Boston-based Google engineer Adam Woodworth recently took an ordinary speeder bike toy from Star Wars and turned it into an awesome remote-controlled speeder bike quadcopter that flies.
“I got into FPV (First Person Video) multi-rotor racing a few months ago. The fast, low level flying instantly reminded me of the Endor chase scene from Return of the Jedi.” Adam wrote on Make. “This project was an obvious choice to combine my interest and experience in RC (remote control) flight with my love of Star Wars stuff. I like always having some strange project on the work bench and this one was next in line, an attempt to build a version of the Imperial Speeder Bikes from the movie that I could “get into” and fly around myself.” He also added a list of parts and a brief outline of the work done to transform the toy bike into a flying one. One of the interesting aspects of it is how Adam had to scratch build the Scout Trooper. Due to engine limitations, the original doll had to be disrobed and discarded, and a lightweight skeleton was made. Bearing the “liberated” scout trooper outfit, it now zooms around on the flying bike. The head is interchangeable with a miniature camera, so one can watch the flight from the pilot’s point of view.
The body is from a 1:6 scale (or 12 inch) Hasbro Power Of The Force series Speeder Bike (if you do a deep nerd dive on wookieepedia its a “74-Z Speeder Bike” or “Imperial Speeder Bike”.) Hasbro did a ton of re-releases of toys from the 80’s (using mostly the same molds) when they released the special edition films in ’97. The particular one I have has a 1999 stamp on it. It was re-released several times with Scout Trooper, Luke, and Leia versions. The old Hasbro toys are cool in that they are generally pretty light/hollow (plastic=$), and easy to take appart. Also while most of the shell is styrene, the skinny bits, that a kid would be most likely to break are made out of what I think is vinyl. So while it looks pretty delicate, it’s actually a pretty durable model for the weight. You can still pick them up on ebay for around $50.
The booms are 10mm carbon tubes, with stick mount style motor mounts. I angled both the autopilot and the rotors about 10 degrees forward, so that in forward flight the bike is at a level attitude.
Control is provided by a 3DRobotics PixHawk, although any controller would work, like a Naze32 or kk2 flight controller. Tuning was a bit challenging given the very short fore aft rotor spacing, but with a bit of work it flies smoothly.
The power combo could accommodate about 600g of extra mass, the bike was around 475g, so there wasn’t much left for the rider. The stock rider had a barbie doll style body, that weighed over 200g without the armor or clothing. To cut the weight down, I made a new body out of pipe cleaners and a variety of old Nerf darts (any round foam would work). A 6mm carbon tube runs through the Skeleton, and mounts into a hole drilled into the bike seat. The skeleton only weighs aroun 15g, and is much more flexible than the stock one. The boots and legs are zip tied to the bike to keep the legs from getting sucked into the rotors.
Star Wars Speeder Bike Quadcopter Build by Google Engineer: