Hacklet 89 – Star Wars Projects

Star Wars is an inspirational force to be reckoned with. Few movie franchises have quite so many fans creating everything from elaborate cosplay outfits to fully functional robots. At the 2015 Hackaday SuperCon, former R2D2 driver Grant Imahara mentioned that LucasArts used to maintain a fleet of robots to be deployed at events. Once the execs realized hacker, maker, and hobbyist robots are now more advanced than the machines they built for the actual films, they mothballed the fleet. If you see R2 at a Star Wars event this season, it’s probably an enthusiast behind the controls. This week’s Hacklet is dedicated to the best Star Wars projects on Hackaday.io!

targetshootWe start with [Nathan Gray] and Star Wars Nerf Targets. [Nathan] needed a Star Wars themed game for an event for the kids, and he needed it fast. [Nathan] built a Nerf shooting gallery game with a Star Wars twist. The idea is to shoot the bad guys with Nerf darts. Targets have two sides, so you never can be sure if you’ll see a storm trooper or a friendly Wookie. Hits are detected by piezoelectric disks on each target. A control panel starts the game, keeps score, and plays some great sound effects. An Arduino compatible Teensy 2.0 keeps everything running smoothly. [Nathan] reports that the game was a hit with the kids, and everyone else at the party. Even Grandma had to give the Star Wars Nerf Targets game a try!


vaporatorNext up is Hackaday’s own [Brian Benchoff] with The Hackaday Prize Moisture Vaporator. The 2015 Hackaday Prize promo video called for something space related. Since Southern California has plenty of desert around, a moisture vaporator straight out of Tatooine was just what the doctor ordered. [Brian], [Matt], [Rich] and [Alek] handled most of the construction at the Hackaday Hackerspace in Pasadena. Final assembly was a team effort out in the field. The basic frame of the vaporator consisted of 1 x 3 lumber joined with pocket screws. An iron pipe served as the spine. [Brian] added plenty of greebles to give the vaporator just the right look. The result makes us long for a trip to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters.

life-signs[Davedarko] is up next with Towani Lifesign Wristdevice – Star Wars Ewoks. This was one of [Dave’s] earliest projects on Hackday.io, way down at project #616. He originally built it for the Sci-Fi contest we held in 2014. The Towani family was in the Ewoks movies, which were lesser known spinoffs of the original Star Wars films. The wristbands showing the family’s vitals were featured a few times in the movies. [Dave’s] version is more than a movie prop, it actually works. He’s using an open hardware pulse sensor along with an Arduino Mini to display status on a trio of LEDs.

bb8Finally, we have [Enrico] with Our own BB-8 droid. BB-8 made a splash when he rolled out on stage during Star Wars Celebration. Everyone wondered how the original was done. We’ve since found out that the BB-8 uses Sphero’s technology to get around. However, many of the movie scenes were done with good old-fashioned puppeteer work. [Enrico] is building his own version of BB-8 using holonomic wheels inside the sphere, with a magnetically attached head. He’s planning to 3D print the major parts of his droid. So far, [Enrico] has started testing with magnets. A few printed plastic parts from his R2D2 build have been standing in for the BB-8 shell.

If you want to see more Star Wars projects, check out our new Star Wars project list! If I missed your project due to a great disturbance in the force, don’t be a nerf herder! Just drop me a message on Hackaday.io. That’s it for this week’s Hacklet. As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of Hackaday.io! May the force be with you.

7 thoughts on “Hacklet 89 – Star Wars Projects

  1. BB8 the stage prop does not have sphero tech in it, sphero was licensed to produce a branded version of their droid for retail but was commonly misreported as being the producer of the actual prop. So far we don’t know for certain what is producing the movement but recent behind the scenes images completely disproves the sphero/hamster ball theory definitively.

    1. @Dave Gilbert Indeed I don’t like the holonomic drive system. I’m working on a gyroscopic system as it may give better control over the sphere position, probably at the cost of less degrees of freedom.

    2. Look at this, this is how the real one is said to work too: https://youtu.be/Ut-B9PStF0M?t=1s
      Key is that it actually doesn’t roll in any direction, it just rolls in 1 direction and turns on the spot, like BB8 does in the movie (or so i’ve been told, havent seen the movie)

      Sphero did not make the BB8 used on stage nor the in the movie, they do make the little sphero+bb8 head&skin, but everybody seems happy letting the general public think Sphero made the BB8, because Disney has a stake in Sphero.

      No clue who’s behind http://www.howbb8works.com/ but its full of bs, its possibly just a commercial site for the sphero bb8 toy underlining the lie that they made the full version

      1. Been watching this series, it’s great, got a few ideas for my half scale build i’m starting over vacation. I feel his episode from the R6 series where he adds digital buttons to a rc controler is worthy of a hackaday post in its own right. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILOhw7311ZE Hoping to get to see the movie after christmas to know more about it how it moves, for instance there is talk about the head being on a lazy susan in addition to its conventional spinning movement. Based on what i have seen the xrobots is the closest so far.

        Sphero also made a full scale version of bb8 but the only video i have seen didn’t have it moving much. Unfortunately i’d cannot find the video again, would link it otherwise

  2. “We’ve since found out that the BB-8 uses Sphero’s technology to get around.”
    FOR SHAME! It most certainly does not, that a writer for HaD even falls for that marketing plea is beyond me (yep, Disney owns a stake in Sphero)
    Watch this, this guy apparently had a chat with the makers of the BB8 used in the movie, and he’s building one based on that conversation, compare what he has to a sphero and you’ll see they’re nothing alike: https://youtu.be/Ut-B9PStF0M?t=1s

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