Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Truly, A Bad Motivator.

Every time I post here I have great intentions of actually moving forward with my build, but then, like the proverbial freight train to my proverbial damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks by the weasel-faced villain in a top hat, real life comes barreling down on me.

Foremost, the hardest part about this build has been lack of space. I know people have built an R2 in far less space than I have available, and to their ambition I heartily applaud and salute their work. I just can't work like that - cramped up at a folding card table or on a balcony of an apartment building. I need to lay things out and examine what I'm doing. Thankfully this is about to turn around for the better. My family is moving in the next two months to a larger house, and part of that larger house is a separate garage with an attached workshop. Space shouldn't be an issue after I get settled in.

Second biggest hurdle has been time. When I started this project I had far more free time than I do these days. Roughly five years and three kids later, I find that whatever time I have to myself seems to consist of the hour or so I get as I'm going to bed - unless I want to stay up later than usual just to hammer out some things, usually on a Friday or Saturday. Oh and forget it if you want the kids to stay out of these projects too - their little fingers love to mess with anything and everything they see. Againm thankfully, we'll have the aforementioned workshop - a place I can leave things out and lock the door to keep little hands from messing things up. As for time, well, I think once I get things in place it'll make working on R5 that much easier. I can work on something and leave it all, then come back and pick up right where I left off (instead of having to clean up and pack away everything every time).

Money, so they say, is the root of all astromech builds today. I'm glad to say that it isn't TOO much of a hindrance for my R5. It used to be that parts were really tough to come by and you had to 'strike while the iron was hot' so to speak - spending hundreds of dollars at a rip because who the hell knows when you'll be able to get these things again... Not so much anymore, thanks to 3D printing and a handful of dedicated resin makers.

What I'm trying to say is - yes, I'm still doing this droid project. Soon I'll be able to dedicate myself to it a little more regularly.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Droid!

Last night I decided to just put the head back together as it was, with the plastic/resin details, with one minor difference: Eyes.

All three eyes are in!

R5-D4's lenses are door peepholes. It was something I took from Chris R's R5 conversion. Since the peephole hardware is significantly longer than the thickness of the fiberglass head, I have used 5 1/2" washers per eye as shims. I'll try to get a pic of that uploaded later.

Close up of the center eye.
I also managed to squeeze the side details back into the bread pans, securing them with a wire sticking through the top and bottom. It wasn't an easy task, and honestly I don't feel like pulling them back out anytime soon. If I get metal ones, great. Until then, he's going to work just fine.

I did have an issue where the thin fiberglass panel inside the indent for the antenna nearly shattered apart, but it'll hold for now. I'll probably have to epoxy some sort of plate in there to hold it up properly. Anyway - This just means that the head is 95% done, and I'm going to work my guerrilla tactics build method on the body next. "Get it done" is the motto.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Minor But Effective Face Lift (Part 1)

I never have a good, solid amount of time to work on R5 (or my Sandtrooper Costume) but I made due with whatever time I have. This weekend I finally got to put in the neck tape into the ladder.

I also put a ring of brushed stainless steel tape around the bottom ring. I hope to mount the head on the body in the next week or so. I have to look up the technique on how to do that because the R5 head isn't made in a way to do it easily. I have to cut (router) out a portion of the bottom to get it to sit flush.

Part 2 should be done tonight or tomorrow for the face lift. It involves putting all the head greeblies back on. I'm not going to wait for the metal ones. I'm just sticking with the plastic until I can get the metal.

Part 3 will be a combination of redoing the red stripes and installing electronics, which will be just the eye lights.

Monday, June 15, 2015

::Crackling Electricity:: Something's Moving...

After a very long hiatus - which I can only attribute to having three children in 2 years and all the craziness that goes into that - this project is rolling again.

A while ago I acquired a styrene astromech body painted in the R2-R9 scheme. Think R2-D2, but the white parts are red and the blue parts are white.

R2-D2 and R2-R9

It came loaded with resin pieces and a handful of other parts (half-finished legs, a rockler bearing, various things I haven't looked at to see what they are). At first I was rather dismayed with how much work I'd have to put into it to make it function. I decided to give it a shot anyway and masked off the panels that I wanted to keep red.

