Wednesday, January 6, 2016

bb8 panel labels names

(this post has moved to The builders have "standardized" on a system of labeling the panels on bb8 so that we can discuss them.  As there are 6 panels, I suggested numbering them like the faces of a die, and this is what we ended up with.

BB-8 Hatch Nomenclature - Panel image courtesy of TinyP
There's also a "top", "bottom", etc. system that I find confusing since he is, after all, a sphere, where each of those could become any other.... 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

BB8 Talks!

This blog has moved to A full size Lego BB-8 is nice and cool, but wouldn't it be better if he acted like BB-8?

The first step to doing that would be to get him to talk!  So here goes!  Looks way better with some animated LEDs!

Yea, I know he needs the newer sounds, but the movie just came out you know?

His "voice" is a Windows Phone connected with a Y cable to a portable Bluetooth speaker and the microcontroller that does the LED levels.  The LEDs are little RGB chips that can be individually programmed.

I had to shave the front brick a little to get it thin enough to light up well, but I think it looks pretty good.  (Before shaving it was just a little yellow dot.  Interesting that the brick turned the light yellow).

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Lego BB8 Hemisphere!

Wow, it's starting to look like what it's supposed to be!  For once I don't really have to explain what it's supposed to look like!

Lego bb8 Body Hemisphere

Lego bb8 Hemisphere!

Though, again, some bits are complicated, so the red dots are substituting for missing bricks and showing where the white triangle panel buttons go.

Part of the reason building slowed down is that I'd only digitally designed panel 3 so far.  So while Lara was building the orange rings for the panels, I first had to design the pattern layout for the other panels on the computer. 

As I mentioned last time, the body is made of 6 panels designed to fit together into a sphere.  Conveniently bb8 has 6 hatches, so each panel has one of the hatches in the middle.  Here's a view of the three completed panels, arranged as they attach.

Lego bb8 Panels 6, 3, and 5 
We ran into a few problems this time.  First of all, when I'd ordered bricks we only had the design for Panel Three, so I just multiplied that times 6 for the six panels and padded the order a bit.  What I didn't think about was that maybe the other panels would want a different shape of brick, so the design ended up with a few in less-than-convenient sizes.  We made do, but it was annoying and used more bricks that I'd wanted.

The other problem is going to be a lot harder to solve.  Individually the panels are pretty strong, but they don't really attach at very many points.  Trying to arrange the panels for the picture above they wanted to fall apart, and even started splitting at the layers within the panels. 

I finally got it to stay together long enough for the photo, but this isn't going to work for a static (non-moving) model that has to sit for more than ten minutes, let alone a model that's supposed to drive around and interact with folks.  I have several ideas to solve the problem, but it's not going to be trivial; we'll see how hard it ends up being.

You can see symptoms of this problem in the interior photo below.  The white lines in the middle are where the bricks were separated enough to allow light to leak in from the lights outside.

Lego bb8 Interior showing splitting seams
Lego bb8 Interior showing splitting seams

Here it is a little more zoomed out.  I wanted you guys to be able to see how the panels are designed to attach to each other with a reasonably smooth join for the "hamster" robot to run around on.

Lego bb8 Interior
Lego bb8 Interior
Well, now I need to go design the next 3 panels... and figure out what to do to make it stronger.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Well, here we go

You may have seen L3-G0, the Lego R2-D2's blog, but now there's a new droid in town, BB-8.
Photo of the Exhibition BB-8 at Celebration Anaheim
We first saw BB-8 in the first trailer for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, tearing through a sandy desert, looking like she was running from something.  Fans speculation ran rampant.  The and R2-D2 Builder's forum were full of discussions, was she a real physical prop, or just CG.  Even if she was real, was she just a puppet?

Then we saw her on stage at Celebration Anaheim, rolling in circles around R2-D2, teasing him.  BB-8's real!  She drives around. There're lights!  She makes noises!

I'd been toying with how BB-8 might be constructed prior to Celebration, but the details of her movements on stage provided a wealth of new information.  She can move her head independently of the body, peering to look at things.  The body itself is very agile, being able to roll in apparently any direction, and even twist in place.  More details for us crazy fans to try to figure out and reproduce.

Before Celebration, we had toyed with the idea of making a Lego BB-8, but when she hit the stage that turned into a "we've gotta do this!".

So now a long journey begins.  Can we make BB-8 in Lego?  Can we get her to move?  What kinds of problems are we going to run into?  Where do we even start?

Thursday, April 23, 2015