December 2007 Summary

Here’s a summary of work and posts for December

Posted by Chris on December 31st, 2007 in Update | Comments Off on December 2007 Summary

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 | Comments Off on Mounting Coin Slots

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One Year Anniversary

Would you believe it, today is my one year build anniversary? I’d really hoped that he’d be back on three legs with all his skins on and looking like the real deal by now, but alas it wasn’t to be. I’ve learned that it’s not always good to rush, and all good things come to those who wait.

I’d joined the Builders Group back in January 2001 and been a member since. I’d had one failed attempt with a resin kit I’d purchased back in 2002 and shelves the project. I really didn’t follow much of what was going on with the group apart from remembering how blown away I was with Gary Weavers all aluminum droid sometime during 2004. I thought to myself I’d never be able to build or afford one of those.

But in late 2006 I rediscovered Artoo and the Builders Group. I couldn’t believe how far things had come and I ordered some parts. Then on December 31st, 2006 I picked up my Dremel and started to cutting my newly delivered R&J dome.

During the year I’ve learned so much, met a bunch of fantastic warm welcoming people that I hope to call friends for a very long time. The big highlight of course was Celebration 4 – which was a big motivator. About a month before I realized that I had most of the parts in hand or could make what was missing to get a droid on three legs and maybe running around. With a lot of late nights and 30 days later I was at C4 with a droid in the races and delighting kids young and old throughout the convention center. He was skinless but who’s counting.

Then over the summer, like a lot of the builders who went crazy before C4, I took a break – 5 months in fact. I tinkered on and off, but for the most part he was basically the same droid.

Sometime in late October/early November I got the bug again and went full force into building. I had it in the back of my head that I wanted to get him “done” by the one year anniversary – or at least looking like a real Artoo-Detoo. And I came close.

For the record my shortlist of “to-do’s” which I have no chance of cramming into the last few hours of 2007 are –

  • Re-attach newly painted skins
  • Re-install electronics
  • Screw in body details like the oct port, power coupler etc.
  • Glue loose panels onto skin
  • Magnets on back door
  • Hinges on various panels

Again so close that I’m kicking myself.

If I look back I’ve probably worked a totally of 5 months out of the year on the project, so I have nobody but myself to blame for not getting him done.

But like every true droid wrangler knows – your droid is never done, and for me going into phase 3 I’ll be expanding on my new sound system, finish up the dome tricks I’d already made a start on like the fog/fire-extinguisher and adding a periscope. I also want to get the utility arms opening, and servos on the dome panels, maybe the cpu arm working too.

Two big lessons for me this year – have patients and do your research. We’re called “Builders”, but I think we all have to be thinkers first and open to new ideas. I know I’ve spent more time reading, thinking and seeking advice than building.

It’s been a real fun year and the next big event coming up is San Francisco WonderCon in February. I think this will be the first year for droids at the event.

Thanks again to everyone for helping me along in this journey – especially Victor Franco, Mike Senna, Gerard Fajardo, Chris Simonds, Allen Mahurin, Ed Wamser, Calvin Thomas, Tiny, Richard Jacobsen, George Luck, Jerry Greene and all the parts suppliers and people who helped me find parts.

I also have to thank my wife for putting up with all the mess, the noise, the paint fumes and me wanting to constantly talk and share the latest thing I’ve worked on.

Posted by Chris on December 31st, 2007 in General | Comments Off on One Year Anniversary


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 | Comments Off on Re-painting Skins Part 2

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Magnetic Shoulder Hubs

I’ve worked on a bunch of things the last few days, the simplest is probably getting my shoulder hubs finally installed.

I borrowed another idea from Victor and used rare earth magnets fix the hubs in place.

I started off by marking and drilling the holes. The magnets I used are 3/8″ x 1/8″ thick from MagCraft. There’s two magnets per hub, and two matching magnets inside the leg.

I’ve been doing a lot of drilling the last few days, and I’ve been extra careful to secure everything before I drill – even when I’m pressed for time or tired of doing it. You can never be too careful.

I then checked the polarity/orientation of the magnets to make sure they’d not repel another magnet. Otherwise I’d be in trouble when they’re presented to the magnets in the legs. Sounds simple but I almost got it wrong at least twice.
I roughed up the back of the magnets and epoxy’d them into place

I took two more magnets and epoxy’d them inside the leg stacked on top of small nuts.

Here’s a short video demonstrating the new magnetized hubs

I’ll try and post some more updates on new things in the next day or so.

Posted by Chris on December 30th, 2007 in Legs | Comments Off on Magnetic Shoulder Hubs

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Re-painting Skins

Another busy evening working on R2, but not a lot to show for it. Started off with prepping some stuff for painting tomorrow.

