Week 7: Propulsion


Up to this point, most of our work has been pushed, pulled, or hand cranked.  We will examine other forms of propulsion for our wheeled devices.




The action of driving or pushing forward.



Motors are our most likely go-to means of propulsion here at ITP.  Thanks to Physical Computing, we understand how to work with motors and control them.  The trick has aways been how to mount motors and mount things to motors.

Gear Motor


Tamiya Tracked Vehicle Chassis Kit



 Tamiya 4WD Chassis Kit


HUB-ee 120 RPM Robot Servo Wheel 180:1


12 Volt Robot Drive System

Wind/Air Power

Wind power is an often overlooked form of propulsion at ITP.  You can get a lot for very little, one box fan can turn many pinwheels.


Easy to make.


I made a simple one out of aluminum, cut on the Othermill.  Works with our 3mm hub.

.svg File, Vectorworks File


Compressed Air

Air Engine

Jet Propelled Pinewood Derby Car


Spring Power

Spring Powered Car

Mouse trap cars, kitchen timers, wound up rubber bands, any kind of wind up mechanism.

Music Box Movements

Crank Music Box


Fly wheels

A heavy revolving wheel in a machine that is used to increase the machine’s momentum and thereby provide greater stability or a reserve of available power during interruptions in the delivery of power to the machine.


Zip Strips/Pull Cords


Energy of a Flywheel

Energy of a Flywheel




A gyroscope is a spinning wheel or disc in which the axis of rotation is free to assume any orientation by itself. via

Gyroscopic Camera Stabilizer




How To Make A Gyroscope (Anti-Gravity Wheel)

Benchtop Gyroscope – Clickspring



Clock Movement

Quartz Time Movements


Stirling Engine



Mid-way Survey

Please take the Mid-way Survey, let me know what you think of the class.  The responses are anonymous, taken seriously, and have an effect on the course.



You will be making a Flywheel.  It can be part of an assembly/mechanism/vehicle/robot or stand alone, but you must have it spin and be under some form of propulsion.


Related Reading/Viewing

14 Wheel Drive Crawler

Robot Shop Propulsion Kits

Hidden Motor Inside Bike

Intro to Fab: Mounting Motors

A New Form of Peristaltic Locomotion in a Robot

Clickspring: Benchtop Gyroscope, Part 2

Gyroman Walking Gyroscope

Gyroscopic Robots (more)

DIY Gyroscopic Camera Stabilizer

Make a Simple Motorized CD Gyroscope

Gyro Stabilized 2 Wheeler

How Does a Gyroscope Work