Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Computer Interface Arm Arrives

David Shaw's beautiful Computer Interface Arm arrived today. Originally I had no plans to get in on this part run, but after seeing Michael McMaster's at R2LA V, I decided I had to have this. I got very lucky that someone dropped out of the run, so I was able to get a painted arm.

The arm comes exquisitely wrapped by David. There should be a part run on those stickers alone!

The first item out of the wrapping is the back piece used to extend the arm. It is etched with the group logo and manufacturing information. It looks like this particular arm was born on June 8, 2007.

The main part of the arm comes in two pieces, the body and the head piece.

Set screws hold the back piece and head piece to the main shaft, which passes through the body piece.

The detail on this part is unbelievable. Pictures do not do it justice, I will have to try again in sunlight sometime. The precision machining and painting is simply incredible. The painting must have been extremely labor-intensive just for one of these, let alone dozens.

This is going on display, I just need to come up with a display case one way or another.

Awesome part, Dave!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Adjustment to Dome Rotation Circuit

There was one lingering problem with my dome rotation circuit, the piece of PVC that I use to sense when the dome faces straight forward ran into the dome controller wheel when the dome faces straight backward.

I used a thumbtack to scratch the outline of the inner diameter of the Rockler bearing onto the PVC.

Then my good friend Mr. Dremel removed the excess material.

Of course, this means that my sensor switch no longer reaches far enough to make contact with the PVC.

I adjusted the location of the roller switch, and now everything is good. The PVC clears the dome controller wheel, and makes correct contact with the switch.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More Dome Rotation Circuits

The dome rotation circuit proved popular here in Southern California, so Chris Romines and Matthew Henricks were interested in having some made up. Chris and I dropped by Mike's house to work on these. Mike soldered the boards for Chris and Matthew.

Meanwhile, I got to work on making a second board for myself. I had purchased enough parts for a second circuit, and this may come in handy in the future.

This time I managed to solder together most of the circuit myself. Of course, Mike completed two circuits in the amount of time it took me to get about 75% done with mine. As the hour started to draw late, Mike finished up the remaining connections.

We tested Chris' circuit in his droid, and it worked perfectly the first time (naturally).

For extra credit, Mike fixed my brother Jonathan's Tivoli radio, which would not power on.

Mike noticed that a pad had separated from the circuit board near the power connector, so he soldered a red wire in place, and miraculously, the radio works great again. Jonathan was really happy to hear it playing over the phone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Finished Parade Platform, Car Platform

I finished up my two platforms-in-progress today.

First I chopped out a section of each 2x4 on the bottom of the platform that I normally have attached to the cart. This opens up the area for U-bolts to pass through.

These U-bolts are intended to bolt R2 to the platform via the axles in the drivetrain. The platform is upside-down here.

I tested this setup with R2 on the platform, and placed the U-bolts over the axles on the outer feet. I lifted the back of the platform off the floor using a spare 2x4, to help me reach the U-bolts so I could tighten the nuts. Everything looks good, R2 isn't going anywhere when he's bolted to this platform. He's parade-ready.

With that work out of the way, I was able to bolt the platform back onto the cart and call it done.

Next, I worked on finishing up the platform for the Droidmobile.

First, I drilled 3/8" holes into each end of a long 1x2.

Then, with R2 on the platform, I set the 1x2 before the front wheels of his outer feet, and drilled through the 3/8" holes and partially into the wooden car platform, in order to mark the platform for its pair of holes.

From there, I swapped out the 3/8" drill bit for a 7/16" drill bit, to accommodate the tee nuts I am using for this pair of holes. The tee nuts have a 7/16" outer diameter and a 3/8" inner diameter.

With the 7/16" holes drilled, I used a 3/8" bolt to drive the tee nuts into place from underneath.

Finally, I was ready to test-fit the whole thing in the car. I removed the floor panel above the spare tire, and set the platform in its place. The two short 1x2s are meant to stay in place permanently, as a backstop to the rear wheels of the outer feet. A pair of 3/8" diameter eye-bolts are inserted into the 3/8" holes I drilled in the long 1x2.

The idea is to load R2 into the Droidmobile with the long 1x2 removed, and then place the long 1x2 before the front wheels on the outer feet, and screw it down using the eye-bolts. I didn't have an opportunity to test this with R2 in the car, but he fit just fine out of the car, so I think this is good to go too.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Started Working on Parade Platform

R2 is scheduled to be in a Christmas Parade in December. He'll be on a float/trailer, and I need to make sure he's secured and can't move around. I pulled the wooden base off of my droid cart, and started converting it to double as a parade platform.

First, I drilled six holes in each of a pair of 2x4s.

I used 2" long #10 screws to secure the 2x4s to the underside of the platform.

With all the screws securing the 2x4s, I was able to turn the platform right-side-up again.

Next, I brought the platform inside and set R2 on top of it. The elevated platform handled R2's weight just fine.

I took a U-bolt and looped it over the rear axle of the drivetrain.

I marked where the U-bolt landed on the platform, so I would know where to drill holes.

I removed R2 from the platform, and drilled 1/2" holes. Then I set R2 back on the platform to test the fit. It was good.

I repeated the process for the opposite side.

Now R2 can be secured to the platform with the U-bolts. Well, almost. I need to chop down the 2x4s by a few inches, since the U-bolts pass through them currently. I need to be able to secure nuts (probably wing nuts) to the U-bolts without any interference from the 2x4s. Hopefully I'll get to that in the near future.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Walk Now for Autism Charity Event

Today R2 participated with the 501st and Rebel Legion in the Walk Now for Autism charity event in my hometown of Irvine.

When I arrived, I found out that the area was wall-to-wall grass, no pavement. I unloaded the Droidmobile and used the cart to get R2 to his station.

Once again, Chris Romines and I teamed up for droid duty, with R2-D2 and R2-A1.

Pictures, pictures and more pictures of the droids and the Star Wars characters.

Some of those photographed looked like they had little idea who the droids were or why they had to take a picture with them.

The crowds just kept coming.

The guests included some slightly out-of-the-ordinary admirers.

R2 had another good outing, although by the end he was hallucinating and seeing bubbles.

After the event, I swung my Mike's house to reprogram my PIC chip to turn the dome servo the correct amount for my dome controller. After a few iterations of programming the wrong image into the chip, we got it right and R2 no longer gets stuck trying to rotate his dome under control of the circuit.

While I was there, a package arrived for Mike, and he ran to the mailbox giddy as a schoolgirl. The R2 Builders hat he ordered from Trent Dickson arrived. He proudly posed with it, along with his R2 and his iPhone (which also displays R2).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cleaned Up Dome & Sound Circuit Wiring

And now for my favorite part of R2 building, wiring clean-up.

I had a couple of sound-related wires cut much longer than required on the dome and sound circuit, so I trimmed them to length. Then I routed the wires through the tie-downs at the bottom of the frame. I had to remove some junk (e.g. the mist spray can and manual droid lift) to get in there, but it's done now.

Note: Today I updated the template that blogger.com uses for this blog, in order to support labels. You may notice some subtle differences.

I've created a new label named "Events" on the right side of this page, in order to keep track of events that I do. I'm pretty generous with my current definition of an event. If R2 makes any kind of public appearance, right now I'm calling that an event. :) Most of these are bona-fide events, however.