Maker Faire Upgrades

Maker Faire is just a day away, and I’ve had a busy time getting ready. This is probably my favorite event of the year, and we will have a good showing, with 4 droids and 6 builders in attendance. Bonnie Burton from will also be there running a kids workshop on Star Wars Puppet Craft.

Over the long Memorial Day weekend I stripped Artoo down for some long needed repairs and upgrades I’d been putting off.

I’ve replaced the center foot with the a new one from JAG with the taller skirt. Here’s a comparison shot with the new foot on the right

Sadly, with extra tapper of the foot skirt, the “Special” 3 inch Ace casters are too big and had to be re-worked. To be honest, they were a bit of a squeeze in the old foot, so I was on the hunt for some nice 2.5″ casters! I searched and searched locally, but couldn’t find anything suitable, I had three options, order something online, hack what I had, or just install one caster.

Long story short, I tried the last option, and even went as far as creating a new mounting bracket for one 3″ caster, but when I was done I then had to redo my ankle locks as there was now a backward tipping as well as the forward tipping. Hard to explain, but bottom inline I needed to redo my locks, which meant drilling more holes in the ankle that I wasn’t prepared to do….. back to the drawing board.

Because of time, and on Gerard’s suggestion, I resorted to trimming down the 3″ casters I already had. I mounted them in my drill press and filled them down.  It took forever, there was rubber dust everywhere, and it’s not something I want to do again.

What I’ve also realized is that never trust a label, the original casters were labeled 3 inches, but they were closer to 2 7/8th. Here’s a before and after comparison

After some finegaling, and making a new mounting plate,  I got them installed in the new foot – nice and level, unlike when I had the 3″ wheels.

Getting the right caster for the center foot can be tricky, it’s a balancing acts. You want the biggest wheel you can get fit, but because space is tight, the deeper you recess them to get things level the less space you have for a bigger wheel.

oh! and just as I was done with trimming the wheels, I went back and looked at one of the online stores I’d found earlier in the weekend, and what do I find – they’re LOCAL, or almost. They’re called California Caster and based in San Francisco, and had 100’s if not 1000’s of caster products in stock. I just had to make a trip up there. This was just a small selection of casters they had on display

Even though my new center foot was running again, I picked up these replacement 2.5″ wheel for the next round of maintenance.

I also replaced the radar eye with one I picked up from Dave Shaw many moons ago, luckily the old hole placement didn’t screw anything up. It doesn’t look too much different, and the wife thinks I’m crazy for swapping it out. I had the hardest time matching the Kryder blue, and it’s way to clean, but none of my panels match anyway :)

I can’t remember exactly what else I worked on, this was my droid on Sunday morning, all stripped down.

There’s been a long list of things I wanted to re-work, like shortening and re-routing some wires that were bugging me, to tweaking the front vents. I almost added servos to the utility arms, but that would require me filling them down and repaint – which I didn’t have time for.

But I did hinge manage to hing some doors in the body. I made some little aluminum brackets to help mount the servos to the frame

I know I worked on more stuff for Makers, but I can’t remember exactly what :)

oh! I remember, I’ve also been working on a small wireless controller based on a iPAQ Mobile phone, but more on that later.


Posted by Chris on May 28th, 2009 in Dome, Electronics, Feet | No Comments

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Mini Dolly to the Rescue

Nearly ever droid builder I know lugs around a large cart just in case their droid fails. This is especially needed for those of us with drive systems that lock when no powered is applied to the motors. Knock on wood, I’ve never needed to use my cart and it’s always stayed in the van.

Well, at WonderCon last week Gerard showed us his latest find – mini 6″ tri-wheel dollies that’s can easily be place under each drive wheel. They’re small and light enough to throw in your backpack or toolbox.

Only downside is the wheels are pretty small so wouldn’t go over any major bumps or door jams easily, and I wouldn’t recommend using them to totally replace your cart, especially if you use it all the time. Never the less, I went straight out and bought a set to have in case of an emergency.

