Real life Star Wars BB-8! - R2 Builders - Maker Faire

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We met with Psy DeLacy - an artist in the animation industry who, for the sheer joy of it, decided she wanted to make a BB8 from Star Wars. Self-taught in electronics with this project, she built a BB8 from the ground-up on an Arduino Mega platform and using some rather large motors and servos. Here, she shows off the BB8, talks about the building process, and demonstrates how it works. She’s part of the Bay Area R2 Builders - an organization that builds epic R2D2 and other Star Wars themed robots. Check them out on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/BayAreaR2Bui... or Twitter here: https://twitter.com/BAR2Builders or even another Facebook here - https://www.facebook.com/groups/bb8bu...

Psy: So my name is Psy, and I am a BB-8 builder on the side. This is my BB-8 and I built it over the course of about two years. This little guy has taken thousands of hours of 3D printing…and everything is 3D printed, including the outside, the inside, the drive…absolutely everything. I can spin his head. It's all controlled with an Arduino Mega. Everything is just a bunch of motors kind of wired up so that they move specific parts which makes him bounce back and forth. I got him moving about two days ago. One of the things that we noticed when we put everything inside of this ball is that there are some problems that we have to figure out. So I can't go forward and backwards because my axle is slipping, and I can't do a couple of other things.

Josh: I really think that actually really shows the maker spirit. “It was working, I swear it was working!”

Psy: Every year I run into this. These are the head magnets. So these are really strong neodymium magnets. There's are also going to be magnets in the dome, they'll sit on top of here and it'll roll around. But the magnets are so strong that right now if we put the dome on and they accidentally stick, they're going to shatter or not come apart at all.

Josh: All right, could we go check out that other one.

Psy: Everything is happening from this Arduino Mega right here. And so this is feeding out into absolutely everything. You got your motor controllers, voltage regulators, and these giant servos that will rip this apart if you're not careful.

Josh: Those are really big servos.

Psy: Yeah. And then just all of the motors down here. So the one at the very bottom is doing the side to side motion. And then this right here is what's moving it forwards and backwards. This little guy right here is what spinning the head around.

Josh: And you weren't kidding about everything being 3D printed, I can see the print striations…

Psy: Yeah, the whole drive is 3D printed, every single part that we can 3D print, we are 3D printing. I had to print my dome in three sections and each section took 26 hours. So it was quite the endeavor. It's a lot of printing, but if you're into 3D printing, or if you really want to learn about 3D printing, this is the way to do it.

Josh: You're telling me your background is not in electronics at all, could you tell us a little bit more about that?

Psy: My background is in art – I work in animation and visual effects.

Josh: But all of your electronics that you've learned has been through building this?

Psy: Yeah, everything I've learned about robotics, 3D printing, electronics, all came from this project. I had never done anything like this before and I saw the movie Force Awakens and I went, “hey, I want one of those. I'm gonna make one.” Everyone thought I was crazy. But I just decided I was going to do it and I found this club and the rest is history.

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