Want to have fun while setting up mouse traps? Would you like to spend some time with your child on a project? Or maybe just test your handyman skills. Well, you can combine the best of both worlds by building a mousetrap car. Read on to find out how to build a mousetrap car.
What is a Mousetrap Car?
Now, you may be thinking – what exactly is a mousetrap car? Yes, yes, we said it’s a fun project, but the premise is quite simple. It’s a small “vehicle” or contraption that is powered by the momentum generated by the mouse trap spring.
It’s a fun science experiment that can teach you and your kids a lot about physics.
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How to Build a Mousetrap Car
Building a mousetrap car is a fun activity you can do by yourself and one which won’t take up too much time. Plus, the results will definitely be worth any trouble you might experience. And to ensure that the aforementioned trouble is insignificant or better yet, nonexistent, stay right here.
You will find some steps you can follow to aid the process entirely.
Step Number – 1: Planning Your Car
Before you actually start building the car, you’ll need to plan certain things. The two most important parts of a mousetrap car are the body (frame) and engine which will make the car move. These cares are most frequently used for science class experiments.
Heavy cardboard is the most convenient to use in this case. Otherwise, you can opt for some foam, the chassis of an old toy car, or a piece of light wood.
Once you’ve figured out what you’ll be using the car for and planned from what to make it, it’s time to get started.
Step Number -2: Gathering Materials
There are many materials you can use for your mousetrap car, depending on what you want to do with it. Although to make the simplest type of the car, you’ll need:
- Durable string
- A compass
- Rubber bands
- Four eye hooks
- Heavy cardboard (or foam)
- A ruler
- A utility knife
- Two thin dowels
- A mousetrap
Step Number-3: Getting Started
Once you’ve got all your materials, it’s finally time to begin making your car. The first thing you’ll need to make is the wheels. Naturally, you will need four wheels.It’s easiest to take the compass and trace four circles on the cardboard or foam.
You can then turn these into the wheels. If you do not have a compass handy, you can use another round object.The size is up to you, but for this particular car, it’s best to make circles of a two-inch diameter.
Now that you have drawn and drafted the wheels, use the utility knife to cut them out if you want to add more traction to your wheels, add the rubber bands around them.
Step Number -4: Making the Mousetrap Safe and Using it
Since you’ll need a snapback mousetrap to make the chassis of the car, you’ll also need to make sure it’s safe to use. We don’t want any accidents. Find the rod you used to kill the mice and pull it back. Since it’s likely to have sharp teeth on it, be careful. Once you’ve pulled it back, you’ll need to pull out the teeth with the pliers.
Now that you’ve made the mousetrap safe, it’s time to use it. Put it on the material which is to become your chassis (so the heavy cardboard or foam) and trace the shape around it.
Remember to make the outline around half an inch bigger than the trap.Once you’ve marked the outline, cut it out with the utility knife.
When you’re done, use the tape to secure the mousetrap onto the cutout.
Step number -5: Using the Eye Hooks
Take your eye hooks and align them to the bottom of the chassis. Once you’re sure the alignment’s right, attach them. They will hold the rods to which you’ll attach the wheels. That’s why the alignment is so important. If not done right, your car won’t travel straight.
It’s advisable to make use of the ruler and the pencil by marking the exact location of the eye hooks. Do this before attaching them, so as to make sure everything’s in line. Once you’ve made sure that everything is in order, you can screw those eye hooks through cardboard.
Step number- 6: Creating the Axle Rods
As we’ve said, these are the rods which will hold your wheels, so it’s very important you place them correctly. You’ll need to cut the two skewers to around an inch and a half longer than a total width of the eye hooks.
For the best results, the hooks should be enough thin to be able to slide through the hooks and spin freely.If they’re too thick, the wheels won’t be able to spin the way they’re supposed to. This can affect the general alignment of the whole car, and knock it off course.
Step number -7: Attaching the Wheels
Now that you’ve made sure the axle rods are in place, it’s time to attach your wheels. With the point of the compass, punch small holes into the cardboard wheels. These holes will be slightly smaller than the dowel rods, which means the fit will be tight.
What’s left is to simply push the wheels onto the ends of the rods. If you’ve made a bigger and a smaller set of wheels, then the bigger should go to the back of the car.
To prevent the wheels from falling off, you can use elastic bands. Wrap them around the dowel just outside your wheels.
Step number -8: Tying the String
The final step is to tie the string to the snap arm of the mousetrap. Be gentle when you do this, so as not to hurt yourself with the snap arm. A general not should work fine. Make sure the string is long enough for your purposes. The longer it is, the longer it will take for the car to accelerate, but the greater the distance will be.
How to Build a Mousetrap Car for Distance
You can adapt mousetrap cars to many different things. If you want to make your car go far and distance is the main thing you’re after, it’s mostly about the wheels! This has to do with physics, of course. To make the wheels do the work for you, here are some tips.
