Monday, August 18, 2014

Finished Swapping out PIC Flasher for Rear Logics

Today I wrapped up work on transplanting the PIC Flasher circuit on droid #1's rear logics.

First, I needed to desolder the ribbon cable that connects the PIC Flasher circuit to the LED board. Yes, the old board really does look that bad.

The new board anxiously awaits the ribbon cable.

And it actually works(!).

I needed to slightly widen the mounting holes on the board to accommodate a #6 nylon screw. I wish I had realized this before I put everything together.

And finally, into the dome it goes. The cheesy transparency allows the 16 LEDs to at least look something like 108 LEDs. Kind of.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Soldered New PIC Flasher Circuit for Rear Logics

The PIC Flasher circuit that I've been using for droid #1's rear logics has been acting very flaky of late, so I decided it's time to replace it. Ideally I'd do something very fancy and support all 108 LEDs. But no, for the moment, I'm sticking with the cheesy 16-LED solution that lives behind a color transparency of the 108 LEDs.

Long ago I ordered a spare PIC Flasher kit from Carls' Electronics. Time to bust that out and replace the old board.

I soldered the components in place, one-by-one. There aren't that many, although there are a couple of 18-pin socketed DIPs. Probably around 80 solder joints in all.

And done with the soldering. The PIC chip and transistor array still need to be inserted in their sockets.

I'm still not great at soldering, but I've come a long way since 2006. I intentionally left some of the leads long on the old board on the left, thinking that if I had to pull the part out, it would be easier to reuse it later. Bad idea on many levels.

I inserted the chips and gave it a quick test with an LED, and it works!

Tomorrow I'll solder on the ribbon cable that links to the real LEDs.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Star Wars Night at Dodger Stadium 2014

For the sixth year in a row, R2 participated in Star Wars Night at Dodger Stadium.

The characters reported in to the Club Level around 4:00pm, for the 7:00pm game. Our mission was to troop from around 5:00pm-7:00pm. Tommy Lasorda paid R2 another visit.

Around 5:00pm, the characters gathered for a group picture, before dispersing to four different areas of the stadium.

This year, R2 and several other characters were designated to go to the area near the right field pavilion, where fans had purchased the Star Wars Night package, that included Star Wars t-shirts and tickets.

This guy is disconcerting to some people.

I had to get a picture with this family of Star Wars fans wearing their R2-D2 t-shirts.

Fans were super-well behaved and respectful. It may have helped that we had five security guards with us.

A little before 7:00pm, we wrapped up and headed back up to the Club Level so the characters could change back out, and so I could stow R2 during the game. (Here's a challenge: See if you can spot the two Stormtroopers in the picture.)

The Dodgers gave us good seats from which to watch the game. Unfortunately, the Dodgers gave up a 2-0 lead in the 8th inning, and ended up losing the game 6-3. R2's record is now 4-2.

After the game, there was a Star Wars-themed fireworks show, with movie clips on the scoreboards, and fireworks set to the Star Wars Music.

Around 11:15pm R2 headed for the car, which was only about a 300 foot trip. And around 11:45pm he finally made it, after lots of this.

Another great night, and I hope to be back.

Monday, August 11, 2014

CHOC Summer Visit 2014

Today R2 returned to Childrens Hospital Orange County to visit the young patients and bring them some cheer. As usual, R2 and I were joined by Mike and Amy Senna and WALL•E.

We did our room-to-room visits on all the floors, escorted by Amber of Child Life Services.

Of course, to get to all the floors, we cram the robots and us onto the elevators.

We paid two visits to this little WALL•E fan. I'd guess we spent almost an hour with him in all, and he loved every minute of it.

Another great visit, looking forward to returning.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Hillsides Children's Group Home Visit 2014

Today, R2 returned to Hillsides Children's Group Home, where he participated with dozens of members of various Star Wars clubs, to bring happiness to kids who have had a tough childhood. Per policy with these things, no pictures with kids were allowed.

As he did last year, R2 hid under an outdoor stairway, as the characters changed into costume, and prepared for their grand entrance.

As the characters got changed into costume, they socialized while waiting for everyone to get prepped.

We took two group pictures. Here's the "before."

A little after 11:00am, the staff had the kids assemble in a room that was playing The Clone Wars series, and the characters entered. I used a wooden ramp to get R2 up through the door threshold.

The kids got to meet the characters, and all the characters signed their autograph books. (I signed for R2: "Beep-Boop!" R2-D2) The kids also got toys and patches. Here's a glimpse of what it looked like inside the room.

Next, the Saber Guild put on their presentation, where Jedi fight Sith, and ultimately, Vader himself. The kids help use the Force to chase Vader away.

Afterward, everyone was treated to lunch.

And finally, we wrapped with the "after" group photo.

It's a great event for a great cause, and I hope R2 and I are part of it again next year.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Installed New Aluminum Flashing for Shoulder Discs on Droid #1

Time to install the new aluminum flashing that I cut yesterday, that replaces the galvanized aluminum that wraps around the wooden shoulder discs.

First, I have to take some junk off the droid, such as the droid lift harness, back door, mist can, etc. I placed two chairs in front of the droid in case I needed to lift him off the ground to remove the legs, although that turned out not to be necessary.

Lots of bolts to remove that lock the gas pipes together. Not all those holes are housing bolts, but seven of them were. With the bolts removed, I can slide the legs apart. Metallic Swiss Cheese.

And there it is, the hideous galvanized aluminum. You must go.

I used the hole in the old material as a template for where to mark and drill holes in the new material.

I wrapped the new material around the shoulder disc and marked where to drill the hole where the material overlaps. I drilled two sets of holes to hold the material in a circular shape.

Looking from way underneath the shoulder disc, a 3/4" #4 wood screw holds the new material to the wooden shoulder disc, and a 1/2" #4 machine screw helps to keep the material from unraveling.

One down (R2's right shoulder), one to go.

Off with the old garbage.

And on with the new garb… er, beautiful material.

And finally, some misleading close-ups of the finished work, that don't show the imperfections very well.

Get ready R2, you have some events coming up.