When you hear the word ‘Bristlebot’ as first, you may think it has to do with the movie Transformers. However, a quick search on Google will inform you that it isn’t a part of the movie, but something similar. A bristlebot is a mini robot created with a toothbrush head. It is like a toothbrush head in motion. Bristlebots are an important part of the educational system to teach kids more about the wonders of robotics.
Every scientist once started small, and bristlebots can be just the beginning for your budding scientist. Even if you do not intend to go into science, robotic kits teach us analytical thinking and key problem-solving skills. They show us how different parts come together to set a robot in motion and how we can control aspects like precision in a machine.
Just like an electric toothbrush vibrates, a bristle bot moves on a flat surface in linear motion. Advanced bristlebots can include multiple batteries, wings and even Bluetooth sensors that can connect to your smartphone. Bristlebots are a type of vibrobots that are powered by clockwork or elastic motors. Since it is the simplest of robots, educators do not mix them with complex motor systems in the first attempt.
How to make a DIY Bristlebot
Everyone uses a toothbrush or has access to one, so getting the ‘bristle’ part is no biggie. For creating your working DIY bristlebot, you need other parts of the bot, like:
- One vibrating motor
- Button battery cell
- Toothbrush head
- Googly eyes
- Pipe cleaners
- Glue or double-sided tape
The first step is to prep the toothbrush head by cutting it from the long handle, this video will help. Your kids need adult supervision for this part of the project. Next, you put the tape or glue on the head and attach the motor to the brush head. Attach the battery in front of the motor and stick googly eyes on both side of the brush head. People also attach plastic legs to the sides of the bot for more stability, but it is an optional step. And that is it, your bristlebot is ready to roll!
There’s also a useful bristlebots tutorial on PBS Kids. What you’ll love about it is the information under Did You Know, which provides a detailed explanation on how bristlebots work the way they do. However, the PBS bot leverages rubberband rather than the conventional foam tape, which we’ve rarely seen in bristlebot tutorials. You’ll also come across a 3-volt battery which has a lot of life but causes the bristlebot to fall on its side.
Best Bristlebots Kits to Buy
If you do not have the parts, you can buy a bristlebot kit and assemble it at home. Here are some cheap and simple kits you can order:
Brown Dog Gadgets created a bristlebot kit that requires no tools to assemble! The kit includes everything you need to assemble the mini robots. Toothbrush bristle comes pre-cut and wires are also joined and only have to be assembled to connect. This mini kit is perfect for a school project, summer vacation hobby or to take to a picnic. Parents can get the kit to have a good time building a robot with the kids. The googly eyes in this kit are self-sticking, so you do not even need glue to put them on the bots. This toy robot kit is perfect for kids between the ages of 8 to 12 years old. There are many tutorials available online on the company’s site for more information.
4M’s brush robot kit can be a cool stocking-stuffer for kids to introduce them to the world of STEM and DIY. It is a robot but also a fun toy that you can use to race against each other and have a fun time. No complicated knowledge is needed to put the robot together so your kids can do this with little guidance. The kit is suitable for ages 8 years and up, so even your teenager can enjoy putting it together.
Two AAA batteries are the only thing you will have to buy to bring the robot to life. Rest of the robot parts are already in the kit and require no more tools.
This kit is easy and affordable for kids who love robotics. Each kit comes with a detailed instruction manual, a cute and custom-made toothbrush head, AAA batteries, GluDots, small rubber bands, a motor and wiggle eyes. It is a hands-on toy to teach young minds about the wonders of science and clever engineering. Once the kids learn how to make a robot, they will start believing in the endless opportunities of life.
Troubleshooting a Bristlebot
If the bristlebot stops functioning all of a sudden, check if the wires are properly connected because it’s usually that one of the wires are not properly attached to the battery. Perhaps let the young ones figure out the issue since it’s a great learning experience for them. That being said, feel free to give them some hints. For example, the blue wire may have sunk down too much into the foam tape, removing contact with the battery. Digging the tip out will make the bristlebot work again. Other than that, the clear tape might not be accommodating the red wire, which means you’ll just require a new tape piece.
Once a robot comes to life, you can take it apart and design it another way. Let creativity take the stage as your kids suggest ways to assemble the robot in different ways. These bristlebots will run faster and be more fluid in movement due to a powerful motor. It’s more fun to make the bristlebot yourself, but you can always go for a marketplace kit if you want to speed things up.