Slip Ring – Cutting the Frame

I cut the hole for the slip ring tonight.

Started off by marking the center lines and then using a hole cutter to score the 7/8″ outline where the slip ring body would sit.

I then marked off and drilled holes where the slot would go for the cable plug to pass through

I used a Dremel and a hand saw to join the holes up

You can still just see the outline of the circle I’d marked

I then took a file and made the small circle notches either side of the slot to accommodate the slip ring

Testing that ring slip ring fit and that the plug will pass through

Top view of the slip ring secured in place

Now to solder up the connectors

Posted by Chris on April 14th, 2008 in Body, Dome, Electronics | No Comments

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Skin and Skirt Fitting

I finally got around to fitting my newly painted skirt and skins to the frame. Overall I’m happy how they came out and can’t wait to get the panels fitted.

For some strange reason there’s now a gap where the skirt meets the bottom of the frame which wasn’t there before. I’m not sure if it’s something I can fix easily or if I’ll even notice once I get him back on 3 legs.

I still need to glue on the small panels with silicon, but that should be relatively easy. For the larger panels I’ll probably use silicon too, but I’m hoping to hinge some of the front one’s.

Now that the skins are on I could mark the holes on the frame rings for adjustable brackets that hold things like the octagon ports and power couplers in place.

Posted by Chris on January 23rd, 2008 in Body | No Comments

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Re-painting Skins Part 3

It’s been a slow Artoo week. In the last few days we’ve had big storms come through, loosing power for almost a day, 100mph winds and 8 inches of rain. There’s a break in the rain right now so I jumped at the chance to get some painting done this afternoon.

I’ve included some photos, but they”re all starting to look the same to me.

I went back and sanded down the rear skins to clean up the big run I made last time and gave them another coat.

I added an extra coat of white to the skirt and lower frame ring – but they’ll need several more, plus I goofed and put a run on the skirt 🙁

I rubbed down the long doors and the smaller panels and gave them another coat while I was at it. They would have probably been okay, but another coat of paint is always good.

I’ve also been busy work on the new astromech.net website with Wayne and PixelFiend. Stay tuned for some great new features.

Posted by Chris on January 6th, 2008 in Finish/Paint | 1 Comment

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New Dome Drive Mech

Last week I made a new aluminum dome drive mech to replace the Daren Murrer’s HDPE version I’d been using. There wasn’t much wrong with the one I had to start with, but I gotten it in my head I wanted to try making one myself from aluminum to go with my new dome motor.

The one I created is a combination of Daren’s and the original Atomic Pickle design design. Here’s a photo of my original HDPE mechanism on my aluminum frame.

I used some 1/4″ scrap aluminum that already had a few holes in it, so I had to work around them using the original bracket as the template.

I don’t have a mill at home so everything would have to be either cut on the band saw, Dremeled, drilled or worked by hand tools like a file.

I rough cut the piece on the band saw and drilled the initial holes

The long hole in the center was greater from three smaller holes I’d drilled and filed away to create one big hole.

One issue I knew I would have was making the center hole/cut-out large enough to accommodate the approximate 1″ wide lip/step on on the motor. Also note how the drive shaft is off center due to the gear box.

At first I thought I could file away enough material but it would be slow going. I could also have bought a $40 1″ drill bit but I had another idea. My Dremel has a router attachment that could create a lip on the long slot that I’d created.

I forgot to take photos of the next few steps, but the rest of the mechanism that bolts to the frame is pretty simple, and just two blocks with a few holes in them. I made the main support piece a litte wider than on the Atomic Pickle design as I wanted to add extra support to the main bracket that holds the motor.

Here it is installed in the frame. Note, in some of these photos the motor is flipped the wrong way and the shaft should be toward the center of the frame.

At the pivot point I drilled and installed a bearing like the original Atomic Pickle design, but on hindsight I probably could have just stuck with Daren’s idea of just having a regular hole with a bolt through it.

Here’s the motor position correctly in the bracket

Overall I’m happy with how it came out and given a template and basic tools anyone could make one at home.

Here’s a short video of the new mechanism in action

Posted by Chris on January 3rd, 2008 in Dome, Electronics | 2 Comments

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Skirt Ribs – Tweaking

This is another post I should have written up last week and almost forgot. Better late than never I guess 🙂

I still needed to adjust the ribs on the skirt a bit. When I received the kit the angles on the rib pieces were perfect. But then when I came to attach them to the skirt they need cutting down or filing due to being too long – loosing the nice angle on some of them.

I flipped over my frame and with everything at eye level it was a lot easier to see which one’s needed adjusting.

I just filed the ribs with the skirt resting on top of the frame and my eye dead level with the hand file.

