Friday’s Tips & Tricks: The Motion Trigger

Learn How to Utilize this Sensitive Bit!


The motion trigger Bit is like the sensor on an automatic door — when someone is moving nearby, it sends an ON signal to the following Bits. It’s very sensitive and can detect a variety of motion! Try it with some LEDs to create a security light.

Build The Circuit

Get started with your motion trigger Bit by building a simple circuit. Place the motion trigger between a blue power Bit and a green output Bit. We used an LED output Bit to demonstrate our circuit.



The motion trigger will detect any human motion within 10 sq. feet. Unfortunately, this means it won’t detect your pet robot. It’s also important to note that once you activate the motion trigger, the output will remain active for at least 3 seconds. This means that that your output will stay on for a little while even after you have stopped moving. Although the motion trigger is very sensitive, there are numerous ways to focus it’s detective area.


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If you like to DIY and enjoy creating projects with found materials, consider the following:

1. Paper

A simple way to control the detective range of your motion trigger is by creating a small cone out of paper. Check out the community project “Plant Missile Defense System” from Joe to see exactly how the paper cone works with the motion trigger. Experiment by adjusting the length of the paper to see how it effects the motion trigger.

Joe littleBits from St. Matthew’s Media & Technology on Vimeo.


2. Duct Tape
Duct taping around the sides of the motion trigger helps to focus the detective area. If you really want to focus it, you can cover the top of the trigger in duct tape and poke a small hole through the duct tape. With this method you have complete control over how much motion the trigger can sense, and it is only semi-permanent. You can easily remove the duct tape from the trigger and try a different method whenever you want!
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3. Cardboard
You can use cardboard to make a small triangular tube that fits snuggly around the motion trigger. Experiment with different sizes and shapes of cardboard to see how it effects the motion trigger.


4. Clay
Clay works great to mold directly on to the motion trigger. You can experiment with creating different sized openings. If you want something more permanent try using Sugru! We love using Sugru for our projects!


5. Paint and Nail Polish 
With a brush, apply the nail polish or paint one layer at a time. After each coat you can test your motion trigger to see how the paint and nail polish are effecting its sensitivity. If you apply too much paint you can scratch layers of it away with a coin, and if you apply too much nail polish simply use nail polish remover to remove the access nail polish.


5. Cheerios
Believe it or not, this actually works! Use one of the other methods mentioned above to cover the sides of the motion trigger (i.e. duct tape, paint, etc.) Then place the cheerio on top of the motion trigger. The tiny hole in the cheerio gives you a very focused detective area for the motion trigger.


6. Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce Cap 
This is our favorite trick of the week! The Sriracha bottle cap is designed to twist open and closed. When the cap is open the hole in the center works really well to focus the motion trigger’s detective area. When the cap is switched closed, it blocks the motion trigger from sensing anything. The sriracha cap works just like one of our switch input Bits would, allowing you to turn the circuit on and off with just a twist of the cap. We used the Sriracha cap because it’s our favorite hot sauce. Next time you’re at the grocery store, inspect some bottle caps and see if you can find one that would work even better!


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If you are willing to invest in some tools and time, consider trying some of the following projects from littleBits and the community…


1. The Sock Game

This amazing project from Baila, The Sock Game,makes sock folding 100x more fun! Every time she correctly matches her socks and throws them into the box, the motion detector senses them and sets off a buzzer. While we were thinking of small ways to control the motion trigger, Baila was thinking big! The motion trigger is hidden away inside a large box so it can detect anything that enters the box.

2. Dream Flowers 
This project hangs from the ceiling, and is a great example of how the motion trigger can be used for a larger installation piece in a big room. Trish’s beautiful mobile, Dream Flowers, starts spinning whenever the motion trigger senses your presence in the room!



3. Pop-Up Sign 
In this littleBits project, Pop-up Sign, the motion sensor is embedded in the front of the box, and half of it is covered by a tiny piece of acrylic. The acrylic helps focus the motion trigger to control when the sign pops up to say “hello!”

Pop-Up Sign from littleBits on Vimeo.

4. Edwin Sanook, The makedo + littleBits Elephant
This adorable little elephant, Edwin Sanook, moves and buzzes when it senses your presence. To enable him to sense movement, we embedded a motion trigger into the cardboard behind the coffee cup lid, wich was used for his eyes. The tiny hole in the coffee cup lid limits the detection area of the motion trigger, which better controls when Edwin moves around!

Makedo + littleBits Elephant from littleBits on Vimeo.

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