Two young makers, inspired by Elon Musk, made their own large scale 3D printed CYBERTRUCK and what they learned along the way.
Not so long ago, kids could only reach for LEGO, Meccano, pipe cleaners, icy pole sticks, and the like to build whatever they had in mind. Nowadays, kids like Andy and Eva are fortunate to have access to 3D printers, open source software and designs, and a worldwide community of like minded people to help their ideas come to life.
When we saw photos of their incredible CYBERTRUCK build, we just had to get in touch to find out more from this family of makers.
Thank you for finding time to speak with us, Andy and Eva. Can you first introduce yourselves to our readers?
ANDY: I am nine years old. We live in the USA. I really like space, technology and science. I have several 3D Printers and a Maker friend that has a 3D printing farm. I have been playing with and learning about 3D design for about two years but I have been a Maker for most of my life.
EVA: I am eight years old. I have a Maker space with my brother and I love to print colourful cat ears and bedazzle them for me and my friends. I love space, science and I REALLY love all animals.
Having access to 3D printers at such a young age is fantastic! You must have so many ideas that you want to be printed. What got you interested in electronics, robotics and 3D printing?
ANDY: I learned about 3D printers at the Maker faires and got my first machine when I turned 8. I had a choice between LEGO and a 3D printer and it was a no brainer. For electronics and robotics I really like Wall-e and that introduced me to space early on. I hope they make another movie with him.
EVA: I really like to see objects come to life on the 3D printer and I got my first one when I turned seven because my brother had one.
Maker faires are a great way to get inspiration and to meet like minded people. Let’s hope there are many more faires in the future. What are some of your favourite things you have made?
ANDY: The CYBERTRUCKZILLA is number one now but the next project will blow your mind!! We hope to unveil it at the Rome Maker Faire in December. I also built my Prusa and other big projects like the LEGO Bugatti with power and lights. I like complex builds and puzzles for some reason.
EVA: I helped my brother with CYBERTRUCKZILLA and I really love assembling Snap Circuits from Elenco. I also like to light-up my LEGO builds and I love to build 3D printers.
Between 3D printing, LEGO, electronics, and school, we imagine you never get stuck for things to do. What inspired you to make your CYBERTRUCK?
ANDY: I simply wanted to have my own CYBERTRUCK when it was unveiled. I already had an oversized Starship, Falcon 9 and Tesla Roadster so naturally we had to complete the fleet.
EVA: I thought the gray CYBERTRUCK was boring and wanted a fun colour one like my pink one.
The TESLA CYBERTRUCK is such an amazing vehicle. We can see why you were drawn to make your own replica seeing that you had access to a 3D printer. Tell our readers all about your build.
ANDY: I find Elon Musk inspiring and his work is really amazing. There is so much to learn just watching his achievements and learning how his team works and creates the technology we are going to use when we grow up. So far, I have learned a lot about engineering and mechanics as well as rockets and space exploration. Of all the things he is making, the CYBERTRUCK is so simple and nice to play with and try to design. I even did a YouTube tutorial on designing the tires in Tinkercad and we will do more as we learn. I also like that he speaks in simple terms and makes science easier to understand and I am working on a Starship presentation with a huge 3D printed model we have.
On walks or car rides we don't listen to music but talk, dream and discuss things as a family and we think of all the things we can do. This is how we came-up with the Star Wars turrets for the military versions and it was funny that I asked my dad to guess what I was thinking and he guessed it on the spot. I guess we are all Star Wars fans.
3D printing is amazing because you can dream something in the morning and pick it up off the printer bed before you go to bed if you put your mind to it and this is simply amazing and so powerful! The CYBERTRUCK project took us months to complete only to realize we are just getting started on learning even more about even more complicated stuff we need to do with it and we love it.
EVA: It's big, it's heavy and it's so cool! I don't think I can add anything else to what my brother said.
