Activities for Kids: Build These Remote-Controlled, Spinning Pivot Bots

Using some littleBit components, you can build a remote-controlled spinning robot with your kids.

There’s something satisfying about watching two homemade robots beat the bolts out of one another, isn’t there? That’s why we’re excited that BattleBots has made its way back to television. The Science Channel and Discovery update of the beloved bot-on-bot slugfest retains what was so great about the original: mayhem. Various teams’ radio-controlled creations — from sharpened, wedge-shaped creations that ram opponents to miniature tanks armed with spinning blades — face off against one another in three-minute, boxing-style matches to determine robotic dominance. The battles take place in a cage. Pop-up blades and traps add to the action. Should one of the robots not be utterly destroyed, judges determine the winner. It’s a ton of fun.

While we’re stoked the show is back on The Science Channel, we’re even more excited that a few of Fatherly’s “Maker Dads” videos will appear during each episode, teaching parents how to create their own (less dangerous) robots with their kids. During this week’s episode, Shannon LaNier and his daughter Madison show you how to build a Pivot Bot.

What, exactly, is a Pivot Bot you ask? Made with componentry provided by littleBits, it’s an easy-to-build robot that you can steer and spin around with a remote control.

What You’ll Need to Build a Pivot Bot

  • A five-channel LittleBits wireless transmitter
  • A five-channel LittleBits wireless receiver
  • A LittleBits Gizmos & Gadgets Kit
  • 4 screws
  • Markers
  • Construction paper
  • Screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Duct tape

How to Build a Pivot Bot

  1. Build the remote control circuit. Connect the power source and the two sliders to the split. Then, connect the other side of the sliders to the left and right sides of the wireless transmitter and connect the power snap to the center. Put the battery on the power source and snap everything to the mounting board. Tape the battery in place.
  2. Build the Pivot Bot. Form a circuit by connecting the wireless receiver to a power source and snapping the motors to the receiver. Connect the servo to the receiver. Ensure that the motors are set to VAR and the servo to swing. Connect the motors and servo to one side of the mounting board and the ball castor to the bottom of the other side.
  3. Connect the wheels to the motor shafts. Make sure you align the flat sides of each piece. Attach the battery and tape it to the mounting board between the wheels.
  4. Test your robot. Make sure that the remote and the Pivot Bot are on the same frequency so they can communicate.
  5. Decorate! Wrap some construction paper around your Pivot Bot and draw on it or throw on some stickers.
  6. Battle! If you make two Pivot Bots you can spin them into each other and try to use the arm to take down your opponent.

Check out the video above for a demonstration, and look out for more Fatherly videos during Battlebots, Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on Discovery and Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Science Channel.