Any BB-8 friends around?

A nice series on how to build a Star Wars BB-8 Droid


I do find it hugely entertaining (that’s not sarcasm) to watch makers take these things that are invented by set designers and artists, and realized in the films with multiple different single-purpose/single-function physical models and a bit of CGI and then go and try to realize it as a Real Thing. It’s tremendously challenging, and while I find BB-8 to be a ridiculous design for any sort of practical purpose, I love the exercise of trying to create one.

I’ve been wondering if instead of motors driving wheels against the inner surface, if maybe a heavy gyroscope and and/or a driven cage mechanism might be a good design solution. In that case, you don’t need a smooth inner surface to run on and you can mount all kinds of gadgetry on the lower ball. The basic idea would be the inverse of the astronout-training cage - uses weights or gyros to stabilize the core, and then drive the cage to effect motion. The inverse kinematics involved would be some wicked math, but the result would be impressively accurate.

There have been a few droids I thought would be entertaining to build, not the least of which is the Droideka : [url][/url], but it seems to be mechanically near impossible to replicate, and the demands of putting food on the table have always interfered.

EDIT: Just watched episode 8 of the build videos - pretty impressive work all around, and I suspect nobody would ever miss the fact that it only rolls on one axis. I wouldn’t have.

If you’re really interested, we meet here:

I start printing mine in 6 days :smiley:


@ mcalsyn - there is even the talk about a version 3 build. Maybe even some of your thoughts being integrated who knows … could be a nice student project. Physics, math, electronics, building skills all included, you learn a lot. Maybe even some AI can be put into play or extend the whole by writing some decend app for all platforms. If you get that off and jump on the star wars hype train you might be off to a good start. One could even think of controlling the BB-8 with Llilum … as you mentioned very entertaining …

@ ianlee74 - are you outsourcing the 3d printing ?

The BB-8 project is definitely very much a work in progress. The body parts are mostly great at this point if you want to use a polycarbonate sphere for the lower body. However, a fully printable body is in the works and hopefully it will be released by the group soon. My hope is that by time I finish the head that the printable body will be ready. As far as the mechanics go, there are lots of different ideas and they’re all being tested. So far the single axle approach is the most promising. For me, its very much a project that I hope to learn a lot from. There are so many interesting problems to solve in this project.

I have a Mini Kossel printer that I built and a larger one that I’ve been building but haven’t messed with in almost a year now… I’ll have to complete it before I can print some of the larger parts of the BB-8.

I like the guys implementation of the BB8’s ball technology. I however think that to make the shell he/you all should use hexagonal tiles (like a soccer ball). If he could put The Cubli in side that may work for all situations

@ Mr. John Smith - The guy in the OP doesn’t have a “standard” build using the builder’s group plans. He’s a member of the group but I believe his was built on his own before the group really took off. The last version of the printed sphere that I’ve seen looks like this…

The Cubli design is also being discussed in the group. I’d encourage you to join if you’re interested. It’s a “closed” group but they don’t really deny any requests to join that I’m aware of.

Why yes, there are BB-8 Builders here. My R2-D2 has been running .NETMF for sometime now, but he is being upgraded to 2-3-2 and some Gadgeteer inside him now. I have BB-8 int he works now. I have 2 polycarb hemispheres and working of finishing the dome. I would suggest, if someone wanted to go the single axis route, to get a polycarb sphere with a “hatch” opening and skin the sphere. We have some more body panel options coming down the line. I am waiting on a new 3D Printer that should be here in the next 1-2 months that should change a lot of howto build BB-8… at least that is the hope.

You also don’t need to join the FB group as the main part of the building and discussions are on


@ Samurai - I was wondering how long it was going to take for you to chime in :smiley:

I hadn’t noticed that Astromech also had a BB-8 thread going. However, as I understand it the FB page is currently the official site for the BB-8 Builders Club. They are supposed to be releasing their site soon which will be similar to Astromech but specific to BB-8. So, I still think its worth joining the FB group to follow their progress.

