All of my brilliant roboticist friends are rushing to build functional BB-8 droids. I commend their effort but I wanted something cheap and fun that would work for a costume. To pull this off, I tossed together this fairly simple BB-8 droid puppet.

Extremely strong magnets allow the head to slide along the outside surface of a sphere, controlled by your hand inside. Any size of magnet should work as long as they are strong enough. I used magnets that were rated N52.

You can pull off some very convincing moves and if anyone asks why he doesn’t roll around, just say you couldn’t afford it!

Project Steps

Prepare the globe

The globe should simply pull from its frame with a little bit of force.

Sand the globe lightly or scuff it with steel wool. This will help the paint stick.

Paint the globe and cut a hole

I painted the entire thing white first.

Then I used painter’s tape to mask off the orange areas. Make sure your white paint is completely dry before this step.

Paint the orange bits, then remove the tape! Some touch up may be necessary.

Cut head to shape

Cut ⅓ of the Styrofoam sphere off.

Shape the edges to give it a nice bevel.

Add decorations to head

Color as you please. I used white duct tape, though spray paint would work just as well.

I pulled the lens off of an old camera and glued it in place for the eye.

Create handle and add magnets

Cut a piece of wood to a comfortable handle size.

Drill two holes to match the diameter of your magnets.

Insert 2 magnets into each hole. Secure with hotglue or epoxy

Add a piece of felt over the magnets to aid in friction-free sliding.

Add magnets and felt to the head

Cut a small piece of wood to house the magnets. They are strong enough to rip through the Styrofoam.

Drill 2 holes the same diameter of the magnets (matching the “handle” piece you just made in the previous step).

Insert 2 magnets into each hole, aligning them so they’ll attract the handle (you don’t want them to repel it!). Secure with hot glue or epoxy.

Cut a cavity in the Styrofoam head to house this piece of wood and glue in place.

Add a piece of felt over the magnets to allow the head to slide smoothly over the body.