Kid Builds BB-8 Robot Out of Beach Ball, Roll-On Deodorant, and Speaker Magnets

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

3989 Articles

By Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

3989 Articles

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I saw this video on YouTube this past week and was completely floored by it. Not only is it an impressive build for any maker, but the builder here, Angelo Casimiro, is a 17 year old boy.

Everything about this build video is amazing. We’ve seen a number of these home-built BB-8s and some of the designs have been very ingenious. Angelo’s is no exception as he uses a beach ball covered in newspaper, fabric, and glue for the main body of the bot, as well as some other wonderful improvisations like using roll-on deodorant bottles as bearings, magnets pulled from old speakers to hold the dome head on, and DIY Li-Ion battery packs.

For the hardware side of things, he uses an Arduino Uno, a Pololu Dual Motor Shield, Pololu gearboxes, and a Bluetooth module. But besides the maturity of the project itself, the video is also impressively well scripted, shot, and edited.

Adam Savage was equally taken with the video and posted it on Tested with the title “Take 20 Minutes to Watch This Build.” I love Adam’s take on the project and young Angelo. On the project itself, he writes:

My favorite hack: using roll-on deodorant for bearings and old speakers for their magnets…But the ingenuity and prodigious problem-solving don’t end there. He made his sphere using only newspaper, a beach ball, some canvas, white glue and wood putty! I would hire this kid in a New York second. With the ubiquity of 3D printers, laser cutters and the like (which is wonderful, don’t get me wrong!), it’s easy to lose sight of just what tremendous possibilities reside in humble materials like scrap wood, cardboard, hot glue and newspaper.

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On the production of the video, Adam writes:

[I]t’s a damned good bit of production. He uses clever setups and shots, and uses them well narratively. I particularly love the wide shot with all of his hardware store bags together. Before he reveals the contents and how he’ll use them, you look at them and think: “How can a freaking BB-8 be residing in those bags!?”

One thing that Adam doesn’t mention that I would add is that I loved how the video showed the entire family getting involved in the project. When you see how much love and care his dad puts into his contribution (drawing on and painting the complex markings on the bot), you understand a little bit about where Angelo’s prodigious talents comes from.

Adam concludes his post (and I concur):

“[T]ake 20 minutes and watch this. It’s worth your time. It’ll make you a better maker. It makes me a better maker for having watched it.”

You can see Angelo’s full build instructions here. And subscribe to his YouTube channel here. Something tells me we’re going to be seeing more from this young maker. Adam sounds like he’s ready to offer him a job.