Sunday, December 30, 2007

Repainted Dome Panels

At long last, the day arrived to repaint the dome panels!

Following one of Kelly Krider's color formulas, and Mike Senna's methodology, I applied each coat until the surface looked wet and shiny.

First up, some of the smaller panels got their coat of Rustoleum Metallic Purple.

I placed the scrap wood with the pieces on it into my gas oven for ten minutes. The oven is turned off of course, with the pilot light keeping the temperature somewhere around 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps the paint to dry a little, before applying the next coat. (The high temperature today in Southern California was about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Next, the Duplicolor Anodized Blue.

Again, everything is placed in the oven for ten minutes, and then the Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel clearcoat is applied.

Next up, the pie panels.


...then the blue...

... and finally, the clearcoat.

The pieces keep coming.

There are a few small bits of crud that managed to get into the paint, but they are few and far between, and overall I'm very happy with how the paint job turned out.

Now I cross my fingers and hope that the paint will be fully dry by week's end.

I need to tape the panels back onto the dome in time for an event coming up on Saturday. I'll leave the panels in the oven (again, turned off), to help the paint to dry. If the panels aren't dry in time, I'll have to pass on the event.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Finished Dome Primer, LED Testing

Today I finished applying primer to the dome panels. A couple of heavy coats conceals the gray primer beneath. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I can start the actual painting very soon.

On another note, the red LED in the front PSI isn't as bright as I'd like it to be. I experimented with a 3000mcd red LED. If I can figure out the resistor needed for my current PSI circuit, I will probably go with this one.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Dome Panel Primer

Today I applied the first coats of white primer to the dome panels for the repaint job.

I applied two heavy coats within an hour of each other.

I need to apply another coat or two tomorrow, to get solid coverage. I can still see a hint of gray primer underneath.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Finished Wet-Sanding Dome Panels

Today I finished wet-sanding the remaining 12 dome panels.

I took a sheet of 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper, and divided it into four pieces. To wet-sand, I simply dunk the paper and the panel piece into the bucket of water, and lightly sand across the grain of the aluminum.

There is a layer of white primer beneath the gray primer. As I sand, the spin lines start to materialize. The gray primer stays in the valleys, while the white primer appears at the peaks. The longer I sand, the more the peaks and valleys emerge, resulting in a smooth surface.

After a couple of hours and a handful of freezing fingers, I had finished wet-sanding.

Next up, a final coat of white primer, in preparation for painting.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Started Wet-Sanding Dome Panels

The march toward repainting my dome panels for dome #1 continues. Today, it was time to start wet-sanding some of the panels. I got a late start, so I didn't get too far.

About an hour later the sun had set, the temperature had dropped, and I had a bucket of filthy water, along with some smooth dome panels. I hope to finish wet-sanding the rest of the panels tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Removed Paint from Dome Panels, Applied Primer

Today I used acetone to remove the paint from the panels on dome #1.

I left the original white primer on. It's not worth removing, and will actually help with the wet-sanding process.

Removing the paint involves soaking a paper towel in acetone, and scrubbing the piece until each layer of paint and clearcoat is removed. I use rubber gloves, but the acetone eventually dissolves them and I have to replace them. I also wear a mask to avoid breathing in fumes when using acetone, or applying spray paint.

More before/after:

After removing the paint from all of the panels, I waited a little while for the acetone to completely evaporate, and then I applied gray primer to all of the panels.

I also finished removing the tape from the dome where the pie panels sit.

Tomorrow I plan to start (and with any luck, finish) wet-sanding the panels, in preparation for final painting.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Removed Dome Panels

Today I removed the dome panels. The plan has been to replace them with the newly painted panels from dome #2. More on that in a moment.

First up, I gutted the dome electronics.

The dome sure is a lot lighter now.

Back on April 7, 2006, I took extensive pictures of where I placed the 3M Very High Bond tape that I used to affix the dome panels, and I relied on these pictures to know exactly where the panels were being secured to the dome.

