Friday, November 19, 2010

Restraining Bolt

I'm the first to admit I suck at math. Hell - I got a 16 in Algebra the first year I took it. Yeah you read that right -- Sixteen. That said, I'm having a hell of a time trying to figure out how much polystyrene I need to purchase. I think I finally have it worked out, thanks to some nice guys on the R2 Builders forum. There is a supplier in Syracuse who is supposed to give me a quote on their stuff sometime today.

I'm sourcing all the resin parts and will probably put in an order along with my friend Tim (who is building a custom R6) to try to save on shipping. The devil truly is in the details. The resin bits are about $400-500 for all the junk that goes on an average R-series body. Some things I've decided to get out of wood (booster covers, for example) which, though are more expensive, have the detail I'm after.

The first "real" piece of this droid I'll have is -- a restraining bolt. Someone was doing a limited run of aluminum ones for less than the cost of a resin one so I jumped on it. As a whole, to the uneducated or unconcerned it's not an impressive piece. A lathed aluminum stubby cylinder that resembles a lid to a bottle, but for a Star Wars fan it's just awesome.

This will keep that little droid from escaping...
This attaches with an embedded high-powered magnet to a metal plate I'll epoxy to the inside of the skin.

Speaking of skins, I've decided to just buy them pre-cut. Given the limited space I have to work on the droid I want the things that require space to be somewhat easier.

Also - I was reading about the weight of R-series droids in general. Someone was talking about metal vs. wood vs. styrene and said that they saw someone lift their styrene droid - whole - above their heads with one hand. Given that I'm assembling him in a basement I think this is GREAT NEWS. Poor R5 might be living down there now that I know he can be carried out easily.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bag, Cat No Longer Together

Over the weekend I was out and about, going to Home Depot and checking out the paint selection. I had already gathered a handful of paint chips from Lowe's, looking for the perfect R5 red-orange but was unsuccessful. At Home Depot they had a color that was closer to what I was after but I think I'll still need to experiment. There's a Behr color called "Red Hot" that might be an excellent base coat. Honestly I won't really know until I paint something and put it against the rest of the droid.

This is where I spilled the beans. I was keeping it to myself the same reason I keep most projects like this to myself -- I don't want people harassing me about how it's going. The wife was with me at Home Depot and, though distracted by the Christmas junk for a while, she caught me comparing reds and oranges in the paint department.

All this time I'd been disguising my research on droids as assistance for Tim's custom droid. It was a half truth - I really am sharing everything I discovered with Tim. I can spend most of the day looking around at all kinds of info and report back to him rather informed, concise packets of data... but I was also looking for my own info on droids.

Ah well - turns out she was OK with it. I just have to do some major cleaning in the basement to make room for the workspace.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

R2 Blue

Not many people seem to realize this -- R5-D4 is just R2-D2 with a different head and some panels painted red. Generally speaking, everything else is the same. That said there are a number of parts that need to be painted blue. Unfortunately, to get the color correct is not just a matter of finding a can of spray paint at Lowe's.

The R2 Builder's Group has numerous discussions on how to make that perfect blue hue with a combination of gold, silver and metallic purple as a base coat and a candy-coat, semi-transparent royal blue. This method gets expensive fast if you're just looking to do one droid on your own. Builder Kelly Krider came up with a way to achieve this look with store-bought spray paint, and since I'm making R5-D4 in all his Tatooine debut glory I don't really care how pristine the underlying paint job is. Granted it'll come out looking awesome, but as one builder said -- no need to waste money on perfect paint jobs when you're just going to weather it.

Here's a pic of someone's R2 head using the Krider Method:

Tools of the Trade

After a lot of research I decided to get things started by slowly building up the tool collection. I have a long way to go before assembly - I have to clean out a workspace and buy the polystyrene, for example - but tools I can always use. I went over to Harbor Freight and picked up a trim router as suggested on the R2 Builder's Club forum. While there I also obtained a few other items for gauging distances and keeping lines straight.

A couple days later my wife told me she had a gift certificate for Sears to spend but couldn't find anything she wanted. I used that to buy a couple packs of spring clamps that I know I'll need.