Sunday, July 21, 2019

Comicon 2019

Today R2 and I joined fellow droid builders Mike Senna, Michael McMaster, William Miyamoto, Thomas Roesoeli and Chris Romines for our panel at San Diego Comicon.

I'd actually been in San Diego attending Comicon since Friday, but since R2 didn't go to the con until today, I didn't have any R2 activities to blog about.

Thomas always does an outstanding job of arranging the transportation, and this year was no exception. The U-Haul pulled up to our hotel at 7:45am, right on time. Our panel was scheduled from 10:00am-11:00am, so we allowed ourselves plenty of time to load the truck and commute to the convention center.

Mike Senna came up with an effective way to bolt our droids onto our wooden carts, and then tightly secure the carts to the truck wall with ratchet straps. Still, it's always a little nerve-racking when you shut the truck door behind you.

Thomas also arranged for a van to drive us to the convention center. It's about a 15 minute trip.

We unloaded at the loading dock, and wheeled the droids in through the back corridors, until we reached our Room 11 destination. Since we're the first panel of the day, we don't have to wait for a prior panel to let out before setting up.

Since we were still a bit early, I went downstairs to check out the convention floor for a few minutes. Open for 5 minutes, and it's already pretty packed.

After that, I headed back up to Room 11, and the line that was waiting outside was allowed in.

At 10:00am, it was showtime!

As the moderator, I had our panelists introduce themselves one-by-one, and then we transitioned to the various topics of our panel, such as club membership, build tools and techniques, electronics, and frequently asked questions (e.g. build time, droid weight, etc.), among others.

The panel was reasonably well attended.

Toward the end, we showed off our gadgets. Using an Apple TV as our connection to the projector, Amy Senna was able to take control of the display with her iPhone, and do close-ups for the people in the audience that would otherwise have trouble seeing the demonstrations from a distance.

We ended with questions from the audience, followed by pictures (and more questions) in the adjacent hallway, and then it was a wrap!

We reversed the process and took the droids back into the loading dock and onto the U-Haul.

On the 80 mile drive back home, I think a car in front of me was calling me out.

I really enjoyed our panel and the whole convention experience this year, hopefully we'll get to do it again next year.

Tina Bosse streamed the panel on Facebook, so if you're interested, hopefully this link will work:

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Star Wars Night at Dodger Stadium - 2019

Today R2 participated in Star Wars Night at Dodger Stadium, along with many other characters from the Star Wars costuming clubs.

As I had mentioned in today's earlier CHOC post, droid #1 was having some drivetrain issues, so droid #2 was called into service for this one, and he performed admirably. Nice to see a clean droid again!

I arrived and unloaded, and stationed R2 outside the changing room, where early-arriving fans took pictures.

We were split up into four groups of diverse characters. My group was to be stationed in the right field plaza to greet arriving fans, and at 6:00pm we were to be taken down onto the field.

At 4:45pm we headed out and waited for the gates to open.

And once they did open, a line instantly formed for pictures.

We cut the line off a little before 6:00pm so that we could relocate down onto the field. While the other characters can take the stairs, R2 must take the elevator. We made a quick stop by the World Series trophies on our way.

And when there's not an elevator, the chair lift will have to do.

Because we end up slightly below field level, I take R2 on the wheelchair elevator to get up to the field. This is my view as the roof-less elevator approaches field level.

Tonight was Hyun-Jin Ryu bobblehead night, and his wife Bae Ji Hyun was to throw out the first pitch, so lots of South Korean media were there.

In the meantime, we greeted fans that were invited onto the field before the game, and posed for media photos.

Bae Ji visited with us and got some photos.

And then she went to warm up her arm with her husband, who was going to be her catcher for the first pitch.

Next, the characters helped out with the Star Wars trivia contest that was shown on the scoreboard. The screens look absolutely gorgeous in person, but the refresh rate doesn't work well with cell phone cameras.

Once we were done with the trivia contest, we retreated back to the warning track, where Hyun-Jin Ryu and his wife had some fun interacting with R2. Hyun-Jin tried covering up R2's eye to see if he could still see.

Bae Ji threw the first pitch to Hyun-Jin, as the characters looked on.

And with that, it was time to retreat around the on-deck circle and back to the changing room.

We didn't get far though, as Bae Ji was doing more interviews with the South Korean media, so we waited.

We finally made it back to the changing room, where I stowed R2 for the game, while I went to go find a Coke and pretzel.

$7.00 for a Coke?!? I'll just drink the water that I saved from the changing room, but I will have that $5.00 pretzel.

The Dodgers provided us seats, so I watched the game from our vantage point on the reserve level.

The Dodgers were down 4-3 with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, when they received five consecutive walks!! They won 5-4 in literally walk-off fashion!

I headed back to the changing room to fetch R2, although I wasn't going anywhere for about an hour, as I needed to let the crowd thin out before even thinking about taking him to the parking lot, otherwise I'd be mobbed. In the meantime, the ball girls (in uniform) stopped by for a picture with R2, as did several outbound fans.

R2's record is an outstanding 9-2 with the Dodgers. As always, I am very grateful for the opportunity to combine my Star Wars fandom with my Dodgers fandom, and I hope to be back next year as well. The full photoset is here.

CHOC Summer Visit - 2019

Today R2 joined several members of the 501st Garrison for a visit to CHOC, to bring some Star Wars fun to the young patients there.

We did room-to-room (and occasional hallway) visits. As usual, no pictures with the young patients, but they were happy to see us.

About 2/3 into our visit, R2 started acting squirrely, in that his left foot motor was having trouble running. When I got home, I tried swapping several components - batteries, speed controller, transmitter, receiver, and I bypassed the solid state relay kill switch, but nothing seemed to resolve the problem. This lead me to believe the problem was either the motor itself, or the drivetrain.

I didn't have time to look into the problem further, as I had to get ready for Star Wars Night at Dodger Stadium. Given the state droid #1 was in, I would have to press droid #2 into service. #2, you're up!