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!

15 Maker projects to celebrate Star Wars Day

May the 4th be with you, Makers!

As an engineer, or any geek for that matter, there’s just something in our DNA that requires us to become a die-hard Star Wars fan. And while many of us may pay homage to the George Lucas franchise on a regular basis, May 4th has emerged over the years as a full-fledged “unofficial” holiday — especially with the advent of the Internet, social media and other grassroots celebrations. Plus, the occasion couldn’t come at a better time as we eagerly await the upcoming trilogy.

According to its origin story recognized by Lucasfilm, and as legend has it, the phrase was first used on May 4, 1979 — the day Margaret Thatcher took office as UK prime minister. The Conservative party allegedly placed an ad in the London Evening News which read, “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.” Since then, movie buffs from all over the world have come together to honor everyone’s favorite space saga set in a galaxy far, far away.

Some things go together like peanut butter and jelly. Star Wars and the DIY crowd is one of them. From Makers rigging their own R2-D2s to hacking their own BB-8 droids to 3D printing their own lightsabers, we’ve highlighted some memorable out-of-this-world projects.

Playing the Imperial March with a 3D printer

While you’ve likely already created your very own Imperial Army of miniature Stormtroopers with a 3D printer, many of you probably haven’t rigged that same machine to play their anthem. Reddit user “silviustro” decided to trick his Printrbot Simple Metal into performing quite a spectacular rendition of the theme song by converting a MIDI file into a G-code that the device could easily understand.

Hacking a Sphero into a mini BB-8

When industrial designer Christian Poulsen first laid eyes on the adorable ball rolling around, it didn’t take long before he realized that he needed to build a BB-8 of his own. And what better way to accomplish that feat than by employing an AVR powered Sphero 1.0. The Maker divided the rolling robot with a hacksaw, used polyurethane foam surfaced with spackle for its head and added a neodymium magnet disc to connect the two halves. From there, the only other thing left was to don its exterior with an empire-approved paint job.

Wearing a Chewbacca coat with Arduino Lilypad

Winters can be brutal. Having to wear multiple layers to keep warm can be annoying. However, if you’re going to have to do so, you might as well do it in style. That’s why a Maker by the name of “Malarky” developed a Chewbacca coat that sounds the saga’s infamous tune whenever its collar is flipped up and turns off when put back down. The wearable piece is based on an Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328) along with a light sensor, a small LiPo battery, a few feet of conductive thread and a LilyPad buzzer that serves as its speaker.

Flying a TIE Interceptor drone

As a followup to his Millenium Falcon project that went viral, French RC hobbyist “Olivier C” crafted yet another quadcopter — this one inspired by the TIE Interceptor from Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. The build, which the Maker says took just about 15 hours to complete, actually consists of a light, foam insulate shell placed over a custom-built, ATmega2560 powered drone. In the end, Olivier had removed the transmitter, GPS system and GoPro camera from the copter to achieve its authentic look, while at least 14 propellers were sacrificed for the cause by the time it was done.

Decorating the walls with ‘Art’ Vader

The brainchild of Christopher Connell, this ambient Darth Vader poster can wirelessly react to music playing in a room with various LED color-changing effects. Comprised of chrome and black paint, flooring underlayment and some other traditional art supplies, the 4’ x 5’ piece is embedded with an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), a sound impact sensor, three MOSFETs, three 220k Ohm resistors, an LED strip, a pair of mini breadboards and a 12V battery pack.

Making a 3D-printed crossguard lightsaber

While countless 3D printable lightsabers may have already been available for download online, France-based Le FabShop figured it was time to make one that would be completely customizable. And so, the team devised their own modular system that opens the door to hundreds of lightsaber configurations from Yoda’s to Darth Maul’s to the latest “crossguard” design.

Shooting a full-size LEGO replica of Han Solo’s blaster

Julius von Brunk has pieced together a full-size replica of Han Solo’s iconic blaster using nothing but 400-plus LEGO bricks and an Arduino Uno (ATmega328). The slick gadget is equipped with a fully-functional trigger that sets off the DL-44’s lights and sounds, which of course are made possible with the Arduino.

Slipping into a DIY Stormtrooper mask

As part of last year’s Star Wars Day festivities, John Edgar Park of DisneyToon Studios designed a Stormtrooper helmet music box. Dubbed the Imperial Melody Discharger, the Maker’s creation was based on an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) with a prototyping shield, some soldered cable interconnects, a piezo buzzer and a Pololu Pushbutton Power Switch for power management. To perfect his build, Park programmed the Uno with a small sketch that instructed the board to wait for a button press, open the right half then the left half of the mask, play the Imperial March theme on the piezo buzzer and close the two mask halves.

Constructing a holocron thumb drive


Up until now, most of us Star Wars fans could only stare wistfully at the holocron rendered on our HDTV screens. Fortunately, NoMuse has meticulously created an ATtiny85 based holocron thumb drive replica for the masses. Housed in a laser-cut acrylic shell fitted with translucent plastic and laminated the diffused panels, the Maker added some LED lighting effects and a LiPo battery for power. And to throw in some extra interaction, he included capacitance sensing to transform the entire top surface of the device into a button.

