Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Present...a hole

I actually found some time today to do one quick thing in the shop. Today I finally cut a hole in the bottom of R6's head. With that done, I can freely skin him up while still being able to access the electronics that will eventually go inside. I took the pictures with my phone (because I spaced and didn't bring my regular camera) so the format will be a little different, but oh well.

Cutting hole
Here I'm using my small circle router attachment to cut the hole out. I used several passes, slowly making the circle deeper until I cut all the way through.

Hole cut (bottom) Hole cut (top)
And the finished result.

That will be it for now. See you guys in the new year.


Sunday, December 4, 2011


I'm Not Dead Yet!!! Really! See? I'm feeling much better.

Sorry I've been MIA for the past two months. Lots of Real Life stuff such as moving to a new apartment and busy working, and with Christmas around the corner, probably won't be doing any updates until sometime in January. But let me give you a sample of what you can look forward to once I do get back into the grind.
I messed up and put waaaay too much clear coat on the last two skin panels so I'll have to sand, paint and clear coat again. Still need to cut a hole in the bottom of the head and still need to buy more Styrene to skin the head.

On another Star Wars related note, I recently got to beta test the Star Wars: The Old Republic for three days and OH MY GOSH! That game is awesome and I can't wait to play it when it goes live (launch date is Dec. 20th). I pre-ordered the game so I'll get early access which I believe starts one week before launch date.
Of the different classes I tried the Jedi Knight, the Smuggler, the Trooper, the Sith Warrior and the Sith Inquisitor (I didn't get a chance to try the Jedi Consular, Bounty Hunter or Imperial Agent). Of those five I did play, I liked the Smuggler and Jedi Knight the best. If you call yourself a Star Wars fan, you should play this game. Period.

And Let us not forget to give an honorable discharge to the original Star Wars MMO, Star Wars Galaxies. Sadly, SWG will be discontinued this month about the time SW:TOR launches. SWG has been online for about eight years and has seen many good and bad times. Many players, past and current, are very upset about the game being shut down and all kinds of accusations towards Lucas Arts and Sony Online about not caring about the players have been thrown back and forth for the past few months. Regardless of the motivations for the shut down, SWG had a great run and will be remembered for years to come.

Until next time,


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Final Skin Pieces and Midwest Gathering

The 2011 Midwest R2 Builders Gathering was a lot of fun last weekend. We had six droids, of which only 3 were mobile, including mine. Funny thing happened though. When I assembled R6, I found I had forgotten the two bolts that hold the leg pipes to one another. Without them, the right leg had too much movement in it to drive R6 around without the right foot catching on the ground. And so once again R6 had to stay stationary. When I got home I found the two bolts and did a test drive in my living room. I'm happy to say R6 handled well being on carpet. Only thing I still to work on is the body tends to drift to one side on the leg pipes and sometimes the legs will rotate if too much pressure is applied (such as pushing R6 manually). Will need to find a way to better lock down the leg pipes.

One of the attending builders made a 2-second time lapse video of the gathering. It's only a couple of minutes long, but I think it sums up the event well.

Another builder took a lot of photos of the gathering.

So now that that is over and done with, back to building.

I've started working again on the aluminum skin panels. I have primed the remaining panels already J.B. Welded and have J.B. Welded the last two panels.
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I'll prime those last two panels and then paint all the them together. When that's done, I'm going to get the others out and apply clear coat to them as I've done with the feet. After that, all that's left is to paint the main pieces and install. Maybe I can have that done before New Years?


Thursday, September 15, 2011

More painting and Head Assembly.....continued....

So far so good. The head is turning out wonderfully. Glued on the top ring tonight and finished painting the feet.

One thing I forgot to do was figure out the center foot's ankle lock. One idea suggested to me at Droid-Con was drilling a bolt through the bottom of the foot into the bottom of the ankle. I think that will work. I'll save doing that for Saturday morning. Love last minute modifications.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More painting and Head Assembly

Sanded and applied final coat of paint and clear seal today to the feet. Should be dry by Friday night.

