Mousey part 2: Reusing motors from old toys

Goodwill shopping spree

Bargain Electronics from Goodwill

Today I shopped for small DC motors to add to Mousey the photovore robot.  I love GoodWill. I donate often and shop carefully.  My Mousey robot needs 5V motors, so I searched specifically for RC toys that require 4 AA batteries = 6V maximum.   Then I manually spin the wheels to feel if the motors are resisting my motion a little bit.   When you manually spin the axle of a DC motor, you are essentially generating electricity, like inside a wind turbine.

Ultimately I purchased 2 RC vehicles, for $2.99 and $1.99.  I was excited to discover the $2.99 truck had 2 DC motors! Bargain!

I came home with a few extra cool thingies, in addition to 2 remote control (RC) toy trucks.   I also had to buy a 1970’s era analog clock made by General Electric for $1.99, a string of solar powered LED lights, a stick-on LED light (for mounting under counters), and a modem card with some useful chips and capacitors.


Harvesting Motors 

Goodwill had dozens of remote control toys without the control units.  Deconstructing the RC truck required two flat screwdrivers for prying plastic casing apart, two sizes of philips drivers for the small screws, and a pair of needle nose pliers for both prying and grabbing small plastic bits. 

$3 RC toy contains $3.50 worth of DC motors

The three dollar truck contained two DC motors which are similar if not identical to the “Standard Motor 3” DC motors from Solarbotics, which would be $3.50 plus shipping.  Note that Solarbotics is awesome and offers great pricing, but recycling old toys is more fun!  The toy also yielded a nice battery holder, wheels for a different project, and nice power cables on the motors.

RC toy front motor

DC motor in an RC toy

 I resisted using the dremel to cut the plastic toy, and instead opted to keep prying with the screwdrivers and pliers until the front motor was freed from the plastic chassis.  The ream motor is still in there, along with a nice hexoganal axle and probably some cool gears.  I’ll keep prying at that later.  For now, let’s put the motors on the Mousey test circuit!  IT WORKS!  Hop over to YouTube to see the video.

It Works! Recycled motors for Mousey!

About Christin

I build robots as a hobby and I work with software as my career. Last year I mentored a FIRST Robotics team, Team XBot. I worked at Microsoft for 11 years in such roles as developer tech support, Developer Evangelist, and Program Manager in Visual Studio.
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