DIY Bluetooth Phone Controlled BB-8 Droid With Arduino UNO




About: Hi, I'm Tamas (Thomas), a 19 years old Hungarian guy. My hobby started more than 10 years ago. I learn electronics, physics, programming, IoT and I'm sharing my projects with you, hope you like it!

I'm a huge Star Wars fan and when I saw the Star Wars: The Force Awakens I thought that I need a BB-8 droid. It was awesome how this little sphere moved in the movie. So I decided that I'll make this droid that is based on the Arduino UNO (or other microcontroller). In this instructable I'm going to show how to build this droid with the LinkIt ONE that is a very popular board these days on the Instructables, so in a few steps I'll explain the code and if you want to use a LinkIt ONE you have to build a motor driver circuit that is also explained in my instructable. What if you haven't a LinkIt ONE? Don't worry I used an Arduino UNO clone to build my project, because the Arduino is much more popular than any other microcontroller, the LinkIt ONE is a short upgrade in four steps for LinkIt ONE users.

Some features:

  • phone controlled
  • voice controlled
  • Arduino based
  • realistic head and body motion
  • light effects
  • sound effects

This BB-8 model can be controlled with a smartphone using an application downloaded from the Play Store, iOS users have to use another app, because this one isn't compatible with iDevices, I'll insert links for different apps for the Apple users. Can be controlled even with voice commandsusing another Android application. BB-8 has light and sound effects just like in the movie. This droid is able to move his head, can turn left and right, moves forward or backward. The body moves realistic too, but there is difference between the original and my mechanics. Eventually is a good replica, it's only a little bit smaller than the original.

So my first intent was to make a realistic R/C replica of the BB-8. My second intent was to build this droid at very low cost. I didn't want to spend a lot of money for this project and I think succeed, the full cost is less $40. This is relatively cheap, if you check the prices of the BB-8 toys. If you want to build this droid please read every steps attentively. Every single detail can be useful and important.

Step 1: Video Presentation

Sorry when I rendered the quality dropped down, and became a bit pixelly. But you can see it works. I ordered some new neodymium magnets, because these weren't strong enough to hold the head while moving fast. My order still is on the way, but after adding 100 extra gramms to the body inside the ball worked fine. In the video I only made a quick servo motor test and a free roam moving test.

Step 2: How Does BB-8 Works?

This website explains very good how the original BB-8 would work. The mechanism is complex and requires a lot of motors, gyroscope and a better circuit. The head can be kept and moved using magnets that are in the sphere.

In my version I used a unique solution to make the communication between the droid and the phone: using an Arduino friendly app that is able to control any Arduino clones with a Bluetooth module. I think this was the best solution to make it phone controlled.

Step 3: Other Maker's Design

I think James Bruton's design is one of the best that I saw on the internet. It's simply awesome... But Mike Senna's droid is amazing too. I know that mine isn't so good like those, but I tried to make something new, invidual without copying the design of these two amazing makers.

Step 4: My Desing and Concept

I made some drawings about my plan. I used a cardboard globe for head and a plastic hamster ball to make the body. In this hamster ball is placed the Arduino and the motors. The M1 (motor) moves the droid forward and backward, the M2's role is to turn the body left or right. To the M2 should be connected something metal or anything that has big weight, otherwise the droid won't be able to turn left or right. As a weight I simply used the two batteries, so don't need to add extra weight. Later I'll explain this featurette. The Servo moves the head on the body forward and backward and the M3 turns the head left or right. The head can be attached to the droid using magnets.

The size of the bigger ball's diameter is 17 centimeters. The smaller half ball is a cardboard ball that's diameter is 11 centimeters.

Step 5: Choose Your Microcontroller!

As said I'll show you the instructions with both microcontrollers, but I'll build the droid with the Arduino UNO. So if you want to add special effects like sound use a LinkIt ONE, but I recommend to use a well-known Arduino UNO with an Adafruit motor shield. Both circuits has advantages, like:

LinkIt ONE:

  • build-in Bluetooth
  • sound effects
  • light effects

But is incompatible with Adafruit motor shield, you'll need to make a motor shield... And can't move the head.

Arduino UNO:

  • motor shield compatible
  • light effects
  • much more realistic motion

If you use Arduino you'll need a HC-06 Serial Bluetooth module and you can't build in sound effects. In the next four steps I'll show how to use the LinkIt ONE with a DIY motor shield, so if you are an Arduino user skip these steps.

