Features

17-year-old Filipino student creates a working life-size BB-8 from household materials

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There are fans who live and breathe Star Wars – they’ve seen all the movies and know and follow all the canons. They buy merchandise to further express their love for the saga, many probably have a collection of them.

And then there are those who make their own.

One such fan is Angelo Casimiro, an unassuming but brainy Physics student from De La Salle University in the Philippines. Although he says he wasn’t much of a Star Wars fan, not until he saw the latest one.

The 17-year-old has been making YouTube videos for almost 5 years now and has been building DIY gadgets and gizmos since he was just 4.

His latest project: a smartphone-controlled life-size BB-8 – exactly like the one in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – except he built it using household materials and Arduino circuitry.

17-year-old Angelo Casimiro creates a life-size, fully functional BB-8.

17-year-old Angelo Casimiro creates a life-size, fully functional BB-8.

“When I saw BB-8 in the movie, it was like love at first sight. He was just so adorable! BB8’s spherical design also intrigued me, how it worked,” Casimiro told GadgetMatch.

He used half a Christmas ball for the eye, a deodorant cap for the mic, an old router antenna for the antenna, and roll-on deodorant balls for BB-8’s mechanism. Everything cost him about $120 (approximately P5,700), cheaper than Sphero’s miniature BB-8 Droid.

It doesn’t have hologram capabilities and doesn’t respond to voice commands yet, but his version of BB-8 rolls, patrols, and makes droid sounds like its movie and Sphero counterparts.

He says anyone can make his own BB-8, if people would follow his tutorial carefully. He also posted the full written tutorial on instructables.com – something he’s been doing since he was 10.

Planning the project came naturally to him as he already has a lot of experience in robotics. He is, in fact, a National Robotics champion. He has also competed in several international competitions including the Google Science Fair and the International Robotics Olympiad.

It was his grandfather who got him into electronics but he also comes from a family of scientists. His father is a medical doctor and his uncle is one of the known Filipino scientists today. They both helped add finishing touches to BB-8.

While the adorable droid is not as useful and practical as his other projects, the mechanism is there. He says it can also be used to create spherical vehicles. His ultimate dream is to mass manufacture a Filipino-made solar-powered car.

For now, he’s tweaking and working on improving his droid’s stability as it’s due to appear on TV soon.

He also still has more projects lined up for his channel, as well as some written tutorials: The DIY Bluetooth Boombox, The Portable Fridge Lunchbox, The Portaverter (220v power bank).

“Making something work is really rewarding! I also earn money from it. So far, BB8’s my favorite (project). I get the ideas from things around me. I’m just thankful God gave me a mind creative enough for the knowledge I have for making things,” he said.


All photos c/o Angelo Casimiro

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[irp posts=”1004″ name=”BB-8 Droid by Sphero Hands-On”]

Features

4 simple ways to improve battery life on your smartphone

You don’t need a power bank for this one

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Owning a smartphone has been a need for a lot of people over the past few years — not just for calling and texting your family and friends, but also helping you book a ride or take pictures. It’s essential that your phone is up and running at all times.

But, let’s say the night is still young and your phone’s battery is close to empty, say, around 25 percent left. You or your friends don’t have an available power bank, and there are no charging outlets in sight. You still need your phone to book an Uber or call your parents to tell them how you’re holding up. Say no more, because here are some tips on how you can make your phone last longer.

Force-close your apps

Let’s say you opened a ton of apps over the course of the day, and you kept them idle while using other apps in the process. Having a ton of idle apps open drains your battery despite just being in the background. Your phone is still using power from the battery to refresh your apps in the background, apart from delivering notifications from these apps.

While smartphones have been getting better at managing battery drain from these apps, what you can do is to simply force-close your unused apps. Android smartphones have a built-in feature wherein you can see all the recently accessed apps and regulate their usage. For iPhone users, simply access the Multitasking feature and close your unused apps and turn off the “Background App Refresh” setting.

Turn down your phone’s brightness and screen timeout

Another feature that eats up your phone’s battery is your screen’s brightness. By default, your phone would have the brightness set to automatic, but if you want to see all the colors in full bloom, you would turn the brightness up.

But, for cases wherein your battery is already low, it is advisable to turn it down to conserve energy. Also, you can turn down the screen timeout settings on your phone to the quickest time. The shorter time your phone’s screen is on, paired with low brightness settings, the more your battery conserves energy.