Personally I haven’t gotten much out of the FB page. It seems more like a showing off thing and not as easy to use as an actual forum. The astromech site has more discussions on actual building and ideas. The site has been in progress for sometime now. There are reason for the separation, but I don’t think you will ever see the two “groups” separated. For new people, my opinion, the best thing is to join astromech first. A site dedicated to all droids is a better bet than a site dedicated to only one of them.

I have 2 ideas going on for the movement at the moment. I might do with a single axle first and then a hamster bot. We will see. I have a few things coming out for R2 here soon, as I have to space funds out for that and the new 3D printer coming in.

FB is definitely not an ideal platform for forum type discussions. It’s hard to find stuff and it causes a lot of the same questions to get asked over & over. Whether they create a completely new site or integrate with Astromech in some way, I’m sure there will be some sort of connection between the two. However, since Astromech currently claims to be a R2-D2 specific site. So, unless they want to change that and call it a generic SW bot site then I think its OK for there to be a BB-8 specific site.

I’m planning to go with the single axle right now. But, I have at least a couple months of work ahead of me before I’m ready to start on that part of it. So, I’ll be watching what is working and what isn’t until then. Keep us posted on your progress, please!

I joined the astromech site, but what a pain that was. That was the most obnoxious process I’ve gone through outside of mortgages, divorces and immigration. That said, it looks like there are a lot of dedicated and talented folks hiding behind that wall. Will I ever have time to do something? Doubtful, but my hobby is collecting hobbies.


@ mcalsyn - Agreed but that group has a very delicate line that they have to walk to keep the support they get from Lucas/Disney. So, its in their best interest to make sure people know the rules.

Agreed, we have a very tight line that we follow. I didn’t have a lot to go through when I joined, way back in 1999 when we were only on the Yahoo Groups and before The Mouse took over. I can say Disney is MUCH more heavy handed on groups that spend a ton of money that are in the end free to cheap labor. You should hear the stories of the EPVII stuff.

I have videos of my R2 parts, not sure if I have posted them here. If you are on Astromech you can find them by search the builder’s blogs/logs and a thread started by me “Samurai”.

I am probably going the single axis route and a pendulum drive for BB-8. Probably going brushless motors for the the energy savings and more torque.

Joined as well, but yeah the pain is still there …

oh, and I probably was thinking of the wrong movie … my user name is Tom Builder :whistle:

A lot of the hoops you have to go through is really necessary, and in my opinion doesn’t go far enough. You have to think about the amount of money involved here. I know at one point a license for Star Wars products started in the 5 figures. You have companies having to pay that to sell high priced items when you can join our group and get the plans and make your own, more accurate droid, for a lot less money. There were “runs” for parts in the group that add up quickly too. I stopped sharing my models and blueprints a long time ago when I saw parts begin sold on eBay that were obviously made from our blueprints and\or made from casting of parts we did. Making those models and blueprints takes a lot of time and and money prototyping for someone else to come in and sell them for a profit, which is against the official club policy.

Anyways that is a little back story. Most of what is in place is to protect the group. We have had issues of people selling completed droids, which is a big no-no, that made national tv… so things have been evolving. If you have anything in particular that you thought was bad, let me know I can pass it along.

@ Samurai - Wouldn’t that be a pretty good scenario to introduce an NDA ?

… but then again, it is very hard to solve a social problem that way … limiting maybe, solving probably never …

Problem becomes tracking down who it was that took the freely available prints and did something with them that they weren’t suppose to and prove that they knew not to do it without getting lawyers involved. Then you get into that this is all about intellectual property of someone else, that if you become too much of a headache they will just shut you down. So keep their lawyers idle then you don’t have too much of a problem. At least that is how is has been before Disney. They seem to be a little more heavy handed. like saying you can’t go to the EPVII premiers in costume.

Anyway, if anyone wants to talk BB-8 and ideas, let me know. I am trying to do him with .NETMF as well. Trying tostick with Gadgeteer, for kicks.

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