Introduction: POE - Creating BB8

We wanted to create a robot from a reasonably popular community that we could relate to. The first thing that came to mind was Star Wars. Star Wars is a futuristic film series with a lot of robots and we thought that we could incorporate electronics into the robots easily. We first had experimented with trying R2D2 or C3PO but R2D2 was way too simple and C3PO is just way too big and humanoid. So we were looking for more options but personally, I think we really hadn’t delved into the idea of BB8 because of how complicated/complex the inner mechanics would be. But finally someone introduced the topic and we really thought about the mechanics. Simply put, BB8 is a sphere with half a sphere on top but the mechanism that keeps the head and inner workings in place are quite complex along with how it moves. If you are a serious Star Wars fan and want to learn how to recreate BB8 then follow the steps on how to build your own!

Step 1: Tools & Materials

P.S. All of these products were bought on Amazon or given to us

12-14 inch cardboard globe

7-8 inch cardboard globe

1 Arduino Uno




Ball Casters 1 ball each

Plywood 9”x9”

2 Wooden Dowels 10” height, 1/4” diameter

Magnets - 1” diameter

Bluetooth Module (Third Party - Any Company would work)

Motor Driver - L293D

2 Motors

Tools (Most of these were given by the class)

Hand Saw - Open up the Globe

Dremel - Cut Foam

Mallet - Break into Globe

Hammer - Break into Globe

Screwdriver - Break into Globe

Drill Press - Create Holes into Head

Exacto Knife -Multi-Use

Hand Drill - Create Holes in Head

File - Sand Holes in Head

Step 2: The Body

For the body, we need a sphere so we brought in a globe that one of us had. The globe’s diameter is 12 inches. We peeled off the cardboard that showed the globe because there were little bumps on the globe where the mountains on the globe were. We are going to paint over this later. If you do not have a 12-inch globe, you are going to have to buy one.

Step 3: Inner Scafolding

For the innards, we need scaffolding to hold our circuit, motors, and magnets. We used ¼ inch thick wood and cut a 7-inch diameter circle. We then used a drill press and cut four holes in each of the circles. We made sure the holes fit the ¼ inch dowels. We will later put our arduous, motors, and ball holders on our scaffolding.

Step 4: Head Retrieval & Sanding

For the head of BB8, we used the head of R2D2 of one of our teacher’s previous projects that already broke. This was extremely convenient since it meant that we would not need to 3-d print or buy something to fulfill this requirement. The entire head is completely foam and we will paint over it later for a BB8 look. We used a hand drill to cut a hole through it for wires to be carried through. This is where the “eye” will be put on

Step 5: Ball Bearing to Scaffolding and Head

In order for our project to work, it was necessary for the scaffolding to stay perpendicular/level with the ground. We also needed to keep the head parallel with the ground. In order to do this, we decided on the use of ball casters, which would roll at the bottom and keep the scaffolding (mostly)perpendicular with the ground. We installed ball casters at the bottom of the scaffolding and the head.

Step 6: Attaching and Soldering of Circuits

During the soldering of the circuits, there were still many bugs in the Bluetooth system, which eventually led to its omission. However, the soldering of the LEDs/switch went smoothly and without any major hitches. In terms of attaching the circuits, there really wasn’t too much work. All that was done is that the LEDs were installed into the hole made for the “eye” so that they could shine through and the switch was installed in a hole on the other side of the head.

Step 7: Attaching of Magnets and Motors

In the end, the Bluetooth didn’t end up working, so that meant that we never actually attached the motors. However, we did attach the magnets, and for that, the most critical component was getting the magnets as close to each other as possible. We used blocks of wood to elevate the magnet on the globe’s inside to as close as possible to the edge. We did the same thing in the head to get it really close to the outside of the globe. This is necessary because otherwise, the magnetic attraction wouldn’t be as strong as it could be.

Step 8: Attaching Body to Head

This is probably the most simple part of the whole project since all it really involves is placing the head on top of the body. However, once fully done, it is necessary to glue the 2 parts of the globe together because otherwise, they’ll just fall apart. Before gluing the 2 pieces together, make sure that the magnetic attraction is sufficient to hold the head in place. If it is not, add another magnet on each side at the same height as the other one.

Step 9: Testing

So the testing phase, was probably the easiest of all phases because it had very little actual building and work. This was kind of fine tweaking the entire prototype. Because it took a while for the Bluetooth module to work. And a while to fine tune the inner components. But eventually everything worked out and it rolled well.

Step 10: Final Product

So honestly this project was way too complicated and I wouldn’t really advise anybody to do it this way. I think if you really want to make BB8 then just put a remote control car inside a globe. However, I think that the struggle taught me a lot of new things and it was worth it in some ways. One of those things was that it allowed me to use a Bluetooth module. Which was pretty cool I guess.