If you were around during the late 1980s (or if you just love old movies like I do), you might have heard of a little film called Short Circuit. In it, a military robot called Number 5 is struck by lightning and gains sentience.

Short Circuit and its sequel, Short Circuit 2, chronicle the adventures of Number 5 (who renames himself “Johnny 5”) as he comes to grips with his newfound intelligence amidst those who would seek to use him for their own nefarious purposes.

For more than a decade, the guys at Input-Inc. have been attempting to create an army of working Johnny 5 robots (possibly also for their own nefarious purposes). Utilizing full-size 3D CAD plans they made themselves, they plan on making a 1:1 recreation with the same strengths and capabilities as the fictional Johnny 5.

Contrary to what you might think, just because the plans are in 3D CAD doesn’t mean the parts are all 3D printed. In fact, only heavy custom parts such as the head, fingers, and outer coverings which are too difficult to fabricate with home shop machinery are 3D printed. The rest of the robot’s body is made old-school, using the same shop machinery to cut, shape, and weld everything together.

The insides of the Johnny 5 are no joke, either. Two drive motors are crafted out of a BaneBots BB-150 16:1 gearbox connected to a 3.25:1 dual-motor input stage and two RS-775 motors. Combined with a 24V or 6V electrical system and lead acid, LiFePO4, or NiMH batteries powering it, and you have a crazy amount of power in a tank-like robot.

Speaking of tank-like, the treads are Rexnord TableTop Chain D821K7-1/2G tracks. They, along with the moving arms and neck, run on a mix of Hitec and Wingxine ASME-04B 380KG servos.

As for the head parts, the neck is made from Fabco K-5-X cylinders while the iconic Johnny 5 eyes are modified Wollensak Raptar 209mm lenses.

When fully assembled, the Johnny 5 should weigh about 350lbs and can lug a van around without any problems. While majority of the robot’s functions are overseen by hand and computer controls, the plan is to have a small form factor computer onboard the Johnny 5 in order for it to have semi-autonomous control (just like in the movies).

Considering it takes roughly $15,000 to produce just one Johnny 5, you would expect it to do everything the cinematic robot can do in the movies sans the questionable artificial intelligence.

You can follow the team’s efforts as they reach the project’s completion over on the Input-Inc. webpage. To see the fabrication of the parts and the robot test runs, the J5GURU YouTube channel is the place to be. With just a little more time and effort, hopefully they will be the ones to make Johnny 5 alive.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.