Building BB-8

Building BB-8

I’m exploring something in the same wheel house as Daft Punk…


R2-D2 builders are elite prop builders and have electronic, software and fabrication skills I’ve always aspired to. The problem with building a quality astromech is that you either have to have access to a shop with a lot of expensive tools, or rely on runs of expensive parts from the R2-D2 builders club.


While R2-D2 might seem out of reach at the moment, there’s new droid, BB-8, from “The Force Awakens” that may be more accessible.

A lot of people were surprised to see a functional R/C droid on the stage at Celebration Anaheim last May. There were 7 BB-8s used in the movie. They had different functions and were puppeteered by individuals in green screen suits. The R/C droid was created after the movie was filmed, for red carpet appearances and other live events.

The BB-8 builders club is a group devoted to building BB-8 replicas. One popular method of fabricating of this droid has been 3D printing. Two members, Tiny Panganiban and Michael Irwin, have created and released a highly detailed set of parts that can be reproduced consistently on a consumer grade desktop 3D printer.

There have also been several independent builders that have come up with their own or club modded designs like James Bruton of and Anthony at

There are two main drive mechanisms that have been proposed for BB-8:

1) Hamster Drive

The hamster drive is essentially an R/C car place inside a sphere that can drive the body in any direction. This is how the BB-8 toy by Sphero functions.


2) Single Axel Drive

The other theory is that since BB-8’s body only moves along a single axis, it uses a single axel drive mechanism.


Build Log:

My build currently consists of a T & M dome and XLRobots skeleton. I’m designing my own single axel drive mechanism based on the best features I’ve seen from existing prototypes. I’m using XRobots flywheel and tilt mechanism for turning. I will be using leftover parts from my Daft Punk builds, including the Daft Punk Discovery Gauntlets which will be used to control BB-8.


BB-8 'Wiggler' achievement unlocked! from insultcomicdog on Vimeo.

⚡️⚡️⚡️#astromechbuilders #bb8buildersclub #notbuildingbb8 #arduino

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Class of 2016. #501stlegion #rebellegion #astromechbuilders #bb8buildersclub #starwars #fanexpo #fanexpocanada

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Warming up behind the velvet rope at #fanexpocanada. #endor #endorbunker #fanexpo #notbuildingbb8 #bb8buildersclub

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BB-8 Dome Electronics Demo from insultcomicdog on Vimeo.

Separating N52 Strong Neodymium Magnets 2″ X 1″ w ~270lbs Pull Force For BB-8 Build from insultcomicdog on Vimeo.


I’ve been invited to speak and demo my WIP rat rod BB-8 at Niagara Falls Comic Con this weekend. The panel is “DROID BUILDING 101 WITH THE 501ST CANADIAN GARRISON.” Will be bringing a lot of extra parts and dead end prototypes to barter with Jawa-style. Looking forward to meeting other local builders. I did a mini sprint this week to get ready. No gaffers tape is left on build. All body panels are mounted with screws and inserts. There is one removable maintenance panel secured w magnets. One of the gimbals and flywheel for the drivetrain is installed. Had to use some hackery and ship in bottle approach bc the XLR V1 frame wasn’t designed to accommodate a large flywheel. #NFCC #notbuildingbb8 #bb8buildersclub #niagarafallscomiccon @niagarafallscomiccon

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BB-8 Animated Dome Test #1 from insultcomicdog on Vimeo.



Their primary target will be the power generators. #bb8buildersclub #notbuildingbb8

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BB-8 Build – Printing Dome and Greebles from insultcomicdog on Vimeo.


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