Beep Beep Boop

Star Wars: Replica BB-8 Droid Made with 3D Printed Parts

bb-8 droid

The Force A-Make-ns! Team of engineers building a working replica of the BB-8 droid from the new Star Wars movie… and it’s full scale.

There’s a deafening buzz around Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and it’s mostly centred around the BB-8 droid. Already there are fansites like howbb8works that endeavour to explain the concept and history of the character. And we haven’t heard it make any beeping noises, yet.

bb8 droidWhilst some folks are content to clap and cheer over a brief glimpse of him in a trailer, others felt the need to do something more. Much more. A team of four engineers from Colorado, passionate about both Star Wars and Robotics, have created a full-size replica BB-8 droid.

The basis of the design is the Sphero robo-ball. Studying how this unique toy works, the team defined which parts would be needed to scale up and build the inner workings of the droid. Most things were bought from ServoCity, while everything else was 3D printed (wheels, magnet fittings, Raspberry Pi casing).

The body of BB-8 is a round ball, so the team found that the best and more rigid choice would be polycarbonate hemispheres that are bolted together. The “brain” of the droid consists of an actual Sphero toy and a Raspberry Pi. This hardware ensures that the droid stands upright and moves around without problems, while it also allows for customization.

For example, the Raspberry Pi is currently used as the “voice” of BB-8 that outputs the well-known “beeping” sounds of the Star Wars universe droids. The plan is to put some LEDs to the outer shell that will also be controlled by the single board computer. Finally, since this custom-made droid incorporates a Sphero, there is even scope for remote controlling the droid via a smartphone or tablet app (in the same way it is done with the toy).

The replica BB-8 droid is still a work in progress, so stay tuned to Makezine for further updates. In the meantime, you can join the Christmas scrum to buy an official (but smaller) Sphero BB-8 droid from your nearest retailer.

bb-8 droid
A side by side comparison of the Sphero 2.0 toy (left) and the scaled-up BB-8 sized model on the right.

Image credits: Makezine