Friday, July 29, 2011

Working on 3P0

 Now to the start of making C-3P0!
 The first thing I need to do is to trim off the excess around both sides of the head where the vacuum molding has left over. On the back of the head I'm unclear how much material to remove so far. It looks like I need to trim off about 7/8 of a inch and will ask the 3P0 builders about that.
 The front of the head is more straight forward on what needs to be cut out. But I'll wait a day or two until I'm clear on this. 
I asked the C-3P0 builders how I should proceed and was told to slowly trim away the extra material. So I cut it off and still have a little more to trim or file off later.

Then I cut out the mouth and used a pencil to mark where I need to cut out the eyes. This is a bit nerve racking to do with a razor blade. 1 wrong cut and you will nearly ruin the part.
These are the tools I used to work on the head. A pencil, razar blade, snips and a curved file. So now the eyes are roughly cut out. You'll need to very carefully widen the eye holes until the eye ring thingy just barely fits in with a bit of force. You don't want it sloppy, nor do you want to over cut the eye holes out of whack so its not a perfect circle.

Now both eye rings fit into place and its started to really look cool like the actual droid! Also it don't hurt to put some blue tape around the areas you plan to cut incase you slip or get carried away filing and hit parts of the face on accident.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

C-3P0, Terminator and other stuff

I've been slowing down my work on props lately and collecting parts. When I'm not working on my astromech droids I'm collecting parts or planning out how I'm going to do my next two robots. There is still much to do with R5-D4 like put servos and other things in the dome. I won't touch that dome until I have my R2-D2 or R2-Q5 finished. It took me 40 years of my life without a finished droid and I want to keep one on hand at all times. When I finish 2 of them. I'll take R5 apart and upgrade that.
My next project I'm collecting parts for is a full size C-3P0 that will be a wearable costume and also animatronic from the waist up. I got the head parts today and it was a great deal for really well made parts! I'm quite happy with the bang for the buck here. The builder is very good with vacuum formed props.
It also includes the rest of the head detail pieces including transparent lenses and LED lights, resistor and everything you need. You have to trim and sand and do your share of the work to get the head ready for the chrome plated look. 
I also ordered some feet. These feet need to be trimmed and then you can wear them over a size 10.5 narrow shoe. Which sucks my feet are 12-13:( I have no idea what the part next to the feet is for. I saw my first real life 3P0 at Phoenix Comicon and that pretty much cemented my on/off decision to do a project like this. This robot is frakking cool!

I could have bought a complete 3P0 off ebay from some recasters painted and done for half the price of going this route. I'm not that type of nerd and will only do business with decent folk that work sometimes with LFL that offer parts, not completed robots. A good deal of the fun is putting some elbow work into these projects. Another reason is learning of new skills you didn't know when you started this stuff. By the time you finish a droid or large scale robot. You'll probably be pretty good at painting, polishing, a dremel master of all things, soldering and medium level electronics, familiar with LEDs and china, and how CNC machine basics work. You'll end up knowing enough about nuts and bolt sizes to get hired at Ace Hardware if you don't the guys in the store on a first name basis.

That's valuable experience you'll never get if you hit 'buy it now' on ebay for a finished robot. There will be times your robot will break and you say. 'No big deal I built it once its easier to fix that part the second time. People who buy a finished droid have no idea what kind of electronics are inside, where parts came from, part terminology of what's what.
Anyway, when I'm not working on droids I have this evil Terminator T-800 robot I'm working on. This is the first of many skulls. I'm going to later replace with this a chromed out fullsize head. This head won't be on the finished Terminator but I needed a Terminator fix so I bought this to piece to place around with until I can afford a 1:1 head like this head in the photo below.
Eventually I'll buy the head for a small fortune. That will most likely be the only part on this build that I buy. The rest I'll build from scratch as you really can't get in on T-800 part runs as there aren't any. I think I'll finish the C-3P0 first and servo up that droid to figure out how I'm going to to this moving T-800 robot. This will be my masterpiece of a robot out of all of them.

