Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

Another year, another Halloween with R2 helping to hand out candy in the garage.

Trust me, he's in there somewhere.

We had a decent crowd come through tonight, considering the neighborhood I'm in is fairly small.

We'll plan to do it again next year.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Long Beach Comic Con 2010

Today R2 visited the Long Beach Comic Con, along with Gene Arena's R2-A6 and many characters from the Rebel Legion, 501st, and other Star Wars costuming clubs (not to mention non-Star Wars costumers).

Chicks still dig R2.

Of course, kids also love R2.

More R2 devotion.

Some of the time was spent chatting with friends from the 501st and Rebel Legion.

No fear.

Fellow R2 Builders Club member Norm Rapmund was on hand as an artist, signing comic books and drawing sketches. It was one of these types of conventions (Wizard World) that got him into this crazy hobby.

Club member Liz Wrightson was also there, with her artist husband Bernie.

Terri Hodges split time between her husband Tom's booth, and the 501st booth.

This Ewok was adored by one and all. I think he thought he was King Kong, preparing to scale the droid. Why didn't I install that Ewok zapper?

As I was leaving, I was stopped for a brief interview with something/someone called I doubt that will ever see the light of day.

A quick trip down the elevator in the parking structure, and mission accomplished.

Tomorrow: Halloween

The complete photoset is here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Return to CHOC

Today R2 paid a return visit to Children's Hospital Orange County, in the city of Orange, CA.

R2 was joined by Sonya Hall as Princess Leia, as we made the rounds to visit kids in their rooms.

As usual, pictures with patients are sparse due to privacy concerns, but we were granted permission to take this picture with a couple of patients in the activity room.

And also as usual, the staff enjoyed the visit.

As we left, R2 checked out the Halloween pumpkin decorating contest. "Hmm... Nice, but needs some Star Wars-themed entries."

Thanks to CHOC for hosting us again, and to Sonya for appearing as Princess Leia.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wired Up Dome Power Terminals

Tonight I performed the tedious task of wiring up what passes for positive and negative bus bars in my dome.

The "bars" are actually made of a non-conductive plastic outer casing, with metal innards. This way, I don't have to worry about anything shorting out when these are mounted in the aluminum dome.

There may be other plastic bus bars that connect all the terminals together, but unfortunately, these do not. Instead, terminals are connected in pairs in a front-to-back fashion, but the side-to-side terminals are not connected to each other. Thus, I need to string the back side together.

I cut eleven segments of wire for each bus bar, and I soldered each segment to the adjacent segments, and then screwed them down into their respective terminals.

I checked each segment with the multimeter as I went with, ensuring I had good continuity. Oddly enough, the multimeter reads zero when there is continuity, but it beeps nice and loudly.

All done, ready for dome goodies to be plugged in and powered up.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Drilled Dome for Radar Eye

Today I drilled the dome for the holes that accommodate the mounting screws for the resin radar eye. The steps taken today pretty much follow the Resin Eye Mounting Tutorial that I wrote up.

I want the eye to be located like how it looks in this screen grab from Episode IV, when R2 is being sold by the Jawas. I'm mainly using the lower-left hand corner as a reference for location, as well as the location of the eye on droid #1, which matches this shot.

This looks about right.

Time to trace it. (Of course, I held the eye tightly in place during the actual tracing, so that it wouldn't move.)

I marked four locations to drill mounting holes. The locations were chosen so that they would hit the thickest parts of the resin eye.

I want the holes in the dome to be parallel with the base of the dome, and all the holes to be parallel with each other. This way, the screws will slide in and out of the dome together, all pointing in the same direction. I actually used a level to make sure that the dome was parallel to the ground, and I was able to keep the drill level as well, as I drilled the holes.

I'm using a 0.113" drill bit, for the 1.5" #4 screws that I will use to mount the eye. So far so good...