Here’s Gerard in action pushing his droid around on two of these

[Direct link to Youtube video]


Manufacturer: Sheperd Hardware
Mode Number: 9299
Approx Price: $9

Available at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, etc. Cheapest online location: Ace Hardware Outlet ($5 ea.)

Posted by Chris on March 16th, 2009 in Feet, General | 5 Comments

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More Periscope Work

I’m still fiddling with the periscope, I added some LEDs, a servo to make it turn and something to mount it to the lift mechanism.

But first I had to adjust the dome pie panel cut out to give more clearance. I marked off the area I wanted to cut and Dremeled in a few slots to start things off and finished it with a small hacksaw blade.

The main periscope assemble is mounted atop PVC tube to add more height.

I wanted to easily remove it for maintenance and also allow some height adjustment at the same time. This little tube is fixed to the lift mech

And the main PVC riser tube slips over and locks into place with a couple of screws

I installed a small HiTec HS-55 servo into the top of the PVC tube to turn the periscope side to side when it’s extended. Attached is a round plate the aluminum based of the periscope will screw into.

I’ve also add the LEDs to the main periscope housing. On the front is an array of 6 rectangular LEDs. These are very close to one’s used on the original ROTJ periscope

They’re glowing orange in the photo but they’re deep red in person. Power is 12V and no resistors needed as they’re in series

Here’s the block of LEDs soldered together before I installed them

I’ve wired in some bright white LEDs inside and some colored one’s on the back of the housing, I also re-appropriated one of my old PSI boards to blink a couple of LEDs to add a bit of variety.

Getting closer :)


Posted by Chris on August 1st, 2008 in Body, Dome, Electronics, Feet | 3 Comments

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Proctor Glove Wheel Casters

I’ve received several emails recently on where I got my 3″ wheel casters from. These are the exact one’s used by Mike Senna and Victor Franco, so I can’t take credit for finding them – but the question keeps coming up , so I thought it might be a good idea to post the information I have.

I have no idea why these seem to work better than others, I think it’s a combination of the dimensions and having a soft rubber wheel that works on variety of surfaces – and the price is right too.

My first set came from a friend in Southern California who bought them at the Arrow/Ace Hardware in Yorba Linda (714-524-1621) for $7 each. Once I had them in hand I was also able to get my local Ace Hardware to order me some spares.

Here’s a close up of the label that might help –

Manufacturer: Proctor Glove
Part Number: 3RS
Description: 3″ Rubber Swivel 125lb
UPC: 7 80272 000003 7

They’re made in Korean and sold by Proctor Glove Co. who are located in Santa Fe Springs CA, or more specifically:

11122 Shoemaker Ave
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
(562) 903-1320

I don’t think any builder has called them up directly to try and order, but if you are successful please let me know and I can add it to this post.

A builder contacted them a few years ago and did a run of these, including offering the rubber wheels in softer or harder variants.


Posted by Chris on July 9th, 2008 in Feet | No Comments

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New Larger Casters and Angles

I’ve been doing test runs with the new wheel casters for a few days now, and they are definitely better in some regard and not so good in others. One big advantage is the ability to go over cracks much easier and they’re more durable. However in my limited testing they’re not as good on door jams and similar obstacles.

Also, with installing the larger 3″ casters in the front foot my droid is now lifted and angled a tad.

Unfortunately, the shoulders and legs are fixed with no real easy way to adjust them and the outer feet are tipped with the rear much closer to the ground.

I’m not sure how much of a problem this really is, only time will tell. If it does become a problem some possible solutions might be

  • Adjust the high of the outer feet drive system – might be tricky, and not sure I want to add any more ground clearance.
  • Try and move the 3″ casters further into the center foot shell – not really an option as space and margins are already tight.
  • Try a smaller wheel caster – probably the easiest thing to try, but I then loose some of the advantages of the larger 3″ wheel.

