Tag Archives: Star Wars

Maker creates his own life-size BB-8

17-year-old Angelo Casimiro decided to build a fully-functional, smartphone-controlled BB-8.

Until Episode VII came out, if you were a true Star Wars fan, building a working R2-D2 replica would seem like the thing to do. With the emergence of BB-8, R2 now has competition for the coolest robot in the galaxy, and for which droid you should recreate.


At first glance the BB-8, with its continuously-rotating body and a head that always stays nearly upright, looks like something that could only be made with computer graphics on a movie set. 17-year-old Maker Angelo Casimiro, however, proves that isn’t the case with his life-size, phone-controlled toy. The best part of it all? According to his exhaustive tutorial, the project should cost only around $120 — a little less than Sphero’s miniature device.

The physics student from De La Salle University in the Philippines was able to purchase most of the items from a hardware store while recycling pretty much everything else, like a Christmas ball for its eye, an old Wi-Fi router antenna, and roll-on deodorant balls for the mechanism of the droid’s head to keep it upright. BB-8’s head is made from styrofoam, and the body is a beach ball reinforced with papier-mâché.


The secret to his BB-8 build is that inside the sphere is a two-wheeled vehicle. When it moves, this vehicle rolls around inside, changing the ball’s center of gravity and causing it to go across the floor. (Think of it like a giant hamster ball.) The head, in turn, is stuck to the top of the spherical body via a structure inside of the ball made out of wood and magnets. Control is accomplished using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) with a motor shield and a Bluetooth module, which allows it to take signals from a smartphone via the “Arduino Bluetooth RC Car” app. There’s even an MP3 module and speaker that enables it to beep and talk just like in the film.

Though the concept of this bot is likely simpler than what you would have thought it would take to produce one of these, it still took a lot of work from several people to get things perfect! If you’d like to try it yourself, Casimiro has provided a detailed overview video, as well as a 47-step tutorial over on Instructables.

This R2-D2 drone has all the bells, beeps and whistles

An aerial cinematographer has created an R2-D2 drone that not only beeps and whistles, but can capture footage through its camera eye.

Just when we thought we’ve seen it all, we happened to stumble upon this impressive Star Wars project from a Makerspace in a galaxy far, far away. Meet Arturo, the world’s first R2-D2 drone. And with The Force Awakens now in theaters, the timing couldn’t be better.


Equipped with four propellers, Arturo features a moving head, LED jetpack lights on his feet and a speaker that emits R2-D2’s appropriate beeps and whistles. Aside from that, the drone includes a DJI GPS autopilot navigation system and a CCD camera installed in its eye.

The brainchild of aerial cinematographer Don Melara, the quadcopter made its debut only days before the much-anticipated launch of the blockbuster flick at the International Drone Expo in Los Angeles.

The build itself took just over a week to complete and the result is awesome. Not to mention, it’s even more amazing to watch fly through the sky at dusk. See for yourself below!

Maker turns an old Star Wars toy into a walking AT-AT

This Star Wars fan transformed an old toy from the ‘80s into a remote-controlled AT-AT Walker with Arduino.

What do you get when you combine an Arduino, an Adafruit Servo Shield, an Xbox 360 controller and a 1981 AT-AT Walker? A toy that Star Wars fans like Dave Stein have always dreamed about as kids.


“If you played with this toy growing up you will probably remember how clumsy it was and difficult to move around,” the software engineer by day, tinkerer by night writes.

With hopes of changing this, Stein decided to take his beat-up AT-AT, embed it with an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), and allow it to clumsily walk and perform other functions similar to those seen in the film.


Admittedly, there were some obstacles that the Maker had to first overcome, such as quadrupedal movement, learning how to program an Arduino, and not damaging the Kenner toy’s plastic components.

For control, Stein configured an Xbox 360 gamepad that interfaces with a computer and relays a signal to the Uno. This enables the modded AT-AT Walker to wander left and right, forwards and backwards, and even move its head horizontally. 