Step 6: LinkIt ONE: Parts

You'll need the following tools:

  • soldering iron
  • glue gun
  • wire stripper/cutter
  • PC with Arduino IDE and LinkIt ONE library


The other parts are the same as the Arduino UNO users: motors, sphere, etc...

Step 7: LinkIt ONE: the $1 Motor Driver

Now you have to make this very low cost motor shield/driver. With this circuit you can control your motors in two directions: forward and backward. I marked the connection point between the LinkIt and the circuit: D5, D6, D10 and D11, these digital output pins can control the code with my code, So if the LinkIt One example pulls up the D6 to HIGH the motor starts.

Step 8: LinkIt ONE: the Code

After building the circuit download this or write an own code to recieve the bytes from the application. This code creates a bluetooth server, reads incoming bytes then reacts to them by moving the servo and motors, turning on light or sound effects.

Step 9: LinkIt ONE: the Audio Amp for Sound Effect

Download BB8.mp3 file put on an SD card and plug in the LinkIt ONE.

If you want to add sound effect build this small circiut that amplifies the sound signal from the microcontroller. I couldn't build this circuit because I needed time for the Arduino Uno part, so I just made a quick test with my earphone, but if you have questions feel free to ask.

Step 10: LinkIt ONE External Battery

You have to make a 7.4v battery for the motors. My solution was to connect two 18650 batteries in series.

Step 11: LinkIt ONE: the Test

I used some motors to test the circuit and the coed and they worked fine. At first launch the servo had some issue, but after this worked without problems. The sound through the earphones was very good. Look at the video if you want to see how it works. With this step I finished the explanation and instructions for the LinkIt ONE. Go to the mechanism part to see how to build the droid.

Step 12: Arduino UNO: Parts

You'll need the following tools:

  • soldering iron
  • glue gun
  • wire stripper/cutter
  • PC with Arduino IDE and Adafruit Motor Shield Library




  • Some Lego Parts
  • A Hamster Ball
  • A Plastic Globe (for head)
  • Srews and Zip Ties
  • Plastic or Plexy Glass sheets
  • Magnets

Appearence and Paint:

  • White Paint Spray
  • Black Paint
  • Blue and Orange Paint
  • Ping-Pong Ball (for eye)
  • Black Marker


For paint you can use anything or any technique, example: print the circles of BB-8 then glue on the spehe.

Step 13: The Ardiuno Code

This part is easy for every Arduino users. Just download or copy-paste this code in your IDE then upload to your Arduino. Of course you can use Mega, Leaonardo, Duemilanove and etc... The concept is easy. The Arduino uses HC-06 serial module to read the data coming from the phone. Then reacts to the incoming bytes by moving motors or turning on/off lights. In the code I inserted some explanations, but if you have questions feel free to ask.

You can test the code and the Arduino if you open the Serial monitor and send a letter to the microcontroller. I sent "W" and the light turned on. When I sent "w" the light turned off. So the code worked.

