Sunday, August 7, 2016

Mounted C-3P0 head to his skeleton

After reenforcing his head on my last update. I messed around with this robot allot trying to get his neck to work. I made several necks but none of them worked right. They got crunched when I move the head around. So I knew that at some point I gotta chop his head off and separate it from the upper torso and mount the head directly to the upper skeleton I made.
Using a dremel and  a person to hold the torso I carefully cut out his neck so this area is hollow. That should help later when I try to install another neck that is can pass thru this large hole and not crunch.
This is the skeleton I made from looking at the plans, making this up as I go along. There is a 6 inch mini Rockler ring that is bolted just over the battery box. That allows for the upper part of the body to rotate from side to side.
The square pole serves as a spine and a area to mount my electronic plate on it. This has hinges on the front and back of the square pole. I painted in a blue line, that will be a linear actuator that will allow the droid to tint forward and back. So 3P0 will bend over and be able to turn some in the torso area.
So I worked today on this to bolt the neck to the top of the pole. Then the head will rest on this neck area.
It's hotter than heck outside in Phoenix but I managed to get done what I set out too. The head is not separated from the torso and mounted onto the skeleton. The next move to make is to figure out exact how far up the torso needs to get in relationship from the head. Then mount the torso to the skeleton also. After that I can mount the aluminum electronics plate and start installing the JEDI Control system.

I plan to use 2 transmitters for this droid. The JEDI will control sounds of 3P0 talking and either control the head or it will control the arms. Then another transmitter will control the rest of his functions, again I'll need to look at the plans and make this up as I go along.

I have a pair of shorts for him on order from Cal and I'm going to order the arms and hands on Monday. Then it' atleast an 11 month wait for the arms to arrive but I have plenty to do on the rest of him until then.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

R5 Mounting Sith Planet Dome

In today's tutorial we'll be going through some steps and things to consider when mounting a R5 dome from Sith Planet.

The first batch of these domes required alot of router work on the lower ring. I worked with them to develop a lower ring that needed less work to mount to the Rockler bearing that nearly all of us use in our Astromech droids.
1. First of all you'll need a dremel, a router bit, not a drill bit, and this accessory attachment. This allows you to go around in circles and slowing remove the resin material a bit at a time. Be for warned this is going to make one hell of a mess so put on some work clothes and be ready to get dirty.
There are different types of router bits. Notice the bottom of this bit is flat. Use a flat ended bit, not a pointed bit for this type of work.
Remember we are routing the inside material out not the outside. So you'll want your router bit to go slowly around. When you begin just do this in small 1 or 2 inch sections and go slow, you can easily cut thru the entire dome ring if you're not careful. The idea is to slow move that knob and remove a small layer at a time going around in a circle. When I do my friends dome we'll probably shoot gopro video showing the process.
Before you begin remember to do a 'sanity check'. Move your bit to the outside and make sure its not sticking down so far that you'll go thru your lower dome ring. Just do baby steps and you'll be okay. Remember to wear safety googles and don't get hurt.
I removed material until I got the wall thickness to the measurement you see above.
2. Lets talk about the dome plate. I made my own custom dome plate that sits on top of the Rockler bearing. I ordered from Aluminum Sheet 6061 O Bare 0.063" - 24" x 24"

You don't have to use aluminum you can use plastic or plexiglass. What I did was tape 4 holes and insert 10-24 bolts with the heads cut off. They are about 2 inches long. The 4 bolts are seen above in the photo sticking out of the top plate. The top plate is fasten to the Rockler ring by 6 bolts coming up from the Rockler that are also 10-24. The top plate is taped by myself and then I cut off the bolts so they are flush with the ring.