I also got two of the most powerful Hitec servos has to offer. This will beef up the power to move the Gripper arm and CPU arm up and down. The servos I have installed are 133 oz of torque. The new servos above are rated at 403 oz of torque. Each servo is so expensive it cost more than the 3P0 above and the Terminator head also. By the time they arrived I checked servocity and they had just published newer more powerful servos making mine obsolete by the time it arrived:(

Two of  best servos they offer cost about as much as an Xbox 360! Ouch! I'll need tons of those to animate 3P0 probably enough to pay for a small used car.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Working on the Gripper

It was 118 degrees outside so I just stayed in doors and worked on my droids gripper arm.
My L16 Linear Actuator came in and I had planned on using it in my CPU arm. In the photo its positioned where it should be in the tube. As you can see the L16 is about 1 inch too long. Sure I could cut out the breadpans to accommodate.
However I noticed it seems to be about the right length for the gripper arm's tube.
The L16 fits inside Tom D. Waterset gripper tube like a glove. This is a pretty good pairing up. Even the hole around the black nylon tip is the exact size!  The next step was to use the existing hole  you see and drill it wider. Then tap it for a 1/4-20 thread.
The thin aluminum I just tapped isn't going to be enough to maneuver this later with a servo. So I took a low profile 1/4-20 nut and sanded it down so I could slip it in between the tube and the L16 .
Hopefully this is going to be strong enough to muscle the arm up and down hundreds of times without failing.
This is going to be very tricky to pull this off. It has to be screwed in just the right amount. If you go too far you start eating into the plastic of the L16. 
Upon further tweaking of this build. I decided I had to push the L16 further into the tube and remove more aluminum material I marked with black. I used a dremel to cut remove the material.
Then I marked a squarish area I'll need to file away until the front of the L16 can slip through it.
Now it sits flush when its fully retracted. Otherwise you don't want it to go inside the tube and snap off the gripper.
I cut this small tube off to act as a shim to make a tighter fit for the gripper to attach to. Its not my idea method, I'd rather drill and tap something but I'm not in the mood to take the L16 apart  yet.
Now its ready for some test fits in the breadpan. This next tass is going to be difficult to do when you mount these for your first time. You have to make sure it don't hit the skins when it goes up and down on its right. At the same time on the left you have to make sure on the other side it don't hit the hinge on the door. Which is usually fine when the door is open. When it closes check to make sure the hinge don't hit the tube and closes properly. So you gotta find the sweat spot in the middle of that and have your hole on the breadpan drilled in just the right spot to clear the left, right and up and down or this arm won't work right.
I added a short threaded rod during test fitting that I'll use to mark where I'll need to drill a hole in the breadpan. Since I pushed the L16 into the tube deeper the end of the tube is hitting the back of the breadpan. So I marked the area I need to remove and its off to the Dremel. Its pretty hot outside cutting this stuff. So far we broke a ten year record of 116 to 118 outside! Ouch.
Now its shorter and ready to install. I'm not sure if this would fit inside without removing some of the back it barely fits in after I shortened it.
This is how I mounted the gripper arm in my breadpan with the servo. Now its time to install it and hope it works. Without the gripper on the tube worked electronically clearing where it needed to. 
In this photo I'm using a tube to hold up the arm. The reason is I have to take the photo and can't operate the transmitter at the same time. The other reason is it didn't work:(

It took 6 hours of work to get to this spot. The bottom line is the servo couldn't handle the weight. I had to remove the gripper and now it barely works rising up. I don't know why it worked fine in the tests before this. So this is version 1.0 of my development of getting the gripper to work. 

The next phase will involve upgrading the servo to something more heavy duty. I might also take apart the L16 and change how it attaches to the gripper. The ultimate thing is to have the gripper open and close. I have a couple of ideas on how to do that. I need to do that because as you can see in the video. The door won't close unless the gripper claw is also closed. Its very tight in the box but over all I'm happy I have gotten this far in my astromech build.

I'm going to order a shorter version of the L16. This one is servo operated instead of using a Styrene 10 motor controller for it like I'm using now. That comes with an advantage of being able to limit its travel via coding. Another thing is I can shove it further into the tube and have more meat for the servo to screw into the tube so its not so flimsy. I might get a slight thicker tube and start over. Its basically a simple aluminum tube with a nylon plug is all.