<p>/* The code was made by Tamás Imets for an Arduino UNO project<br>   This code controls the BB-8 Droid from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens,
   and works with Bluetooth RC Car application, using a HC-06 serial bluetooth module
   See more details at
   Friday,  December 25, 2015
 */</p><p>#include <servo.h>
#include <softwareserial.h>
#include <afmotor.h>
int command = 0;  //incoming serial data</afmotor.h></softwareserial.h></servo.h></p><p>AF_DCMotor motor1(1, MOTOR12_64KHZ); //initialize motor1 that is connected to the M1 port, this motor moves forward and backward
AF_DCMotor motor2(2, MOTOR12_64KHZ); //motor2 is connected to M2 and this turns BB-8 left and right
AF_DCMotor motorhead(3); //this motor turns the head left or right</p><p>Servo head;
void setup() {
  Serial.begin(9600); // set up Serial library at 9600 bps - this is the speed the serial interface will work all
  head.attach(9); //attach servo to pin D9 or to servo2 on motor shield
  motor1.setSpeed(255); //set default speed
  motor2.setSpeed(255); //set default speed
  motorhead.setSpeed(1); //the motor should spin very slowly
  pinMode(13, OUTPUT); //connect here the blue LED
}</p><p>void loop() {
  if (Serial.available() > 0) { //if the Arduino detects incoming data
    // read the incoming byte:
    command =;
  switch (command) //set different cases of the "command" variable
    case 'S': {; // stopped; // stopped
        command = '*';
      } break;</p><p>    case 'F': { //go forward;;
      } break;</p><p>    case 'B': { //go backward;;
      } break;</p><p>    case 'R': { //spin right;;
      } break;</p><p>    case 'L': { //spin left;;
      } break;</p><p>    case 'G': { //forward left;;
      } break;</p><p>    case 'I': { //forward right;;
      } break;</p><p>    case 'H': { //backward left;;
      } break;</p><p>    case 'J': { //backward right;;
      } break;</p><p>    case 'W': {
        digitalWrite(13, HIGH); //lights on
      } break;</p><p>    case 'w': {
        digitalWrite(13, LOW); //lights off
      } break;</p><p>    case 'U': {
        motor1.setSpeed(180); //set lower speed
      } break;</p><p>    case 'u': {
        motor1.setSpeed(255); //set max speed
      } break;</p><p>    case 'V': {; //turn head left
      } break;</p><p>    case 'v': {; //stop spinning
      } break;</p><p>    case 'X': {; //turn head right
      } break;</p><p>    case 'x': {; //stop spinning
      } break;</p><p>    case '0': {
        head.write(95); //basic servo state
      } break;</p><p>    case '1': {
        head.write(50); //move servo
      } break;</p><p>    case '2': {
        head.write(60); //move servo
      } break;</p><p>    case '3': {
        head.write(70); //move servo
      } break;</p><p>    case '4': {
        head.write(80); //move servo
      } break;</p><p>    case '5': {
        head.write(90); //move servo
      } break;</p><p>    case '6': {
        head.write(95); //move servo
      } break;</p><p>    case '7': {
        head.write(110); //move servo
      } break;</p><p>    case '8': {
        head.write(120); //move servo
      } break;</p><p>    case '9': {
        head.write(130); //move servo
      } break;</p><p>    case 'q': {
        head.write(135); //move servo
      } break;
      //you can add more extra feautres by writing a case command (example: different lights, sound, etc...)

Step 14: Choosing the Power Source

If you have, you can use old cell phone batteries for the power source but I reccomned 18650 cells. I chosed those Panasonic batteries, that were salvaged from an old laptop

Step 15: Build the Power Source

The recipe is simple: connect the batteries in series the solder the wires to the 5.5mm power jack. Now you have a 7.4v rechargeable power supply. You can charge up with 8.4 voltpower supply.

Step 16: Choosing Motors

It was very hard to choose the right motors for this project. I needed motors with gearing that are enough powerful to move that very heavy sphere. Finally I bought 2 geared motors from the Amazon and they were very efficient. You should buy three of them to solve the steering problem.

Step 17: The Circuit (Hardwere Part)

I soldered some extra legs for the Arduino I/O pins: D13, 5v, 3.3v, GND, RX, TX. Using these extra connection legs I was able to connect easily the bluetooth module and the LED. If you have a different Arduino you have to look for another solution. Connect everything to the Arduino just like on the schematic.

Step 18: The Motor Shield

Important note: Later I changed the grey motor. Use a third geared motor. "Difficult to see, always in motion is the future"-Master Yoda

Back to the project: Connect the servo motor to SERVO_2, two motors to the M1 and one motor to the M2. The to yellow motors are connected to the M1. These motors move the droid forward and backward.

Step 19: A Quick Test

Use your smartphone with the downloaded app then connect to the microcontroller. Press any button that controls a motor. If worked go and build the sphere.

Step 20: The Mechanism

I took apart the hamster ball, then using the Lego parts I suited the motor to the ball. Why use Lego parts? Well it's very eaasy to take apart the droid is is needed. With a glue gun Iconnected the larger Lego part to the sphere and smaller is connected directly to the motor without glue.

Step 21: The Body in the Sphere

This is a tricky part: Cut two pieces of plastic and glue to the motors. The diameter of my sphere is 17cm so I used a 13cm long plastic piece. It was perfect for my droid. While working I removed the motor shield for a short time. Using ome screws and a zip tie I siuted the microcontroller to the body. The zip tie holds the the Arduino and the bluetooth module in place. The batteries will be installed later.

Step 22: Steering

The time has come, use the Force or your glue gun and glue that third motor to the body. As you can see the motor and the gearing system is free, only the ending, the moving part is glued to the body. To that black motor system we'll connect the batteries. The batteries doubles as a power source and weight for steering.

Step 23: The Servo

The role of the servo motor is to hold or tilt the head on the sphere. I used hot glue agian and glued the motor in the center of the body. Then with some plastic and two magnets I created a holding element. This stick will hold the head on the top in one place.

