Tag Archives: Robots

Building a Homebrew BB-8

James Broton’s YouTube channel is one of the many reasons why I imagine I could get along just fine without cable TV. He’s a robot builder whose chief fascination (among many) is making replicas of movie bots and armor.

One of his current projects is a working BB-8 from the upcoming “Star Wars” movie. He has no idea how the working prop works or how its designers manage to steer a spinning ball while keeping a dome balanced on top of it, so he’s trying a couple of ideas.

His first design was a hollow ball and a robot on top with an Arduino and motorized wheels inside it that both kept itself balanced and drove the ball in any direction. Its movement was too wobbly, so he’s moved on to a much more complicated idea in which the ball itself is driven from the inside by a robot that acts like a hamster in a hamster wheel.

He documents and explains as he goes, designing and 3D-printing damn-near everything from scratch. It’s amazing stuff and inspires me to make things. It’s also just plain entertaining, in the same way that watching Norm Abram build furniture on “The New Yankee Workstop” was entertaining.

(And if you don’t think that watching someone wire up servos or cut dovetails is entertaining…we can still be friends but I’ll praise myself for being so willing to accept your weird alternative lifestyle.)

Like an X-Prize for boozehounds

DNA Lounge is putting together a robotic bartender competition. Competing robots will be judged on all good things. Does it make good drinks? Does it do it with a certain style and grace? Is it “Full-Assed,” in the sense that it’s a robot that makes drinks without a full pit crew hovering over it constantly? And: “Extra consideration will be given for terrible ideas and Mad Science.”

As DNA Lounge is located in San Francisco. This is a part of the country where a kitchen drawer is most likely to contain an Arduino board and a few stepper motors. I am therefore optimistic that the competition will draw a great many highly beautiful, functional, and obliquely dangerous competitors.

(Given how rapidly robot battle competitions flourished in the Bay Area back in the Nineties, one hopes that this robot bartender competition will finally produce an end-to-end solution: robots will get robots drunk, and then they’ll fight each other.)