Hacked Interactive R2D2 controlled by Raspberry Pi


Ah R2D2. Probably one of the most recognized little robots on the planet. There have to be a hundred different toys of R2 out there, but one of the more impressive is the 30th Anniversary Interactive edition. Complete with all kinds of bells and whistles, it’s about as realistic as they come. One Star Wars fan found himself in possession of a broken Interactive R2, and with his girlfriend’s birthday coming up, decided to do a little droid surgery to create the ultimate gift.

Giving Anakin a run for his money, all the controls for this R2 unit were custom built.  A Raspberry Pi running Rasbian acts as the brain. Facial recognition was implemented using OpenCV. Voice commands in either English or Chinese were made possible by PocketSphinx. Some of the other features he included are: message recording and playback, ultrasonic distance detection, motion detection, wifi, and a rechargeable battery. Many of those features were included in the original toy, but since this unit was broken, had to be rebuilt from scratch.

In the end, it must have impressed his girlfriend – she’s now his wife. Good work Jedi. Check out some build photos and a video demonstration after the break.

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R2D2 collects Valentine’s cards like a boss


Think back to your school days when each student would make a box which would receive Valentine’s cards from their friends. We have fond memories of buying cards with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on them. We guess this tradition is still going strong. Instead of making a receptacle out of a shoe box  [Dr Franken Storer] helped his seven-year-old build this remote control R2D2 with sounds and lights. Yeah, it’s totally cheating. But who can begrudge a hacker dad a little fun?

The bot started as a desktop trash can. It features a domed top which looks just like the droid, but also has a hinged opening where the cards can be placed. To the lid he attached a tilt switch that triggers a Radio Shack sound player to provide the sounds. These sound modules are popular in a lot of projects like this doorbell hack. The final touch (aside from the droid decor on the outside) was to add a remote control car that lets his son drive R2 around.

We asked for more details and he delivered. You’ll find his lengthy description of the project after the jump.

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R2D2 drink dispenser will happily tinkle in your glass

As with Jabba the Hutt we’d like to have our own service droid to serve up a cold one. We’re in luck; it looks like you can make your very own beverage dispensing droid if you don’t mind a little awkward dispensation.

The body started as one of those big protein drink mix containers. After spraying it white and masking off the entire thing with blue painter’s tape, the shapes for the blue designs were cut out and painted. Half of a foam sphere from the hobby shop was used to form the dome.

Liquids are dispensed by the pump system from a Super Soaker motorized water gun. You can see it fill up a beaker with a mysterious blue liquid in the video after the break. It’s a long way from challenging the Bar2D2, but it’s also something a mere mortal can build

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Hackaday Links: August 21, 2011

Arduino + PS2 controller + R2D2

Here’s an unbelievably real-looking R2D2 replica driven by a PS2 controller with an Arduino inside that plays sounds from the movies. Too bad we couldn’t find any more details about it. [Thanks Bill]

Server build time-lapse

[Justin] and his colleagues spent five days upgrading their server by building a 29-unit cluster. Lucky for us they set up a web-cam to capture the process.

Cockroach computer

Behold this working desktop computer, complete with monitor and mouse. We’re not sure how it was done, or what it’s for, but worth a peek just because of its size. [Thanks Harald via Dvice]

Modelling self-assembling viruses

A 3D printer and magnets were used to build this model of a self-assembling virus. Shake the jar and it falls apart. Shake a bit more and it’ll rebuild itself… it has the technology.

Tardis cufflinks

[Simon] is exercising his geek chic with these Tardis cuff links. The Doctor Who inspired accessories were made from a model railroad telephone booth.

CNC-built R2-D2 brings childhood dreams to life


As a kid, [Wes] always dreamed of building a full-size, functional R2-D2 droid from Star Wars. While most youthful aspirations such as this fall to the wayside amid adult responsibilities and commitments, he did not allow his dreams to disappear along with his childhood.

He began his droid-building journey armed only with his dreams and some assistance from the friendly folks over at R2Builders. The entire replica was built using MDF, wood, and styrene sheeting, along with just one tool: a CNC machine. He walks you through the every step of the construction, stopping to give recommendations on CNC hardware, software, etc. along the way. He also provides Gcode files for each of the pieces he has constructed, which should be a huge help to anyone looking to build a R2-D2 clone of their own.

It looks like he is just getting around to fitting motors into the leg housings of his R2-D2 replica, but we can’t wait to see what it looks like once he has all of the electronics and other details finished.

If you are interested in more R2-D2 coverage, look no further than right here.

R2D2 wannabe lacks lightsaber launcher, autonomy

Is this what the lovable Star Wars droid would look like without its protective skin? This R2D2 inspired robot is another Olin College of Engineering (where that CNC cake decorator came from) build developed by [Nathaniel Ting] and his classmates. Alas, it lacks autonomy, relying on an operator for guidance. But we enjoy it for the build quality. Two motorcycle batteries supply DC motors on the two rear legs of the trike. It can be driven with a wireless Xbox controller or through a Python interface that also randomly plays droid audio clips from the movie. That’s a tilting projector on top, which would be used to show Princess Leia’s pleas for assistance. That is, after the operator plugs in an extension cord to power it up. Oh well, it’s still a lot of fun to watch. See for yourself after the break.

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BAMF2010: Look sir, droids!

Ask any engineer what originally sparked their interest in technology, and almost universally the response will be a Hollywood film or TV robot — Star Wars’ R2-D2, the B9 robot from Lost in Space, or Short Circuit’s Johnny 5, to name a few. Engineers need a creative outlet too, and some pay homage to their inspirations by building elaborate reproductions. At this year’s Maker Faire, droid-builders had their own corner in the center hall, their work ranging from humble craft materials to ’bots surpassing their film counterparts in detail and workmanship.

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