Did this awaken your Maker forces? If so, you can check out Stein’s entire project here, and see it in action below.

Maker converts his TIE Fighter toy into a flying drone

Can you ever get sick of Star Wars projects? Didn’t think so.

Just in time for December 18th’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one Maker has successfully converted his Hasbro First Order TIE Fighter into a fully-functional, flying quadcopter.


Impressively, Imgur user “woodpiece” was able to accomplish this feat with only a few tweaks. The Star Wars enthusiast threw a couple of rotor arms onto the toy and cut out a slot on the radiator for the propellors. The rest of the modification process involved disassembling the device and installing a quad motor attached to 3D-printed mounts. The Maker glued the wings to the main body, while ensuring that all the wires remained inside the frame through its existing holes.


All the electronics were able to fit comfortably, with no additional cosmetic enhancements necessary. The brains of the operation is a Flip MWC Flight 1.5 Controller (ATmega328) which sits at the base of the cockpit, along with the motor controllers and battery.

As awesome as this all may sound, you have to see it in all its glory as it soars through the sky. The end result was a remote-controlled unit with rotors on both front and back of the wing panels. You can find a step-by-step breakdown of the Maker’s build here.

[h/t Daily Dot via Toyland]

Maker creates a Tron and Star Wars-inspired control panel for his computer

This fully-functional, overhead control panel will be the most awesome thing you see today.

Most of us rely on a keyboard and mouse to perform tasks on our computers. Not Redditor user “smashcuts.” Instead, the Maker has built a fully-functional overhead control panel for his PC, complete with 100 programmable buttons and switches that trigger all kinds of actions, from the useful to the absurd.


As you can imagine, constructing such a complex device was no easy task. To make this a reality, the Maker employed the combination of a USB hub and controllers, LEDs for the backlighting, an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) for the blinking lights and a HAL unit from Think Geek. These electronics are all housed inside an enclosure made from a metal junction box and laser-etched acrylic panels.


While the project itself was a pretty elaborate endeavor with some serious functionality, it was all done in good humor. There’s a green ‘Main Systems’ section which turns on his most frequently used programs, such as Chrome, Photoshop, Premiere, After Effects and iTunes. Meanwhile, a central unit controls all of his main OS shortcuts like open, save and close.


He’s also included a category that he calls ‘Panic Control,’ with three toggles for stress management. According to smashcuts, ‘Don’t Panic’ cues a hitchhiker’s guide YouTube video, ‘Serenity Now’ cues a Firefly clip, and ‘Hold Steady’ plays songs from his favorite band. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a ‘Wave Collider’ panel that allows him to activate various iTune playlists and choose ‘More Rock’ or ‘Less Rock’ depending on his mood.


Beyond that, buttons in the bottom left-hand corner type a variety of laughter into open chat windows, including the common ‘HA,’ ‘HAHA,’ or ‘HAHAHA’ for extremely funny moments. There’s even a ‘Weapons System,’ which emits humorous sound effects. Despite some of its comedic features, this was surely an impressive build!

If you’ve ever dreamt of using a Star Wars/Tron-like control panel, you’ll want to check out the Maker’s project in its entirety here.

Creating an elaborate BB-8 replica

Inspired by BB-8, one Maker is bringing some Star Wars magic of his own to life with a ball-balancing robot. 

It didn’t take long for everyone (ourselves included) to fall in love with JJ Abrams’s adorable new BB-8 droids, who have stolen much of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens spotlight even before hitting theaters. As you can imagine, countless fans are already counting down the days before the arrival of what will surely be a holiday best-selling robot toy this year. However, instead of waiting, a number of Makers like James Burton have decided to take it into their own hands by devising fully-functioning replicas.


Whereas the actual character is comprised of two separate parts (a remote-controlled body and a separately remote-controlled head), Burton’s latest project consists of a balancing robot that sits atop a 500mm diameter polysyrene ball serving as its body. This lightweight material gives more relative inertia, and therefore, stability for the droid positioned on top.

