technologyworkshopscience

Build a BB8 droid at home

Are you a ‘Star Wars’ fan and want to build your own BB-8 droid? This article is just for you. Following this article, you’ll find yourself being able to build your own BB-8 droid with ease.

Material

Arduino Uno

Pololu VNH5019 motor driver

2 metal gearboxes

Bluetooth module

4 Cell lithium battery pack

Beach ball

Canvas fabric

Glue

Wood putty

Sand paper

Styrofoam balls

neodymium magnet

Use paper mache to construct the body

To construct this you will need to take out the beach ball with the diameter of 51cm or 20 inches and pump some air into it, make sure to fill the ball with air to its maximum capacity.

We can now move on to make the body for the BB-8, for this we will need to make a paper mache, you will need to mix glue with water, the mixture should be of a two-to-one ratio, with two parts of glue with one part water, you can use a paint brush to mix the mixture.

To make the paper mache you will need long strips of papers, you can any paper for this, however, newspapers would be the best option. Gather your newspaper and start cutting strips of it using a razor, you can stack them over each other for a faster pace. Once you’ve cut out a significant number of strips carefully lay each one of them on the beach ball and gently coat them with the glue mixture made earlier. Continue laying a paper strip on the beach ball and coating it with glue until you cover the entire ball. After you’re done covering the entire beach ball you will need to repeat this whole process two more times giving you three layers of newspaper over the beach ball. After you are done with gluing 3 layers of newspaper on the beach ball you can leave it to dry up, it will take about a day to dry up depending on the temperature, however, if you are in a hurry for the paper mache to dry up you can use a hair dryer to speed up the process and leave it to dry up overnight.

Use canvas fabric for a sturdy look

Using paper mache alone to construct the body is not enough as it not sturdy enough to make a BB8 droid, for making it more durable you will need some canvas fabric. You will need to cut the canvas fabric into broad stripes and lay it over the paper mache on the beach ball, continue doing the same thing you did for the newspaper mache where you lay the strips and then apply a coat of glue over it, you will need two layers of this. Canvas fabric is the perfect material to make your mache sturdy as it not only is thicker than the paper mache but it also hardens pretty well. You can use a hair dryer to ensure an effective drying process. Make sure that the sheets of the canvas do not overlap each other, if the ends are overlapping you can use a cutter to carefully cut off the overlapping areas.

Cover with newspaper

For the final layer, take out a newspaper and apply it over the canvas fabric. And leave it out to dry overnight.

Construct the head

While the body is left to dry up, you can start working on making the head of the BB8 droid. To make the head you will need to take out the Styrofoam ball, the diameter of the ball should be 300 millimetres, you can start by cutting the Styrofoam ball in half, next up is the you will need to bevel it, this is the most challenging part of constructing the head, you can get hold of a Styrofoam cutting pen to do this or you can make a Styrofoam cutter yourself. To make a Styrofoam cutter you will need a wooden board to act as the base and drill a hole in the middle of the board and at the edge, insert 2 standoffs into the holes, attach some batteries to a switch and connect the wire to them, the wire should be in a diagonal line from the edge to the middle standoff, once you press the switch the wire will heat up acting as a perfect Styrofoam cutter.

Smooth out the head

For this step you will need some wood putty, apply a layer of putty on the surface of the head this is to smooth out any uneven textures giving it a levelled clean surface, any excess putty on the head can shaven with the help of a sandpaper.

Back to the body

After the BB8’s body has dried off you can apply some wood putty onto it, it is to fill in any gaps that you may not have noticed before. Any excess putty can be shaved off with the help of a sandpaper.

Add details

Once you have shaved off any excess putty and given the droid a smooth surface you can start painting it. You can spray paint the base colour, you need at least 2 layers of paint for the base colour. For any other details you can use masking tape to hide any area you don’t want to be sprayed and spray your 2nd colour for the details. When the paint dried you can peel the mask. You can add any more details that you would prefer like eyes, antenna etc.

Cut the body in half

To be able to fit the electronics in to the body you need to cut it in half, you can do this with the help of a hacksaw, make sure to be careful to avoid damaging the body.  

Building the base to mount the electronics

To form a base for the electronics you need to cut some wood, follow the link ( https://www.instructables.com/DIY-Life-Size-Phone-Controlled-BB8-Droid/ ) provided for the measurements. Drill some holes for the brackets to attach the gearbox, these gearboxes should be at the edge and should be on opposite ends.  

Mount Arduino Uno

Drill four holes in the centre and attach standoffs in the middle on which you will place your Arduino Uno on. And the attach the motor driver on the Arduino and then connect the left and right boarders into the motor driver’s terminals. Use strong double sided tape to mount the batteries, you can use zip ties to secure them.

Connect the Bluetooth module

Next you need to connect the Bluetooth module to the Arduino, follow the diagram shown in the picture.

Attach deodorant

To prevent any friction you can use four deodorants.

Get your BB8 to move

Connect a cable to the Arduino and your laptop. Upload your program sketch, the Bluetooth module may interfere with the Arduino sketch to avoid that you can detach the Bluetooth wire temporarily. Install the ‘Arduino Bluetooth RC car’ app, once you connect the app to your Bluetooth module.

The magnetic components

For the BB8 to stay upright you need 2 strong magnates. For this you need a smaller wooden circular base and attach four deodorant heads on all sides of the base. Mount a servo in the middle of the base. Hot glue two strong magnets on a wooden shaft, now screw the arm of the servo to the at the centre of the wooden shaft. Next, you can mount the wooden shaft, servo arm onto the centre of the base. Use 4 long wooden shafts and mount the magnetic base onto it, you can secure it with some screws.  

External magnetic mechanism

For this you will need 3 more deodorant heads, as it needs to be light you can use a plastic hanger, cut the hanger and melt the edges which you will then attach some roll on deodorant heads, this should be in a triangular shape. Next you will need some magnets, put on half of the body on the internal components, drop some magnets on to the top of the body and let them position then hot glue the hanger onto the magnets

Assemble everything

Once everything is in place you can start off by assembling the body, you can join the two halves with the help of some glue. Now that everything is done you can test try it out.

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