Experiments with Doodlebots

We recently visited Manchester’s latest Mini-Maker Fair. There was lots there to entertain my 2 boys (or 3 if you count the husband) – especially my eldest son. Amongst the various activities on offer, he did his first soldering session to make a flashing badge (and has a small burn to show for it) attended a Minecraft hacking session, and 3D printed a miniature robot. We also attempted to make our own doodlebot. This involved using a simple motor which was wired to a battery, and taped to a piece of card.  Holes were punched into the corners of the card, and the tips of the pens pushed through. We didn’t have much time to make ours as they were about to start packing up, and although we saw that several other people’s doodlebots were working effectively, ours unfortunately refused to move, and we didn’t have time to spend adjusting it to solve the problem.  This was a little disappointing, so we decided to have  go at making our own version at home, which I am glad to say worked beautifully.



This time we used a really simple idea which I discovered online and shared on the Artful Kids Facebook page some time ago. It uses an electric milk frother for the motor- (mine is somewhat underused so I was more than happy to give it a more creative use on this occasion.) The only other material needed apart from felt-tip pens, is some self-adhesive Velcro which you use to attach the pens to the milk frother. You could use tape instead, but the beauty of the Velcro is that it makes the pens much more adjustable, which is useful when getting the doodlebot to work at its best. You stick another piece onto the whisk  itself – again, not essential, but we found that the doodlebot was more mobile if it was there. Velcro 4 pens onto the whisk at a 45 degree angle, and make sure that the whisk will stand upright effectively, otherwise it will fall over when it is in action. For such a very simple device which takes just 5 minutes to put together it works really effectively – and I was inordinately pleased with it. My younger son is now inspired to try and design more doodlebots, and used the doodles created as the basis for further artwork, embellishing them with paint to make them ‘even prettier.’ Check out the video below if you want to see our doodlebot in action ( apologies for the somewhat blurry quality!)