Monday, December 27, 2010

Wheel of Motion


For Christmas I received a little spending money and what do you think i spent it on? That's right! I bought the scooter wheels I've been saving for. Just now ordered them.

So how was your Christmas???


Friday, December 17, 2010

Belts, Smoke and Dead Buttons

Got the belts for the scooter drive today. They're smaller than I imagined.

Yesterday while I was testing the motors I had the electronics tray sitting on top of the body. I accidentally pulled a wire causing the whole tray to fall back inside the body. As I was pulling it back out, a wire cap fell off and the exposed wire touched the battery level meter causing a puff of smoke. I quickly hit the main power switch (should of done that earlier when the tray fell) and inspected everything. Luckily nothing was damaged.

Later, I powered up the sound system but couldn't get the VMusic2 to trigger. After trouble shooting I discovered the problem was with a bad signal coming from the C6C receiver on ch5. Once I moved the wiring from ch5 to ch6 everything worked again....but what was wrong with ch5? After more trouble shooting I have concluded the problem is with the ch5 button on the PS2 WiFi controller itself. A bad button. I wonder how long before the ch6 buttons stop working? Oh the good times a hobby brings.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Learning to Walk

So yesterday I got those scooter motors and today I wired them up for testing. While I was at it, I, of course, made a video.

Here's some pictures.
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Now for the inside details.
As I mentioned in the previous post, these are 24 volt 100 watt electric motors used in the Razor E-100 toy scooters. I have them connected to a dual channel Electronic Speed Controller (ESC), specifically the Dimension Engineering Sabertooth 2X25 (picture on right), which is then controlled by the C6C receiver. These motors are the belt driven version (now discontinued by Razor and replaced with chains). I chose belts over chains because I didn't want the extra noise. Belts are already on order (the official Razor ones) but the belt driven wheels are no longer available. However, I did find a generic compatible scooter wheel that should work just fine.

The ESC has a set of 6 jumper switches to configure the ESC for battery type, controller type, and other options. I had some trouble at first setting these correctly because I was looking at it upside down. So take note. Always make sure you know which way is on and off. Once I got that sorted out, I had to flip around the wiring on the left side motor so it would run in the same direction. Don't worry, most electric motors are polarity reversible. This is important to pay attention to because when I install the motors into the feet, they'll be facing opposite directions thus the wiring must be reversed on one of them.

Once I have the belts and wheels I'll have to build a frame to mount each motor and wheel to and then mount that into the feet. I don't have all of that figured out just yet, but with dozens of examples from other builders and a little trial and error, I should be able to manage it.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Present for a Droid

Lately I've been rethinking using the NPC2212 motors for my droid, mainly because they're almost $200.00 a piece. A cheaper option would be using electric motors off of those toy scooters, such as the Razor E-100. Fortunately this doesn't require changing anything I've already done. I can still use the same electronic speed controller, etc..

So I did some looking around and round some replacement scooter motors compatible with the Razor E-100 for less than $20.00. Even better is the website is offering free shipping for a limited time. Here's the link,

Note that this motor uses a belt to drive the wheels. This may be a problem because Razor has discontinued belt drives and now uses chain drives for their current line of scooters. As a result, belt drive wheels are hard to come by. Very hard. So why did I get the belt motor instead of the chain? Mainly because a chain drive makes a lot more noise than a belt drive. For the wheels I plan to either find the wheels or build a home made wheel the belt can work on....famous last words... :)

Update: I found some generic wheels that are "compatible" with the Razor E-100, though not an exact copy of the original. But as long as it fits the belt it'll work. They're $40.00 a piece however so I'll have to take my time in acquiring them.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Status Update and Schematics

Wiring Schematic

Recently I was asked how I have my radio control wired up etc. so I thought I'd post a full schematic of both my electrical and radio control wiring setup for anyone else who's interested.

As I said last time, I am taking a break from building. But due to a tight budget, that break will be extended until further notice. Hopefully things will improve so I can continue work on my droid. About the only thing I can still do without spending money is finish painting the skins, however it's starting to get very cold and soon will be too cold to paint. Talk about timing.