Use Large Rear Wheels
Because large wheels have a greater rotational inertia, they’re harder to stop rolling once they start. This is their advantage over small wheels. They will accelerate slower but last a lot longer. So if it’s a distance race you’re in, big wheels are definitely the way to go.
The rear wheels are the ones which you should be made larger if you’re aiming for distance.The size of front wheels doesn’t really matter. If you want a more slick look while still maintaining your goal, definitely opt for small front wheels and large back wheels.
Traction is your best friend for long distance racing. The more slippery the wheels are, the more energy you waste, and the faster the car stops. This is because the trap just gets the car going when it snaps; it doesn’t give you any advantage over distance.
You can solve this problem by adding more traction to your rear wheels. You can put some electrical tape or rubber bands on the wheels, or you can opt for popped balloon rubber.
Be careful not to put too much so as not to exceed the weight limit.
Narrow Rear Axles
If your car is a rear wheel drive car, it means the rear wheels turn each time the rear axle does. The thinner the axle is, the more it’s able to spin when the car is set off. And, logically, this means that your rear wheels will turn more for the same amount of time. Furthermore, this will give you a greater distance.
That’s why you should make the axle out of the thinnest material you can find. Though, this material should still be strong enough to support the whole contraption and not break. Try using narrow dowel wooden rods.
Use Thin and Light Wheels
Lighter wheels have less friction which means they will go farther than heavier wheels. Remember that the more your wheels weigh, the more they will slow the car down, and the more they’ll add to friction. To make the thinnest and lightest wheels you can, it’s advisable to use CDs and DVDs, or, you can use old vinyl records.
How to Make a Fast Mousetrap Car
Now, building a mousetrap car is all about fun. And a good mousetrap car means a fast mousetrap car. It’s not fun if it doesn’t move as quickly as possible. That’s why we have written up this little section, to help you out. There is a couple of things you can do to speed the thing up.
Thicken the Axle
First, thicken the axle. Get some tape, wrap it radially around said axle and this will do wonders for its speed and control.
Get Smaller Wheels
Getting smaller wheels means it will need less force to do one single rotation. I will also make it lighter and stronger. Just remove the old wheels, and get some smaller ones from the shop. Or, you can build your own.
Decrease its Weight
Make it as light as possible. Try to cut down on the weight wherever you can, and get the thing moving! You can do this by using lighter materials, shaving off extra details and unnecessary parts. You can also experiment with its design.
How to Build a Mousetrap Car with Cd Wheels
One of the best materials you can use for your mousetrap car is using old CDs. They are plentiful. In fact, nobody really uses them anymore. This means you are essentially helping out the environment by using these.
So you get a fast, cheap and environmentally friendly mousetrap car!
Prepare Your Mousetrap Car
So you know how it goes. We won’t go into too much detail for this part. The rest of the article deals with how you can build one. All you have to do for now is to prepare your wheel-less mousetrap car.
Prepare the CDs
Get some old CDs that you have lying ‘round the house. If you can’t find any, you can get them cheap almost anywhere. Just try not to erase anybody’s cherished memories and original music. The mousetrap car is not worth it.
Balloon Magic and Attaching the Whole Thing
Now that you have your non-cherished memory CDs ready, get out your CDs. Next, get some balloons, “gut them” and cover the CDs. The balloons will act like tires. Finally, attach them to the mousetrap car, and you are good to go.
How Does a Mousetrap Car Work?
Mousetrap cars utilize the powerful magic of physics to function. Easy to set up, easy to fix up, you can make a whole physics lesson out of this. Bellow, you will find out exactly how and why it operates.
What Powers them
These fun little contraptions work thanks to physics. They’re powered by the spring of the mousetrap. The spring stores energy and momentum, because the rubber band (or whichever mechanism you use) contains its energy.
The lever holds the thing in place, and once it is lifted, it releases all that stored energy because of the snap back action that happens. This is transferred, via momentum, to the wheels of the car.
The wheels move, and so the car moves as well. The lever needs to be attached to the back axle of the car so the string unwinds when the trap snaps. This makes the axle spin and car move.
Adjusting Your Car
There are some things you can do to adapt your mousetrap car to your goal in racing.
For example, if you want to make the car in a distance race, you’ll need to make the wheels as light as possible.
You should also get the wheels really thin, and the front of the car small and sleek.Also, make sure to take into account the kind of terrain your car will be racing on.
As the car will reach the end of its race, we have reached the end of this article. Now you’re fully equipped to make a great mousetrap car which will wow everyone with its slick look and features. It is definitely worthy of any distance victory.
And these physics-powered gadgets really are something. You can get to work on a project and spend an afternoon or two with your little ones. They will learn a lot about physics, and will also have a lot of fun. Not to mention what kind of an amazing bonding experience you will get.