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Archive for June, 2009

Cutting radar eye

June 30th, 2009 admin No comments

Cutting the data slot in the eye

Cutting the slot was made simple by using the dremel cutting guide. On the right, the side boxes were constructed from my old trash can.

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Building the radar eye

June 1st, 2009 admin No comments
Paper template test fit on dome

Paper template test fit on dome for sizing

Template glued to aluminum flashing and cut out

Template glued to aluminum flashing and cut out

Aluminum bent and held with tape

Aluminum bent and held with tape on dome


JB Weld brand epoxy applied to the seams

JB Weld brand epoxy applied to the seams

The hole for the radar lense is cut

The hole for the radar lense is cut

Rough aluminum radar eye taped to the dome for fun

Rough aluminum radar eye taped to the dome for fun


Bondo applied to even  out the surface and sharpen the corners

Bondo applied to even out the surface and sharpen the corners

Primer applied to see where more filler is needed

Primer applied to see where more filler is needed

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Cutting the dome panels

June 1st, 2009 admin No comments

Much time passed since the last time I cut the dome, during which I primed and painted the pie panels using a variation of the “Krider blue” rattle can formula, which can be found on astromech.net. My blue may not be exactly like the real R2, but it uses colors I know I can find consistently.

First holoprojector test fit

First holoprojector test fit

Now that I had gotten two dremel accessory kits for Christmas, it was time to start cutting again. I used the same dome blueprints I used for the pie panels. This time I printed one of them out at full scale so it took up several sheets of 8.5×11 paper, then tacked them all down on a piece of plywood and set the dome on top. I used the measurements from the other dome drawing to get a figure for the heights of the panels (this particular drawing measured in fractions of the circumference of your dome). Once everything was drawn in, I compared it to images of R2 to make sure I wasn’t making any stupid mistakes.

I started by cutting out the circles for the holoprojectors. I started by using a circle-cutter drill bit, but I found it to be unreliable and prone to sticking. I’m sure it works great if you’re using a drill press and/or cutting a flat surface. I ended up rough-cutting the circles with the dremel+cutoff wheels, and cleaning it up with the dremel+sanding attachment and files.

Panels cut. Also, I'm a dork.

Panels cut. Also, I'm a dork.

I finished off a Guinness to steady my hands, and cut out the rest of the panels with the dremel. I know some of the panels should have cutouts within them, and I missed one small additional panel, but I feel like I’m done cutting. I may end up just painting those in.

I should also mention I’m using the “fence-post cap” method for creating my holoprojectors (developed originally by Craig Smith, the god of scratch-builders). This involves cutting a hole into the top of a cap for a chain-link fence, putting a door-knob into it, and capping it off with the top from a bottle of Scope mouthwash. Funny story, these were actually the first things I built for R2 since they’re so cheap to make, and I promptly lost them. Someday years from now I’ll find that first set somewhere safe where they wouldn’t be damaged.

Panels cut, pie panels and inner dome fit

Panels cut, pie panels and inner dome fit

All panels cleaned up, back in place

All panels cleaned up, back in place

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Cutting the pie panels

June 1st, 2009 admin No comments
First cut

First cut

After making sure I had a successful fiberglass inner dome, it was time to begin cutting the top “pie panels.” I used several techniques to figure out the template for these. First I had to find the exact center of the dome, where I would drill a hole and mount a bolt to use as a pivot for tracing my circles. The lines/grooves from the production of the dome were not completely sanded out, so I had a good idea of the ballpark it had to be in, then I put the end of a string or tape measure at the point I picked and measured to the bottom of the dome at several different points.

To get the measurements, I used a combination of two different dome layout “blueprints” I got from the R2 builders’ yahoo group. I remember them being difficult to track down, since there are so many different dome profiles and a pattern that works for one won’t work for another. As shown in the “first cut” image above, I drew the lines several times before I was satisfied. In the end, I just had to suck it up and go with what looked right to me. That’s one of the things I love about the R2 builders’ community: no two droids are exactly alike, and the only ones who notice that your panels are off are other builders (and they understand).

Pie panels cut

Pie panels cut

I used a dremel with cut-off wheels to get the cuts started, then I used a jig saw to cut all the “latitude” lines. If I had it all to do over, I would have mounted some felt or something to the baseplate of the jig saw since it left scratches that I later had to sand out. I used the dremel only for the “longitude” lines – I don’t remember my reasoning. One important thing I did was to number all the panels clockwise, and write the number on the back of each of them (I also marked the dome in pencil above the first panel). Since I didn’t make perfect cuts, each panel was unique and fit best in its orginal spot. I screwed up later and had to switch two panels around, and it sucked having to make it fit.

Once all the panels were cut, I cleaned up all the lines with diamond files from American Science and Surplus and sandpaper. I cannot overstate how satisfied getting the dome to this point made me. It was finally starting to look recognizeably like R2D2.

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