Hexbug Heaven: How to make a simple robot

What you'll learn:

How to make a vibrating hexbug that you can decorate.

Key takeaways:

In a circuit, or circle, wires must create a circle around a battery. That is, wires from the battery should go from one side, through the motor, and onto the other side of the battery.

Hexbugs are a ton of fun to play with. The hexbugs you find at the store are often small long retangular bugs with skinny rubber legs that allow it to vibrate around the table. If you look around online, most instructions on how to make a hexbug will tell you to use a toothbrush head to mimic the legs you find in the store. 

However, I have found in my time teaching that using a toothbrush head kills the creativity of the hexbug your child will create. For whatever reason, once you attach the toothbrush head, kids feel like they are done. They might slap on some googly eyes and that's it. And while they are done with the base of the hexbug, the part that makes it move, there is so much more room for growth, engineering, and learning if you nix the toothbrush head all together.

When you make your own hexbug from recycled materials and craft supplies you might end up with a scary scorpion, or a cute caterpillar.

How to make a hexbug

Like I mentioned earlier, the best part of this hexbug project comes after you have a complete circuit – the decorating. Make sure you have ample time, and supplies to allow your kids to embelish their hexbug. Also, make sure to give them the creative space to do such. I’ve seen kids make Darth Vader, Harry Potter, pom pom aliens, cupcake monsters, and more. When it comes to decorating your hexbug, make sure to dream.

how to make a hexbug

1. Wire the motor to your hexbug

Your hexbug is powered by a small vibrating motor. This motor is the same motor you would find in a cell phone and has two wires attached to it. If the plastic on the wire extends to the tip, you will need to use a pair of wire strippers to expose more of the metal wire. 

Take the red wire from your vibrating motor and tape it to the top of your coin cell battery (that’s the side with the writing). Take the black wire and tape it to the bottom of your battery. When you do this, the motor should begin to vibrate. 

To turn your hexbug off you can take off one of the wires. By removing one wire you break the circle, or circuit, and the vibrating motor will stop.

hexbug project for kids

2. Add in your LEDs

If you want your hexbug to light up in any way, you will need to add an LED. LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are low power alternatives to tiny light bulbs. Even with the lower power, however, you will find that adding in LEDs to your hexbug could make it vibrate more slowly. Your child will have to think about whether this is a benefit to their creation or not.

To add in an LED you will put the short leg of the LED to the bottom of the battery and the long leg of the LED to the top of the battery. This should make your LED light up. If it doesn’t, check that you have the short leg on the bottom and the long leg on top, you can find out why here. If it still doesn’t work, try a new battery or a new LED.

Once you have your LEDs in place you can tape them down. Now you should have a vibrating motor and LEDs attached to a small coin cell battery. When you put it on the table it should wiggle around. 

This is the base of your hexbug.

 

hexbug harry potter

3. Decorate your hexbug

Now time for the artist in you to come out. You could make a hexbug turkey or Santa, since this is a part of my Thanksgiving science activity series, or you could be free of limitations and see what happens. 

hexbug obstacle course

4. Make a hexbug maze or corral

Now that you have your own custom hexbug, you can race them, watch them battle, let them roam around a corral, or??…

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