How to Build Your Own DIY Claw Machine

  • Ella Jubaedah
  • May 16, 2023
How to Build Your Own DIY Claw Machine

Materials Needed for a DIY Claw Machine

Claw machines have always been a popular attraction in amusement arcades, but now you can build your own! Building a DIY claw machine may seem like a daunting task, but with the right materials and some creative DIY skills, it can be done easily and affordably. Here are the materials needed to build your own DIY claw machine.

1. The Claw Mechanism

The claw is the most important part of the machine and determines its functionality. First and foremost, you will need a metal claw that can easily grip onto any toy or object. Typically, 3-pronged claws are used in DIY claw machines. They can be purchased online or sourced from a pre-owned claw machine. However, if you are feeling creative, you can build your own claw using a metal wire and a pair of pliers.

A 12V DC motor will be used to control the claw movement. This can be sourced online or from an electronics surplus store. Make sure the motor comes with a gearbox, as it will be used to control the speed of claw movement. You will also need motor drivers, which will control the direction of the motor. The drivers are controlled using a microcontroller, such as an Arduino Uno.

The claw mechanism will be connected to a pulley and string system, which will lift and lower the claw. You will need two wooden gears, a wooden dowel, and two wooden blocks to build the pulley system. The string or cable will be attached to the claw mechanism using a small hook.

2. The Machine Body

The body of the claw machine will require a wooden box frame. This can be made using pine wood or plywood. The dimensions of the box should be around 24 inches high, 18 inches wide, and 24 inches deep. You will also need a transparent acrylic sheet that will act as the front panel of the machine, allowing players to see the prizes inside the machine.

3. The Electronics

The claw machine will require a power supply, in addition to the microcontroller for controlling the motor drivers. A 12V DC adapter will be sufficient for powering the motor. However, the microcontroller will need its own power source. It is recommended to use a 9V battery for this purpose.

Lastly, the machine will need buttons and a joystick for the player to control the claw movement. These are connected to the microcontroller and will control the direction and speed of the claw. You will need to ensure that all the electronics are connected correctly and will not interfere with each other.

4. The Prize Bin

Finally, you will need to source prizes to fill the machine. These can be sourced online or from a toy store. It is recommended to seek small and lightweight toys, such as plushies, mini cars, or balls. You will also require a large bin to hold the prizes while they are waiting to be won by a player.

Building a DIY claw machine can be a fun and rewarding experience. With these materials and some DIY skills, you can replicate the experience of an amusement arcade in your own home. Take your time and be creative, and you will end up with a fantastic toy-grabbing experience that you can share with friends and family.

Building the Claw Arm Mechanism

Once you have built the basic structure of your DIY claw machine, it’s time to focus on the claw arm mechanism. This part of the machine is perhaps the most critical, as it’s responsible for grabbing the prizes. In this section, we’ll discuss how to build the claw arm mechanism for your DIY claw machine.

The claw arm mechanism is made up of several components, including the motor, gears, and claw itself. Start by installing the motor at the top of the machine’s structure. The motor is what powers the claw arm’s movement, so make sure it’s securely in place. You can use nuts and bolts to fasten the motor to the structure, or you can use brackets if your motor has mounting holes.

Next, you’ll need to connect the motor to the gears. This is what translates the motor’s rotational movement into the up-and-down movement of the claw arm. To do this, you’ll need to attach a gear to the motor’s shaft and another to the claw arm’s pivot point. You can purchase gears that are specifically designed for this purpose, or you can 3D print your own if you have a 3D printer.

Once you’ve connected the motor to the gears, it’s time to focus on the claw itself. The claw should be made of a durable material such as metal or hard plastic. It should also be designed in such a way that it can easily grip the prizes without dropping them. Some claw designs have built-in teeth that help to grip the prizes, while others rely on a more straightforward approach.

When attaching the claw to the claw arm, make sure it’s secure. You don’t want it to come loose while the machine is in use, as this could be dangerous. Depending on the claw design, you may be able to attach it directly to the claw arm, or you may need to use additional hardware such as screws, nuts, and bolts to fasten it in place.

Finally, you’ll need to add a mechanism that controls the claw’s movement. The most common method is to use a joystick or button that allows the player to move the claw arm back and forth and up and down. You’ll need to connect the joystick to the motor so that it can control the arm’s movement. Make sure the joystick is securely fastened to the machine’s structure so that it doesn’t move around during play.

In conclusion, building the claw arm mechanism for your DIY claw machine is a crucial step in the construction process. Make sure everything is securely fastened and properly aligned before testing the machine out. With a bit of patience and some basic tools, you can create a functional and entertaining claw machine that will provide hours of fun for you and your friends.

Wiring the Control Box and Power Supply

One of the most important parts of building a DIY claw machine is wiring the control box and power supply. This is where you will be able to control the electronics of the machine and ensure that it is running smoothly. Here are some steps to follow when wiring your claw machine:

Step 1: Gather your materials

Before you begin wiring your control box and power supply, you will need to gather all of the necessary materials. This will include a control box, a power supply, wires, switches, and buttons. You may also want to consider using a breadboard or prototyping board to make the wiring process easier.

Step 2: Connect the power supply

The first step in wiring your control box and power supply is to connect the power supply. To do this, you will need to connect the positive and negative leads from the power supply to the corresponding terminals on the control box. It is important to make sure that you connect the wires correctly, as connecting them the wrong way could cause damage to the electronics or even start a fire.

Step 3: Connect the switches and buttons

The next step is to connect the switches and buttons to the control box. You will need to decide which switches and buttons you want to use for each function of the claw machine. For example, you may want to use a switch to control the motor that moves the claw, and a button to activate the claw itself.

