E&R Unit 11: Bug Bots

Wire, Design, and Build your own bugbot!


A “Bug Bot” is a small robot that moves by itself with no program.  A successful Bug Bot moves like this:

  • It drives forward on its own as two motors spin
  • When the Bug Bot hits something its antennae bumps a switch
  • The switch makes one of the motors turn in reverse to the Bug Bot can move around things

Bug Bots are special because they do not require a program.  Instead, the batteries, motors, and switches are hard-wired in such a way that the mechanisms function on their own. As you design and build your own Bug Bot, we’ll go through three major steps:

  1. Wire it using the common wiring diagram to wire, test, and solder your Bug Bot’s wiring
  2. Design and draw what you want your Bug Bot to look like when it’s done
  3. Build your Bug Bot so it looks cool and functions properly

When you’re done, you’ll have your own working Bug Bot!


(20 pts)  About 3 days

A good Bug Bot starts with solid wiring and soldering.  In this first step, you’ll prototype the wiring following the wiring diagram and using some alligator clips.  Once that’s done, you’ll cut and strip some nice wires and replace the alligator clips with those wires.  Finally, you’ll work at a soldering station to make your connections strong and permanent!


(20 pts)  About 2 days

Once your wiring works and is soldered, your next job is to brainstorm the design of your Bug Bot.  Think about the tools and materials we have available; then decide what you want to build.  You need to take some time (about 30 minutes) and make a careful drawing of the Bug Bot you want to build!

PART 3: Build It!

(30 pts)  About 4 days

Following your diagram, build your robot!  Talk to Mr. Benshoof and assemble your materials.  Make a plan of when you want to use different tools so you’re not waiting around.  Be sure to schedule some build time for painting and decorating your Bug Bot.  Have fun and stay focused!

PART 1: Wiring

Wiring up your bugbot is the first and most crucial step!

Bug Bot Wiring Diagram

The quality of a Bug Bot is directly dependent on how good the wiring is.  As we start our project, you need to collect all the proper materials and get the Bug Bot wiring put together using alligator clips.  When you plug in batteries, you should see things work as intended with motors and switches.  Once you have things working with clips, we’ll replace those with twisted wires.  When the system works with those wires, we’ll solder them permanently in place.


 Use your Engineering Notebook to DRAW A PICTURE of the wiring diagram, and make notes to yourself from the three videos below. Then get building!

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your working wiring when its all soldered and ready to go!

How to Solder (Pt 1)

How to Solder (Pt 2)

Common Soldering Mistakes

What’s Due In Bug Bot Part 1: Wiring

  • Drawing
  • Prototyping
  • Soldering
  • Benshoof’s Check-Off

Here’s what’s due in Part 1: Wiring

  1.  Draw the “Wiring Diagram” into your engineering notebook on a page specifically for “Bug Bots”
  2.  Prototype the wiring using alligator clips and confirm that motors move as intended
  3. Solder regular wires in place of the alligator clips and confirm everything still works
  4.  Have Benshoof check-off your working wiring

PART 2: Design & Draw

Brainstorm ideas for your Bug Bot and draw a careful picture

Soldering – how to!  Give some thoughts and notes that summarize the big ideas



Construction Tools & Materials Information

Making A Good Drawing

What’s Due In Bug Bot Part 2: Design & Draw

  • Brainstorm
  • Research
  • Pick Design & Draw
  • Benshoof’s Check-Off

Here’s what’s due in Part 1: Wiring

  1.  Brainstorm at least 10 ideas for what your Bug Bot might look like or be made of
  2.  Look up “Bug Bot Designs” on Google and see what other designs are out there.  Add 5 more ideas to your brainstorm list.
  3.  Pick what your final design will look like, and make a careful drawing in your engineering notebook
  4.  Have Benshoof check-off your careful drawing

PART 3: Build It!

Put your plan into action and build your Bug Bot in our workshop

Soldering – how to!  Give some thoughts and notes that summarize the big ideas

Check out this video on how to solder

Check out this video on how to wire your bugbot

Check out this extra video on troubleshooting

What’s Due In Bug Bot Part 3: Build It!

  • Build It
  • (Extra Credit) Decorate it
  • Benshoof’s Check-Off

Here’s what’s due in Part 3: Build It!

  1.  Get into the makerspace and build your Bug Bot!  Make sure it functions properly!
  2.  If you have extra time, give your Bug Bot that special touch by painting, lasering, or making stickers to customize it!
  3.  Have Benshoof check-off your finished, working Bug Bot

Double Check: Unit Expectations

Check what you need to have completed by the unit deadline

The purpose of this unit is to use the Engineering Design Process to wire, design, and build a working Bug Bot.  You should have had the chance to do some soldering, design your own Bug Bot, and use the tools in our makerspace to build your Bug Bot.  If you were really on-task and working hard, you should have also had time to decorate your Bug Bot to make it look super cool.  By the unit deadline, you should have completed and be able to submit the following items:

Engineering Notebook:

 (Part 1) Definition of problem, criteria, constraints, and Bug Bot Overview notes

 (Part 1) Wiring diagram, soldering notes, and wiring reflection

 (Part 2) Bug Bot Design brainstorm, notes, and careful drawing

 (Part 3) Final drawing/picture, half-page written reflection on Bug Bots

Building & Making:

 (Part 1) Wiring should work, soldering should be clean and complete

 (Part 2) Bug Bot design should be carefully drawn out including labels and diagrams

 (Part 3) The Bug Bot should be assembled and should function properly

Benshoof Checkpoints:

 (Part 1) Benshoof should have seen your working wiring before you moved on

 (Part 2) Benshoof should have seen your careful drawing before you moved on

 (Part 3) Benshoof should have seen your working Bug Bot