Speed Run [James Bruton’s] Star Wars Builds

We’ve been following [James Bruton]’s builds here on Hackaday for quite a while and he has built some impressive stuff. We love how he often doesn’t cover everything up, leaving enough room to admire the working bits under the hood. Just in time for the release of the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One, [James] put together an overview of his Star Wars robot builds.

The build summary includes his R6 droid, his GNK walking droid and the third revision of his BB-8 droid. [James Bruton]’s videos have tons of detail in them over many, many parts (for example, his BB-8 R3 playlist is 15 parts and his Ultron build currently has 26 episodes and counting!)

There’s a quick overview of each of the three robot builds in this video, and it includes links to the playlists for each build for those who want more detail. This is just what you need to glimpse all of the clever design that went into these wonderfully crafted droids. And if you haven’t seen it yet, you should check out his series elastic actuators that he’s working on for the Ultron build, they give a robot some relief from rigidity.

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Perfecting The DIY BB-8

Until about a year ago, the Droid Builder’s Club had just about everything figured out to build any sort of robot from Star Wars. Building an R2D2 clone was easy, and even R5 and R6 droids were common. There were even a few attempts to clone IG-88. Then Disney happened, The Force Awakens was released, and the world was introduced to the hero of the third trilogy, BB-8. Several people have gone to incredible lengths to replicate BB-8 as a unique homebrew robot, but no one has put in more effort than [James Bruton]. He’s wrapping up his third DIY version of BB-8.

[James]’ third version of the BB-8 droid has two older brothers we’ve seen before. [James] started the construction of his earliest BB-8 not long after the trailer for The Force Awakens, and long before we knew the makers of Sphero robot toys weren’t behind this hero puppet. Since then, a number of improvements have been made to the drive system, allowing the third version of [James]’ BB-8 to turn on a dime and roll just like its on-screen counterpart.

Right now, [James] is about 80% done with his newest droid, with just a bit extra circuitry to have all the functionality seen on the ‘real’ stage droid. Like most of the R2D2 builds out there, there might be enough room inside this droid for some additional capabilities. There appears to be enough space behind one of the body panels for an extending arm, making the possibility of a flamethrower thumbs up very real.

[James] is also one of the judges for this year’s Hackaday Prize, and will (hopefully) be at this year’s Hackaday Prize award ceremony and Hackaday SuperConference in San Francisco. If a set of highly likely probabilities pans out, [James]’ BB-8 will also be at the con, and we’ll see it careening down that one weird block of Lombard Street. Awesome.

Entire playlist for the build of BB-8 v.3 below. Pictures are available here.

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Very Detailed BB-8 Robot Build

[James Bruton] has just finished and posted the designs for his very impressive BB-8 robot build. We covered the start of his adventures some time ago when we were theorizing about the secret in the new droid, but it was for a completely different robot design. [James] was pursuing a design that used a little robot sitting on top of a big ball.

This new version has a robot sitting inside a ball with the head being magnetically coupled to the body. Among many things with this build, we thought it was cool how the robot has one drive motor and turns by spinning up and reversing a big flywheel in the base of the robot. That was certainly not one of the top theories proposed for the secret behind the robot. The robot is mostly made with a 3d printer, with the occasional cosmetic piece being vacuum formed. If you’d like to make one for yourself, [James] has also posted all of the design and cad for the robot on his GitHub. On Thursday he posted the final installment of his 10-part video series on the build. Check out part one after the break.

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An Introduction To Series Elastic Actuators For A Robot

Perhaps one of the most interesting YouTube channels to follow right now is [James Bruton’s] channel for XRobots.co.uk — he’s a prop maker, a toy maker — and as his site implies, a robotics guru. Put them altogether and watch him make some of your childhood dream projects come true. He’s currently working on a real-life robot creation of Ultron, and he’s messing around with Series Elastic Actuators right now.

In an earlier part of the project, he built a small robotic arm to demonstrate the motion capture suit he’s going to use to control Ultron (if all goes according to plan he’ll have a walking robot following his every move!). He showed how the basic RC servo motor driven arm works, and how it probably wouldn’t be the best to scale up since it has no external feedback — if he has a full size Ultron robot swinging its arms around, someone could get hurt.

Which led him to designing his own prototype Series Elastic Actuators using an Arduino, potentiometers, some elastics, and a geared DC motor.

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