Glued the styrene circle to the head base plate last night. This morning solid as a rock. So now I am gluing the four upright ribs and the middle disc to the base plate.
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Should be dry by this time tomorrow. Then I just need to glue on the top disc and then maybe the other piece of styrene to the neck. This new head is going to be awesome!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Head, Ankle and Painting Feet

Today I was able to spend a little bit of time in the shop to finish the head and center ankle.

The new center ankle has all it's mounting holes drilled. One thing I forgot to do, which I will have to wait to do on Saturday at the last minute, is cut out a section of the ankle on the top. You can see where I need to do this in this side-by-side comparison of the old and new center ankle. Always something.

The head I'm happy to say is about done. All the pieces fit together like I wanted. All that's left is to glue it together and then cut a hole in the bottom.
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That last picture is the two styrene pieces I cutout. The full circle piece will go on the base plate and the partial circle piece will wrap around the neck. I will need to by more styrene to finish it.

Before I glue the head together I'm going to glue the full circle styrene piece to the base plate first, otherwise I'd have to cut it to wrap it around. I'm testing an adhesive at the moment to bond the styrene to wood. If all goes well, I'll glue it tomorrow.

As for the feet, I just need to apply one more coat of paint plus clear coat and then I need to paint a few spot on the bottom of them. I hope to have this all done my Saturday morning (no pressure).


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Back Log of Updates

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I have been working on R6, but work has kept me busy and so I've been putting off posting updates. So get ready to be bombarded with progress.

First bit of news is the upcoming Mid-West Droid Builders gathering in northern Indiana this weekend. To prepare I've been repainting the feet, rebuilding the center ankle and repairing the wiring from everything that happened at Droid-Con last May. Wiring is done and the new center ankle will be ready as soon as the glue drys and I drill the mounting holes. The Feet are primed and just need to be painted and clear-coated.

And now some progress on the Logic Displays. Wait....what? The Logic Displays?! Really? An actual update on the Logic Displays?! Yes, it's true. It's been awhile hasn't it. But don't get too excited. It's not much. All I did was drill a hole.
This hole is where the fiber optic strands will fit into the LED tube. All that's left now if to make a block to fit each cord of fiber into so they're arranged correctly. Just need a flat board of black ABS plastic.

Most of my work this past month however has been on the head. Shortly after my last post, I finished cutting the ribs and did a test fit.

So far so good. But before I start gluing it all together, I finally bought my first sheet of Styrene, a PVC type of plastic commonly used in professional sign making and related things, to perform a test fit to make sure the plastic would retain a smooth circular shape when wrapped around only four ribs. It's a good thing I did this because the test failed. At first I thought I needed to add more ribs. But then I tried the same piece of styrene on the original head and it wrapped around perfectly. The reason is because the original head has rings going around it that help the styrene maintain a smooth bend around it. So that's what I needed to add to head v2.

I decided I needed to add a ring to the middle and the top of the head. I will use 1/4" wood and will sand the edges to the same angle as the outer edge of the ribs where the rings will be. The middle ring will need to be two 1/4" rings glued together like a sandwich with each ring's edge angled differently to match the face/neck angles (very much like the original head).

Here I'm cutting out the middle of the middle ring. Both 1/4" halves are already glued together. I'm making each ring only 1" thick from outer to inner circumference. The notches on the inside are to fit into the notches I put into the ribs.
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The ribs with the notches for the rings cut into them.

Here's the head assembled with the top ring and a close-up of how it fits together. Not a perfect fit but close enough.
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On Tuesday I will test fit the middle ring and drill the mounting holes into the center ankle. If all goes well I will be able to glue the head together.
One more thing I need to do is make the ankle lock for the center foot so it doesn't tilt when moving backwards.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tatooine Days

No work done this week due to the near 100 degree heat. The shop is just too hot. Maybe next week will be better.

I'll continue once the temperature is at a reasonable level.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More Ankle and Head Work

The weather was much cooler (but still hot) so I was able to get more work done today compared to last week.

The center ankle is nearly to the same stage as the original after gluing on the other side piece. I made a few changes this time around. You'll notice the two side pieces don't go as high as the center does. I did this because they really don't need to go that high and to save weight.

