Sunday, January 30, 2011

VibraMotor as a Cat Toy

If you have an old cellphone lying around that doesn't work anymore or that you would have thrown away anyway, you might want to think about taking it apart for spare parts or looking inside to understand how it works.

Yesterday I disassembled an old cellphone to look for some parts which I could use. Besides some buttons, a microphone and a speaker, one particular component caught my attention. I extracted a small vibra motor. Vibra motors are responsible for the vibrating notification your cellphone can alert you with. In general they are just small DC motors. At the top of their shaft they have a weight in the form of a half circle. When the motor spins the weight, it gets out of balance and you experience a vibration.

You also can order those motors online if you don't have a cellphone lying around.

With the motor and an additional LED, I decided to build a toy for my cat.

Usually those little motors work with a 3V power supply. I used a coin cell battery holder for my circuit so I could keep the project really small. The only thing left to do was to attach a 150Ω resistor with a red LED to the circuit. Now the circuit can be placed in a casing. I used a surprise egg plastic casing. Make sure that you seal the casing or stand by when your cat plays with it, so your cat can't accidentally break it open and swallow the parts.

Let's have look at the setup:

Vibra Motor

Parts (150Ω resistor and LED are missing on that photo)

Assembled Circuit

Circuit in Casing

Here is the circuit diagram of the project:

If you assembled everything correctly, the result should look like this:


  1. Hallo Mario :)

    I saw ladyada's blog post on your blog, thumbs up!!

    It is always a pleasure to see open source hardware fans in germany, especially with perfect english :)

    you should check this out, it is very very interesting and promising:


  2. Thanks for appreciating the blog. It's nice to know that it reaches people. I like open source in any aspect, so I decided to keep this blog "open source". I will mark the blog with a creative commons license soon :),

    The openenergy project looks really interesting. Thanks for the tip.

  3. I am trying to set a little business based on the open energy monitor here in germany and I am interested in having your opinion...

  4. I just put one of these together and it was incredible, thank you so much. I used the motor from a broken PS2 controller. The problem is it burned through $6 of batteries in about 20 minutes, after which both my girlfriend and her cat were devastated (looking for it in all the places we'd hidden it for her to hunt, then flopping down, visibly heartbroken, on the couch). On the very remote chance you're still monitoring the comments on this post, I would very much appreciate hearing your experience with battery life, and any suggestion you might have on making this a practically reusable toy.