You’re right Eva! Going by the photos you sent your model does look huge! How big is it overall and how much does it weigh?
ANDY: It weighs 30 pounds already and we anticipate it will weigh close to 40 pounds when done.
EVA: It measures 41.5" X 15.5" X 16" (1.05m X 0.38m X 0.46m) from bumper to the end.
Wow! We didn’t realise it was that big! Is this why you included steel rods for structural support?
ANDY: Yes. We realized the glue and pins weren't going to hold it together because of the weight and stress while driving.
You even printed your own shock absorbers?
ANDY: Yes. The springs are heavy duty metal. The rest is printed PETG because it doesn't shatter like PLA.
Yes, PETG certainly has its place. The running boards look great. Tell our readers the story behind those.
ANDY: I like rockets a lot! So we designed the running boards in the shape of two payload bays with the rocket body in the middle just like the front light bar but Ants In Africa (3D modelling company) added the landing legs and engine to make it look even cooler. We feel there is room for improvement.
For most makers, there are usually things we always want to improve, right? Do we notice it has working steering too? How did you go about making this work?
ANDY: The steering will be ready in time for the Rome Maker Faire. Right now, the steering wheel is not connected to it and we are planning on using a large servo or stepper to handle this. It will all run on Arduino.
It is fantastic that this model is teaching you about design, engineering, 3D printing, electronics, engineering, coding, etc. What is the touch screen with Arduino controller for?
ANDY: This wasn't part of the original plan until we found the screen and decided to use it. It is there to make the build look more like the real truck and it looks epic.
It certainly does look epic mounted on the console. Is it intended to play the colourful patterns that we noticed in your video?
ANDY: Well, this is where things didn't go as expected. We thought we were going to simply replace the images in the demo code but failed at this so we are still running the original demo program.
Failures are a big part of the Making process and teach us to do things better next time. In this case we have to do it better for the next Maker Faire and for future events where we hope kids can drive this around. We are lucky and have many friends that are experts in this in the Maker community and can always ask them for a hand. Some of them work for Arduino!!
Having a network of maker friends with different skills certainly helps. We look forward to seeing what they make the display show in your future iteration. I’m sure our readers who are familiar with 3D printing are curious on how much filament you went through to make your CYBERTRUCK.
EVA: We used 10 rolls (1 Kg each) of gray filament for the body and nearly two rolls (1 Kg each) for the chairs, swing arms etc. Tangible Creative also printed the TPU tires for us and these were approximately 0.8 Kg.
ANDY: The large pieces were printed on the Anycubic Chiron and the rest were printed mostly on the Prusa and by our friends at Tangible when the Chiron died on us.
Wow. It must take two of you to carry it. What software did you use to design the 3D model and how did you go about designing it?
ANDY: Our amazing friend Anthony Williams (Ants in Africa) designed this truck for us in 3DMax but most of the mods we made like the brush grill and roof rack were originally designed in Tinkercad by us then adapted by him. I also designed my own CYBETRUCK with interior but it looks really pathetic by comparison to this so it is not published.
Big shout out to Anthony for his amazing 3D skills. Was there a lot of trial and error in the build? What challenges did you need to overcome?
ANDY: There were so many errors before we even started to build it! Also, when COVID hit, Tangible Creative switched all the printers to making PPE so we ordered our own oversize printer but it came late, then the filament had a kink and the first body part failed after 36 hours. We had another part fail a few days into the print and then we were almost out of filament just as it became harder to find.
A few parts had to be redesigned or tweaked slightly and lately, we have been drilling holes through the body to run wires. When the STLs are released, we will add all the channels and facilitate hidden wiring for all the electronics.
Lastly, the Chiron almost caught fire due to a worn wire so we had to go back to Tangible Creative for help with the last few prints after the PPE needs have diminished.
Oversize printing is not easy! It takes forever and there are too many things that can go wrong in that time.
