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Build a recycled robot

For decades, Boys’ Life readers have built their own GISMO robots. This month, we introduce GISMO 5. Yes, GISMO is back and has gone green!

The green GISMO is easy to build from a radio-controlled truck or car and discarded product packaging — stuff that would usually wind up in a landfill. Body segments are connected with Velcro dots or strips and rubber bands, so it’s easy to add extra sections. And, of course, replacement parts are easy to find.

You can build the basic GISMO 5 for about $25, even less if you can find parts around the house. The base of GISMO 5 is a radio-controlled car or truck chassis. Several readers who put together our last GISMO found inexpensive radio-controlled trucks at flea markets or garage sales.


  • Chassis from a radio-controlled truck or car.
    Choose a medium-size vehicle with thick tires and a not-too-fast motor for stability. (High-torque units accelerate so rapidly that they can cause tip-overs.) If you plan to have ‘bot battles with friends, choose vehicles on different radio frequencies so they don’t interfere with each other. You’ll find the info on the outside of the box, usually “49 MHz” or “27MHz” or channel numbers.
  • A variety of boxes and cardboard tubes
  • Velcro dots or strips
  • Large rubber bands
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Optional accessory items (Ping-Pong balls make great eyes)


1. Use scissors to cut out add-ons like fins, wings, teeth and claws. With a little folding, you can trim boxes to different sizes and shapes.

2. Use the glue gun to glue lids shut and reshaped boxes together. This will make your robot more durable.

3. Paint the boxes or leave them as is.

4. Turn the vehicle over and remove the screws that hold its body to the chassis. Carefully lift the body off and, if necessary, pull the antenna wire through the hole in the body. Save all body parts and screws. Apply Velcro dots or strips to the top of the chassis.

5. Use Velcro and rubber bands to assemble the robot. You can make your robot look any way you want. Remember not to make it too tall, or it could fall over when you are operating it.

6. Test your robot for stability, and add more rubber bands and Velcro if needed.

30 Comments on Build a recycled robot

  1. It is very fun

  2. minecraftman // January 8, 2013 at 5:44 pm // Reply

    so cool

  3. looks cool

  4. gismomaster4884 // August 7, 2012 at 10:12 am // Reply

    i have made ten, and i use them to battle each other. If parts fall off, it is easy to repair. making the ten robots only cost me 20 dollars to buy some cars. they are also pretty big,up to my waist. i also have 2 tiny ones made from cut up boxes on tiny rc vehicles.

  5. chumburgers // May 5, 2012 at 3:06 pm // Reply

    Uh……I’ll make mine with arms.

  6. looks hard

  7. AWSOME!!!!!!! i am tottaly building one.

  8. kingguyquick31 // January 31, 2012 at 9:05 pm // Reply


  9. mine i just put other stuff in mine to make it move and it did

  10. Mine will have wings!

  11. awesome

  12. The control freak // August 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm // Reply

    I am A.R.G (awsome recycled robot)

  13. buildin one for next years science fair.

  14. Zekromdude // May 14, 2011 at 9:33 pm // Reply

    I want to make 1 or 2. if 2, i will make 1 boy & 1 girl

  15. A-w-e-s-o-m-e!!!

  16. My robots name is G.I.R which stands for genetic infrared robot at least I call it that.

  17. MOONMAN200 // April 8, 2011 at 6:45 pm // Reply


  18. coolman555 // April 8, 2011 at 5:27 pm // Reply


  19. ninja comman // April 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm // Reply


  20. ahanuman123 // April 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm // Reply

    This is so cool!!!!! I am going to build one . I will customise it and make it look like it is for war. Then I will take it to school for a science project

  21. i think at cool

  22. That looks KOOL Ima make one

  23. i am making one

  24. That looks awesome i am going to build one

  25. I like the idea im making one for the blue & gold this year

  26. sweet! the best part is you can customise it.

  27. cool

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