So until later,


Thursday, August 19, 2010

The four days of Celebration V

Photos from the entire Celebration V here.

So I know I didn't talk much about what went on Wednesday, but I was dead tired. In fact, I was dead tired every night of the con. So now I will catch you up on Wednesday afternoon and the four days of Celebration V.

When I got to the droid room Wednesday I found a mad house of droids, sets, and builders. When I asked where I should setup my droid I got "anywhere." OK. But I just knew once I did setup my droid, which has no wheels and the feet come off when you move it, I'd have to move him some where else later....and I was right. In the end we ended up moving him 3 times before finding a good place. I also got my droid room banners and they are currently setup in the droid room.

Thursday I decided to try walking to the convention center instead of waiting for the hotel's shuttle bus. Care to put money on what I'll be doing differently from now on? Not only was it hot outside, but I ended up walking to the wrong building. The OCCC is divided into two buildings: the north/south building and the west building. Celebration V is in the West building. I walked to the other one. Luckily there were shuttle buses there to take people parking there to the other building. Once I got to the droid room, I found out I had missed seeing Anthony Daniels, other wise known as C-3PO. Darn it.
After serving my shift in the room, I went to the Expedition Hall to explore the vendors and attractions. Of note was a life-size TIE Interceptor, several life-size dioramas for photo ops, the regular Jedi Training show for small children to participate it, a game of laser tag against Storm Troopers, the R2 Builder's Droid Races (Friday - Sunday), and the Celebration Store. After wandering around I went to the Celebration Store and bought a Commemorative Guide and a glass mug (pictured below).
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Got Milk?

Later I visited the 501st Legion room, the Rebel Legion room, the Clone Wars Theater (which oddly enough presented every Cartoon Network show BUT The Clone Wars), and the Fan Film Theater (which did live up to its name).
Later, I returned the droid room for my second shift of the day to closing. Before anyone left, an announcement was made to be back first thing in the morning because "he" was coming. Hmm. I wonder who "he" could be? I then went to the fan film awards to see who won what. However, I was surprised to discover that the award show ended after the shuttle buses stop for the night. So of course, I had to walk all the way back to the Hotel. Only a 15-20 minute walk, but it was dark, hot, and I was only guessing where I had to go. Luckily I found my way with no problem.

Friday I used the shuttle bus and arrived at the room around 8am (too early for me). A half-hour later "he" arrived....Jedi Master George Lucas himself. This makes the second time he has visited our display (1st at C3). He went around the room, took special note of a few droids he really liked, and left. If that wasn't enough, a short time later Ben Burtt arrived to tour our room. For the un-initiated, Ben Burtt was the original sound designer for Star Wars and is responsible for creating R2-D2's voice. He spent some time talking with us about designing R2's voice and other related things.
After I got out of the room, I went to get in line to see the Mark Hamill interview, but found a line wrapping the entire fourth floor twice. So instead, I went to the Exhibition Hall and bought a book, The Fate of the Jedi: Allies. I've been waiting for this book. The booth I bought it at told me the authors of the Fate of the Jedi series would be signing autographs later that day, so I wandered around for a short while then returned to get my book signed. With that done, I then got in line for a Clone Wars panel, hoping to see some sneak peeks of season 3. No footage was shown at this panel, but I did here some great stories from the supervising director, Dave Filoni. He talked about what he thought the series was going to be like, a group of travelers going from one adventure to the next during the clone wars with few appearances by main movie characters. But he learns very quickly that GL has a different "point of view." Gl said in their first meeting that Anakin was going to have a padawan, to which Dave replied, "but George, Anakin doesn't have a padawan" (considering episode 3). GL looks at him and then says, "so Anakin is going to have a padawan...." Dave Filoni also has a hard time resisting children's questions, even if he can't answer the question, which we saw first hand. He swears parents send their kinds to him with these spoiler questions on purpose.
After the panel, I had to return to the droid room, after which I returned to the Hotel and crashed.

