Build an Autonomous Toothbrush Robot in Minutes

By Anupum Pant

Background

If you are looking for a cool little science project, I think your search should end right here because today I’m sharing with you an awesome way to transform your toothbrush into an autonomous toothbrush robot. This one is just autonomous enough to move around on its own, hit obstacles, turn around and continue. But remember, since it is a fun project that can be completed within minutes (in under $5), you can’t expect a lot out of this basic bot.

Also, I did not invent this thing. I happened to stumble upon a video by Evil Mad Scientist on YouTube that taught me the basic idea of how this thing works. So, cheers to him. However, since my supplies were constrained, I felt a need to find some alternative methods to construct a similar bot. I’ve shared the original video and my own alternatives (in text) under it… You can skip reading the next two sub-headings and watch the video below them.

Here is what you’ll need:

  • A toothbrush (preferably, one with angled bristles)
  • A cellphone vibrator motor
  • Some double side tape
  • and a Button cell

Here is what you do:

Firstly, do not worry if you don’t have the exact materials mentioned above, I’ve suggested some alternative ideas after the video.

Stick on motorCute but unstable

  1. Grab the toothbrush and carefully cut off the handle, we’ll just need the head. Now, this part can be the most difficult because the plastic at the neck can be pretty tough sometimes. If you are not confident, take help from an elder.
  2. Use the double side tape to stick the motor on top of the head in a way that the rotating shaft of the motor doesn’t touch the bush.
  3. Connect the button cell to the terminals of the motor. If the whole bot starts vibrating with the motor, It’s done. Place it on the floor and watch moving…
[Video]

Alternatives

  • Suppose you don’t have a brush with angled bristles. You can just take any other toothbrush and keep it under your mattress for a day to get pressed. The straight bristles turn into angled bristles. I had to do this, so I know.
  • Now, if you don’t have a cellphone vibrator motor, you can use one of these common motors too. All you’ll have to do is stick a piece of clay or tape on the shaft to make a counter weight so the motor vibrates when it rotates. You don’t want it rotating smoothly here.
  • To make the bot turn away better from obstacles, I stuck 3 toothpicks on top of the brush in a way that one of them was sticking out in the front and the other two were pointing out from the sides to form wing like structures.

It hardly takes any effort to try it out and then you’ll have your own bot moving around on the floor of your house. It feels great to watch it move like that! If you can, try making a huge variant. Use a bigger brush, pencil batteries and a bigger motor.

[See this for more details]