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Better Mousetrap

Posted By Steve Ross on December 14, 2009

Better Mousetrap
Hide your pets - this robotic mousetrap was designed to detect and exterminate everything in sight
Better Mousetrap with White Mouse


This shoebox-sized powerhouse would make Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor proud. Like cracking a nut with a sledgehammer, the robotic "Better Mousetrap" goes to the extreme to detect and destroy its target.

Better Mousetrap Rear Controls and Indicators


"Many people have been trying to develop a 'better mousetrap' for years, so we decided to build one in the literal sense," says Jake Easton.

Better Mousetrap Mouse with Black Background


The thought of creating a better mousetrap was particularly compelling for the team. "We're constantly looking for innovative ways to showcase technology, and this was a natural fit," Easton said.

Junk is an inventor's best friend, and goes a long way to keeping project costs down.

- Jake Easton

Over the past decade or so, they have accumulated a lot of what Easton calls "junk" to help develop their projects. "A good supply of junk is an inventor's best friend, and goes a long way to keeping project costs down," Easton says.

Better Mousetrap Rear


The superfluous design was purposefully chosen for the added "Wow" factor that it brought to the project.

"It would be difficult to beat the simplicity that James Atkinson designed into his mousetrap more than 100 years ago," Easton said, but the admittedly overdesigned mousetrap "is a lot more fun to watch."

And you thought this only works for rodents? The Better Mousetrap also eliminates those pesky computer mice too
Better Mousetrap with Computer Mouse


To make the machine more accessible, produced a video showing the Better Mousetrap in action. No lengthy "Gone with the Wind" epics here. The mousetrap and unsuspecting mouse are put through their paces in just 34 seconds of fascinating video [below].

Better Mousetrap Video

The machine's rugged design features a 0.25" thick 6061 polished aluminum case, with a small compartment containing the mechanical and electronic systems, including solenoid valves, controllers, indicators, circuit boards, and pneumatic actuator.

Does neatness count? The team made sure the interior compartment is as clean as the exterior is functional
Better Mousetrap Components


The Better Mousetrap Specifications:

Pneumatic Cylinder: 1/2" Bore with 3/4" Stroke
Air Pressure (Max): 60 PSI
Strike Force at 40 PSI: 102 lbs
Key Lock Switch and Manual Hammer Override
Visual Monitoring: Power, PSI, and Armed - Detect - Fire
Case Construction: 6061 0.25" Polished Aluminum
Inputs: 12VDC and Air Line
Dimensions: 12" x 6" x 2.5"
Weight: 5.5 Pounds

Easton said their biggest challenge for the project were the dozens of hours spent grinding, sanding, buffing, and polishing the aluminum case. "I have a newfound appreciation for those in the metal finishing business."

While the mousetrap packs a lot of punch for its small size, it still overshadows its little brothers, measuring 12" x 6" x 2.5" high and weighing in at 5.5 pounds.

I've played around with detectors, but ultrasonic is MUCH more involved than a simple infrared sensor. Why the added complexity?

As outrageous as it might appear, this is actually a fairly simple, straight-forward design. An infrared motion detector requires heat to trigger and is less accurate. A fake mouse generates no heat, thus the requirement for the ultrasonic sensors.

Interesting and cool design, though not very practical.

Nice idea...I built one myself back in 2002 and it was later posted to the Parallax Inc. forums. Mine was designed to catch mice alive and alert you when you caught one. It too was overkill, but it was fun building, as I suspect yours was. You can see mine from my home page or use the direct link to the project on my website. Take care.

What better way to showcase technology?
And having polished some aluminum in my time, I can certainly appreciate the job on getting that mirror finish.

An inefficient and costly adaptation of the current cheapie wood & wire skull-crusher. Boo.

I know it's horrible, but I couldn't help but laugh at the crunching sound when the trap squished the target.

The ultrasound and LEDs will likely scare the mouse away...

YES!!! Imagine the mess the mouse will leave!