Controlling devices with modded EEG Star Wars toys


Electroencephalography toys, such as the Star Wars Force Trainer, record the electrical activity along a wearer’s scalp. What’s more, turns out they’re not only inexpensive, they’re super easy to hack, too. A few years ago, Instructables engineer “Frenzy” was able to take some code from Frontier Nerds and use an old Arduino Diecimila (ATmega168) to read the output of the EEG toy on his computer. From there, the rig could be used to make a mind-controlled musical instrument, a wearable TV remote, or even let a user surf the web with their thoughts.

Rolling a blinky Death Star


Many may argue that the Death Star is one of, if not, the coolest super weapons to ever spawn from human fantasy. So, in true Maker/movie buff fashion, creative technologist Simone Giertz whipped up a plush version that compensates for its smaller radius by playing the Imperial March theme and illuminating in a green LED when rolled. The project itself employed a LightBlue Bean (ATmega328P), an LED, a piezzo buzzer, two resistors and a pair of AA batteries — all sewn into the toy.

Navigating the skies in a Stormtrooper hoverbike

Want to ride into work like a Stormtrooper? While hoverbikes may not be ready for your daily commute just yet, thanks to UK-based Malloy Aeronautics, we’re now closer than ever. After successfully completing its Kickstarter campaign last year, the firm has debuted a one-third sized version of its design to help fund the full-sized prototype. The 1.15 meter-long mini replica can carry payloads of around 1.5kg and weighs in at 2.2kg unladen. While in the sky, the ATmega32U4 powered drone can not only be commanded remotely, but can follow predetermined flight paths automatically as well. Meanwhile, the mini-hoverbike also comes equipped with a third-scaled, 3D-printed humanoid ‘pilot’ complete with a space on its head specifically-designed for a GoPro camera. Impressively, the futuristic prototype has the potential to travel up to 92 miles or for about 45 minutes on a single tank of fuel, with a 3,048-meter maximum altitude and a top speed of around 45 MPH.

Modding an R2-D2 with Arduino

Thomas Hatley removed the inner electronics of the highly-popular Hasbro toy, and replaced with an Arduino Mega (ATmega1280) in addition to a custom PCB in its back to help drive the motors embedded within the droid. Ultimately, this enabled the droid to spin its head and its extremities. The R6 is juiced up with a 6V battery, while a 5V regulator provides the connection up to the Arduino in its brain.

3D printing a R6 droid

James Bruton 3D-printed a slick R6 robot using his Luzlbot machine. Packed with an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), some Adafruit NeoPixels and a number of other electronics like a standard transmitter and receiver, the astromech droid is capable of driving around at various speeds, emitting LED lights and producing other Star Wars-eqsue effects. The Maker used standard R/C car electronic speed controllers to drive the wheels and an L298 Dual H-bridge board to drive the head. The servos are mixed using the Uno, while two batteries are tasked with powering the lights and animatronics.

Getting support from a Star Wars theremin bra

Just when you thought you’ve seen every project possible, one Instructables member “caitlinsdad” comes up with an undergarment that generates R2-D2 beep-boop noises whenever anybody comes close. The bra is packed with several LEDs, an Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4), a photocell detector and an ultrasonic range sensor. The wearable is designed to react like a theremin, so the sound varies based how the proximity of others

Maker hacks a Sphero into a mini Star Wars BB-8

Well, it didn’t take too long before a Star Wars fan created his own working BB-8 droid.

By now, it’s a safe assumption that many of you have already seen the initial trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If so, then you, like countless others, have probably fallen in love with BB-8 — a cute robot that was unveiled during both the teaser and an onstage presentation at the Star Wars Celebration. If you haven’t, then what are you waiting for?


When industrial designer Christian Poulsen first laid eyes on the adorable ball rolling around, it didn’t take long before he realized that he ’needed’ to build one of his own. The Maker was able to accomplish this feat by sawing an AVR powered Sphero 1.0 in half with a hacksaw, using polyurethane foam surfaced with spackle for its head, and adding a neodymium magnet disc to connect the two. From there, the only other thing left was to don its exterior with an empire-approved paint job.


Not only did Poulsen complete the project it in a day, he can also drive his BB-8 via Bluetooth using his smartphone’s Sphero app. While the droid may be remote-controlled, the Maker says it does note that it indeed has a mind of its own. Since the newly-attached head will cause an unbalance to the Sphero’s built-in gyroscopes, BB-8 will only be able to travel in one direction unless you give it a helpful push.


“Because it’s now more top-heavy and tends to lean, the gyroscope will try to correct the lean, and it will keep on rolling in whatever direction it’s pushed,” Poulsen notes.

Don’t lie, you know you love this BB-8. If you want one of your own, head over to the Maker’s step-by-step guide on MAKE: Magazine and get making! While not too much has been said around Sphero’s involvement in the actual BB-8’s creation, Lucasfilm’s president Kathleen Kennedy did mention the Boulder, Colorado-based startup in a recent Fortune Magazine interview.

Video: Maker builds a TIE Interceptor drone

Watch this awesome TIE Interceptor drone fly around and then build your own.

As a followup to his recent Millenium Falcon project, French RC hobbyist “Olivier C” has built another quadcopter — this one inspired by the TIE Interceptor from Return of the Jedi. The Maker says it took just about 15 hours to finish the project.

Now with both builds complete, perhaps a battle scene between the Millennium Falcon and the TIE Interceptor is next. Interested in creating your own? You can find a step-by-step log here. This could very well be the coolest Hollywood-inspired drone since this Back to the Future DeLorean.