Once you have decided which switches and buttons to use, you will need to connect them to the appropriate terminals on the control box. This may require some trial and error, as you may need to adjust the wiring to get everything to work properly.

Step 4: Test the wiring

Once you have connected all of the wires, switches, and buttons to the control box, it is important to test the wiring to make sure that everything is working properly. You can do this by powering up the machine and testing each switch and button to see if it activates the appropriate function.

If you find that something is not working correctly, you may need to adjust the wiring or troubleshoot the electronics to determine the issue. It is always better to catch any problems early on, as this can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Step 5: Reassemble the machine

Once you have tested the wiring and made any necessary adjustments, you can reassemble the claw machine. This will involve putting all of the parts back together and securing them in place. Make sure to test the machine again after reassembly to ensure that it is still working properly.

Building a DIY claw machine can be a fun and rewarding project, but it does require some knowledge of electronics and wiring. By following these steps for wiring the control box and power supply, you can ensure that your machine runs smoothly and is able to pick up prizes with ease!

Assembling the Cabinet and Interior Components

After gathering all the necessary materials and tools, the next step in building a DIY claw machine is assembling the cabinet and interior components. This step requires precision and care to ensure that the machine functions properly, and there are several sub-steps involved.

Building the Cabinet

The cabinet serves as the outer shell of the claw machine and is essential for holding the interior components. To start, take the 4-by-8-foot plywood sheet and measure and cut it to the required dimensions, then join the sides of the cabinet together. You can use a circular saw and jigsaw to cut the plywood and a nail gun to assemble the cabinet.

Be sure to sand the edges of the cabinet to smooth down any rough or jagged edges that might cause splinters. You can also paint or decorate the exterior to customize the look of your claw machine.

Installing the Mechanical Components

The mechanical components of the claw machine are essential for picking up and releasing prizes. These components consist of the power supply, motors, control panel, and claw assembly.

The power supply is responsible for sending electricity to the motors, and the motors provide the motion required to move the claw. The control panel is essential for player interaction, and you can use a pre-existing arcade game controller or build your own using a microcontroller like Arduino or Raspberry Pi.

The claw assembly is the most critical component of the claw machine, and it is responsible for picking up and moving the prizes. To install the claw assembly, you will need to measure and cut 2-by-4 wooden blocks to support the motor and control panel. You will also need to attach a metal rod to the motor, which will move the claw back and forth.

Building the Prize Section

The prize section is where the prizes are stored and displayed for players to win. To build this section, you will need to measure and cut a clear acrylic sheet to the dimensions of the cabinet. Once cut, you will need to attach the sheet to the top of the cabinet using brackets or screws.

You can also install LED lighting inside the prize section to make the prizes more visible and appealing. Be sure to install a locking mechanism on the prize section to prevent players from accessing it when the machine is not in use.

Wiring the Machine

The final step in building a DIY claw machine is wiring the machine, which involves connecting all the components together. This step requires a basic understanding of electrical circuits, and you can find several tutorials online that can help you with this process.

Before wiring the machine, make sure to cut holes in the cabinet for the power cord, control panel, and prize dispensing chute. You can use a hole saw or drill to create these holes.

Once all the components are wired together, test the machine to ensure that it is functioning correctly. You can test the motion of the claw and the dispensing of the prizes to make sure everything is working as it should.

Overall, building a DIY claw machine can be a fun and rewarding project for anyone interested in arcade gaming and DIY projects. With the right tools, materials, and instructions, you can build a fully functional claw machine that is sure to provide endless hours of entertainment for you and your friends.

Tips and Tricks for Successful Claw Machine Operation

Claw machines are a classic arcade game that offers a lot of fun and excitement. However, it can be frustrating when you keep losing and your hard-earned money is just going down the drain. To help you get the most out of your claw machine experience, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks that will increase your chances of winning. Let’s dive in!

1. Choose the Right Machine

The first step to a successful claw machine operation is to choose the right machine. Not all machines are created equal, and some are easier to operate than others. Look for machines that have a strong claw, adjustable settings, and a clear view of the prize. Avoid machines that have weak claws or are located in hard-to-reach areas.

2. Observe the Claw’s Movement

Before putting your money in the machine, take some time to observe how the claw moves. Look at its speed, grip, and drop point. This will help you determine the best strategy for picking up prizes. Keep in mind that the claw’s movement can vary depending on the machine’s settings, so be prepared to adjust your strategy accordingly.

3. Know When to Walk Away

Winning a prize is the ultimate goal, but sometimes it’s just not meant to be. Know when to walk away and cut your losses. It’s easy to become fixated on a particular prize, but if you’ve played the machine multiple times with no success, it’s time to move on. Don’t waste all your money on a single machine.

4. Practice Patience

Claw machines take some level of patience and skill. Don’t rush to make your move, and wait for the right moment. Sometimes, waiting for the claw to swing back and forth can give you a better chance to position it correctly. If you rush to make a move, you’ll likely end up losing.

5. Use the Two-for-One Trick

If you want to maximize your chances of winning, use the two-for-one trick. This involves using the claw to move one prize out of the way while attempting to pick up another. By doing this, you essentially create more space to maneuver, increasing your chances of success.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Look for two prizes that are close together.
  • Use the claw to move the first prize out of the way.
  • Position the claw over the second prize.
  • Make your move and hopefully pick up both prizes!

This trick takes some practice, but it’s worth it if you’re trying to win multiple prizes or a higher value item.


By following these tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a claw machine pro. Remember to choose the right machine, observe the claw’s movement, know when to walk away, practice patience, and use the two-for-one trick. With a little bit of skill and some luck, you’ll be winning prizes left and right!

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