1x – 4 AA battery holder – $ 6.50
- 4x – AA Batteries – $ 3.50
- 1x – Power switch (optional – to keep costs down, I’ll explain how to do it without this in the guide) – $ 2
- 2x – Paper clips to spread the whiskers
1 to 3 inches of heat shrink tubing to make mustaches tidier (optional)
A chassis is the “skeleton” that holds a robot together. For the simplest make a tiny robot in my world, I purchased the chassis kit that I linked to in the last step and assembled it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
There are a few different settings in the manual and I recommend the two wheels, one wheel, the one shown above.
Alternatively, you can design your own chassis, as long as it meets the following criteria:
Differential drive (one wheel for each side, both wheels are parallel to each other with respect to where they touch the ground, but can be bent in or out)
- The board must fit on the robot.
- The battery pack must fit into the space of the robot to leave the whiskers of the microlever switch
- There should probably be additional space left for an Arduino or other microcontroller if you want to use this as a platform for more advanced robotics projects in the future.
- Leave room for an ignition switch, if you are using it.
The simplest robot in the world uses 2 micro lever switches as whiskers so the robot knows when it is driving to something to its left or right and reverses the motor on the opposite side to get away from the obstacle.
Build the mustache sensors (do this twice).
Fold a Clip to Form a Curved Mustache
Glue the mustache to the end of the microlever switch, overlapping it with the lever arm, taking care not to block or block the action of the switches.
Strengthen the connection between the paper clip and the switch by adding tape or heat shrink tubing over the hot glue. If you are using heat shrink tubing, you will need to activate it by holding a lighter (mobile) underneath.
It is important to keep the lighter moving because holding it in a space for too long could burn or melt through the tube and/or plastic switch housing.
Add Cables to Switches
Cut one end of a bridge and strip about half an inch of insulation from the cut end, exposing bare copper. Do this six times, as each switch will require 3 of these cables.
Don’t worry if you make a mistake and cut some wire instead of stripping it. You should have a lot of extra bridges if you bought the 40 pack that I linked to.
Pass the stripped wire through the hole in a terminal on the switch and turn it again, then turn it until snug. If you have a soldering iron and know how to use it, I would recommend soldering this connection as I did. Do this for the 3 terminals on both switches.
Ride the Whiskers
You want to have a mustache to detect obstacles on the left and another mustache to the right. You can overlay them like I did or you can choose not to overlap (this is less confusing.
But with the potential for a blind spot that could jam your robot if you were driving in a corner or something that is narrower than the space between the whiskers ).
If you do overlap the whiskers, be sure to put a spacer of some sort underneath one so they don’t rub against each other. I used 2 M8 nuts which I glued in place.
Keep in mind that whatever the side of the front of the 1-inch cube robot is, the part of the mustache that is touched is placed on the opposite side of the motor that must reverse if hit. Play around with the whisker locations until you’re satisfied with them and glue them to the chassis.
Here are some tips to repair your robot if it doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.
- If your robot immediately takes off in reverse, replace the red and black wires on each of the engines.
- If your robot is spinning in place, swap the red and black wires on the reverse side (left if it is counterclockwise, right if it is clockwise).
- At this point, your robot should run around a level desk or floor and avoid obstacles in its path.
- If your robot’s whiskers get stuck in things, try folding them in or trimming them to make them harder to catch.
- If you have a problem and can’t figure out how to fix it, send me a message and I’ll be happy to help you when you have free time.
Thanks and Regards
You can follow my make a tiny robot project below here.
FAQs About Microbot
What are these tiny robots called?
Microbotics (or microrobotics) in the field of miniature robotics, specifically mobile robots with characteristic dimensions less than 1mm. The term can also be used for robots that can handle micron-sized components.
How much does a bot robot cost?
SoftBank Robotics offered its humanoid robot Pepper for around $1,800 before ending production earlier this year.
But with Tesla’s advanced technology, many are predicting their robot could cost $10,000 (or far more).