The head can be used to adjust the speed of the droid. If is placed in the front of the droid, will move much more faster.

Step 24: Optional Upgrade (head Spin)

If you have a small motor like on the pictures., you can add an extra function to your droid. I made a plastic frame for it and glued the magnets on the top moving part. Attach this to M3 and to the servo motor.

Note: I continue the Instructable without this, unfortunately my motor burned out.

Step 25: The Head

Cut the globe in half, then clean from the paper. You can use now anything as a holding element, I used plastic again and glued together with the magnets. If you want you can add Lego wheels for better motion. The wheels make the rotation much more easier.

Step 26: Quick Test (Again)

Use the power of the Dark side or electricity and charge up the batteries. On the first picture you can see that I charged up my battery pack using a small variable power supply. After 2 hours the battery was charged up with 400mA charging current.

If your droid is ready try it out. Put the head on the ball then try to control with the phone. First time was tricky, but after about five minutes was very easy. The head moved very

Step 27: Adding Some Extra Weight for Better Steering

As you see a took some metal srews and simply glued on the electronics. Now my spere will move little bit faster, and it's much more easier to steer.

Step 28: Preparing for Paint

On this hamster ball were a lot of holes to ensure enough fresh air or the pet, but we don't need these holes now so I simlply neautralyzed them using some ductape. Worked well!

Step 29: Painting

I took apart the board then I painted the entire chasics with a white paint spray. That was easy but I needed to paint two times to fix the errors caused by the ductspe. So remove the ductape, fill the holes woth silicon (from glue gun) then paint again.

Note: The painting was the hardest part for me, but I fixed everything while working. So I survived...

Step 30: The Pattern

Download the attached .pdf file then print it on a self-adhesife plastic sheet just like me. I haven't at home a paper like this, so I went to the local printer office and I printed the patterns for about 0.8 bucks. After printing take a cutter or scrissors and cut every single part. Of course you'll need all six circles.

Step 31: Gluing the Pattern

When you are done with the cutting put the patterns on the droid. I cut every circles in four parts to beware the creases.

Step 32: The Eyes

Using some styrofoam I made the two eyes and paintend them with a black paint spray. They look pretty nice.

Step 33: The Head Pattern

First glue the eyes on the head. Use super glue. I painted the remaing self-adhesive paper with orange and grey colors. Using a calliper I made the patterns that were needed for the head. Using a cutter I tried to cut perfect these patterns.

Step 34: Decoration of the Head

Put the grey circle on the head then using a marker make some lines on it.

Step 35: Still Decorating...

I think this step doesn't need any extra explanations, just follow the pictures. I used two small white straws as antennas.

Step 36: Details on the Body

With a marker I made dottles and the lines that were on BB-8. Then I used a brush to make the lines paler to earn a dirty effect. In the movie he was very dirty.

Step 37: How to Use the App?

I can gaurantee that is very easy to use the app. Connect to your BB-8 then control it.

Step 38: Download the Full PDF Instruction

If you want to print the instructions, download this PDF file then print it.

Step 39: My Future Plans - MindWave Controlled Droid

Now I'm working on a project using a hacked Necomimi toy, that is able to read brainwaves. I'll try to build a device that can control more than one thing using thoughts. This would be the world's first Multifunctional Brainwave Controlled System. And I'm very close to rech my goal, I made an algorith using Arduino that is able to read the different thoughts: When I think on a color example RED, the brain has a different Aplha. The BLUE and the YELLOW and GREEN has different signals too. So maybe BLUE will be forward, RED backward and etc...

An Arduino Nano will send the data to a Leonardo board that can send the incoming data forward to the PC or to the droid. So I hope I'll be able to control the cursor and the droid and a home automation system with my thoughts. Well this is a secret project, so I won't share more details now, but I'll be done in a few weeks.

Step 40: This Is Droid You Are Looking For!

Thank you for watching my Instructable. I really hope you liked it. I'll add a video an some new explanations tomorrow. If you liked give me a kindly vote! Have fun with this droid.

May the Force be with you!

Sci-Fi Contest

Third Prize in the
Sci-Fi Contest

Arduino All The Things! Contest

Runner Up in the
Arduino All The Things! Contest

Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

Runner Up in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2015



    • Sew Tough Challenge

      Sew Tough Challenge
    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest
    • Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

      Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

    122 Discussions

    Bhuvan rohith

    1 year ago

    how do you re-charge the batteries after its done?


