Jun 22, 2016 | By Alec

BB-8, the famous and much-loved roly-poly droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has become a Force all of its own. Representing all of Disney’s marketing power, the inexplicably spherical robot captured hearts around the world, and even found a huge fan base in the 3D printing community. As a result, we’ve seen so many remarkable 3D printed BB-8’s already, from Jason Loo’s life-sized model to Ed Zarick’s fully functional BB-8, and many others. They are now joined by founder of Endurance George Fomichev, who transformed their own fantastic 3D printed SelfieBot into a BB-8 droid with movable head that doubles as a selfie-machine.

This fantastic version of the BB-8 was born out of George’s own love for Star Wars. Seeing the first movies as a child, he has been carrying dreams of building his own robot with him for more than 25 year. Never quite finding the skill to build an R2D2 or C-3PO, it nonetheless partly inspired him to start a career in the making business. Following the 2015 release of the new Star Wars movie, George felt compelled to finally give into his dreams and build his very own droid.

Fortunately, he already had the hardware that could provide a novel way of building the popular BB-8. For back in 2015, George’s Russian American robotics startup Endurance presented the 3D printed SelfieBot, a solution to all your hands-free selfie needs.

Far more than a 3D printed stand, this robot promised to transform your handset into a mobile driven robot by providing biplane rotation for a smartphone and by tracking a speaker’s face using Google API and its dedicated app. Automatic motion tracking, remote camera orientation, and a host of other high tech features made the SelfieBot an incredibly useful device for a range of video applications, including conferencing, time-lapse videos, and more. “The big fact is that you can really use it as a practical phone holder for video broadcast or video recording. The device ability to turn after you is also a big plus. This Google API based function is called Follow Me,” George explained.

While a lot of fun to just play with, the SelfieBot’s developers realized that it could play a far more important role as well: educating beginning makers about 3D printing, code, app-making and innovative building projects. That’s why they began selling the robot as a DIY kit, only to throw caution into the wind in April and making the entire robot available to educational institutions as an open source 3D printing project.

But the SelfieBot’s core can be used for a wide range of other robotics projects, and to illustrate that George has now transformed one into a fantastic 3D printed BB-8. The biggest alteration in this project is using a 3D printable BB-8 body that acts as a shell for the SelfieBot, for which George downloaded this existing Thingiverse model. 3D printed on his WanHao Duplicator i3 in PLA, he needed about 500 grams of filament because he greatly increased the model size to fit over the bot.

Aside from the 3D printed shell, all you need is a set of SelfieBot electronics, the full list for which can be found on the Endurance website. You can also buy the Endurance ready-made kit of electronics for $95, but you might have some parts (like an Arduino and a Bluetooth kit) already and can easily purchase the rest of the off-the-shelf parts in any electronics (web) store.

Assembly of the circuit board was fairly straightforward for a SelfieBot, and George simply followed the guide as can be found on the Endurance website. “You also need to be willing to see into the robot schematics to be able to assemble the circuit board. You can, of course, to assemble everything on a bread board, but we use a circuit board. It’s more reliable,” he added. “Then we upload the firmware.”

To actually control your BB-8, you’ll need an Android phone (any with 4.1x or higher operating system). By downloading the Endurance app, you can pair the phone to the BB-8 via Bluetooth and start testing it to turn the droid’s head around. If everything works, you can build the inner fixing system, which can be made from either acrylic or plastic. “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 we make the coupling gear drawing,” George explains. “The given construction is not technologically perfect but it works.”

That’s pretty much all there is to it. By turning on the 12V power source this fantastic BB-8 can – with the help of the app – take photos, videos, and turn its head to follow you, just like the droid itself did in The Force Awakens. Of course there’s a lot more you can do to fix the exterior of the droid, such as polishing or painting its surface, but that’s all down to personal preference. Most importantly, it showcases how a simple set of off-the-shelf and 3D printed parts can be combined to form any type of educational robot you desire. “Perhaps someone will make a robot on the basis of R2D2 or C3PO,” George says.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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yzorg wrote at 6/22/2016 5:11:56 PM:

BB-8 is a insanely stupid robot concept. The Designer of this in the movies should be fired.

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