Turn off some phone features when not in use

Apart from idle apps open in the background, your phone also has main processes and features running. Functions such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, cellular data, location services, and auto-sync are normally on by default. You would want to keep these running at all times to stay connected, and obviously in case of emergencies.

However, it’s best to turn some of these features off, especially if you’re not actively using them. Of course, the easiest way of turning off your Wi-Fi and cellular services is by turning on Airplane Mode. For the rest, you have to turn them off manually through your phone’s action center. Doing so stops the background processes for the time being, saving your battery life for a while longer.

Use ultra power saving mode

Let’s say your phone is now bordering on the 10 to 15 percent mark, and you are desperate to keep your phone alive. You’ve tried all the things above but your phone’s battery is still depleting by the minute. Luckily, your phone also comes with different battery saving options accessible through its settings.

When you go to your Settings menu, enter Battery options and you’ll likely notice that your phone has both a power saving mode and an ultra power saving mode. If you want to keep your phone on for as long as possible, turn ultra power saving mode on for good measure. While on ultra power saving mode, you only have access to your calls, texts, and other necessary apps you prefer.

There are other ways to improve battery life, but these are the easiest, most accessible ways to do so. Let’s hope your phone had enough power left to scroll through this article!

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Mate 20 series offers a solid lineup: Weekend Rewind

There’s a Mate 20 for everyone!

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Here are this week’s top stories on GadgetMatch.

1. Huawei offers plenty of things with their Mate 20 Series

Huawei could very well fill up this week’s entire rewind with the whole Mate 20 series. In total, they released four new smartphones along with two wearables during their event in London. Here’s all of them.

Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro

These were the devices most of us expected to see. The Mate 20 Pro is probably the most feature-packed phone of 2018. They brought in everything that was good with the P20 Pro and added a few wait-hold-up-did-it-really-do-that features like reverse wireless charging.

Watch the Mate 20 Pro Hands-on…

And our Mate 20 Unboxing while you’re here.

Porsche Design Mate 20 RS

If you have an excessive amount of money to spend (please give us some), you can opt for the more luxurious Mate 20 RS. It has all the bells and whistles of the Mate 20 Pro but with the leatherback Porsche Design. It’ll come in two colors: Black in select markets and in a limited edition Red in China.

Mate 20 X

This was announced as Huawei’s one more big thing. Big, it truly is. Coming with a massive 7.2-inch display, the Mate 20 X is being marketed as a gaming smartphone. It even pairs with a gamepad for that ultimate gaming experience.

Huawei Watch GT and Band Pro 3

These two wearables mostly flew under the radar but they are still worth taking note of. The Huawei Watch GT, while waterproof and equipped with fitness features, is the more lifestyle model thanks to its design. The Huawei Band Pro 3 is the more straightforward health tracker and something you probably shouldn’t wear at formal gatherings.

2. Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 getting hype ahead of launch

In case you haven’t been keeping up, there’s already a handful of smartphones released in October and there’s a handful more coming. One of them is Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3 which is slated for an October 25 launch and is rumored to have a whopping 10GB of RAM and 5G connectivity.

Xiaomi also released a teaser showcasing the device’s sliding camera feature.

3. Palm breaking trend of bigger phones

Tired of phones getting bigger and bigger? Palm came back this week and offered a different approach with the Palm phone. It’s not exactly a standalone smartphone and is really meant to be more of a Robin to the Batman which is your daily driver. At this point, we’re not sure how useful it’ll be but if you’re curious, it’s priced at US$ 349.

4. OnePlus 6T moves launch date

Speaking of more phones coming, the OnePlus 6T, which was reported to come with a smaller notch, an in-display fingerprint scanner along with the usual performance we’ve come to expect from the company, was forced to move its launch to October 29 with OnePlus CEO and founder Pete Lau saying they want “to make sure it gets the time and attention it deserves.”

Why wouldn’t it get the attention during its initial launch date? Well, it’s because of this next news item.

5. Apple wants to end October with a bang

Whether intentional or not, looks like Apple isn’t done announcing things and they want to be the one to cap off October with their own launch event. After announcing the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, the company is expected to unveil a new iPad Pro with Face ID, and possibly a low-cost MacBook or MacBook Air as reported by Bloomberg.


Weekend Rewind is our roundup of top news and features you might have missed for the week. We know the world of technology can be overwhelming and not everyone has the time to get up to speed with everything — and that includes us. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rewind.

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Smartphones

Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro Unboxing

What’s inside the box?

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You already know how impressed we were during the hands-on, so now it’s time to see what comes in the package of Huawei’s newest flagships. This is our Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro unboxing.

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