This is how he sat for the last couple of years. I would see him in my basement and think of doing something with it, but time wasn't kind to me. I had thought that it was too screwed up and I would just salvage what I could and build new, then get overwhelmed. About the same time I acquired an already-assembled stormtrooper costume. It was beat to hell, and by the time I was done ripping out all the mistakes from the build (so many rivets instead of glue!) I resigned to the fact that it wouldn't ever be a TK (Stormtrooper) and I should make it a TD (Sandtrooper). I got kind of overwhelmed with working on that as well (again, no free time) and everything went into a box on the porch.

Fast forward almost two years. My oldest kid started to recognize some Star Wars things, and even calls any/every Tusken Raider or Scout Trooper "daddy" with much enthusiasm. I also lost about 60 pounds, beat down a crippling depression and sparked a new interest in props/costuming. Then I started working on my Sandtrooper armor and the parallels to R5 were astounding: They were both a salvage job, where the product I received was in bad shape and needed some serious work.

I made some serious headway on the TD kit by gluing everything that needed it, fixed up the backpack and finished off my large rifle. This past weekend I decided I needed to give the R5 another go, so I pulled the beat up body out of the basement and gave it a few coats of paint.

2 Coats of Spray Paint
Back shot after painting

I didn't think he'd look even half as good as this. I'm not concerned about the overall quality because he's going to be dirty, but I was very, VERY pleased with how he turned out. Now to continue the salvage job and just MAKE THIS THING HAPPEN. For now he'll hang out in my shed, and I hope to make some pieces and add them on.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Picture Day (Where I Stand)

Here's a few pics showing where I stand at the moment.

Phase I: The Dome

This shot shows the dome with the neck tape ripped off, most of the greeblies off and the tape for the neck ladder area and the bottom ring. The horseshoes are in the shot mostly because I store them in the head for now.
Here you can see the top of the head, and what I was talking about with the vinyl stickers bubbling. I'm going to pull them all off, mask it off and paint these panels.

Here's the neck ladder tape, close up. It, along with the brushed steel for the neck ring, is from Tape Brothers (www.tapebrothers.com). I believe they are located in Florida.

This is a large eye greeblie and the peephole sticking up through it. I'm going to repaint the greeblie and probably handpaint the edge of the peephole bezel to match. The only option Lowes had for those was satin nickel, which won't look right with the more silver tone I'm going to paint all these details.

I also decided to grab the smaller peephole style to replace one of the small greeblies on the bottom right.

Phase II: Body

 Sorry it's upside down, but  FIXED PICTURE you can see where I taped off the panels to remain red and ripped/cut out the incorrect flat panel. Upon further inspection I realized I'll need to add material to the LDP area as it was cut too wide. I'm still trying to figure out how the LDP will fit into that space otherwise. I might need to print out the front

 Here's a shot of the back (right side up). The large panel at the top suffered some damage when I was ripping off the magnet system used to keep it in place. It was rather loose, and I don't want that panel to open anyhow. I'm going to fabricate a whole new panel for that location.

I need to take a few minutes and study what goes where for all the details (resin or otherwise) that go in all the now vacant holes. The side vents are still in place because I'm hoping to get them out in one piece. The pocket vents got pretty screwed up when I was taking them out.

I noted that I have one octagon and one power coupling that survived the extraction. The other octagon crumbled and the other power coupling got wrecked along the outer edges.

Here's a shot of the center vents. They're solid resin. They look a bit sloppy to me, so I'm hoping I can clean them up with a good sanding and a repaint.

Here are the base legs that I have. I have to go through the plans to see what stage they are in. I don't really want to start over on these, but I will if I can't figure these out.

You can see the Rockler bearing under there too.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Major Life Update, Game Plan Laid Out

Since the last post I've had a major life change - my first child was born February 19th! This has stopped all project work for the last 3 months.

Even at my last posting I knew it was too ambitious for me to meet the rather small goal I had set of finishing the head. In order to complete this droid, I need to make a checklist of everything that needs to get done, break it down into what I can do in the smallest amount of time and go from there. "What does that mean exactly?" you may ask. Well it's quite simple:


I need to work on R5's head. All the detail needs to be redone.

  • Step 1 is complete - I've ripped off all the incorrect neck tape. 
  • Step 2 will be to apply the correct neck tape.
  • Step 3 is to apply the brushed metal tape to the bottom ring.
  • Step 4 is to pop off all the greeblies. This is already 75% done since two of the three large eyes popped off on their own.
  • Step 5 is to install the peephole lenses into the large eyes. This one will take a while since I have to figure out how to center them.
  • Step 6 is to repaint them all uniformly. The paint job on them looks a tad sloppy.
  • Step 7 is to rip off the red stickers on the pie plates and repaint them with red paint. The stickers are bubbly and look like garbage.
  • Step 8 is to reapply the red pinstriping, especially around the top of the dome. It's very wavy. The pieces around the breadboxes are fine/good enough for me.
  • Step 9 is to reattach the greeblies.
  • Step 10 is to wire up the eye lights with blue LEDs and a small battery pack.


