Friday, August 30, 2013

Star Wars Night at Dodger Stadium - 2013

Tonight was one of my favorite events, Star Wars Night at Dodger Stadium! There was a Star Wars-themed fireworks show scheduled after the game, so that was good enough reason for the characters to come on out for some fun.

Before I tell you the story of an interview I did for which I sadly have no proof, let's fast-forward to some video. (Click the YouTube logo once it starts playing for a larger version.)

And now, our detailed summary of the evening.

I arrived around 4:40pm and parked on the third base side of the stadium, and unloaded R2. As always, it doesn't take long for folks to start gathering for pictures.

We reported in to the Club Level, where the costumed characters started getting dressed in a meeting room/changing room.

I wasn't inside the stadium long when who should stop by, but Dodgers Hall of Fame former manager, Tommy Lasorda! "What can he do?" Tommy asked about R2. So we chatted while I put R2 through his paces before getting a picture. Tommy also tweeted his own version of this pic.

Not that I'd expect him to remember, but this was our second picture together at an event, but the first with him and R2.

Spanish language announcer Jorge Jarrin stopped by to say hi (and also tweeted). He's always been very friendly on our visits.

We didn't realize it at the time, but the gal that was going to sing the national anthem also came by for a picture.

Around 6:00pm, the characters were ready, and we were escorted to the elevator for our trip down to the field. Did I mention that it was one of the most hot and humid days of the year? Well, it was. Those poor guys in those buckets...

I wonder if this is the oddest looking group that the elevator operator sees all year? (I hope so.)

Off the elevator we went, and through the really neat parts of the stadium on our way to the field.

Speaking of elevators, since we end up below ground level, I had to take my annual trip in the wheelchair elevator with R2 to get back up to field level.

We're back!

This is where things got even more interesting for me. I was asked by our point of contact if I could do an interview, and I said sure. I figured it was for the web site, or perhaps TV, but no big deal, I've done many before.

Angela Sun, who does the Yahoo Sports Minute daily report, was dressed as Princess Leia and was doing live reports from the field, that were being shown on the stadium scoreboard and over the stadium loudspeakers.

Just before it came time for my interview, they introduced me to Angela, at which point I realized I was going to be speaking live on the scoreboard to the entire stadium. I'd guess somewhere around 15,000 people were seated at that point (the game would sell out at over 51,000). Good thing I didn't have time to be nervous!

Sadly, as far as I know, no one took any pictures or video of the interview. My back was to the scoreboards, so I couldn't see it, but I sure could hear it! It takes about a quarter of a second for the audio on the stadium PA system to reach the home plate area where we were, so I had to concentrate hard on what Angela was asking, and what I was answering, as the echo was very loud and distracting.

She asked questions about how long R2 took to build, how the remote control worked, stuff like that. I demonstrated the scream sound, and I could hear the laughter in the stadium as the sound played over the loudspeakers. The interview lasted about 2 minutes, and we wrapped up.

As game time approached, we were asked to do group pictures behind home plate. R2 is watching you!

And there's our national anthem singer!

Troy, our Boba Fett, headed out to the mound accompanied by two Stormtroopers, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch (he also got to keep the ball). A two-hopper, just a little bit outside. One of the Stormtroopers gave him a sympathy hug.

We wrapped up on the field and spent an inning on the first deck, doing photo ops. Then we headed back upstairs, passing World Series and Golden Glove trophies.

The characters changed out of their costumes, and I stowed R2 in the changing room. We were given awesome seats and food vouchers for the rest of the game.

Dodgers win 9-2! R2's record is now 4-1.

Shortly after, fans were allowed down on the outfield to watch the fireworks show, though most of us opted to stay in our seats. It was a good 20 minute show set to Star Wars music.

After the fireworks show ended, we headed back upstairs to collect our belongings (including one droid) so we could go on home. But by now you know it's never that simple.

I hit the road just before midnight. At least I missed all the traffic going home. Hope to do it again next year!

The full photoset is here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Foot Shell Repair, Opened Motor Shaft

In this post we have a little bit of droid #1, and a very little bit of droid #2.

Droid #1 has an old war wound that occasionally flares up on center foot shell, so I removed it for repair work.

After applying some PVC glue to the cracked areas, I lightly clamped things back together.

