I was lucky enough to see LucasFilm’s newest droid in person over the weekend at Star Wars Celebration VII. The thing that stood out for me when watching BB-8 roll around on stage was just how cute the little guy was. I immediately wanted one of my own.
It turns out that BB-8 was designed by the same company that created Sphero, the spherical shaped toy that is controlled by an app on your Android or iOS device.
Industrial Design student at Brigham Young University Christian Poulsen created a mini BB-8 in just one day using a hacked Sphero 1.0. He split the spherical gadget in half using a hacksaw and added a 3/4-inch neodymium magnet ring to the shock absorber post inside. Then, he super glued his Sphero back together.
Creating BB-8’s half-dome head was the hardest part. Poulsen used the graphic design software Rhino to map out the design of BB-8’s head so the proportions were correct. He then used a CNC router to mill the dome out of polyurethane foam. He added the droid’s lens details using wood spackle.
For the paint job, Poulsen used a laser cutter and some tape, along with plastidip for the base coat. The plastidip was used in place of traditional spray paint because it is more opaque and blocks out the flashing light that Sphero produces when moving.
After finishing the paint job, Poulsen embedded a 1.375 neodymium magnet disc to the bottom of BB-8’s dome head. A felt pad was added to the magnet to allow it to slide easily across the sphere.
Using the Sphero app, Poulsen was able to move the little guy around. Because the gadget is top-heavy, this mini BB-8 actually looks like the real thing with the forward-leaning dome and everything.
That is all you need to create your own BB-8 droid. I know that Star Wars fans are all about creating unique versions of characters from the canon. I can’t wait to see what other types of spherical droids are produced by DIYers.
Of course, if you aren’t particularly handy with a hacksaw and CNC router, you can always wait until the official BB-8 toy launches later this year.
The home made toy is cool and all, but the design for a robot is beyond stupid. What could a droid like this actually do? If there are hidden doors on the main ball from which tools can be deployed it could be tricky to roll to the correct location with the correct door facing in the correct direction. No wonder R2 units were around for such a long time!
Hmm, well, not if the internals can rotate separately… then just a right port size needs to be rolled into position and the internals could rotate separately to get the right tool to face the right direction as needed…
And a A.I. that can calculate light speed coordinates can also surly calculate a altering course length to ensure the port can be placed a good close space to the intended target… It’s only really limiting in small tight spaces…
But what is the advantage over a more conventional design?
Can conserve energy, larger circumference means lower energy usage to move… it’s one of the reasons some of the early bikes had one really big wheel… and could move faster and over rough terrain with much less concern of flipping over or getting stuck… R2D2 needed thrusters to move that fast but that’s high energy usage…
Its called the rule of cool. Its why Apple is still trying to make notebooks thinner despite the fact that by the time we got to the original macbook air there was no advantage of making them thinner.
In the Han Solo Adventures, we meet a little square droid named Blue Max. He is a computer interface droid that could hack into just about anything. I imagine BB-8 is going to be useful in a similar way.
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