The body. I've acquired a partially built body from someone in the R2 Builder's Club (and a rockler bearing!) It was painted in a reverse red pattern much like the one seen here:

I don't know the letter/number designation of this droid but I've seen this configuration before.

  • Step 1 - Tape off areas to remain red. Chances are I'm going to repaint the red areas anyway, but for now I'm going to just tape off these areas to save on white paint. This is already done.
  • Step 2 - I ripped off/cut out the incorrect unframed panel on the front left. I'm working to create a replacement panel out of styrene. I'm also including any frame modifications I need to make in this step. The LDP doesn't sit correctly, so I'll have to beef up the shelf it sits on and check the clearance for the head.
  • Step 3a - Replace all busted panels. Aside from the non-framed panel above, I have a couple of panels I need to replace because I ripped them apart while trying to get at the resin pieces. Mainly the large panel between the "shoulders" on the back and the pieces that go behind the utility arm boxes.
  • Step 3b - Get a skirt. I'm not going to screw around with trying to make one when even Bob Ross recommends buying a specific one. (In fact, I'll place that order soon so I don't forget.)
  • Step 4a - Paint the body white.
  • Step 4b - Paint the detail panels red. Same red I'm using for the dome panels. (I'll also paint the utility arms at this point since I have the paint flowing.)
  • Step 5 - replace all broken resin pieces. In trying to take out the resin parts so I could have a relatively clean shell to paint, some of the parts cracked (others shattered completely). I need new side & pocket vents, a new set of octagon ports and I think a new pair of power couplers. I may also want to replace the center vents if the ones I have don't clean up nice. The resin ones I have just look cheap and I might just get the surrounds and cut out the center fins myself.
  • Step 6 - Paint all those detail pieces and install them.


Attach Head to Body

This should be a relatively easy phase but it's EXTREMELY important to take as much time as I need. I have a Tom Servo with a small Lazy Susan bearing for his head movement. The head isn't centered on the bearing so I can see it slightly wobbling if I whip his head back and forth. I do not want that to happen to R5! This phase may be something I revisit over and over.


Legs. I acquired a partially built pair of legs but I may start over.
  • Step 1 - Use (or rebuild) the main leg pieces and shoulder hubs.
  • Step 2 - Paint main leg pieces white.
  • Step 3a - Acquire leg resin detail pieces.
  • Step 3b - Acquire beefy ankle kit.
  • Step 4 - Paint resin details.
  • Step 5 - Assemble.
  • Step 6 - Attach to Body. 


Right now it's all about research. I know roughly what I need, but getting this refined is paramount. Time is something I can't afford to waste.


I have a 3rd party PS2 controller. I'm going to study the living hell out of that KISS method that R2 Club Member Asok has laid out. I met him in person at the first DroidCon and was thoroughly impressed with his styrene droid's simplicity. It's what gave me the desire to make my own.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Current Plan

The next few months are insanely busy with a lot of family functions, so if I don't lay out a strategy, I'm doomed.

DOME - Deadline 11/10
I plan on working on the dome in full when I can to have it complete by November 11th. That oddly specific date is the Albany Comic Convention, where I'll be attending as a Tusken Raider for the 501st. I want to have R5's head done so it can be on display there. There's not a LOT to do, but enough that I need to keep on it or I'll never get done.

I ordered the engine turned tape and some brushed chrome tape for the neck and dome ring, respectively (see last post). I have three large peephole kits in brushed nickel as Chris Reiff has done. I need to peel off the vinyl pie plate stickers and paint those red - I think I may pull out the skin panels that need to be this color and do them at the same time. The only other component is the LEDs for the eyes. I'll have to do a bit more research on that just because I don't want to screw it up. I have a very rudimentary understanding of electricity and how to wire things.

I plan on trying to clean up my basement amidst all the other junk I have going on so that I can work on building the router table by Black Friday (Nov 23). I will (hopefully) begin applying the styrene plans to the plastic and cutting out the frame by mid-December. I want to get the body complete by January, minus any resin parts that just aren't available. I'm thinking I'll probably make the vents and coin returns myself.

I'm not looking too much further than that for now.