Saturday, same routine in the morning. After lunch, I searched for a vendor who has original release reprint movie posters for ESB (Empire Strikes Back), but only found miniature ones. In fact, I found only two or three vendors with movie posters and their selection was limited. Could be I waited too long and they were simply sold out of the poster I was looking for. Oh well. So instead I bought two R2-D2 action figures (one from the 1990's and one in the most recent packaging) and a star wars blueprints book: rebel edition.
Then I went and got in line for the Clone Wars season 3 panel. That was awesome! I got to see a few clips from the upcoming season and a mega trailer for it. Dave Filoni took more questions and of course another little kid asked a spoiler question. It was very funny watching Dave squirm wanting to answer but not being able to.
Later, it was back to the droid room and then back to Hotel to crash.

Sunday I spent the whole day in the droid room. At 5pm we closed the room for the last time. Our event leader gave a speech thanking all of us for our help and support. Special thanks went out to those who made special contributions such as set pieces or organizing certain displays, etc.. Then the tear down began. I boxed up R6-C9 again, loaded him into the rental car, and after helping tear down and saying good byes, I went back to the Hotel to crash for the rest of the day.

Early Monday morning I packed up everything, checked out of the Hotel, and hit the road back home. Tuesday morning same thing. Got home about 2pm that afternoon. Great to be back.

Man, I had a great time. I met a lot of cool people, saw some cool stuff, and was just geeking out the whole time. Can't wait for Celebration VI.

So what next? A vacation from droid building. I've put quite a bit of money and time into him the past few months, so I'm taking a break. But don't worry, it won't be for long. Just a couple of months maybe.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

To C5 or Bust - day 2 cont.


I think the photo says it all. This is one of our "photo op" sets. And that's me with a R2-D2 and C-3PO replica.
I got to the convention center around 1pm. By this time the droid room was full and people and droids. I took a lot more pictures than just the one which you can see by clicking here. I also took some video, but will wait until after I've returned home to mess with editing and uploading it.
Tomorrow is the official start of the convention and I'll be manning the droid room for the first 1.5 hours and last 1.5 hours.


P.S. The Hotel in Orlando has the same pillows as the last Hotel did. Bummer.

To C5 or Bust - day 2

I am not a morning person. Got up at 4am and am now about ready to hit the road again. I didn't get very good sleep on account that the pillows at this hotel are those square shaped ones with about as much fluff as a piece of paper. Haven't they ever seen normal pillows?

Anyway, today's the day I get to meet in person all the droid building experts I've been reading about and getting all kinds of advice from.

Next postings from Orlando.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

To C5 or Bust - day 1 cont.

Made it to Georgia in one piece. During the eight hour drive I went through two, count 'em, two rain storms. Couldn't see the car in front of me the rain was so heavy. Luckily they only lasted about ten minutes.

To beat Atlanta morning rush hour, I'll hit again the road again at about 4 or 5 in the morning. Next time I post here, I'll be in Orlando geeking out at all the R2-D2's.

Until then,


To C5 or Bust - day 1

Well it's after 9am here. Car's packed and ready to go. I'll make an update when I get to the hotel. See you at Celebration V.

Friday, July 30, 2010

One last detail

So before R6-C9 goes anywhere, I thought it a good idea to glue the top and bottom disc and the shoulder support boards. Now he's solid.

This past week I've been working on a harness for the battery. Due to the location of the center ankle and the tilt bar attached to it I had to locate the battery in the very front of the body.
Using my handsaw, I cut out a small piece of 1/2" plywood about the same size as the battery. I made the board a little longer than needed which I adjusted later on. I then drilled four 3/8" holes and then used a 1/2" spade bit to drill a recess halfway through so the bolt heads would be flush with the surface. I am using two small pieces of "L" channel steel railing with pre-drilled holes as brackets to connect the board to the existing railing the center ankle is bolted to (exact same railing in fact).
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I was going to use 3/8" bolts to connect to the ankle rails but, if you look closely in the next picture, you can see the holes don't line up on both sides. To fix this, I used 1/4" bolts with washers.

