Open source

3D printed BB-8 robot

Once upon a time there lived one man in one galaxy.  In his childhood he saw Star Wars by George Lucas and fell in love with the movie. Since that time he had dreamt to create a robot like in the movie. But adult life worries swept away the dream from his memory for 25 years.

In 2015 a long awaited sequel of the fantastic saga was released, though with new actors and a new philosophy of the Walt Disney’s Studio. Our fan saw once again his favorite robots and realized it was time to create something of the kind. That was George Fomichev – founder and leader of the robotics startup Endurance.

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So how did it all start?

With the development of a SelfieBot robot, which has been opensource since April of 2016, any person can make their own robot using the Endurance technology.

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SelfieBot is a personal robot. Anybody can assemble it using inexpensive electronics, software and firmware of Endurance. The big draw card is that you can really use it as a practical phone holder for video broadcast or video recording. The device’s ability to follow your movement is also a big plus. The Google API based function is called follow me.

There are numerous ways of using the device, but let’s go back to our BB-8…

Assembling BB-8

To assemble it we need a 3D printer.

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Endurance used a WanHao Duplicator i3. It’s quite suitable for PLA printing.

They downloaded a ready-made BB-8 model for printing.

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And then they 3D printed it, having previously increased the model to the desired size. They needed about 500 g of PLA.

Endurance ordered all the necessary electronics on Ebay or Aliexpress.  You can also buy everything you need in any radio and electronics store, however it will end up being more expensive. There’s also an option to buy an Endurance ready-made kit with all the electronic components for $95.  It will save you time and stress.

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Endurance carefully assembled the circuit board as it is described on their website.

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Then they uploaded the firmware. To do it for Arduino see the Endurance website.

So they have a ready made body and electronics.

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To control a BB-8 you’ll need an Android phone. Any one will do with the OS 4.1.x or higher.

Then, download the app and install it on the phone.

After that, pair the phone and the BB-8 electronics using Bluetooth.

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Now you can check the mechanical part of the device and see if the servos rotate and everything works.

Then the hard work begins. Because Endurance have 3D printed the BB-8 body, they have neglected the inner fixing system. That creates a problem, but not a big one. They made the inner fixing system ready using a plastic basis.

Now it is necessary to fasten up the servos in such a way that they could rotate in two planes and one servo supported the other. For this they made the coupling gear drawing.

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The given construction is not technologically perfect but it works.

Then they assemble everything together.

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They connect the 12 V power, start the app on the phone, and there you go – the demo mode operating, to check if everything works.

The robot starts turning its head.

 

You can make your own robot using the DIY SelfieBot program.