For the head I cut the grooves into the base disc for the ribs to fit into. I'm going to try to use just four ribs. The reason is because the back ends would pump into each other preventing a good fit. So not wanting to modify the rib design I'll try using just four. We'll see how that goes.
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I was also able to drill the mounting holes for the rockler bearing and rough cut the four remaining ribs.
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Here you see how the ribs and the rod will fit together.

Next week, weather permitting, I'll trim the head ribs and test fit them. I'm going to try and get a sheet of styrene too so I can test fit it to see if it'll maintain it's circle around the head with only four ribs. I hope it does.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Continuing Ankle Work

HEAT WAVE! Today's heat index was 110 degrees!

Due to the extreme heat today the shop was literally an oven so I didn't get everything done I planned to do before it got toooooooo hooooooot! All I was able to do was make the outer two pieces of the ankle and glue one of them on. The head will have to wait until next week....providing the temperature isn't too high.

Last time I made the center ankle I used the band saw to manually cut the curve in the two outer pieces. This time around I used the router and a small circle cutting attachment.
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Oh winter, where art thou?


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Center Caster, Center Ankle v2, and Head v2

Went to the shop today, despite the heat, and did some more work on the center foot's caster wheel, the new center ankle, and the new head.

I trimmed off half an inch from the caster wheel bracket to make all three feet the same height.

The only things I did to the center ankle today was drill the foot mounting hole and trim off excess from the top.

For the version 2 head, I finalized the measurements and cut out the new head rib template. I also made an 18" in diameter by 1/2" thick disk to mount the ribs to.
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In comparison to the original head, the new rib looks identical in height plus the crown of the head.

Next time, I'm going to make the next two pieces for the center ankle and use the new head rib template to make eight more. I will then arrange these eight in a circle on the disk I made. I will route grooves in the disk for the ribs to sit in. A half-inch wooden rod will sit in the center of the disk to help align the ribs together. I will also bring the Rockler Bearing to align on the bottom of the disk.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy Independence Day

Well, the fourth of July was yesterday, but better late than never.

I've been busy at my new job so I haven't had much free time (or money) to devote to R6-C9. But I got a three day weekend this holiday so I was able to find a little bit of time to continue building.

Finally got the holes drilled to mount the head motor on the other side of the body. Looks like it'll work. Now I just need to install longer wiring on that side of the body for the head motor (existing wire isn't long enough).
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My first attempt at remaking the center ankle didn't turn out very good so round 2.
Remake of center ankle

Now about the head. I have confirmed the top of the head is wider than it should be. It's wider by about 1/2" to 3/4". How I did that I don't know. It doesn't match the notes I made during it's construction. As for the full scale layout I had printed, i recently discovered it is 1/8" smaller than it should be. That's the last time I go to Kinkos to have something this big printed. So after compensating for the scale difference, I have determined the correct diameter of the top of the head. Instead of trying to modify my existing head, I'm going to make a new one, and this time I'm taking a different approach to it. I'm going to make eight vertical ribs made to be half of one full side of the head. I will place these on a disc in a circle and then wrap them with styrene.

I'm going to try to make time to work on this at least once a week. Hopefully I can have the head mostly done before next year. The head is going to be my primary focus until it is finished.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Star Wars Celebration VI Announced

Yesterday Star Wars Celebration VI was announced for August 23-26, 2012, and once again it will be in Orlando Florida.

First it seems odd they're doing this one year early from the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi. Maybe they something additional in the works for that. Oh well.

At least this time I have more than a year's worth of advance notice. Time to start saving up for this trip and getting my droid more finished. I also plan to enter R6-C9 into the droid races this time around, now that I have his drive system working.

Let the "fun" begin.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Center Ankle Redo

Had some free time this holiday weekend so I decided to get some "corrections" made.

First up is the center foot and ankle lock. I decided to completely remake the center ankle due to some minor imperfections and needing to make some changes for the ankle lock. Using the leg template I used before I made two new 1/2" pieces and glued them together. Next I'll make the outer 3/4" pieces and glue them one at a time to the sides, but it may be awhile before I can do that because of having to spend a lot of time at my new job. In the mean time I'll do what I can at home.