As an after thought, I decided to add a back on the battery harness to support the battery when the body is tilted back. I also screwed on some Velcro to help hold the battery in place.
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In addition to the battery harness, I've still been working on the skins. I just recently got these four panels glued together.

Also, I got the power switches installed. From top left to right: Main power switch, battery meter circuit LEDs, battery meter momentary push button (you press the button to activate the LEDs to see the voltage level), bottom: Sabertooth 2X25 speed controller, SyRen 10A speed controller, speakers & C6C PS2 receiver, arduino & VMusic2.
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So with all this done, though still not finished, I think R6-C9 is ready for his public debut. From this point on all work will stop and packing begin. Already I have the feet plus hardware in boxes. My next posting should be the the day I leave for Orlando (August 10th). I'm taking my laptop with me so I can give daily updates at the convention.

Until then,


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Never Say Never - R6-C9 Standing

You know how I said last time I won't be getting R6-C9 to stand in time for the convention? Well, disregard that.

I got thinking this past week, "why not just do things the old fashioned way?" So I bought a hand saw. It's not exactly a table saw, but it works.

This is a 14-1/2" long by 1-1/4" wide by 1/8" thick steel L channel. I shall name it the "tilt support bar," or "tilt bar" for short. It's purpose is to hold the shoulder pipes that go through the body in place so the legs can be tilted back at the correct angle and stay there. I drilled four holes into it (two 3/8" and two 5/16").
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I modified the center ankle to fit into the body without bumping into the PCB Tray. Then drilled two more holes (3/8") to bolt on the Tilt Bar.
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In the two 5/16 holes I installed a 1-1/4" U-bolt which is what wraps around the shoulder pipe and holds it snug.
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According to the Club's blueprints, an Astromech droid's legs are rotated 36 degrees back behind the body.
And now, the final result.
First time standing 1 First time standing 2 First time standing 3 First time standing 4

TADA!!!! Lookin' good!

Note that R6 is just sitting on top of the feet. I don't have them bolted on yet. To do that I need to enlarge the holes in the ankles and I absolutely need a drill press to do this to ensure the holes are kept straight.

So what's next? Good question. I have achieved my primary goal and got him standing. I might do some more painting but I think I'm done preparing R6 for Celebration 5. Only two more weeks to go.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Power is GO

Custom Voltage Regulator

This electronic schematic is what I'll be using to power the C6C PS2 controller receiver and the Speakers. First is the L7806 voltage regulator IC chip. This reduces the 12V battery to 6V for the C6C. Next is the LM317 voltage regulator IC chip. This, combined with a 220 Ohm and a 1.1K Ohm resistor, reduces the 12V battery to 7.5V for the speakers. The capacitors on both regulators job is to ensure the voltage level remains constant in case there are any momentary surges or voltage drops caused by another device. I have built this circuit on a prototyping breadboard and it works just like it should. So I have designed a PCB of this circuit and ordered it. Should arrive this Thursday.

While I was at it, I connected the voltage regulator to the rest of R6's wiring and also connected the battery for the first time to R6. I am happy to say all power testing was successful. Now I just need to finalize the placement of the switches and the battery.

Only 3 weeks left until Star Wars Celebration V. It's starting to become more and more clear now that I will not be able to have R6 standing in time for the convention due to not having access to the proper tools by then. Oh well. I tried. R6 will just have to be on display as is. But fear not. There's still the "Return Of The Jedi" 30th anniversary, Celebration VI. Let's make that the new goal for completing R6 (or mostly completing him).


Monday, July 12, 2010

Painting of Feet - Complete

Ready to assemble Painting complete

Finally! The feet are completely painted. They turned out very nicely I think. I attached the detail pieces to the outer feet, but the inner foot's detail pieces can't go on by itself. For that I need two additional pieces plus other pieces to complete the feet. But for now I'm done with them.