One of the issues I see right now are the ominballs in rear of the outer feet. Before I moved to the 3″ caster they didn’t touched the ground, this was intentional on my part. I could have easily removed them a long time ago, but they’ve gotten me out of a fix on more than one occasion.

With the belt drive system, the wheels are locked and hard to move when there’s no power applied, with the omni’s in place I can tip Artoo back onto them and maneuver him a little – not long distances mind you, but very handy in a pinch – So I’m hoping to keep them in place.

They are adjustable, but already on the max setting. One of the big problems is there’s always a chance the drive wheel could loose contact with the ground if the rear omni’s ride on something.

I have a big event coming up this weekend with lots of mixed terrain so the jury is still out if I’ll stick with the wheel casters, maybe I’ll try a smaller diameter wheel or even go back to the omni’s.


Posted by Chris on June 9th, 2008 in Feet, Legs | No Comments

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Center Foot Wedges

I had to add some wedges/stops to the side of the ankle to stop the foot from tipping when going in reverse. As usual rather than reinventing the wheel I copied Victor.

I made a quick paper template that I traced directly from the ankle/foot. I then cut them from some scrap 1/8″ aluminum I had sitting around.


And finished them of with a clean coat of white (including the screw heads)


I tapped the side of the ankle, and also included a wooden block inside (also drilled/tapped) just in case the ankle wall thickness wasn’t enough to hold the screw.



Posted by Chris on June 9th, 2008 in Feet, Legs | No Comments

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JAG Center Foot Mod – Lip/Skirt

A couple of months ago I’d posted to the main forum about modifying the JAG center foot to include a more pronounced skirt at the bottom. At first not everyone quite understood what I wanted to achieve.

Here’s some reference shot of the Uber R2 that may help

And here’s a screen cap from ANH with an even bigger skirt on the center foot

What set me down this path was seeing my droid next to Gerard’s (his is on the left). Note the difference in the center foot?

I think weathering helps define the foot as well, and to stops the white making the foot look more like a blank floating triangle/wedge.

This is Gerard’s raw Weaver foot

After a lot of debate most people finally got what I was trying to say, including JAG who may include the mod on the next run of feet. But I thought I’d see if I could modify my current foot in the meantime.

I created an little frame out of angled aluminum (1/16″, 1/2″x 3/4″), and the plan was to pop rivet it onto the existing 3/4″ lip around the foot.


It wasn’t perfect and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the corners angled correctly, but was hoping to blend in the frame using bond or something.

Here’s the foot with the temporary skirt. A little too tall I think and I’m not crazy about the corners being straight as opposed to angled, so I’ve decide to see if I can find someone to lend me a welding ring to make a more accurate skirt/frame.


Posted by Chris on June 8th, 2008 in Feet, Legs | No Comments

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Caster Fix and Test

Well, I’ve fixed the caster problem after a bit of detective work.

A few of you wrote to ask if the 3″ casters were touching the side of the foot shell, they weren’t but clearance is tight.

To simplify troubleshooting I took the center ankle/foot assemble off Artoo and was able to duplicate the locking wheel on the workbench. It even did it with the foot shell removed.

Turns out it was as simple as some crud in the casters bearing. They’d been siting in my workshop for quite some time, so who knows what had gotten in there. And no matter how careful I was, there’s a good chance I got something in there while I was trimming the caster base plate.

The symptom was when the caster did a quick turn it would freeze and drag, slow turns were fine – but anything rapid would cause the lock.

I got some degreaser and soaked the bearing. I then blasted it with air to try and knock out whatever was causing the problem. Once I was happy the bearing was turning fine I re-applied some bearing grease using a small syringe.

And here’s a short video demonstrating the new casters in action

Only time will tell if the new wheel casters perform better in the field compared to the ominballs.

Posted by Chris on June 6th, 2008 in Feet, Legs | 4 Comments

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