• EUR€
  • £GBP
  • $USD

DIY Life-Size Phone Controlled BB8 Droid (Part I)

DFRobot Feb 03 2016 1058

Part II
Part III
Part IV

Project by ASCAS

Today, I'm going to teach you how to build a working, life-sized, phone-controlled Starwars BB-8 droid! In this tutorial, we are only going to use household materials and a little Arduino circuitry.


Why Household Materials?

Due to the limitation of materials, I resorted in using the materials around me. (deodorant roll-ons as ball bearings, canvas as fiberglass, Christmas balls as the eye & etc.. ). A lot of people could relate to this. My approach on building the project doesn't require 3D printers, CNCs or Milling Machines!

The full video tutorial is finally out! (MUST WATCH!)

Step 1: Reverse Engineering BB8's Design


Step 2: Gather The Parts And Materials

Here's the list of materials needed for the project! You can click on the link if you prefer to buy online.


Robotics & Electronics:

- Arduino Uno

- Pololu Dual VNH5019 Motor Shield

- 2x Pololu (19:1) 37D Metal Gearbox

- HC05 Bluetooth Module

- 4 Cell Lithium Battery Pack (2x)

- Switch, DC Jack, Wires, Solder

BB8's Body:

- Inflatable Beach Ball (Diameter: 50cm)

- Old Newspaper

- Plain Canvas Cloth

- 2 Bottles of PVA Glue (a.k.a Elmer's Glue)

- 1 Bottle of Woodglue

- White, Grey and Orange (Tangerine) Spray Paint

- Roll-on Deodorants

BB8's Head:

- Styrofoam Ball (Diameter: 300mm/ 12 inches)

- Christmas Ball (Size of BB8's Eye)

- WiFi Antenna (Prop Only)

- Cloths Hanger

- Roll-on Deodorants

- White, Grey and Orange (Tangerine) Spray Paint


- Superglue

- Neodymium Magnets


Step 3: The Science Behind BB8's Magic!

The first time I saw (comicon-reel) and heard that they we're going to use a real BB8 robot for the Starwars movie, my initial reaction was; A ball? A ball than spins with a head that stays upright? What kind of sorcery is this?!?!?

Aside from being extremely cute, BB8 also has a very intriguing design and build. You just can't stop wondering how this droid works! It really took some advanced engineering and a creative mind to invent such a thing. The idea of how the mechanism works, greatly involves concepts of physics and electronics. It's all about maintaining the right center of gravity. The original BB8 design which was used form the movie, used a hamster wheel design. Basically, there's a two wheeleed robot rolling around inside a sphere. The head stays uprightdue to the presence of magnets.

How The Sphero Version Works: (by: Tested)


In addition, this website explains really well, how BB8 works! (https://www.howbb8works.com/)


Step 4: Inflate The Beach ball


Pump enough air until you reach the maximum diameter of your beach ball (50cm).


Step 5: Prepare The PVA Glue Mixture


We will use PVA glue (Elmer's glue) as our paper binder/ hardener. Mix 2 part water to 1 part PVA glue.


Step 6: Prepare The Newspaper Strips


Gather a bunch of old newspapers. Align them carefully and cut them using a cutter knife and a ruler.

Step 7: Make The Paper Mache


Lay strips of newspaper on the surface of the beach ball and brush them with your mixture of glue. We're basically making a huge piñata. We're going to use the beach ball as our mold for the paper mache.

Step 8: Tip* - For Faster Drying


If you're in a hurry, use a blow dryer to speed up the drying process. Or maybe point an electric fan to the paper mache and leave it to dry overnight.


Step 9: Add A Layer of Canvas


The store, where I buy fiber glass, ran out of supplies. I used plain canvas instead of the fiber glass. The canvas hardens really well and works as a good paper mache. (cloth mache)


Step 10: Let It Dry


It was raining cats and dogs when I reached this step. I took my paper mache indoors and used a fan to try it overnight.

Step 11: Smoothen The Surface

After the canvas mache dries, you may notice there are overlapping sheets of canvas. You can simply plane it off using a sharp cutter blade. Smoother surface = smoother ride!


Step 12: Apply Wood Putty To BB8's Body

Let's begin the smoothening process! Get a can of wood putty and carefully apply it on the outer surface of BB8's body. Use an metal applicator to do the job. The putty fills in the gaps. Any excess putty will be removed after the sanding process.

Next steps? Stay tuned and coming in the next blog post!