1st Set

Here's the skin pieces I also finished. These are done. I'll keep them in storage until I'm ready to assemble the skin onto the body. In the mean time, I still have other skin pieces to finish painting. The fun just doesn't stop :)


Thursday, July 8, 2010

....and even more painting....

"Will this never end?" C-3PO, Ep4 ANH

Truer words were never said. The painting just keeps going.

Today I sanded smooth some of the skin panels for their final coat of paint. So they are DONE! YAY! I then painted the bottom half of the feet. Next time I'll paint the top half once more and then that should be it for the feet....I hope. Only 3 skin panels left to finish painting; one more coat, sand, then final coat. After all that I can start the remaining skin pieces and maybe the skins themselves.

The clock is ticking. Four weeks left until convention time. Sadly I didn't get as much done as I wanted, but in the least I'm going to have him standing....hopefully.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

....and more painting....

Happy Fourth of July, celebrating Independence from high taxes....wait a minute.

Today I did some more painting. I lightly sanded the feet to make them smooth and then gave them a fresh coat. However, the spray can I was using was nearly empty so I don't think much paint got on them. Should have sprayed them once more with the fresh can. Guess I'll have to give one more coat next time. Besides the feet, I also painted the skin panels which makes 3 coats now I think. They look very smooth so I may stop here and move on to other pieces.

I've also been continuing work on the electrical system. Thus far I have the wiring to and from the power switches ready for the switches, but before I connect them I need to devise a mounting plate or something to put the switches into. Also I still need to devise a way to mount the battery.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

I Have the Power

R6-C9's Battery

As of yesterday, R6-C9 now has his primary power source. And boy is it heavy. This thing could crush soda cans if I dropped it on some.
I started charging it last night which took about 4 - 4.5 hours on the 4amp charge setting (recommended by the charger's manual). Only down side to my charger is it has a cooling fan and it is LOUD! Am considering getting a different one...maybe.
One thing I should have done was order two batteries. You want at least two so you have a spare to use when you have to recharge the first one. I will order a 2nd one soon.

Now I just need to setup a mounting method inside the body for the battery. Of course I need the work shop to do this.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More painting, added fuse block

Did a lot this past week. Last Thursday I did some more painting in perfect conditions, yet I am still getting that sponge effect on a few pieces. I think I know what's going on now. I noticed the affected pieces looked perfect before I brought them inside to my air conditioned apartment. But once I brought them in, within minutes the sponge effect appeared. I think the sudden change in temperature is what's causing it. So the solution might be to leave them outside for a while longer. Hopefully that's all it is.

I've also made some progress with the electrical side of the build. I ordered and received a fuse block that can hold up to 6 ATC type blade fuses (automobile fuses). It also has a ground bar on it (on the right side). Click here for the website I bought it from.
Fuse Block

In addition I have also finally ordered a battery to power everything. I got a 12V 18Ah SLA battery. For the charger, I brought a 2 amp car battery charger that's Gel-Cell compatible.
From the same place I ordered the battery from,, I also ordered parts to make a battery level meter so I know how much of a charge the battery has in it.

The next step for the electrical system is to install power switches. There will be one main power switch, an emergency power switch (hidden somewhere where I can get to it quickly if R6 goes bonkers), and a power switch for every device connected to the fuse block. Now I just have to decide where to put the switches.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Too Humid

Today the humidity was over 65% so I'm taking the day off from painting until the humidity is under 50% so the paint dries properly. Will try again Thursday (day off).

Nothing else to report.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Still painting

Yesterday I finished applying the 2nd coat to the foot shells, gave the final coat to the detail parts, and gave the 1st coat to the skin panels.

Recently however, I have noticed a problem when the paint drys. A sponging effect appears in spots on the feet and detail parts. I inquired about it at the Club's forum and they said it sounds like it's too humid outside when I paint. They suggested waiting until the humidity is less than 50%. So now I have to sand the parts smooth and paint them again in the correct conditions. Painting stinks.