As is now tradition, I just had to make a big mess of one of the holes. Fortunately, this won't show when the eye is mounted. I really tried hard this time not to let that happen too. The other scratch above the hole for the front holoprojector was already there when I received the dome, so I can't take credit for that.

Next, I used strapping tape to tape down the eye exactly within the outline that I drew earlier. At this point the location is really important, because the next step pairs the location of the eye to the dome.

With the eye taped down on the outside of the dome, I drilled through the holes that I just drilled from the inside, and drilled shallow holes into the back of the resin eye.

These shallow holes serve as a guide for where to drill the deeper holes for the mounting screws.

Here's where things started to go a little off course. I decided to drill the deeper holes in the back of the eye. The holes go about half way deep into the back of the eye.

Just as the holes in the dome need to be parallel with each other and with the base of the dome, these holes in the back of the eye need to be as well. However, there isn't as much reference to go from when drilling the holes in the back of the eye, other than the shallow holes that were drilled in the previous step.

I clamped down the eye to a flat piece of wood and used a drill press to start drilling the holes. Since that worked well enough for droid #1, that's what I did here.

After drilling the two top holes, I checked to see if the screws would be pointing in the right direction. Things didn't look so good. They are definitely pointing too far down. I verified this by also resting the eye flush against the dome and fitting the screws from inside the dome, and the screws were definitely pointing low.

I decided stop, and fill the holes with JB Weld. I'll try again another day. One thing I've learned is that most mistakes are correctable, and I believe this one to be as well. Heck, I've done it before.

I am debating about whether to use the same approach to drilling the holes that I did today, since it did work great for me with droid #1. Another alternative is to tape the eye again tight onto the dome, and drill deeper from the inside of the dome. I can use some masking tape on the drill bit to indicate how deep to drill. This approach might help ensure the holes are all parallel to each other, but it also assumes minimal slop in the holes in the dome. As I'm fond of saying, we shall see...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Soldered Together PSI Circuits

I finally had a chance to go LED shopping today, so I was able to solder together the Processor Status Indicator circuits tonight.

Here is the pile of parts.

I really love this flasher kit. It is from Velleman, model #MK102. It is readily available at many on-line electronics outlets, usually for under $5.00. Buying the parts separately at Radio Shack would cost more. The blink speed is adjustable. The instructions are pretty simple.

For the front PSI, I'm substituting some of the parts with other parts, as I did with droid #1, in order to get brighter blue and red LEDs to work. Specifically, I'm substituting the 1-Kohm resistor that goes on the red LED with a 62-ohm resistor. I'm substituting the 1-Kohm resistor for the blue LED with a 39-ohm resistor. Finally, I'm replacing both 10-µfarad capacitors with 100-µfarad capacitors, to achieve the right blink rate with the trim potentiometers. I'll get to the replacement LEDs shortly.

This clipping tool comes in handy for cutting the leads off after soldering.

For the red LEDs, I'm using three red LEDs with the following specs: 5mm, 3500mcd, 25 milliamps, 2.5 forward volts, NTE part #NTE30041. I soldered these in series, anode to cathode.

For the blue LEDs, I'm using two blue LEDs with the following specs: 10mm, 1200mcd, 25 milliamps, 4.0 forward volts, NTE part #NTE30070. I soldered the pair in series, anode to cathode.

Time to power it up! Will it work? Will it blow up? Will it do nothing?

It works!

For the rear PSI, I'm using the Velleman kit as-is, without part substitutions, so I soldered up a second board. For whatever reason, I get decent brightness with the green and yellow LEDs I'm using.

Actually, I wasn't so happy with the yellow LED that I used at first, so I dug up an ultra-bright yellow LED and gave that a try.

Looks good!

Green is looking good too.

Finally, a family portrait of all the dome parts that will light up, minus the front holoprojector. The front logics are still in the dome from when I was fitting them in place, and I powered up the rear logics for the occasion.

I still need to set up the wiring to the terminals, prep the switches, add PSI diffusion, and mount the resin eye, not to mention tape the dome panels in place. Still, it's getting there.