Bots, Robots & Robotics

Step #1: Check the contents of your kit.

You should have 4 toothbrushes, 4 tiny motors with wires attached, 4 batteries with wires attached, and 2 pieces of double-sided tape.

Step #2: Cut the toothbrush.

Use strong scissors or diagonal cutters to cut the toothbrush head off the handle. Make sure to cut it close to the bristles, as shown here.

Step #3: Cut the tape.

Use scissors to cut one piece of double-sided foam tape into 4 smaller squares.

Step #4: Trim the battery wires.

  • Cut the battery wires about 1" long.
  • Then use wire strippers to strip about 1/4" of insulation off the end of each wire.

Step #5: Test-fit the battery.

The battery has a natural "curve" to it. This curve should be bent upward, to allow the battery to sit flat on the toothbrush.

Step #6: Attach the battery.

Use a small square of double-sided foam tape to attach the battery to the toothbrush head.

Step #7: Attach the vibrating motor.

Peel the sticker off the motor, and stick the motor firmly on top of the battery.

Step #8: Twist the wires and go!

  • When you're ready to run your BrushBot, twist each battery lead together with a motor lead to connect them. (The polarity doesn't matter, so you can twist black to black, or black to red.) Your BrushBot will start vibrating!
  • Let go and watch it run around!

Step #9: Modify your BrushBots (optional).

  • After you build your BrushBots, mod them for more fun!
  • Connect 2 bots together with tape or a bit of wire.
  • Trim or bend the bristles to make the BrushBot change direction.
  • Add stabilizing wire legs. This way the BrushBots can crash into each other without tipping over.
  • Make up a racetrack and see whose BrushBot wins!

BrushBots are great for teaching kids about making, working with basic electronics, and thinking outside the box in minimalist "robot" design. The BrushBot uses the head of a toothbrush as its body and the bristles as its legs. The hundreds of nylon bristles that would normally clean your teeth twitch and vibrate to make the "bot" bounce along like a nervous little insect. A tiny pager motor and coin cell battery provide the get up and go, and can be disconnected when you're done playing to lengthen the life of the project. The kit comes with the parts you need to build four of your own BrushBots, but you'll also need some wire strippers and a some strong clippers. They're easy to make, fun to personalize, and good, goofy fun to race.

BrushBots can be customized and taught to many different age levels, and are perfect activities for after school groups, the classroom, and parties. See if you can hack our BrushBots and come up with a more fearsome bot with different combinations of brush heads and motors!

List of Universities with a Robotics Program


Brown University : http://www.cs.brown.edu/research/robotics/

Cal Poly Pomona : http://www.csupomona.edu/~ece/rover/index.html

Caltech : http://robby.caltech.edu/
Caltech : http://www.coro.caltech.edu/

Carnegie-Mellon University : http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~multirobotlab/
Carnegie-Mellon University : http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~cyberscout/
Carnegie-Mellon University : http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/
Carnegie-Mellon University : http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~illah/lab.html

Colorado School of Mines : http://egweb.mines.edu/cardi/

Columbia University : http://www1.cs.columbia.edu/robotics/

Cornell University : http://robotics.cornell.edu/

Dartmouth College : http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~brd/robotics.html

Drexel University : http://itcsl.cs.drexel.edu/

Florida A&M University/FSU : http://www.eng.fsu.edu/~panini/robot/

Florida International University : http://www.eng.fiu.edu/me/robotics/

Georgia Tech : http://www.cc.gatech.edu/ai/robot-lab/

Indiana University : http://www.indiana.edu/~roboclub/

Johns Hopkins University : http://bach.ece.jhu.edu/~etienne/labweb/
Johns Hopkins University : http://www.cs.jhu.edu/CIRL/
Johns Hopkins University : http://robotics.me.jhu.edu/~www/

Kansas State University : http://www.cis.ksu.edu/~dag/robotics/home.shtml

Long Beach City College : http://elect.lbcc.edu/pages/programs.html

MIT : http://www.ai.mit.edu/
MIT : http://robots.mit.edu/

New Mexico Institue of Mining & Technology : http://www.ee.nmt.edu/~isrg/

North Carolina State University : http://www2.ncsu.edu/CIL/CARL/index.htm

Northwestern Polytechnic University, Humanoid Project : http://www.npu.edu/humanoidproject/