The skirt itself isn’t perfectly flat/level and I think I may end up with a few gaps in spot, but I don’t think you’ll notice once the frame is the correct way up.

Posted by Chris on January 3rd, 2008 in Body | No Comments

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Mounting Coin Slots

I forgot to post this small update a few days ago. I’ve figured out most of the other skin detail parts and made brackets to attach them, but still needed to work on the coin slots. There’s a slight problem with the design of the frame and/or the latest run of coin slot strips. It’s slightly to long and bumps into one of the frame rings – and either it or the frame needed ‘adjusting’. They don’t call this building for nothing.

I opted to just cut a small slot in the frame ring as it seemed easier than cutting the strip. It also save two screw holes in the strip to allow me to use them to fix it to the frame.

I put on the skins loosely with the slot in place and marked from the inside where it touched the frame.

I then took my Dremel and cut out the slot

I cleaned it up with a small file to make the corners square and did a test fit

All that’s left is to make a small L bracket to secure it to the frame, but I’m also tempted to simply silicon it to the skins permanently.

Posted by Chris on December 31st, 2007 in Body | No Comments

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Re-painting Skins Part 2

I decided to get over how cold it’s been and just start re-painting the skins. Temperature in the garage was around 59 degrees by mid day and the recommended temperature on the Rustoleum Satin White is 70, but there was a little caveat at the end that said “lower temperatures may increase dry time.”, which to me means go ahead and use at any temperature 🙂

Things started off really good and the horseshoes came out great, in fact so good once they’d dried they’re putting everything else to shame. I have no idea what I different to get them this way. They really do have a satin finish with little to no blemishes. What’s funny is when I started to paint them they almost orange pealed on me, or it looked at way on the first pass.

Not so good news on the skins though that prompted this whole repaint job. As soon as I started I got a big run on the back skin. My heart sank but I continued on with the other pieces, residing myself to having wait for it to dry, then sand and repaint tomorrow or the next day.

I think I’ve also figured out my dusty/rough paint problem I tried to describe a few days ago. I’m pretty sure it’s because I tried to paint everything together and got over-spray onto pieces – i.e. Dust. This time I took each piece in turn set it outside, painted then brought it back inside to dry. Makes sense right? At the time I thought I was saving time – big mistake. Do yourself a favor and paint everything separate.

The skirt and lower frame ring also turned out well, but will require several more coats. I’d forgotten to prime the ring last night, but quickly did it this morning.

Here’s the skirt. The paint is okay, but I’m not crazy about the ribs/strips and how they meet the base (I guess top in this photo) of the skirt.

By tonight they’d dried and I could see how they looked together – not bad and I’m sure once it’s the other way up I’ll forget all about the ribs.

Coming back to the big paint run I got on the skins. I decided late in the afternoon to try and fix it. It had been a few hours and things had dried a lot. But the run was so thick that it would have taken days to dry, so I took a soft paper towel with some acetone on it and lightly rubbed the run away. This is almost certainly a big no-no, but I really didn’t want to wait. I then sprayed over the area again thinking I may get lucky with the finish. I’m almost certainly going to sand it down, but at least I can do this tomorrow instead of waiting days for the run to dry through.

Now after seeing how well the horseshoes came out and figuring out the dusty-paint problem. I may go back and redo the skin panels.

Posted by Chris on December 30th, 2007 in Finish/Paint | No Comments

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Skin Update

Three big milestones the last few nights. One, I finished gluing the skins together, two, I mounted the skins to the frame, and finally – I’ve almost finished painting the white parts including the skins. I can’t believe it!

Front skins were a little more tricky than the rear as I needed a lot more clips. I also had to go buy more of them as the rear skins were still drying.

Do yourself a favor and go to a 99c store and pick up 20 packs of these before you start anything. I estimate that I used around 60 clamps for skins in total. You maybe need a few bigger/stronger clamps just in case you get some spots that want to pull part, and a box or two of those black binder clips just in case.


These little clamps are probably useless for anything else you’ll work on in your life, but they’re perfect for the skins and very cheap. You could easily blow much more by going to a regular hardware store and stocking up on name brand clamps.

I’d noticed that very few builders have photos of how they glue the skins together. There’s plenty of before and after shots, but nothing during. Now I know why. It’s incredible messy and you’re in such a hurry in case the glue sets!

Once again I used the cheap 60 minute epoxy. I turns out that one pack was enough to do all of the skins and panels.

Before I applied the epoxy I cleaned the surfaces with Acetone, and double checked any tabs that I may have missed. It’s worth checking as once the skins are stuck together it’ll be really hard to get in to file them down.

Okay, here’s the obligatory after photo

I used Acetone again to clean up the excess epoxy that oozes out everywhere. I went back around again after an hour to clean up even more that came out. I pulled off each clamp one by one so I could get underneath.