Other changes I'm making will be moving the head motor to the right side of the body so I have room to install the battery. The motor was getting in the way during Droid-Con so I had to install the battery through the side, which won't be possible to due once I put the skins on.
Also all the feet need to be repainted again in certain areas. One of these days I'll be done with that.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Droid-Con: Before, During and After

First I'd like to say I'm sorry for taking a whole week to post updates about last weekend. I started a new job last Monday and I've been very busy with that.

So, to start, on Thursday, May 12, I assembled R6-C9 for a test run of the foot drive and to check all the other parts and electronics.
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Here's the new mounting bolts I mentioned in the previous post.
Mounting bolt Mounting bolt New mounting hole

Here's a video of R6's first time trying to move.

Now the Director's Commentary:
Part 1:
Funny how few things work the very first time the way you thought it would. What's that noise? A loose belt in the right-foot. Easy fix. But here's where I make my first mistake which I'll regret later on. I started out with the wheels in the front of the foot shells but while I was fixing the loose belt I flip-flopped them so the wheels were in the back of the foot shells. I had reasoned that having the wheels in the back would give better weight support. More on that later.

Part 2:
OK, bigger problem here. If you look closely at the outer feet you'll see the front of them touching the floor. That's why R6 couldn't move. The feet were dragging into the carpet. I had forgotten I needed to lock the ankles (center foot included) so the foot shells don't rotate on the ankle onto the floor. Now here's where I went brain dead. Normally I would have waited until I could get to the shop to study the problem and make some wooden blocks to hold the foot shells in place. But because the Droid-Con was the next day I decided to cut some metal blocks in my apartment and J.B. Weld them to the foot shells. In order to J.B. Weld I needed to sand the paint off a spot on each foot shell where I would place the blocks. Clamp the pieces in and let dry over night.

Part 3:
Friday Morning, First day of Droid-Con.
OK. So it didn't work. Except for the center foot, the blocks held in place, however, the wood is too soft and so was bending around the blocks, or the blocks where digging into the wood. I had to think fast. Only a couple of hours until Droid-Con starts. I decided to drill a whole through the foot shells and the ankles on the outer feet and use a bolt to hold them in place. I placed blocks under the feet to hold them in the position I wanted and drilled away.
Ankle Lock

Part 4:
It works!!! OK, disassemble, load up and head out. Next stop DROID-CON!

One problem I was still having was with the center foot. While going forward it works fine. But if I go backwards the foot tilts up and R6 gets stuck. During the 'Con I got several ideas on how to fix this (bolts, ankle blocks, different ankle design) which I'll deal with later.

So I get to the Hotel, assemble R6 in the parking lot and as luck would have it....more problems. Because I flip-flopped the motor brackets the steering was backwards. Left was right and Right was left. A simple wire flip-flop corrected this. But then the power went out. Turned out to be a loose wire between the main switch and the PCB tray. I did a temporary fix and off he went.

Here's some photos and video I took while there.

Now notice how R6 has trouble turning. This is mostly because the wheels are far from the center of the body. So if I switch them around again I'll be able to perform tighter and better controlled turns. Locking the center ankle and foot will also help.

Had a great time at Droid-Con. I met several people who live in other parts of Indiana. There were several panels with someone talking about a particular aspect of droid building such as weathering, dome building, electronics, etc.. The Hotel staff was also very friendly and let us get away with things like using the droids to "floor-ski" in the hallways. Some of the guys are a little crazy, LOL. There's already talk about the next one and it very well may be back at the same Hotel.

So post 'Con work. First is to put the drive wheels in the front of the feet as I originally had it, and which I have already done, although this required drilling new ankle locking bolt holes in the foot shells.
Second is to buy the styrene I need to finish the head. I had an idea about getting a cone shape on the top which would negate having to make a new head....if it works. I'll explain that when I try it.
Third, the center foot is a half-inch higher than the outer feet. To solve this I'll just remove that much off the bottom of the center foot wheel mount.
Forth, everything else.

I'm going to take a little break (about a month maybe) so I can settle into my new job. Then back to building.