I used a few different sizes of wooden dowels to poke the panels out from behind. The tape puts up a pretty good fight, but in the end I was able to remove each panel.

The worst part is removing all the old tape. The tape is only 5/1000" thick , so it does not peel off, it needs to be rolled and picked off little by little. I still need to remove the tape for the locations of where a few of the pie panels used to rest.

Once all the panels were off, I test-fitted the newly painted panels from dome #2. Unfortunately, not all of them fit perfectly. The larger panels are more problematic, I guess the dome profiles for each of my R&J domes are slightly different.

The new plan is to repaint the panels I removed today. If the painting results are as good as those for the panels of dome #2, I'll just use the repainted panels from dome #1. In the meantime, I have some old paint to remove and some primer and wet-sanding to do.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Frame #2

This frame went together a lot faster than frame #1. That is because getting it done was a matter of driving to Matthew Henricks' house and picking it up.

I'm sorry if I'm disappointing anyone who was hoping for another scratch-built frame, but I've decided to go with Matthew's excellent CNC'd wooden frame. It's made from very high quality baltic birch plywood, and it's cut to precision. I've already proven to myself that I can make a frame, and I chose to go with the CNC'd version this time. (Don't be shocked if the same goes for the legs when the time comes.)

I laid all 22 pieces out on my high-tech workbench, and started dry-fitting everything together.

In almost no time, I had the frame assembled.

There will be minor modifications (e.g. cutting the lower ring for back-door access, trimming the LDP area). I will test fit the various parts that will sit on the base of the frame (power couplers, octagon ports, etc.) and trim the frame as necessary.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Another Autism Event, Uncle Visits, CIV DVD Premiere

After over a week with no updates, today was a very busy day. When it rains, it pours.

First up, the Irvine Autism Clinic had its Christmas party. Mike Senna was to supply R2-D2, and Chris Romines was to supply R2-A1. I was planning on stopping by just to say hello.

It turns out that the event's Darth Vader had to drop out, so Chris ended up playing Vader, and I was pulled into service to operate R2-A1 for the event.

R2-A1 shadowed his master/owner/builder as much as possible.

Here, we see where Princess Leia learned how to pose for holograms.

The half-pints in costume at these events always crack me up!

Kids in general, and autistic kids in particular, often experience the world through touch.

When R2-A1 wasn't hanging around with Vader, he could usually be found near R2-D2.

Once again, Mike's kids provided the Ewok entertainment.

We managed to get most of the characters together for a group shot, although R2-A1 had called it a day by this time.

My favorite picture: Santa grubbing.

I returned home and my folks called saying that they were nearby with my Uncle Paul from Thousand Oaks, and he wanted to see R2.

If Vader can do the Leia pose, so can he.

The day wasn't quite done. Michael McMaster drove a few hundred miles to hand-deliver the CIV DVDs. William and Nikki Miyamoto joined the crowd as we watched the video on the big screen.

Then, for some very strange reason, Michael McMaster proudly showed me a button he was wearing on his shirt. Apparently I'm running for office?? They had similarly goofy buttons for Senna ("Got Mike?") and McMaster ("Chicks Dig Me"). And I thought I had too much time on my hands...

Mike Granek and Roy Powers dropped by.

Max Cervantes proudly displayed the R2-D2 Pepper Mill, Shampoo Dispenser and Soy Sauce Bottle, all of which arrived in his mail today.

Senna, McMaster and Chris Romines (each wearing their "Franco 2008" buttons) wait for the food to finish cooking on the BBQ.

Mike's Lucasfilm Christmas card. Why is there part of a wooden finger at the bottom? Remember that Fanboys movie shoot, when the Ewok costume was placed on the mannequin? Well, when Justine was putting on her Ewok costume today, guess what she found? A mannequin finger in the glove! I probably would have screamed, she laughed.

Last but not least, the CIV DVD 2-disc set itself. Once again, Michael McMaster has delivered a treasure-trove of digital memories.