Thursday, January 31, 2008

Started Gluing Framed Panels

Tonight I started gluing the framed skin panels with silicone.

I ran a bead of silicone around the inside perimeter of the framed piece for each of the panels.

Next, I used my famous clips to attach the frame to its corresponding solid piece.

I used a toothpick and a paper towel to clean off the excess silicone that squeezed through the seam on the front side.

I completed all the framed panels for the front skins, there are still a couple of panels on the rear skins that I didn't get to tonight.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Prepped Skin Panels for Gluing

Tonight I sanded and cleaned the framed skin panels. The panels on the front side of the droid will be attached with silicone, those on the back door will be bonded with JB Weld, just like droid #1. The silicone helps eliminate rattle, and makes for a quieter droid when it is rolling around.

First, I used 400 grit sandpaper to scuff up the areas of the skins that will be bonded together. You can see the difference in shininess where the aluminum was sanded.

Six pairs of frames and panels for the back skins, and four pairs of frames and panels for the front skins.

Next, it was time to break out the mask, gloves, and acetone, and clean up the dust from the sanding.

Cleaned-up panels, ready for bonding. Hopefully I'll get to that soon, but I'm not sure.

I'm brainstorming with Mike and Matthew on the droid lift. Ideas include a type of sliding drawer mechanism, and the possibility of mounting the tripod for the crane onto the inside of tailgate itself. For a look at Mike's droid lift, see this photo set.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hanging Out at Matthew's

Today I dropped by Matthew Henricks' house to talk about the frame, skins and aluminum parts. Matthew checked out the fit.

Matthew is almost done with his R2. All that's left is to finish up the dome, and that is coming along nicely.

More importantly, Matthew (who has extensive experience in restoring old cars) resurrected hope on fitting the Droidmobile with a droid lift. He thinks that with the right bolts, we could semi-permanently attach some steel to the car, and then attach another length of removable metal stock on top of the steel to clear the tailgate.

Both Matthew and Mike provided some design drawings. These archival notes will come in handy for researchers decades from now, when they write books about my droid and the Droidmobile.

After Matthew helped me realign a couple of pieces on the frame, the fit was even more perfect. I decided I'd better label the pieces of the frame with small letters in black marker, so that I can duplicate the fit for the next time I put it together.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hanging Out at Mike's

This one doesn't have much to do with droid building (at least for me), but here it is anyway.

I dropped by Mike's today to discuss the droid lift for the Droidmobile. It's looking less and less likely that the Honda Element is going to be able to accommodate a droid lift, mainly because of the tailgate. I knew this would cause trouble when I bought the car, but it otherwise handles R2 transportation very well.

Plan B is to see if I can get an external crane to load and unload R2 from outside the car. A quick look at Harbor Freight's website shows several cranes that could do the job, but they are way too heavy, and are overkill. I'll continue looking.

In the meantime, Vince Sanchez and Chris Romines joined us. Chris just received Andy & Alex' R5 dome kit. Vince supplies the resin details, which Mike discussed with the two of them.

Mike removed the shell of his scratch-built R5 dome to try the A&A shell on his dome. The fit was excellent. It looks like the A&A R5 dome, along with Vince's resin details, will work out quite well for Chris.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Started Test Fitting Aluminum Parts

Tonight I started test-fitting some of the aluminum parts I have against the frame and skins. It's so nice to actually have the parts in hand before finishing up the frame and skins.

To my pleasant surprise, the front of the frame accommodates the McMaster-style power couplers (that have the square frame piece) and octagon ports (that are square in shape). The rear octagon port doesn't quite fit, so I'll be routing out a little more room for it. The rear power coupler seems to fit fine.

Next, I test-fitted the skins with the parts in position. The coin slots fit fine within the frame.

The front octagon port needs a little more room to align with the skins, so I marked the area to be chopped. I had to do this on my scratch-built frame for droid #1, so no surprises here.

Among other things, I also want to get started on my droid lift for the Droidmobile. I spoke with Mike for a few minutes tonight, and with any luck we'll get together on Saturday to talk about it some more.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Birthday Party

My friend Kelvin, whom I've known since first grade and who helped me several times with my R2 build, had his oldest son's 8th birthday party today, and I volunteered R2's services.

As usual, R2 proved popular with the kids.

Kelvin's youngest son was particularly fond of R2.

R2 considered going in the bounce-house, but in the end thought better of it.

Another fun outing for R2 and me.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Finished Filing Panels

Tonight I was able to finally finish filing the tabs off of the skin panels.

First, I tackled the larger panels, including the utility arms and the framed panels (and their frames).

I wrapped it up by filing the smaller panels that run under the large panels on both the front and back of the outer skins.

Ninety-six pieces of aluminum in all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More Panel Filing

Tonight I continued filing down the many tabs on the skin panels.

First I tackled the outer layer of the back door.

All clean.

I filed down the tabs on a few more panels, before calling it an evening.

More of this excitement to come.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Filed More Skin Tabs

Not much progress today. I simply filed the tabs off of the last main body panel for the front inner layer of the skins.

Next up, filing each of the panels that were cut out earlier. I may not get to those until later in the week.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cutting & Filing Skin Panels

More work on the skins today.

I cut out the remaining fine laser-cut panels, using a most excellent tip from Chris James. Using a chisel, I worked the blade back and forth in the groove of the cut, until the small tabs holding each piece were broken. On Chris' advice, I kept the flat part of the chisel facing the body of the skins, and the slanted part facing the panel to be removed. This way, it's less likely that the skins will be damaged. Thank you, Chris!

It took a little while, but slowly I was able to remove all panels from each layer of the skins.

Once all the panels were removed, I set the skins up next to the frame, and the fit looked good. And why stop there, when it can be topped off with the R&J dome?

With every panel now removed, it was time to start filing down the many metal tabs that kept them in place. At least this time, I have a proper set of small files.

Repeat a million times, and I'll be done. I got through about 2/3 of the tabs, I hope to finish the rest during the week.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Started Cutting Skin Panels

Today I started cutting out the panels on all four aluminum skin layers. I only cut out those panels held in place with the larger tabs, the fine laser-cut panels have not be removed yet.

Like last time, I used a hacksaw blade to cut the tabs.

Typically, for each panel, I cut most of the tabs, and then gently rocked the panel back and forth to break the remaining tabs.

Thirty-five panels in all were removed. Next up, the fine laser-cut panels, and lots of de-tabbing with a file.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Second Set of Skins Marked Up

Under the auspices of R2 #1, the second set of skins were marked up tonight, in preparation for panel removal.

The exact same numbering scheme was used as the last time.

Lots of cutting and filing to come.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Frank & Son Event

Today R2 paid a visit to the Frank & Son Collectible Show, to get a chance to visit with fans and celebrities alike. The venue was hosting a Star Wars Day, with several Star Wars celebrities, and members of the 501st and other Star Wars costuming groups.

I arrived with Mike Senna around 11:00am. (Mike left his droid at home for this one.) Chris Romines was already there with R2-A1.

As usual, it didn't take long for the kids to start swarming.

Bonnie Piesse (Aunt Beru from Episodes II and III) was kind enough to take a picture with me and R2, and sign the back panel.

Daniel Logan (Young Boba Fett from Episode II) also took a picture with me and R2, and signed the back panel.

In between celebrity visits, more kids took pictures with R2.

Ray Park (Darth Maul from Episode I) also posed and signed the back panel.

And the folks just kept coming.

A very enjoyable day.

Right now there aren't any events on R2's calendar, so it may be quiet for a while again. We'll see.