Progress on Aluminum R2-D2

Dec. 12, 2004

Well, this is how far I've gotten on the legs so far.  This is about a month of weekends.  They are done, but not painted and there's some cementing to do as well.  But until the feet and foot motors are done this is as far as I want to go on the legs.  They'll probably stay at this state until R2 is almost done.  They're close to finished, but there's a few pieces just sitting in place that would fall off without cementing them in.

This is what my computer room looks like right now.  What you are looking at are parts for the feet as well as the stuff to mount the foot motors.  I need to get two motors - they are on order.  I had some, but they were the wrong type.  Then I need to rewire the motors to use 24 volts instead of 12 so they'll be faster...that should be interesting.  Then lots of assembly.

Dec. 25, 2004

Finished the motor kit!  I'm all excited.  It turned out to be horribly difficult to do some of the things I thought would be simple, like cut the chain.  Oh my GOD was that a pain in the butt.  Chain is oily so I wore rubber gloves and cut it with a Dremel.  To make a horrible long complex story short, you know how when you cut something, it gets hot, right? Then you reach down and pick it up and burn your thumb? So you automatically stick it in your mouth? Forgetting that it's in a rubber glove with motor oil all over it?

But here are the finished motors:

Just have to cut into the feet to make them fit and get the feet assembled!

January 4th, 2005

The feet are mostly I attached a leg to see what it looked like.  I'm pretty pleased!  I see some more cleanup I have to do and a lot of the detail pieces on the leg are just sitting there by gravity and would fall if the leg was touched, but hey.

The leg detail bits won't get fully attached until the leg is on the frame and ready to be painted - that gives me full flexibility in working on it.  Until then I worry about needing to disassemble it again before it's all finalized, and I think the attachment of the last pieces will be quite permanent, so ... no need to rush them.

August 1st. 2005

A long break to build a nursery for a upcoming child...but finally back on R2!

I've been working on the dome.  This is just a in-progress shot.

September 29, 2005

I've been putting lots of work into the dome...

October 31, 2005

We're getting ready to leave for the hospital tomorrow so Karen can get induced.  So I worked hard to get to a good stopping's what I've got so far.  More work on the dome that can't be seen but it's there, and the frame is assembled with shoulder motors so R2 can tilt when he goes from two legs to three legs.

May 6, 2006

Xander was born and is a wonderful little boy!  Karen and I are starting to get back into our lives a I've been working on the frame and skin.  The skin is all cut out, and the metal arms are now fitted to the frame (which was surprisingly difficult!)  Here's the frame.

August 5, 2006

OK, so obviously work is going slow.  But check out this spiffy middle foot!  Painting and final assembly remains, plus probably some bondoing to smooth out a few joins, but I'm pretty pleased with it.  I still have to find some wheels I like to put inside the foot, though.

January 1st, 2007

I've been doing some work over Christmas - man, having a baby REALLY cuts into R2 building time!  I have been working on putting the middle foot into R2.  It's in, and it raises and lowers with a motor, which is super cool.  So then I wanted to see what I had, so ... I took the pieces I'd been working on (except for the skin) and stuck them all together ...

I was REALLY excited to see that!

August 13, 2007

Well, we have a second kid now.  So work is going REALLY slowly!  But the skin and dome are attached now.  I did a temporary test fitting of the legs and feet just to take a look ...

You'll notice that my son is dressed to match in his R2 shirt!  He was fascinated by the droid ... I was so proud!

Oct 28, 2007

Had a lot of progress lately ... these are just teaser shots, really.

Oct 31, 2007

A flurry of work and now for Halloween we have:

I'm so excited!  He looks wonderful!  There's lots more to be done, but ...

Nov 28, 2007

R2 will be a ring-bearer at a wedding on Saturday, so I've been working very hard indeed ... among other things I built a little cart for him to ride on, and to let me extend the third leg and attach the side legs easily.

Fully assembled!  The middle foot is riding low and needs reinforcement inside to correct, that's why he is a bit canted.  I reinforced one side and discovered I need to reinforce both!

And finally ... click the icon below to see a movie of R2 lifting a ring out of his dome.  I will be attaching a thread to close the dome flap, but since that isn't there yet I am closing it manually at the end of this clip.

Dec 10, 2007

Here's a test movie with one of R2's foot motors working...just one, so he's turning doughnuts, but hey!


Jan 1, 2008

And a card fountain is now installed in R2's dome!

