DIY Hexbug Nano

DIY Hexbug Nano

Want to make a DIY version of those adorable little Hexbug Nano bots? Now you can!

A Hexbug Nano is a collectible micro robot that uses vibration to “explore” its environment. It’s made from new plastic and a tiny motor, and you can make one yourself out of upcycled materials!

Better yet: hand all these supplies over to your kiddo, because the DIY Hexbug Nano is a perfectly do-able kid build. Here’s how.

DIY Hexbug Nano

You will need:

small vibrating or revolving motor with leads attached. You can crib a motor from any number of small appliances–electric toothbrush, for instance–but I really like these motors with the leads already attached, because it makes this simple project even simpler.

cell batteryIt’s small and light, and its positive and negative sides are nice and wide to help out your experimenting kid.

toothbrush head. Use your old toothbrush that I’m sure you should be replacing more often than you do, and cut off the handle.

glue dots. 

Rainbow loom rubber band.

DIY Hexbug Nano

I’m going to give you the step-by-step, but if you’ve got a kid who’s around seven or older, or who likes to tinker, or who’s studied even a teensy bit about electricity, I encourage you to simply hand off these supplies, tell the kid what the finished robot should do, and then step back and watch quietly. This robot offers a BIG reward for tiny makers!

1. Test your circuit. Make sure your robot will work by touching the wire from the red lead to the positive side of the battery while you touch the wire from the black lead to the negative side. The motor should turn.

If you don’t want to just dump all the supplies in your kid’s lap and ditch her, this is also a good place to start: tell her that if she touches the leads to the battery correctly she’ll complete the circuit to make the motor run. Once she figures that out, tell her that she can use that complete circuit to power her DIY Hexbug Nano.

2. Attach the motor to the toothbrush. Stick it on with a glue dot.

DIY Hexbug Nano

3. Attach the battery to the toothbrush. More glue dots to the rescue!

DIY Hexbug Nano
Some frustration with this project is really good; it teaches persistence and problem-solving, and the complete robot will be a huge reward!

4. Attach the leads to the battery. There are loads of ways to do this, but remember that you want to be able to easily detach and reattach at least one lead–that’s how you’re going to break the circuit and stop your crazy robot!

When I presented each of my own kiddos with this challenge, one kid chose to attach her battery with the bottom lead pinned between it and the toothbrush; she successfully relied on gravity to keep the top lead pressed to the battery during operation, and simply moved it aside to stop the Hexbug.

DIY Hexbug NanoMy younger kiddo came up with the solution to wrap a Rainbow Loom rubber band twice around the battery, then to slip each lead under the band–it’s a very sturdy connection, but easily dismantled, and so clever that I added Rainbow Loom rubber bands to the supplies list in case your own kiddo wants to try it.

This DIY Hexbug Nano works best on a flat surface, like your floor or a tabletop. I suggest that you build a little maze for it to play in, because otherwise it mostly wants to zip underneath your refrigerator and play there.

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

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