Here is an image of this ring flipped over to see the bottom. Note the bolts are not sticking thru the ring. The reason for is is remember you'll probably have a pit man motor system that spins the inner rings and those bolts can't stick down in be in the way.
Here is a close up, you can see this bolt is very close and all of them go right up side next to the wall of the Rockler ring.
So with the 4 bolts, put on some nuts that will help stabilize them as they are just barely holding on to the think top plate. You don't want that top plate too thick, 1/4 would have plenty of aluminum for these to tap into but that won't make this too thick and likely won't fit inside the lower dome ring. You'll have to remove even more resin with your dremel. After you get this system to work you can later use locktite or some glue to keep these in place after you have this dialed in the way you like it.
Another look at the top plate this is now ready to fasten to the dome.
Doing a test fit my Rockler ring sits in pretty flush where you want to have this. Since I had the thin top plate in. I needed to go remove a bit more resin from the bottom. I did this by doing about 5 passes with the dremel. After some practice you'll probably get pretty good at this and learn an new skill if you never done this before you'll find this not hard, just messy.
Another tool I found very handy for this job is a mouse sander. I usually don't buy Black and Decker but this little tools has served me well. I use 100 grit and it goes around the lower ring area and chews up the resin and makes it smooth. You may or may not need this tool but its helpful for all kinds of droid building.
3. Do a test fit, make sure you have this where your ring will spin around and center this the best you can. You might need tooth picks or small shims to help you center if. If you get this wrong your dome might rotate a bit wobbly, if it does just go back to step 6 and do it over.
4. Now duct tape the ring to the dome so it don't move while you'll begin the process of gluing on some parts soon.
5. Go to Ace Hardware and buy 4 of these nylons spacers they are going to be used to slide over the 10-24 bolts on the top plate. These are 1/2 OD, .257 ID and cost .40 cents each. You'll want to counter sink 1 side of them. The reason for this is to make a funnel that is a helper guide this makes it easy for the 4 bolts on the top plate to find the inside of these nylon spacers.
Here is a look at the dome, its upside down sitting on a 5 gallon bucket. You can see the 10-24 bolt sticking down. Notice this bolt is not tight against the wall of the dome. You don't want it tight, nor to you want it too far away from the dome wall. You want it just right because the nylon spacers will be glued to the dome wall. You should test fit the nylon spacers inside before you glue them on.
6. Whip up a small batch of JB Weld. Smear some JB weld on 1 side that you'll carefully stick to the side wall of your R5 dome. Remember to keep the countersunk side up that will help your bolt find its way inside of this spacer.
7. Have some thin strips of duct tape handy, then carefully slide the nylon spacer into place with the JB weld material hitting the inner dome wall. The nylon will start to slide down so hold it in place with the duct tape strips. Expect some JB weld to slide down as seen. REMEMBER. DO NOT JB Well the nylon spacer to the bolt. If you do that's okay as you can probably just use a vice grips and remove this and do it over again. But stuff happens.
Here is another photo of the process. At this point it's time to take a break. Stop and put this project aside for 24 hours to let the JB weld cure.
After 24 hours remove the duct tape take off your Rockler ring and it should look like this. You know have 4 spacers glued inside your inner dome so they can slide over the 4 bolts on the top plate of your Rockler. You're almost done! You'll have a dome that mounts to your droid without drilling thru anything.
Optional, since the JB weld is so thin I whipped up a small batch of bondo and used my finger to put some on both sides of the nylon spacers to bond them better to the inside of the R5 dome. Won't hurt any to make this stronger.
Things to consider. We are looking at a close up photo of my dome drive that is a Pittman motor mounted to my body. The custom top plate is seen just MM  above it. What I found out when I made this is the top plate is so low it was hitting against the shaft of the Pitman.

Solution? I unmounted the Pittman and put the shaft against my 6 inch disc sander and grinded down the shaft to what you see in the photo. I even grinded down the 4 allen bolts too. Look at close the clearance is? The dome plate just barely with a hairs distance clears the top of the Pittman. You'll probably also have to do this if you use a Pittman system or any other system.

My dome is a bit low. I can raise it up by simply adding more nuts to the 4 bolts on the top plate. After I've taken this on and off about 10 times. I'll probably use loctite on the 4 bolts when I get them just at the proper place I want them. This same top plate and 4 bolts also mount my Sith Planet R4 dome using pretty much the same system.

If you have questions feel free to email me at

Thursday, August 4, 2016

R3-AZ Dome finished.

Yet another dome is ready for this imperial body.
This was sort of a fun project. Pain staking work of masking, JB weld.. Nearly all the parts fell off except 1. So I had to figure out how to remount every single part without drilling holes, using JB weld or glue that could mess up the dome.
Later I'll add in some El wire or glowing wire and other stuff to stare at.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

R4-I9 dome finished.

I finished up work on my R4 dome.

I haven't installed all the body pieces needed yet. I'll do that when its time to take it out to an event.

I have a few spots on the dome that are shiny and others that have what I think is over spray. I'm not gonna freak out and worry about it go with it.

Closeup of one of the computer bays on the side of the head. I painted things here and there and installed some resistors I have left over from a Teece LED kit.

I used some 1 inch reflective tape around the lower ring and 1/4 tape to create some triangles on the dome. At first I didn't like it much but its starting look cool. This will be a droid the public rarely if ever sees. Everyone has seen R2-D2 if they been to a comic con anymore.
The only thing left I'd like to do with this dome is figure out how to install some type of white or red lights in the holoprojector that I can remotely turn on and off. The club has alot of solutions for that but I'm not sure I want to spend hundreds and looking for something cheap to pull this off.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

R2-Q5, R5-J2, R4-I9, R3-AZ, R0-H2

This is the start of my next steps with my droids. I'm going to be working on how to get 5 droids out of 1 body.

I have R2-Q5 finished so there is 1 droid done.