Feb 24, 2008

Just a picture of R2 from Christmas ...

I got the remote control system wired in.  I tested it all out while he was on his base, ran the foot motors, turned the dome ... put him down, pressed forward on the remote - and he advanced six inches and stopped.  I coulda cried.  He couldn't go any further than that.  I was thinking later though, and I did the foot motors a LONG time ago (three years ago accorting to this page!) - and I rewired them for 24 volts.  I was only feeding in 12 volts.  So I hooked up something with alligator clips and fed in 24 volts and nothing.  Nada.  I coulda cried again.  I thought the batteries had a good charge, but what the heck - I recharged them overnight and tried again.

And he took OFF.

So I am no longer crying.  I do have to figure out where to mount extra batteries, then get them and wire everything up, but ...

April 18, 2008

No pictures showing anything new, but I thought I'd post an update.  Basically in the few days I've had to work on R2 (kids do REALLY cut into one's droid building time ... but I wouldn't have it any other way!) I've been doing a lot of soldering.  Then I tried to put 24 volts though the speed controllers that control R2's forward motion ... I knew what would happen, so I went outside and tried.  Got some nice sparks from the speed controller before the funny smells started.  So that took care of that ... and I had to go get a much beefier speed controller.  It does a lot more, but frankly I liked the inexpensive ones a lot.  Well, I liked the inexpensive part anyway!

So the new controller is mounted on the back door, the controller for the dome and the receiver have a wooden housing and are also mounted on the back door, and I just need to wire everything up (meaning more soldering.)  I'm trying to use connectors everywhere, so that means LOTS of soldering, but it also means I can take things apart later if I want to move anything around, so that's nice.  I think I need to get fuses, though, I really don't want to risk frying out the new controller!

May 19th, 2008

I got him running!  I took him outside for a test run ... here are some pictures from it.

The wiring is ... well, it started neat and tidy, then I had to mount some stuff on the door as I didn't have any other place to mount it.  That meant I had to leave room in the wires.  Then I ran some test wires ... well, it needs cleaning up now.  I have a kill switch on the front, it's kiltered as while I thought I was WELL clear of the shoulder motor, I wasn't - and the switch wouldn't sit straight up and down.  There will be a few more switches there soon, I want to control everything from the front panel so I don't have to open the droid.

And of course there had to be a FEW issues.  The feet were tilted - I realized that when the legs were at the right angle, the foot cylinder hit the foot and canted it forward - I circled the problem area here:

And there was some rattling - one bolt actually fell out.  So I gotta get some locktite for the bolts I think.  And the chain seemed to jump from time to time, I think it needs tightening.  So more work ... but damn!  He was driving!

Click the image below for a movie of it ... you can hear the problems above, as well as the feet occasionally dragging against the cement.  But it's still DANGED COOL!

August 4, 2008

I haven't posted in a while because while small things are happening, frankly none of it is large and exciting.  But I entered a contest with R2 in three weeks.  There is a magician's convention in town, and I'll be doing a magic act with R2.  So I'm working to get everything fixed up ... the foot dragging problem is fixed, the dome remote control receiver is wired in, etc.  There's still a ton to do - I'm started redoing the dome wiring today - but that gives me a deadline to get it finished!

Sept 21, 2008

Well, R2 made his big public debut!  It went great.  There was some trouble with his front foot that limited his movement - I'm fixing that now (I have an R2 unit up on blocks behind me.  I feel like a nerd redneck.)  I was delighted with him, though - we didn't win the contest, but it went over wonderfully!

March 28, 2009

R2 was out in public at a Toys for Tots event and burned out a foot motor.  AAARGH! 

So here's a picture of me working on his foot ... it's pretty much fixed.  Plus I wired in fuses for the feet.  I plan to wire in more fuses to protect the dome motor while I'm at it.  And the chains are tightened up now, so it's not "popping" like it used to do.

The fuses are reachable through R2's front panel, so if one trips it'll be easy to reset.  This was MUCH harder than it might seem - the inside is finished and I couldn't reach the inside to mount the fuses.  It was fairly awkward, and involved much problem solving just to get the dang things in there.  But that's where I wanted them so hey!


I realized that I didn't have too many GOOD pictures of R2-D2. So since I had the wonderful opportunity recently to have R2-D2 on stage with Weird Al Yankovic at the Cobb Energy Center (on 10/1/11), here's some pictures of that!


And finally ... a video I took showing him off!