EVA: Dad almost set his hand on fire when he helped us glue the back and midbody. These pieces are huge and heavy so he had to help. He decided to pour the glue and smear it with his hand and then asked Andy for paper towels but the ones we had handy had hand sanitizer and Clorox on and as soon as he wiped his hand there was smoke coming out of the towel and he complained it was hot so I had to rush to get water to pour it on his hands. That was scary and unexpected!
Sounds like a chemistry lesson there for you too?! There’s a lot of lessons you have just mentioned there. Safety is obviously an important one, along with adult supervision. The mention of fire reminded us of our smoke detector project we designed that cuts the power to a 3D printer when smoke is detected. What other electronics is on the truck?
ANDY: Right now, we only have batteries for the LEDs and the Arduino. As of this writing we are working on adding another Arduino with BT so we can drive and control it remotely and hopefully we have enough ports left to also control the lights.
In the end it will have a powerful motor (from one of dad's old drills) and a servo plus a large battery to drive it. We are already making changes and design upgrades so there will be a lot more features and functions as we learn and build it better and better. This is CYBERTRUCKZILLA 1.0 and we have so many things in the works already in addition to it!
Considering the weight and scale of the truck, we can understand that a large motor and battery will be needed. Will you have time to do this before the Rome Makerfaire in December?
ANDY: We planned on motorizing it all along but when COVID hit our plans changed and things got delayed. The motor is going to be installed on the rear swingarm that also holds the tires. We will likely have to CNC an aluminium axle since a 3D print will never handle the stress and will drive it with a 3D printer type belt... hopefully. Most of the upgrades we have in mind are reiterations and "why didn't I think of that first?" moments.
EVA: The Rome Maker Faire takes place on December 10-13 and this is the first time we attend (virtually) the European faire. We love the Maker movement and community and they give back so much!
There’s nothing like having a deadline to help motivate you to complete projects. We hope you get it motorised in time. The lighting on the truck looks amazing. What kind of LED strips do you use and how did you go about making the lights diffused?
ANDY: There is no brand or model on the LED strip we used but the LED's have to be close together for the best effect. The tail light diffuser was easy to design. I turned the tailgate into a hollow object and filled the space with a small block that I then tweaked a bit. Tangible had this amazing transparent filament and they printed it for us. Doesn't it look awesome?
Agreed. Looks epic! We saw the turret you mentioned earlier at the end of your video. Any more details on what you plan for this?
ANDY: Oh Yes! We adapted Star Wars elements to create these and we are just getting started. I already have a fleet of three military versions of the CYBERTRUCK and we have another 4-5 in mind but it is still growing and there is so much we can do with this. You will notice the infantry turret pays respect to the 101st Screaming Eagles and the 34th Red Bull. We have more such features in the works and another surprise for the Italian Makers when they join us there. I think they will love it. Remind us to share with you right before as long as you keep it a secret until we drop the news.
EVA: I also want to design a dolphin rescue CYBERTRUCK. Not sure what I am going to put on it yet but it won't have anything dangerous.
We can only imagine the conversations you have around the dinner table with all these ideas. Ha ha. What else haven't we covered that our readers should know about?
ANDY: You and your kids can do this too! 3D printers are the best toys you can get for the kids and if we convince one parent to get one for their kids we have more than achieved our goal. Also, it is bad when we break something but trust that we will do our best not to and let us try. We love power tools and soldering and play with these all the time but only with our dad and after he explains things in detail (over and over and over).
What advice would you have for any makers who are inspired by what you have made and want to make something similar?
EVA: I once asked Ayah Bdeir the same question and she gave us a really amazing advice. She said "You should try to be the best of you".
ANDY: I agree! I think Buzz Aldrin is amazing and I love Elon Musk's work but will never have the same life and the times will be different. I say, tinker, learn and try and you may be surprised to find out how much you can do and what your real passion is.
Awesome advice. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to seeing what that secret news you mentioned will be. All the best.
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