So by using the body and replacing the dome with a different type you can make other droids out of this. So now let the droid factory/army begin.
Now with an R5 dome on it will become R5-J5 eventually. I painted this dome black but didn't like the primer so I removed it and found a new black primer I like. This dome came from my friend Randy at

I'm waiting until my 3D printer is fixed to do the binoculars area but in the end it will look like this.
The toys aren't there aren't quite accurate. The only big difference on the body to change from R2-Q5 is to replace the copper utility arm with a black one. Then add some silver or chrome automotive pin stripping tape. The center foot also has a strange device on it and I'll 3D print that also and put in magnets so it comes on and off easily.
This is R3-AZ, a tinted black dome that is close to club specs. This dome is sort of a nightmare to work on a because 1 slip with a file, dremel or tool and you wreck or scratch the dome all to crap. I have recently got this dome to mount to my body by fabricating a lower ring, then JB welded the dome on to this. Then wrapped that area with stryene as seen in white. That will soon get some kind of chrome tape to check out the look, if I don't like the look I'll try black and maybe copper color.
Since you can see inside this dome that allows you to do some cool stuff inside. So I installed the droids brain recently which is a blue tooth wireless speaker that has a ton of LEDs that glow and make interesting patterns controlled by a tablet or phone.
This is R4-I9, the dome is also from
This dome is just cooler than hell. I've tried to make this in styrene but couldn't get it to bend right. This really does the job, it has all sorts of nice details.
The photo is not in perfect focus to show the details of the electronic board greeblies which are on each side of the head. I'd take another photo but the dome is outside now with a coat of black primer, maybe in the next update.

All of the major parts are loose, so you can glue in the box and holoprojector or replace it with something else if you want.
For example this is the a different radar eye and lense I have laying around in piles at my house. I'll install this version in the finished dome. The dome is very light yet strong and since its made out of a resin material if it were to every drop it won't shatter.
The dome also have a lower ring that is not fastened just yet to the dome. Here is a photo of it over my rockler. The outer ring is a bit tight. I'll need to do a pass with my dremel and router a bit out. So there is room to make this work no matter if your droid is wood, fiberglass, plastic or aluminum body.

When this droid is finished it will look like the droid in the center. As you can see the only difference is a few body parts are different color. That is easy to fix with an air brush and masking paint.

Which brings me to the last droid R0-H2. This droid was in the Force Awakens and was seen on the back of Poe's Xwing, remember BB8 was on the Falcon so he needed another droid for a copilot and this was his other droid. As you can see the body is the same as R2-Q5 so its a no brainer I do this one also. The dome will be 3D printed. So I'll be busy for a while working on all of these domes and 3P0 too.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

More work on 3P0

I have a bunch of aluminum arrive recently so work progresses on this project.

I realized the neck area will take alot of stress so I made some plates to reenforce this area so the entire head isn't stressing the fiberglass.

The plate installed from the top.
View of plate from the bottom.

The plate is hard to see with the head on. It will be hidden by the neck after I figure out how I'm doing the neck. One problem is the head won't turn left or right now. These plates pushed the servo down so far the linkage don't connect. So after a trip to Ace Hardware I got smaller spacers on the servo and now it work again. So I can continue to play around with the head with my transmitter and have friends toy with it and not worry about the fiberglass cracking in that area. If it does crack I won't see it under the round plates until the head one day snaps off.
The belly section is simply some ribbed rubber with any spare or junk wires you have laying around. I'm not sure how to attach them just yet and have little clips holding them in place. I might JB weld the wire ends onto the top part of the rubber. Then JB weld magnets on the rubber to attache to magnets on the inside of the torso.
With the torso over the belly it starting to look more official now. In my next update I'll get to working on the skeleton and how this will rotate and bend over a little.
This the battery box I made today that will power this droid. A single 12 volt that will be strapped into this box. On top of this will be a 6 inch rockler bearing that will be arriving in a couple of days. Then a top plate over the ring and the skeleton will mount onto that. This is 12x6 inches. It won't fit inside the torso but it's not supposed to. This will eventually sit around where the shorts will be. I don't have shorts so I have no idea what size to make this. I can cut this down to smaller when the time comes if I need to.
These are the legs I have. One of them is cracked and will need to be repaired the other leg is just fine. These will need a hell of a lot of clean up work to remove the areas where the mold seams are. So I picked the leg with out the crack to start on and see how much work this will need to get this part looking good.
Here is one side after alot of dremel work. Its so hot outside now around 110 I'm worried I'll over heat my dremel so I use it on and off. Next time I'll have both of mine and after I use 1 for 5 minutes I'll put in a bucket with freezing cool packs so it can cool down and rotate them doing this. These are made out of resin this creates a hell of a mess. Then center ring area of these legs will need a small fine bit to get the material removed. I'm always up for a challenge.
This is turning out decent. It will need some bondo work in places. This all depends on how much detail I want. Most of us make these so accurate down to the 1 foot distance of stuff nobody will ever see.

Unless you butcher this only fellow 3P0 builders who have the eye on how every inch needs to look, nobody will ever know if you have small mess ups. The average person looks at something like this for a minute as they wait for a selfie. Then get a photo standing a few seconds away from it and walk away. This droid won't have the $2,000 paint job but to make up for that most of it will be animated to the point I can let some kids play with this robot.

I have more parts incoming but my next update will be on my R4 and R5 fiberglass domes that I'm about to get my hands on.