It’s probably worth checking all the seems around the whole outside of the skins as I had some spots that small clamps wouldn’t hold together. In fact I missed a few places and now I have to live with it. Also, don’t forget to keep the skins in the same half circle as the frame. They will most likely de-laminate if you don’t keep them curved correctly.

Here’s a quick shot of the rear door outer skin with the epoxy on before I stuck the pieces together

By the time I’d got to the door I’d cut way back the amount of epoxy I was lathering on. It still set up fine and cleanup was a lot easier.

You’ll also notice that I cut out all of the the large panels at the last minute. I’d hoped to keep them in place but it was virtually impossible to get the skins to bond together without gaps otherwise.

While the skins were drying I tackled turning this box of bits into assembled skin panels

Clean up of the edges and tabs was pretty easy, but I had some trouble getting the door frame surrounds to stick to the inner/back panels. A few days ago I’d tried silicon, but some of them kept de-laminating.I know Victor and many others swear by silicon, and I’m sure I was doing something wrong.

I tried one door three times but the silicon would just not hold it together, three others I did at the same time worked great. Go figure. Cleaning up the silicon after it had dried was also slow going for me. And with the success and relatively easy cleanup of epoxy on the skins I opted to use it instead on the panels. It was messy but I could quickly remove the excess epoxy while it was still wet. Again I used my trusted friend “Acetone”.

Once the skins dried overnight I was able to clean up the remaining dried epoxy and get to attaching them to the frame. Test fit without any mounting blocks seemed okay, but where I’d cut out the rear door on the skin it wouldn’t sit flush to the frame, it flared out a lot. It looked like I may have to add some blocks or mount pointer on the lower half of the frame.

Fitting the skins to the frame took a little longer than I thought it would. I’m using Daniel’s mounting blocks and it look a while to figure out how I was going to measure and mark up where to drill the holes in the skins. The blocks are designed to fit the JAG frame and screw to three of the frame rings.

At first I thought I needed to attach the block to the frame first but I quickly realized that it would be hard to center, so I opted to mark a line on the inside of the skin where the ring was and attach the blocks to the skins first.

In the end I worked out the math and a little system and I only screwed up on one hole. I was amazed I didn’t get them all wrong.

Now I have one elongated hole and I’m not sure if I’m going to try and fix it or not. I’ll probably leave it and see how it looks painted up.

I then tried to drill holes in the frame rings to attach the blocks to, but the skins are so tight once the blocks are in place I only really needed to attach the lower one’s. They also pulled in the rear skins snug to the frame So I don’t think I need to add extra mounting blocks there as first though. Here’s a shot of the skins without the blocks attached to the frame and you can just about see in the bottom right of the photo where the skins don’t quite meet the frame

The next day when the epoxy was set on panels I set myself up to prep everything for painting. I went over the surfaces again to make sure there wasn’t any epoxy. I also taped off the panel surround on the skin so that the aluminum would not get painted. I really like the look of Victor’s R2.

I hope that by doing this doesn’t cause me a headache down the road.

I didn’t realize it until I was done, but it took me 4 hours last night to mask everything off.

Here’s the majority of the skins and panels layed out ready for painting.

And here they are with the first coat of self etching primer

and the gray rustoleum primer on top of that

Next up was the Rustoleum Satin White (#7791). The instructions say that you can add additional coats within 60 minutes, so I did. I must have put on at least 4 coats by the time I was done. The only catch was I could see little dust and hair particles in the paint. I was in two minds to just stop and wait the 24-48 hours for it to try and then wet sand and start again. But I decided to continue as I know that the my paint job will never be perfect and besides I’m gonna weather him eventually anyway.

Rustoleum Satin White 7791

I also went back and tried to add a few coats to some other parts. It was early evening and it was starting to get really cold. The paint came out really strange and it orange peeled instantly. I’m not sure if it was the cold that did it or just a bad can, but I’m glad it wasn’t on the skins. The horse shoe can easily be sanded down and re-painted later – much easier than the skins.

I tried to capture the orange peel look in this photo but it’s hard to capture. Click through for the larger version and you’ll probably see it better.

My wife is also sick of the paint smell in the house. Even though I paint outside I bring stuff in to dry to avoid dust. I tried to fix the fumes problem last night by duct taping the door between the laundry room and garage, and it worked. She didn’t complain once after.

Tomorrow I have to decide if I’m going to continue painting the skins or call it done and wait for them to dry properly.

I also have a possible event on Saturday, but I dont think the paint will have dried enough and give myself time to re-assemble everything. I know if I push it I’ll screw something up and I’ll need to start over on the paint.

Posted by Chris on November 29th, 2007 in Body, Finish/Paint | No Comments

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