As seen when the robotic creature made its debut on stage in Anaheim, the “real” BB-8 features a robotic ball for its body with an independently-moving head that doesn’t fall off, which is clearly the work of physics and maybe some magnets?


And this Maker has taken a somewhat similar approach. Gyroscopes and accelerometers from SparkFun are tasked with maintaining the ball-balancing robot’s equilibrium. Meanwhile, the Maker has employed an Arduino Pro Mini 5V (ATmega328), a couple motor drivers, a few DC motors, a level shifter, and of course, a set of omni wheels for multi-directional movement. These components are all mounted to a 3D-printed chassis and housed inside a 300mm acrylic hemisphere.


With that working well, he also tried to make it remote-controlled. This required the addition of an RC receiver along with another Arduino that offsets the gyro value to make it roll in one direction. For a while, BB-8 was only capable of running on carpet; however, as you can imagine when trying to demonstrate the project at shows and other conventions, carrying around a small piece of rug could be quite tedious. So in an effort to solve this problem, Burton improved his design with some trial-and-error by adding ball bearings inside the hollow sphere, thereby emulating the slowness of carpet.


With a little more 3D printing for additional details, such as its eyes, and some airbrushing of its exterior, Burton was just about complete with his impressive project — that is at least, until he begins a second version. For those of you who are familiar with this Maker’s work, it should come as no surprise that he has put together an extremely elaborate playlist of steps, which you can find below. Interested? You can find the project and its entire code on Github.

Maker creates a life-size replica of Han Solo

Baltimore-based Maker Todd Blatt recently devised a life-size replica of Han Solo in Carbonite.

Star Wars Day never seems to have a shortage of innovative projects paying homage to the epic space saga. As impressive as many of those may be, one in particular had caught our attention. That’s because Baltimore-based Maker Todd Blatt recently crafted a life-size replica of Han Solo in Carbonite, designed to match the version that appeared The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. From laser cutting to Bondo sculpting, the Maker employed a number of tools found throughout his Baltimore Node hackerspace.


That Maker studio, however, is about to relocate to a new building and won’t be able to take the 1:1 Han Solo replica along with them. Blatt explains that it had been a commissioned project, and did not want to have to go through the daunting task of moving it time and time again.

“In the movies themselves, there aren’t very many shots of the frozen figure, and only two props are in existence in the Lucasfilm archives,” Technical.ly’s Stephen Babcock writes. “Blatt was buoyed early on after finding that he didn’t have to recreate the images of a trapped Harrison Ford. In 1996, a company called Illusive Concepts was licensed by the Star Wars empire to produce replicas.”

In order to construct the prop from a galaxy far, far away, the Maker tracked down its necessary body parts in rubber form, which he then assembled with the help of Bondo. Furthermore, Blatt found the original costume’s accurate dimensions that he used to recreate some of the pieces via 3D scans and AutoCAD, while acquiring its other components from an old record player and a camera viewfinder.

“But the power to recreate things digitally is insignificant next to the power of 1970s prop makers who were just using found objects that happened to be lying around the studio,” Babcock adds. “Those studios aren’t much different from Makerspaces like the Node, with lots of stuff lying around that gets turned into something else. Prop makers often don’t even remember what they used. In the case of Star Wars, it just so happened that what is later seen on the screen became a cultural touchstone.”


Combining his inner Star Wars spirit with his Maker tenacity, Blatt was able to track down a Volvo 343 turn signal indicator, and make a mold to easily reproduce it. The other side features panels with LED lights, programmed through an Arduino that enables the lights to blink in a precise pattern. This code was written on the bottom panel, comprised of eight LED lights driven by an ATtiny45/85.

While Blatt has done his best, he tells Technical.ly that he realizes that the project can never be a truly perfect replica. Nevertheless, it was still pretty awesome!