Saturday, December 07, 2019

Hillsides Holiday Visit - 2019

Today R2 paid his second visit of the year to Hillsides, a group home for children who cannot live at home (for various unfortunate reasons). We were joined by many members of the various Star Wars costuming clubs, and each of us brought at least one wrapped Star Wars action figure for the young residents (I bought four).

It was raining very lightly when I arrived around 12:05pm. Where most of the characters were going to march into the room to surprise the kids, I didn't want R2 hanging around outside in the rain. So I did what I usually do when I have to hide him in plain sight, I put a box on his head and a large sheet over him.




Around 1:30pm, the procession of characters started, and the visit with the kids was on.



We aren't allowed to take pictures with the residents, but during the visit each one of them got to pick a character to receive a gift from. R2 was chosen several times (and he did have a droid action figure to give).

After the residents left, we got a group picture before we wrapped up.



This is always a meaningful visit, and it's appreciated by the staff and residents.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Star Wars Night with the Anaheim Ducks - 2019

Tonight was R2's 5th year in a row helping support Star Wars Night with the Anaheim Ducks, where he was joined by many members of the 501st and Rebel Legions. I was also joined by my former coworker and ardent Ducks fan, Rich Newman.



I arrived at 4:30pm for the 7pm game. Visits with the fans were to start at 5:30pm. There was a bit drizzle, but nothing that made it difficult getting R2 into Honda Center.



While the costumed characters were getting dressed, R2 was asked for a quick visit to the video room.



At 5:30pm, we headed on upstairs to visit with the arriving fans. R2 mostly hung out with Griffin as Han Solo and Alexandra as Princess Leia (we didn't have a Luke tonight).







At 6:45 we made an appearance on the pregame show.





And the view from my parents' house.



With about 10 minutes left in the first period we made our way over to the next activation area, where R2 appeared in a video segment on the scoreboard with the host, a couple of Power Players, and two fans.





Afterward we stowed R2 in his usual spot in the Ducks offices, and watched the second period from some excellent seats.




During the second period, Griffin and Alexandra appeared on the video board, as did Baby Yoda.




As the second period ended, it was time to go fetch R2 for the 3rd period Dance Cam.




And that's a wrap! All that was left is to wait for the crowd to file out, so I could get R2 back to the Droidmobile. Of course, no matter how long I wait, there will always be a few photo requests after the game, and that's fine.



Unfortunately for the home crowd, the Ducks ended up losing to the Washington Capitals 3-2 (in a game that had several fights). R2's record with the Ducks dropped to 3-2. He'll try to do better next time.

I really enjoy doing the Ducks games, the fans are well behaved and the staff treats us very well. I look forward to coming back!

The full photoset is here.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Hollywood Christmas Parade - 2019

Today, for the fifth year in a row, R2 took part in the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade.



The parade wasn't scheduled to start until 6:00pm, but streets are shut down and parking gets tight, so I arrived around 1:15pm to secure a parking spot in an adjacent parking structure, and met up with Gordon Tarpley (C-3PO) and William Miyamoto, who was driving his Bumblebee car in the parade this year, rather than his Chopper droid. We were joined by Darren Moser a little while later.



Along the way, I spotted a reminder that a movie is coming out soon.



We grabbed some food, did some wandering, and as the clock struck 5:00pm, I unloaded R2 and Gordon got suited up as C-3PO. Then we headed down to the red carpet, where the droids stay on the sidelines, awaiting the other Star Wars clubs that have lined up a couple blocks away. The droids only do the red carpet portion of the parade, not the entire 3+ miles.



Finally, the parade kicked off about an hour late. Near the front are the Star Cars, including William and his Bumblebee.




The Star Wars clubs were 19th in line, so it took a little while before they got to the red carpet. Our cue was to jump in with Chewbacca, so I was only able to take a few pictures before it was our time to go.




I wasn't able to get any pictures or video while we were driving the route, although there is this photo from Getty Images.



Once we got to Hollywood and Highland, we broke off from the rest of the clubs, since our part in the parade was done. There were a lot of very happy spectators (and one Ewok) that wanted pictures with the droids.



Since the streets were still shut down as the parade kept going, William, Gordon and I went to a nearby In-n-Out to hang out for a while. Once the streets had (mostly) opened up, I got on the road to go home, only to have to wait for the very last float in the parade, a blurry Santa!



Another parade is in the books. Hopefully the droids will look good on the telecast, I'll find out in a couple weeks. Always fun to be a part of this one.

Monday, November 25, 2019

CHOC Fall Visit - 2019

Today R2 made one more visit in 2019 to Childrens Hospital Orange County to visit patients in their rooms. He was joined by members of the 501st Garrison.



I arrived around 1:15pm, and the room-to-room visits were scheduled from 2pm to 4pm. We visited several floors and wards.



The staff always asks for pictures as well.



One quick group shot before we wrapped up.



It's always good to visit CHOC, and I look forward to coming back next year.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Grounding Strap for R2

Occasionally I have a problem with static electricity collecting on R2, to the point that I get concerned about the onboard electronics, not to mention the mild zap that I can get when I touch the dome or other metal parts after he's been driving.

I researched various solutions, and settled on a grounding strap. In my case, I used some copper braided solder wick.



I wanted the strap to not be visible to the outside world, so I chose to place it on the inboard side of the motor area in the center of the drivetrain. I cleaned the surface with acetone and used some 3M duct tape to attach the strap. I cut the length to about 5", and about 2.25" hangs down below the drivetrain body.




I made sure that the strap was long enough to touch the driving surface, but short enough that it cannot reach the wheels or get wrapped on the axles or any other part of the wheel.



Unless you are an ant, this is not visible to the outside world.



And best of all, my static electricity build-up problems are gone. It will be interesting to see if this wears down over time. Hopefully it'll last a good long while.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Swapped Out Front Wheels on Center Foot

After 12.5 years running on the same caster wheels on the front foot, R2 is getting a new pair of shoes (or toes, or whatever the analogy would be).

I bought the original Proctor Glove 3RS 3" x 1.25" casters at an Ace Hardware in Yorba Linda, CA back in 2006. That store has since gone out of business and I had trouble sourcing them at other Ace stores. I called Proctor Glove to see if they could let me know where I could find them, and they pointed me to McFadden-Dale hardware in Santa Ana, CA, so I picked some up.



I debated about whether to swap out the entire caster, or just the wheel. On the one hand, an entire new caster would have brand new bearings, but I was reluctant to unscrew the caster from the wooden foot, so I decided to leave the casters in and just swap out the wheels.




The old wheels were quite chewed up.



Even more surprising was how much more the front wheel had worn out, compared to the rear wheel.



The new wheels are on, and R2 is loving them.



Let's see if they're still going strong in 10 years (and me).