While that was drying, I decided to open up the shaft end of one of the NPC motors. I wanted to see if I could grind or file away some of the material on the outside, without affecting the inside.

I'm mainly looking to get an idea of where the worm gear is, and how much clearance there is from the outside of the motor. Here are three different angles.

And here's the gear that meshes with the worm gear, and houses the shaft.

I think it's safe to grind or file off some material on the outside of the motor. I'd guess from 1/8" to 1/4" off the corners would be ok, and that should be enough to help fit the motor into the battery box.

Meanwhile, the PVC glue had dried, so I reinstalled the center foot on droid #1. Good until the next time someone (possibly me) cracks it again.

Now I need to sweet-talk my way into using a bench grinder.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Opened Up Left Battery Box and Foot Shell on Droid #2

Today I put in some work on getting droid #2's drivetrains built.

First I need to cut open the motor side of the battery boxes. The battery boxes themselves are made from PVC and resin, and were supplied by Craig Smith years ago.

I compared the cuts for droid #1 to get the measurements for where I want to cut.

The Dremel with the cutoff wheel made quick work of these cuts. The cut arches upward to allow access to the ankle bolt.

I gave a quick test fit on the drivetrain with the motor installed just to make sure nothing was horribly off. This test fit doesn't count for much, since the foot shell is not on.

The reason the foot shell isn't on is that it too needs to be opened up. These are aluminum foot shells run by Kelly Krider years ago (and the run was not without its controversy). I marked it up for cutting, similar to the battery box, and put the Dremel back to work. Definitely more effort for that poor motor than the battery boxes required.

I finished the corners with hacksaw blade.

The Senna drivetrains require that the foot shell be installed with the motor off, as there isn't room to slide the foot shell in place with the motor installed.

Once the foot shell is on, then the motor may be bolted in place.

Now the fun part - finding out what doesn't fit. I slid the battery box on, and as expected, it doesn't sit flush against the foot shell.

This is a common problem, and in this particular case, it seems that the bottom of the motor and the motor mount are keeping the battery box from sliding toward the foot shell. The top of the motor may require some filing too.

On Mike's droid, he actually cheated and opened up the bottom of the battery box, and allowed the motor mount to peek through underneath, so it is not entirely concealed. You have to get down on your hands and knees to see it, though.

I'll spend some time considering how I want to deal with this, and then go for it. And then do it all over again for the right foot.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cut Down Right Motor Mount for Droid #2

Let's do it again, this time for the right motor mount.


And now the right motor mount no longer overhangs the bottom of the motor.

Next I need to start fitting these into the battery boxes, which means I need to open up the battery boxes from the motor side. And I'm sure motor filing is in my future.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cut Down Left Motor Mount for Droid #2

Tonight I finally got around to cutting down the left motor mount (at least, I think it's the left one) for droid #2. There is such a tight fit in the battery boxes that there isn't any room for excess baggage.

The motor mount hangs down about 1/4" beyond the bottom of the motor. In this picture, everything is rotated 90 degrees, so the overhang is on the right.

I marked the area to trim.

Well, at least it's not steel.


Now the motor mount doesn't hang below the motor.

That was so much fun, I'm going to save the cutting of the right motor mount for another day. Possibly tomorrow.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Orange County Mini Maker Faire at UC Irvine

Today R2 and I joined fellow builders Matthew Henricks, Mike Senna, Gene Arena, David Annetta, William & Nikki Miyamoto, and Guy Vardaman as we attended the Mini Maker Faire at the University of California, Irvine.

We had a shaded area for the droids and builders to hang out.

There was a continuous stream of visitors throughout the day, asking about how the droids are built, and checking out how they work.

I did a brief video interview with the Orange County Register. I'm around the 30-second mark, and Mike's WALL•E is shown at the end:

More pictures of the festivities.

Gene Arena's new R2-D2 dome was heavily tricked-out, and it also included cool stuff in the body panels.

Toward the end of the day we took a group picture.

Shortly thereafter, it was time to pack up and head out.

But our day wasn't quite over, as we made our way to Red Robin for dinner. R2 joined us there as well, much to the delight of the staff and patrons.

It was a nice, manageable event, and best of all, just down the road from home.