Motor Car

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These instructions describe how to build a simple little vehicle out of popsicle sticks, two 3v motors, a battery pack and some wheels and axels. This was the second kit in the Monthly Make It


This kit is relatively simple but very versatile, and leaves a lot of room for creativity. As part of the Monthly Make-It this kit came with the Dynamo kit as well.

All The Parts

The motorcar kit should contain the following parts:

2x 3V electric motors

1x 2AA battery holder

2 small wooden wheels

2 medium wooden wheels

2 large plastic wheels

A few popsicle sticks

A short length of straw

A few short lengths of dowel

2x Y Connectors

Double Sided Tape

Vinyl Electrical Tape

Assemble The Kit

Step 1: Insert Batteries

MotorCar101Batteries In Holder.jpg

Place both batteries in the battery holder -- make sure that the flat (-) sides of the batteries are up against the springs in the battery holder.

Step 2: Attach Motor for Testing

MotorCar102Test Motor.jpg

We want to temporarily attach the motor to the battery pack to test the circuit and the batteries and make sure everything is working. These connections won’t be permanent, so you should make sure to plug the quick disconnect terminals in very loosely so that you can unplug them easily.

When you plug the motor in and flip the switch, it should spin! If you switch which lead of the motor is attached to power and which is attached to ground on the battery pack, the motor should spin in the opposite direction.

Step 3: Attach Y Connectors


The car we are going to build is going to use two motors connected in parallel. This means that we’re going to have to attach both of the motors to the both of the wires coming from the battery pack. In order to make both of these connections we have to attach “y”-adapters to the battery holder so that both wires -- power and ground -- each have two connectors.

Step 4: Attach First Motor


Each motor needs to have one wire connected to the “power” side of the battery holder and one wire connected to the “ground” side. When both of the motors are connected correctly they both will spin when you throw the switch on the battery holder.

When you have all of these wires and connectors attached to each other there can be a lot of wires sticking out everywhere.

We need to make sure that none of these quick disconnect terminals accidentally touch and cause a short circuit. A short circuit will be caused any time the metal part of one of the terminals connected to the “power” side of the battery holder accidentally touches any of the metal parts connected to the “ground” side.

You can probably keep these things apart just by separating them and being careful, but if you find that you keep having short circuits you can always wrap the terminals in a small bit of vinyl electrical tape to insulate the connections.

Step 5: Attach 2nd Motor


Step 6: Put Tape on Battery Holder


We are going to use double-sided tape to attach the battery holder to the popsicle-stick frame of our car. Take two squares of double-sided tape and affix them to the sides of the battery holder. Remove the backing from these squares, then attach another two squares of tape directly on top of those two.

We have found that if you attach a second layer of double-sided tape to the first, so you have two pieces of tape on top of each other, the gap between the battery pack and the popsicle stick that you stick it to is conveniently just large enough to fit a popsicle stick in between. If you are using a different kind of tape or different sticks to build the structure out of, you might have a different experience.

Step 7: Stick Battery Holder to Popsicle Stick


Step 8: Attach Motor 1


Step 9: Attach + Tape both Motors


Next we attach the motors to the sides of the popsicle stick with double-sided tape. Try to line them up as square as possible -- the more even and square they are, the more your car will drive in a straight line!

You can also wrap them with electrical tape for added stability.

We place the motors on the same side of the popsicle stick as the battery pack so that all of the wiring is on the top of the car so it won’t drag along the ground.

Step 10: Attach Wheels + 2nd Stick


Once the motors are affixed to the popsicle stick, you can put your wheels on them. Our kit has an assortment of wheel sizes for you to play and experiment with!

If you used two layers of double-sided tape to attach your battery pack you should be able to just barely wedge a second popsicle stick at a right angle to the first under the battery holder.

This popsicle stick will hold the back wheels. It should be pretty snugly held in place just by the battery holder, but if it moves around too much you can tape it down.

Step 11: Affix Axel


The back wheels will be attached to dowel. In order to allow the dowel to spin freely with the wheels attached, we will attach a straw to the body of our car and slide the dowel through the straw.


Step 12: Try it Out!


And you’re done. Throw the switch and watch it go. If one of the wheels spins the wrong direction and it goes in circles you can swap the connections on one of your motors so that the wire that was going to “ground” goes to “power” and vice versa.

There’s a lot to play around with here -- you can experiment with different shapes and sizes and numbers of wheels in different combinations. You can try putting rubber bands on the wheels to act as tires. You can try to make the car go faster, or straighter, or go in circles. You can even swap the wheels around so that you deliberately make something that spins in circles!


This documentation describes Open Hardware and is licensed under the CERN OHL v.1.2.

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