In other news, I recently bought different kinds of blue paint for those blue areas on R6. I've primed a spare piece of metal and will paint small parts of it with each blue variation to compare them. I'm looking for a dark blue but not too dark. Hopefully one of these will be the blue I'm looking for.

One more thing. This week I also ordered the nuts and bolts needed to attach the foot shells to the wooden legs. But it turns out I didn't make the mounting holes in the legs big enough for the correct sized bolts. I can fix this but I need a drill press to do it properly and the Shop Smith Mark V is currently awaiting transport to it's new home, which looks like my brothers house for the time being. Hopefully I can use it before C5.


Sunday, June 6, 2010


This part of droid building is becoming a broken record (if you don't know what a record is, ask your parents or grandparents).

Today I started the 2nd coat of paint for the feet. For the detail parts, I lightly sanded them with 400 grit sandpaper to prep them for their final coat of paint (their 4th). The sanding tip I got form my father. The sanding only took a few minutes and then I painted them.

For the skin parts, I gave them their 2nd coat of primer. Next time will be their 1st coat of paint.

Since last Thursday, I started J-B Welding the skin panels together that need it. Once completed, I will have to sand down the splotches of J-B Weld. I used those fancy office paper clips to hold the pieces together and used a Q-Tip to wipe away any excess J-B Weld that was oozing out of the seems.
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Once I'm done with the smaller pieces and the feet, I'll start priming and painting the outer skin layers.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Painting Feet and Skins

Skin prep for priming Skins primed

Today I gave a 2nd coat of paint to the top half of the feet and a 3rd coat to the detail parts. I also decided to start priming the skins. Left photo is before and right photo is after primer. The reason the parts are arranged differently in each photo is because it started to rain after I had gotten everything setup. Luckily I got everything back under cover in time. I chose these pieces because they don't need to be glued to other pieces before I can paint them. Also you'll notice I put painter's tape on the back of each piece. This is so no primer or paint gets onto the back of them. I'll put on a 2nd coat of primer and then paint them like the feet. Two of the pieces in the photos are going to be blue after I'm done priming them (the center vent bezel and the charging control access door (see Episode V)). I'll paint the main skin pieces once I have room and the other panels once I get them glued. Hope fully Sunday will be a good day to continue.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Painting Feet continued...

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Painted the bottom half of the feet today and gave a 2nd coat of paint on the detail parts. Not much else to say.



Thursday, May 27, 2010

Painting Feet

Feet painted Parts panted Paint & Primer

Weather was great today so I was able to start painting the feet. As before, each coat will have to be done in two stages, top and bottom. I started with the top half and the additional parts; Sunday I'll paint the bottom of the foot shells.

I don't believe I mentioned what paint I'm using. For the primer I'm using Rust-Oleum Clean Metal Primer and for the paint I'm using Rust-Oleum Satin White.

If I ever make another droid, I'm going to use a slightly darker shade of primer so can tell when I have painted completely over the primer. Also, the Satin White likes to spit a lot so you have to shake the can very often to avoid this. Another trick to help with the spitting is to sit the can in warm water. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm told it works.

Weather permitting, I'll post more progress on Sunday.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Paint and convention news

Finally got more priming done of the feet. They are now completely covered in primer.
Feet primed
If the weather is good this Thursday, I'll start using the actual paint.

For the Celebration V, it turns out George Lucas will be attending again. This makes only his third appearance at a Star Wars convention, the last one being Celebration III. Hopefully he can grace the droid builders room with his presence once again.

I know I said the last color scheme was locked in for R6, but I have decided to change it....again.
Final FINAL color choice
It's a darker blue and in different places than R2-D2. Every time I think "R6-C9" I think "blue." I only resisted before because I didn't want to chance him being mistaken for R2-D2. But with this design, I think it'll be ok.

One more thing. I might rebuild the head. After rechecking some things, I found I made the top a half-inch too big. Not that there's an official R6 design to base that off of, but the plans the club is using suggest that measurement. It's still something I'm only thinking about. If I decide to remake it, I'll wait until after the convention.

That's it for now.