Remember about a month ago I’d posted pictures of my skins all done. Well I decided that I wasn’t happy with the result. The problem was the paint’s thin in places and felt rough to the touch. It could have been what I’ve dubbed ‘dusty paint’, or maybe it was simply that the paint thinned/settled while drying and the aluminum was coming through. What I mean by ‘dusty paint’ is that sometimes I find that the Satin Rustoleum sprays out almost like a fine powder or dust with very little solvent and dries rough. It looks okay from a distance, but to the touch it’s not good and picks up marks really easy. I’d agonized for almost month if I was going to repaint. I knew I need to, but kept on telling myself it wasn’t that bad.

I lightly sanded down the problem areas and then had to re-mask all the bits I didn’t want paint on. Luckily I hadn’t removed all the mask-tape on the back skin.

I’m going to start tomorrow with a fresh can of paint and hopefully I’ll not have the ‘dusty paint’ problem or worse the dread orange peal.

The bad news is the weather is cold, well cold for Northern California. Its 45-50 overnight and not gets much over 60 during the day. The Rusoleum primer is good from 50 degrees, but I’m not sure how well the Satin White will dry overnight. The good news is the forecast is rain which means the temperature should be a little higher due to cloud coverage 🙂

I also tried to get the skirt ready tonight for the top coat as well. Finally finished up the Bondo work

The problem with Bondo, or for me at least, is that I end up putting on way to much while trying to fill the gaps, resulting in a lot of cleanup – and I’m tired of sanding the inside corners of all those strips, so I think it’s as good as it’s going to get for now.

I applied a coat of primer, sanded a little more followed by a final coat of primer (until I see what it looks like in the morning)

I also need to remember to hit the underside of the frame with primer/satin white too.

Lesson learned today – Don’t rush to remove masking tape until you’re 110% sure you’re happy with the finish.

Posted by Chris on December 28th, 2007 in Finish/Paint | Comments Off on Re-painting Skins

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R2 Charging Jack/Socket

I feel like I’m on the home stretch getting R2 back together. Tonight I worked on the electronics a bit more.

I plan on re-install the same three 12V 7Ah batteries. However, when the skins go on it’s going to be hard to charge them. So I’ve devised a simple circuit using some automotive relays to allow me to isolate them from the main electronics with a single switch, and charge from an external plug that will run to my Vector Charger.

I wanted to mimic something similar to how Luke charges R2 on Dagobah. The original plug used is some sort of stereo audio jack, but in real life it would almost certainly short when inserted, so I needed to find an alternative.

ESB R2 - Charging Port

After a lot of browsing various electronic and automotive stores I’ve decided to use a 12V car accessory plug and socket for bunch of reasons –

  • They can easily handle the 10-15A the batteries will pull when charging,
  • It’s hard to short the system when inserting it, even if everything is live,
  • If someone was to accidentally plug him into something unexpected – I’d rather it be a 12V device which is almost guaranteed with this type of plug. I couldn’t say the same if I’d gone with some other type of high-voltage plug,
  • Replacement parts are easy to find if I ever need to make up a new charging cable,
  • Theoretically I could plug-in and charge or run other 12V devices off of R2.

I’m going to install the charging port in the same spot as seen in ESB, and I need to make a shelf to hold everything as there’s no frame behind the hole. I cut a curved piece of aluminum that would become the shelf.

I then bent an angle in it to secure it to the new speaker bracket I made a few days ago.

Everything is held in place with just two 8-32 screws

Originally I was going to use a heavy duty DPDT toggle switch to isolate the batteries

But I had problems finding a suitable switch that would work. The one shown above was to really clunky, hard to toggle and not quite heavy duty enough to handle the potential load the drive motors would pull from the battery. So I opted to use a much smaller switch that would toggle the high load through a few standard 30/40A automotive relays. I’ll probably end up replacing these with 60A relays when I get a chance.

To mount the smaller switch I cut a small piece of acrylic and drilled a few holes that would attach it to the 12V socket plug.

I then heated it up for a few seconds to bend it into shape

I also added a status LED so that I’d know for sure when R2 is switch on

Here’s a shot of the back of the automotive relays that will do the switching. I could have probably just used one and just isolated the positive line, but I decided to play it safe and use a second to switch/isolate the ground line as well.

I’ve just bolted them below the support bracket using the same screws that holds the 12V car socket in place.

This is the setup with all the wiring in place.

When the light is green R2 is on, and the charging port is disabled/isolated from the batteries

When the light is off the charging port is live and connected to the batteries. All electronics in R2 are off and I can safely plug in the charging cable which will glow red to show it’s connected to the batteries.

At some point I may also add some red LEDs inside R2 to mimic what’s seen in the movie.

All that remains is the wiring diagram. This is the hand-draw one I worked from, but I’ll try and come back later and clean it up and verify that it matches my final configuration.

Again note – I’m not an electrical engineer so please double check everything if you’re going to try and implement what I’ve done.

Posted by Chris on December 27th, 2007 in Electronics | 2 Comments

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Best Ever R2 Video on Youtube

This has got to be one of the best R2 videos on Youtube ever!

Now to figure out what the song is so I can put it in my sound system 🙂

Posted by Chris on December 24th, 2007 in General | 3 Comments

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