Ohio State University : http://eewww.eng.ohio-state.edu/

Oregon State University : http://eecs.oregonstate.edu/education/about.html

Portland State University : http://www.ece.pdx.edu/~mperkows/ML_LAB/index.html

Rice University : http://www.cs.rice.edu/CS/AIRobotics/

Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville : http://roboti.cs.siue.edu/

Stanford University : http://sun-valley.stanford.edu/arl.html
Stanford University : http://robotics.stanford.edu/home.html
Stanford University : http://www-cdr.stanford.edu/Touch/touchpage.html

Tennessee State University : http://www.tnstate.edu/imrl/

Texas A&M University : http://parasol-www.cs.tamu.edu/dsmft/

U.S. Air Force Academy : http://www.usafa.af.mil/

UC Berkeley : http://robotics.eecs.berkeley.edu/
UC Berkeley : http://www.me.berkeley.edu/hel/

UC San Diego : http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~tarokh/lab/
UC San Diego : http://cvrr.ucsd.edu/

UC Santa Cruz : http://www.cse.ucsc.edu/labs/taoswap/

University of Arizona : http://www.ame.arizona.edu/

University of Cincinnati : http://www.robotics.uc.edu/

University of Florida : http://www.mil.ufl.edu/

University of Hawaii : http://www.eng.hawaii.edu/~asl/

University of Houston (Downtown campus) :http://www.uhd.edu/academic/colleges/sciences/engineeringtech/

University of Houston (Main and Clear Lake campuses) : http://www.egr.uh.edu/
University of Houston (Main and Clear Lake campuses) : http://nas.cl.uh.edu/

University of Idaho : http://www.mrc.uidaho.edu/cisr/

University of Maryland : http://www.cs.umd.edu/projects/amrl/
University of Maryland : http://www.ssl.umd.edu/

University of Massachusetts, Amherst : http://dis.cs.umass.edu/
University of Massachusetts, Amherst : http://www-robotics.cs.umass.edu/lpr.html

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor : http://www.engin.umich.edu/research/mrl/index.html

University of Minnesota : http://www.cs.umn.edu/Research/airvl/

University of Missouri-Columbia : http://sun16.cecs.missouri.edu/

University of Nebraska-Lincoln : http://robots.unl.edu/index.html

University of New Hampshire : http://www.ece.unh.edu/robots/rbt_home.htm

University of New Mexico : http://vlab.unm.edu/
University of New Mexico : http://pursue.unm.edu/robotics/
University of New Mexico : http://www-mep.unm.edu/html/radds.html
University of New Mexico : http://www.eece.unm.edu/%7Echsmith/raiv.html

University of Notre Dame : http://www.nd.edu/~airolab/
University of Notre Dame : http://www.nd.edu/~isall/

University of Oklahoma : http://www.amerobotics.ou.edu/intro.html

University of Pennsylvania : http://www.grasp.upenn.edu/

University of Rochester : http://www.cs.rochester.edu/users/faculty/brown/lab.html

University of South Florida : http://www.csee.usf.edu/robotics/crasar/

University of Southern California : http://www-robotics.usc.edu/
University of Southern California : http://www-robotics.usc.edu/~embedded/

University of Tennessee, Knoxville : http://www.cs.utk.edu/~parker/Distributed-Intelligence-Lab/index.html
University of Tennessee, Knoxville : http://imaging.utk.edu/

University of Texas, Austin : http://www.robotics.utexas.edu/rrg/

University of Texas, Dallas : http://www.utdallas.edu/dept/eecs/

University of Utah : http://www.cs.utah.edu/vision/vision_robotics.html
University of Utah : http://www.cs.utah.edu/~jmh/VETO.html

University of Washington, Bothell : http://faculty.washington.edu/cfolson/mapping.html

University of Washington, Seattle : http://brl.ee.washington.edu/
University of Washington, Seattle : http://www.cs.washington.edu/ai/Mobile_Robotics/

University of Wisconsin, Madison : http://robios8.me.wisc.edu/

Utah State University : http://www.csois.usu.edu/

Vanderbilt University : http://eecs.vanderbilt.edu/CIS/IRL/
Vanderbilt University : http://eecs.vanderbilt.edu/cis/CRL/index.html
Vanderbilt University : http://129.59.79.44/index.html

Villanova University : http://www.csc.vill.edu/lab/special.html

Virginia Tech : http://armyant.ee.vt.edu/avt/

Wellesley University : http://www.wellesley.edu/Physics/robots/studio.html