Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

For the third year running, R2 helped hand out candy for Halloween.

As usual, the kids were semi-stunned to see R2, many forgetting all about the candy(!). Parents too were delighted to see the droid, and snapped pictures.

We'll do it again next year.

Friday, October 30, 2009

JPL Visit

Today R2 and I visited Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA.

We were joined by R2 builders (and their droids) Vince Sanchez (R5-D4), Chris Romines (R2-A1), Mike Senna (Dee-Dee from the Pink 5 fan film series), and Jerry Chevalier (also R5-D4), and many other costumed characters from the 501st and Rebel Legion.

First up, a visit to the Mars Exploration Rover mission planning room, where photos were not allowed (at least, by us; JPL took some that we may get soon). The actual rover drive and science sequencing planning was taking place, and we got to sit in on the live conference. It was quite interesting!

Next stop, the building housing Mars Science Laboratory, the next rover that will be heading to Mars. This rover is huge, roughly the size of a car, and is scheduled to launch in 2011. It is not quite buttoned up yet, and I didn't get the best picture in the world of it, but here it is.

Also in this building is the sandbox that is being used as a test bed to help free the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. Since May 2009, Spirit has been stuck in a sand pit on Mars. Making matters worse, there is a large, pointy rock under Spirit that is likely scraping the bottom of the rover. Engineers are using this sandy test bed to figure out the best way to attempt to free Spirit from this hazard. I have been following this saga on JPL's web site, so it was fascinating to see some of it in person. (Incidentally, we were told the reason for the camouflage-looking surface in front of the rover is to provide a background that will help it detect its own motion. The background is otherwise too vague.)

We also saw a humongous creation that is hard to describe, called Athlete. Suffice it to say it is huge and versatile, and may one day be used for a manned mission to Mars.

The next stop was the museum, which houses a full-sized replica of the Mars Exploration Rovers and Mars Pathfinder, among other cool items.

After we were done with the tour, it was time for the second component of our visit, as guests/entertainment of JPL's Halloween Pageant. The droids and costumed characters mingled with the JPL employees at lunch time.

We took a group shot to wrap up a highly enjoyable visit. Hopefully we can come back some day.

The entire photoset is here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wedding Ring Bearer

Today was another big day for R2, this time as a ring bearer in Rich and Sarah Woloski's wedding.

The day started at El Dorado Park in Long Beach, CA, where pre-wedding photos were taken. R2 snuck in, incognito.

Once the wedding party arrived, R2 put on his bow tie and corsage, and posed for various pictures with the participants.

Next, it was off to the wedding venue, where I needed to prep R2 for the surprise appearance at the ceremony itself. At long last, R2 had the real wedding rings on the pillow.

Speaking of surprises, none of the guests knew about R2's appearance, but almost no one at all knew that R2 would be joined by C-3PO! Not even the bride Sarah knew about C-3PO.

Yes, Ian Martin donned the outfit for this special occasion, ably assisted by his brother Scott-Thomas, and his girlfriend Amy.

The ceremony started, and R2 and C-3PO assumed their positions quietly behind the curtain in the back. As the best man fumbled to find the ring, groom Rich called out "R2!!" The curtain in the back parted, and R2 and C-3PO made their way up the aisle to deliver the wedding rings. Once the rings were delivered, the two droids lined up amongst the groomsmen.

Because I was busy operating the droid at the time, I wasn't able to take pictures, but Amy did manage to get a shot that shows C-3PO as the droids were heading up the aisle (even then, you have to look carefully to find him), Hopefully we'll get some better pictures and/or video later.

[November 1, 2009: Here's a picture of R2 and C-3PO delivering the ring to the best man.]

After the ceremony, R2 and C-3PO joined the wedding party for more photos at the altar.

When the meal started, R2 was stationed alone on the dance floor.

However, after the first dance, the DJ announced another special dancer, and R2 got out and danced the Cantina Dance with bride Sarah. Ian managed to capture the last few seconds while I operated R2.

The full photoset is here.

A fun, long, tiring day. :-)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wedding Rehearsal

Today R2 went through the wedding rehearsal for tomorrow's wedding, in which he'll be the ring bearer.

When the time comes, R2 will roll down the red carpet.

Once the ring is delivered, he'll take his place along side the groomsmen.

All systems are go for tomorrow. Since I'll be busy operating the droid, I may not have much of a chance to take pictures, especially of the ceremony itself, but we'll see.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finished Working on Wedding Ring Pillow Holder

Tonight I finished working on my mystery project, which is a wedding ring pillow holder for a wedding that R2 will be in as ring bearer, this coming Sunday. The pillow was "scratch-built" by the bride's mother, and is attached to the holder with a velcro strap.

Yes, this is the same couple for whom R2 saved the day during the proposal.

Rehearsal is on Saturday. Here's hoping for a perfect performance!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Finished Gluing Skirt Styrene, Finished Mystery Holder

Some CA glue I ordered from Aircraft Spruce arrived this week, so I was finally able to finish gluing the curved styrene part of the skirt.

The tape can finally come off, it's holding fast.

Next, I returned to work on my little mystery project.

Mystery objects are usually built out of cut up Cheerios boxes.

I took a couple of layers, glued them back to back, and glued the two portions of dowel that I cut yesterday to them.

Finally, I painted the whole thing a neutral flat white.

Once the paint had dried, I did a test-fit on the droid.

Yup, it sure looks like it's going to hold something.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mystery Stick

Today I worked on a very small project for droid #1, for an event next weekend. I've mentioned it in passing in other forums, and I'll let you guess for a few days.

The project involves a small PVC strip that needs a couple of holes drilled into it. The first hole is for a #6 screw to attach the PVC to the rib that sits below the bottom utility arm.

With the PVC mounted in the droid, I protected the skins as best I could, and drilled a 5/16" diameter hole in the top part of the PVC.

I cut a couple of segments of 5/16" wooden dowel. One of these pieces will go through the hole in the PVC.

Looks like a holder of some sort, but for what?

I plan to do a little more work on this tomorrow.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Today was the epilogue to R2LA VII.

Out-of-towners such as Tiny, Mike Johnson, Ed Wamser, and Gerard Fajardo bid farewell. Here, Chris James and Matt McCormick managed to arrange two droids and all their other gear into one vehicle, as they prepare to hit the road. Tetris, anyone?

Several of us went to the local Red Robin for lunch. Senna didn't know it, but it was his birthday. A rousing song and dance from the staff helped celebrate this sudden occasion. :)

Back at the house, Mike kindly got the gluing of the styrene part of my skirt started. There's still more gluing to do, but this helps anchor it in place for now.

Meanwhile, Doug Dixon worked on weathering Jerry Chevalier's R5-D4.

Michael McMaster operated the Chicken-cam.

It was a fun weekend, and I think everyone had a great time.