Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I have taken Artoo out to various events over the past year and a half and have documented photos, most of which have made their way to social media (Check out the Buffalo Bisons on Facebook for Star Wars Night photos).  I won't have time to upload much from previous events, but going forward I'll try to update as I go. 

These are some photos from our event this past weekend.  October is fire prevention month and many of the local fire companies held open houses.  Clarence Fire Company in Clarence, NY hosted one in which the North Ridge FanForce was invited to attend.  Artoo had the freedom of rolling around the fire house truck bay.  Below are pictures of a standoff between him and the Erie County Bomb Squad robot.  That's our Porkins directing traffic and keeping both robots in line.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Well, it's been quite a while since I have updated this blog site.  I've done many events with Artoo since my last update including two Buffalo Bison's Star Wars Nights, both of which sold out at a capacity crowd of 18,025 each game. 

It's been almost 7 years since I started working on my droid and I'm thinking that its coming to a point for an overhaul.  I had thoughts of building another droid and giving him his own identity and storyline, but at this point in life, I just don't have room in my house for another robot with a growing family.  My oldest daughter, who at age 4 3/4 (yes, when you are that young, that 3/4 is very important...) challenged me to build my own R2 unit - she'll be turning 12 soon.

Time is moving on and for a droid that is supposed to only look beat up... well, he's taken quite the pounding over the course of 7 years.  I've kept up with maintenance including teardowns to check the seams and welds and make sure that he wasn't falling apart.  The constant loading and unloading has taken it's toll and I've noted some additional cracks, namely on the foot shells. 

All in all, I've decided to start looking over plans and replace/repair and overhaul my design.  I'm compiling a wish list of sorts as to the improvements that I hope will come down the line, including:

 - New frame.  I plan on scratch building a new polystyrene frame and gluing the skins on to add support.  Access to the electrical components will be through the top with kill switches in place under the body.
 - Improved logics.  My current front logics work, however, after working on the rear logics which are yet to be installed due to a faulty board, I think I can do much better. 
 - Periscope.  I have wanted one since the initial concept of my build.  I think it's time I actually follow through on this.
 - Moving utility arms - another plan in had in the initial design.
 - Improved front caster to get over small cracks in the sidewalk and door thresholds.

Not sure when I will start this project, but it's definitely on the horizon.  Stay tuned!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Artoo and I attended the Clarence Winterfest yesterday with the Northridge FanForce group.  This is one of my favorite events as it is very well attended and everyone is really excited to be there and to see the Star Wars characters.  I've done this event for 3 years now and each year we build on the presentations.  This year included lightsaber demonstrations and duels.  Needless to say, after two performances of both demonstrations and duels, I'm feeling it! 

All went very well and both performances filled the presentation area completely.  Artoo was also a big hit next to Chewbacca.  Of course, Chewie "one upped" the droid as this year was actually cold enough for ice skating and thus allowed for the first official perfornamce of Wookies on Ice.

I made some minor repairs to Artoo's feet.  I have been having issues with the foot shells breaking at the seams and as many times as they have been reglued together, they have never stayed and the seams looked horrible.  Of all things, I decided to duct tape them.  I found some white duct tape, cut into thinner strips to apply around the seams.  Not only did it hold, but when weathered, it really didn't show much.  The seams look better and are holding.  So, we'll see how this works in 6 months or so after another couple events.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

To friends and family - Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2012

More Adventures

Sorry, I haven't been updating this blog as much as I had hoped to.  Artoo has had a lot of adventures throughout 2012 and a few upgrades.  I find though that I have more repair work on him than upgrades or new parts.   His center foot shell is cracked at the seams and I'm looking for options to glue it again with something much stronger than what I had been using.  It's been alot of patchwork on that particular part and I haven't really been too pleased with the footshells in general.  I'm also in no position to replace them at this time so I'll deal with them as needed.

Anyway, this past weekend, Artoo made a visit with fellow members of The NorthRidge Fanforce group to the Walden Galleria in the Buffalo area to promote the release of Angry Birds Star Wars items at Build A Bear.  The mall was very busy and we all attracted quite the crowd at the store. 

Artoo was a hit with fans of all ages and was available for pictures most of the day.  The first person who approached me was visiting from San Francisco, and he had heard of the R2 Builders group.  Artoo had his picture taken with both him and his child and after talking a short while and complimenting me on my build, he revealed that he had worked for Lucas Films and was a mat painter for the Avatar movie.  You never know who you will come across when out and about.