    1 year ago

    thanku very much


    2 years ago

    hi... I am going to make the same and have gathered all the materials but could to tell me that what have you used in that steering part (black in color) in which the DC motor is inserted ?
    my email id is


    I love your design. I was wondering how you took apart the hamster ball?

    Kim Erso

    2 years ago

    hello, this project is amazing!! so you were saying i wont be able to play bb8 sound if i will be using an arduino mcu? are there any boards that can do that of the LinkIt One? thanks for your reply

    Sharing Ayon

    3 years ago

    HI everyone ,,, I didnt find bb8 arduino code,, so plz give me bb8 arduino code in my e-mail addres.


    3 years ago

    please i need the pdf x.x i bought everything and set up everything i am going to start now please send the pdf i am so impressed by your work


    3 years ago

    This project is incredibly cool and i am tying to duplicate it using an Arduino Uno board, but I keep getting compilation error messages that look like this:

    Arduino: 1.6.8 (Windows 10), Board: "Arduino/Genuino Uno"

    C:\Users\gagec\OneDrive\Documents\Arduino\BB-8\BB-8.ino:6:29: fatal error: softwareserial.h: No such file or directory

    #include <softwareserial.h>;


    compilation terminated.

    exit status 1

    Error compiling for board Arduino/Genuino Uno.

    This report would have more information with

    "Show verbose output during compilation"

    option enabled in File -> Preferences.

    I wa wondering if anyone had similar trouble and if they knew how to fix this message


    3 years ago

    Thank you, Imetomi. It is a very nice project.

    Just a quick note for those with uploading errors... I had the same error below when uploading. By changing the COM port and disconnecting the HC-06 BT module while uploading, no errors occurred. Hope this helps.

    Uploading errors:

    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding

    avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 1 of 10: not in sync: resp=0xbe


    3 years ago

    My students don't understand how to setup the device as your graphic shows and put on the motorshield using this version of Arduino. suggestions?

    3 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Which motor shield would you like to use? The DIY or the Adafruit motor shield?


    Reply 3 years ago

    We are using the motor shield linked within the project for the Arduino. We have the motorshield connected now but when we compile the code there is an error

    Arduino: 1.6.7 (Windows 10), Board: "Arduino/Genuino Uno"

    Sketch uses 5,786 bytes (17%) of program storage space. Maximum is 32,256 bytes.

    Global variables use 293 bytes (14%) of dynamic memory, leaving 1,755 bytes for local variables. Maximum is 2,048 bytes.

    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding

    avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 1 of 10: not in sync: resp=0xbe

    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding

    avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 2 of 10: not in sync: resp=0xbe

    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding

    avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 3 of 10: not in sync: resp=0xbe

    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding

    avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 4 of 10: not in sync: resp=0xbe

    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding

    avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 5 of 10: not in sync: resp=0xbe

    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding

    avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 6 of 10: not in sync: resp=0xbe

    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding

    avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 7 of 10: not in sync: resp=0xbe

    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding

    avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 8 of 10: not in sync: resp=0xbe

    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding

    avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 9 of 10: not in sync: resp=0xbe

    avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding

    avrdude: stk500_getsync() attempt 10 of 10: not in sync: resp=0xbe

    Problem uploading to board. See for suggestions.

    This report would have more information with

    "Show verbose output during compilation"

    enabled in File > Preferences.

    What does this mean?


    Reply 3 years ago

    You need to remove the TX and RX cables before uploading. There is an extremely high chance of an error.

    Anne LouiseC

    3 years ago

    Can you please send instructions at


    3 years ago

    why wont afmotor.h work


    3 years ago


    The third engine for the Steering .. where I can get the black gear?


    3 years ago


    I tried your method without adding the steering mechanism as a test and had a problem with the motor spinning on the spot - ball not moving. Do you faced the same issue prior to adding the steering and weights at the bottom?


    3 years ago

    if you cannot upload af motor u can download from ""


    3 years ago

    I am a teacher and I want to do this project with my class so I need to make sure I have all the materials in advance. I have a DC motor and a Servo. I cannot purchase the motors you have linked in the instructions and the pictures look different from the link supplied. Could you help me with a link to a motor, preferrably from Amazon and preferably U.S. as I need it quicker than a China supplier can get it to me. Thanks. for the help and detailed plan.


    3 years ago

    Imetomi, very detailed instructions for your BB-8. I noticed that some followers are having problems with the code and some wiring. Is there a way to make it more simpler to get the code into the system?