Crumbly Junk robot

Guest Blogger Nathaniel Roberts, Nuffield Research Placement Student working at the University of Northampton. Nuffield Research Placement scheme provides students in their first year of a post16 course to work with STEM professionals

Toilet Roll Junkbot Nathaniel Roberts

Cut a slit in a toilet roll. Cut another toilet roll in half, then arrange the pieces in a T. Feed the bottom of the T into the slit, and tape together.
Cut two lines into the edge, and do the same on the opposite side of the circle. Copy this for the other side of the tube. These geared motors from the Camjam EduKit 3 should fit into those gaps.
Stick a battery pack to the back, and use crocodile clips to wire it all up to a crumble. The battery pack can connect to the + and - on either side at the top of the crumble, and the motors connect to the + and - of their respective sides of the crumble.

Using a Micro USB to USB cable, the crumble can be plugged into a…

Controlling 'junk' robot - three options

Three approaches to control it will be considered here:
- via Raspberry Pi;
- via Micro:Bit
-via Crumble controller

1. Raspberry Pi based

In this Raspberry Pi based Junkbot design a combination of Python and Pimoroni's Explorer HAT PRO are used to control it. Explorer HAT Pro is a good choice, it can control two motors with a library provided to simplify the programming. For this the Junkbot was the one shown above: a drinks can, pen, LEGO bits, motor and broken propellor.

Before the Explorer HAT can be used the library needs to be installed via the Terminal and the instructions below

curl | bash
Python code to control the junkbot is shown below.

import explorerhat from time import sleep
def spin1(duration):     sleep(duration)
def spin2(duration):     sleep(duration)

2. Micro:bit
what about the recently released Micro:Bits; can …

The Page Turning Librarian: 10 Steps to Make a Doodlebot

The Page Turning Librarian: 10 Steps to Make a Doodlebot: Creating a doodlebot is one of my student's favorite makerspace activities.  A doodlebot is a robot that is made from every day mater...

To read more go to The Page Turning Librarian: 10 Steps to Make a Doodlebot

All views and opinions are the author's and do not necessarily reflected those of any organisation they are associated with. Twitter: @scottturneruon

Junkbot Poster - PyCon UK 2016, 17th September 2016

Poster presented at PyCon UK 2016, 17th September 2016.

Pyconuk16 junkbotsfrom Scott Turner

DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.28682.67520

For more details on the three builds:

Raspberry Pi based: Micro:Bit build: Control Micro:Bit Junkbot:

All opinions in this blog are the Author's and should not in any way be seen as reflecting the views of any organisation the Author has any association with. Twitter @scottturneruon

If you would like to know more about the Junkbots project contact

Do it yourself: 'Radio' Controlled Micro:Bit Junkbot

In an earlier post, I showed how you could build a Micro:Bit controlled Junkbot. In this post I want to show a modification to it, to use one Micro:Bit to control the junkbot controlled by another Micro:Bit. A nice feature of the Micro:Bit using micropython, is it can send and receive simple messages via radio - so here is my take on it.

The first problem is the Python editor available on does not seem to work with the radio API. One solution to this is to change to the mu editor.

Two pieces of code are needed.

Sending Code for the 'remote' control:
Essentially it is set up to send two messages, via the built-in radio module, spinl or spinr depending on which button is pressed.

import radio
from microbit import button_a, button_b


while True:
   if button_a.is_pressed():
   if button_b.is_pressed():


Junkbot Code
This takes an adapted form of the previous Junkbot code to work by; on r…

Controlling a junkbot with a Micro:bit

A new direction has been developed for the junkbot project (; previously Raspberry Pis have been used to control the junkbot’s movement ( – but what about the recently released Micro:Bits; can it be used to control a junkbot?
Matthew Hole, a student from Wrenn Academy, Northamptonshire ; has been investigating this idea whilst on a Nuffield Research Placement ( working with Dr Scott Turner, University of Northampton. The project was to look into developing junkbots controlled using a Micro:bit and also to produce some materials for schools to use with or without outside assistance.

What is a Junkbot? For this project, it is a moving ‘bot’ made from waste materials, combined with an electric motor and a programmable device (in this case a Micro:Bit) to control (or try) it. An example is shown above. More details on junk…

Wiggle and Wobble: Two related videos

These two videos are very much in the spirit of the junkbots project (and I wish I had created them) - two fantastic robotic builds.

Wobblebot (construction details can be found at:

Wrigglebot (details can be found at: which is a drawing bot.

The plan is to try out some of the ideas with in the junkbots project.

If you would like to know more about the Junkbots project contact