Later in the afternoon, we took a walk with another Jedi to the Apple Store to visit another member of the NorthRidge who just happened to be working at the time.  It was amazing to be able to clear the Genius Bar and attract the attention of just about everyone in the store - staff and customers alike!  Well, after all, it's not everyday that you see a couple Jedi and an Astromech walking around a mall...  Glad that we could bring some joy and smiles amidst the holiday hustle and bustle.

All in all, a very good day and alot of fun had by all!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finally! Some Work On R2

Finally had some time to work on the ol' boy, although for all the work over the past couple weeks, I can't say that I'm overly pleased with the results.

I had previously completed a battery box and it's been set aside for a while.  Recently, I completed the second box and it had turned out OK.  So I went over options on how to install this part on the side feet so as to still be able to get to the motors and cable connection that it would be hiding.  After several ideas and concept,s I went with the material that I had on hand and used industrial strength Velcro.  Good idea, right?

Well...  The first battery box showed some of the Velcro near the top of the foot.  Not terrible, but not quite happy with the result.  The second battery box construction wasn't as strong in the area that I needed it to be and it causes it to slouch inward slightly.  The positive spin...the Velcro stuff really works, and is holding the boxes in place. 

Then there are the hoses.  I first attempted with a clear epoxy, one that I use in construction of my saber blades.  It didn't dry properly.  I pulled the hose off and cleaned off the epoxy.  I then tried a 1 minute instant LockTite epoxy.  Same thing, the hose, even when left overnight, didn't dry.  I had been using JB Weld for some aluminum parts, however, it goes on and dries black.  Couldn't hurt, I tried installing the hoses with that and it hardened within minutes, dried completely within an hour.  So, after wrestling with my first pair of hoses, I decided to weld the connectors in first on the other foot, only to find out that two of the 4 ends would not adhere to the connectors.  Several hours of sweating, grumbling, cursing, tossing things around and walking away in frustration (several times....) I finally got blankety-blank things in place.  It's sloppy, but it's in place.

Again, I can get away with the storyline of he's been pretty beat up over the years, but really, I know that I can do a lot better quality than this.  I wasn't happy that the feet didn't really fit the motor holders like I expected they would and I had been patching them up continually after events until recently where I just got tired of doing the same repair over and over.

I've never been a fan of the phrase, "good enough".  If I ever use that phrase, it means that I've given up and not really done my best.  I have the biggest event of the year in just 11 days and I refuse to let this be "good enough".

However, I'm not opposed to using the phrase, "it'll do for the moment".  It's going to be extremely busy at this event and I expect that people will be excited to see R2 again, looking a little more complete this time around.  I don't think anyone will be looking so closely or critically at his feet, but just in case they do...

Well... that's why I carry a lightsaber.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Lightsaber update, more Artoo work

It's been a busy past couple of months between work, some photography work that I needed to complete, family, etc.  I did finally complete my personal lightsaber back in February after replacing the Petit Crouton board and re-wiring everything again.  This was an expense that I didn't really foresee and wasn't too pleased with.  The first board was working fine during testing, but failed once I installed the parts into the hilt.  Needless to say, I have a very bright red Sith saber.

For those reading who are interested in building sabers, (those non-technical non geeky sorta folk can skip down to the pics)  here are the specs:

MHS parts from The Custom Saber Shop
Petit Crouton v 1.6
Seoul P4 Red LED (main) clocked to 900ma
7.4V Trustfire battery pack
Internal recharge port/kill switch
Anti-Vandal illuminated activation switch
2W Bass speaker
MadCow custom sound font (Revenge) - more information at http://www.genesiscustomsabers.com/

This was my first saber and I chose not to go all out with the effects.  I do have an additional LED in the hilt to illuminate the pommel from the inside, but no flash on clash effect as this board could allow - I'll save that for my next one.  Pics are below.

I did finally get to some work on Artoo.  I disassembled him down to the frame this past week and added a styrene plate on to the shoulder area.  I did this specifically to lock the legs in place and to keep them from shifting forward if the front caster catches on an object or crevice, stopping the forward motion.  Hopefully this will allow the drive wheels to continue moving and push the front casters over the object.  I've had some difficulty maneuvering the robot over crack in the sidewalk, door jambs, etc up to this point, and had to be aware of such obstacles to avoid a possible tip over.

I didn't take any pictures of this due to the minimal time that I had to get this work done. Artoo has a filming engagement this weekend for a small fan film.  I have yet to figure out how to attach the rear door to the body and have two days left before the shoot.  Needless to say, I'll be busy tonight.