Thursday, May 31, 2012

Working on R2-Q5's dome

Here is my construction of the R2-Q5 dome in styrene. What seems like an easy project has turned into quite a challenge, read on.

The inner and outer domes didn't quite fit so I had to cut the inner dome in half. I used Weld On 3 first to put the spider looking ring on. Glued the bottom but it didn't hold.
 So I used my trusty magnets to clamp and slowly glued section by section until it was secure. Don't add too much Weld On 3 or it will worp the styrene.
What worpage might look like! If this happens don't panic. Its from using too much Weld On 3. So I used a mouse sander with 120 grit and some glazing putty to remove it. Expect the unexpected or known unknowns as Rumsfeld likes to say.:)
Now that I have the outer dome back to one piece with the inner top dome fasted. I start cutting in the detail pieces like the Holoprojectors and make pencil marks of the panels locations.
Then the next logical step seems to be to paint the the aluminum HPs. Or is it?
Then I installed the HDPE ring and had to custom notch for 1 HP and 1 of the PSI. The PSI install I'm just making this up as I go. There is no instruction manual to this unless you consider this blog posting one.
This is what the other side looks like. After 1 year as a parts collector its fun to finally put this project together. I gotta hurry though since Comic Con is two weeks away from the time I snapped this photo.
Its hard to see but I'm now joining the entire inner and outer domes. I'm starting on this side and will work my way around. I'm using dimes as spacers to keep the gaps just right.
Right after I welded both parts together I get online and check out the rare photos of R2-Q5. Lazy me I should have did that first. This black section of the ring is not supposed to be painted black. If I don't fix this its the kind of thing that will keep me up at night so time for a Qtip and Acetone to remove it.
Okay, this is more like it. I like the offset look it has like this anyway.
Ut Oh! What do you have here? This don't look right at all. Well, what happened as I moved around the dome with Weld On 3 adhesive bonded inner and outer skin. Not only did they not fit well top and bottom wise. They don't fit diameter wise  and off 3/8 of an inch or more. So I ended up cutting the dome hoping to fix the spacing issues. So I was stuck and pondered for a while what are my opinions now?

1. Toss it in the dump and order another dome and recycle some of the parts.
2. Ponder more until I find a solution.

 Should you find yourself in this situation of a dome giving you a hard time like I have. The next step is to get our your chainsaw and start cutting it to make it fit.
Just kidding I used a 'box cutter' not a chain saw and removed the out dome which I'll have to make do with what I have and some how get this to work. It does seem kind of hopeless at this point but I'm not giving up yet.
Then I got out one of my useful tools I ever bought which are rare Earth magnets (clamps in this case) and used it to bond whats left of the outer dome the inner. I didn't think that Weld On 3 was so strong but once you glue something with it its not coming apart unless you bust it up.
So at my last stop I'm going to have one hell of a bend or bump in the dome since I'm forcing this. Inside I have a very large 2 inch rare Earth magnet.
So I got it done. Its all down hill now I can just trim the 2 or 3 outer pieces to fit and just put filler over it and paint. Less than 2 weeks away from Comic Con and I really don't need anymore surprises in this build.
It's all coming together like one massive jig saw puzzle. I like to post all the good stuff about building these droids and some of the harder challenges so if you find yourself in a situation like this don't give up. Usually there is a way to keep going even when it seems like you come up against a wall.
On the inside of the inner dome I also made over a dozen slices before I glued both sides together to help make them fit a little better. 
Here's some of the tools I'm using at this point a mouse sander, drill and a trick I learned from another builder Droidwelder to join styrene or weld it. You add Acetone into a glass jar and then add your scrap styrene (don't throw any way). Then you wait about 1 hour for it to start to melt the styrene. 

Next us a paint bush and dig our that white glue and put it over the seems or cracks you're repairing. Wait 24 hours for the Acetone to evaporate and then use an electric sander to grind down the your sealant.
Even though I cut up the outer skin and forced some sections to fit I ended up with a bump or a choke point where then end point was last seal. It was like a bump in R2's head it was sticking out too far to sand down. So I took our a step bit and drilled the entire bump out and removed it completely.
Looking from the inside of the dome at the hole I used scrap styrene and a magnet to hold some backing on there to patch the hole up. I'm just making this up as I go along now.  Starting to stress out as I have 11 days to Comic Con and this still isn't painted and I keep have surprise issues spring up that take days for things to cure or dry. Sometimes in the construction industry when they are out of time/money to complete the project the term 'rape it' is muttered to fly through the project just to get it down and give them a bumper warranty. Warranty lasts aslong as you can see the bumper of my truck leaving is the saying. I'm not at rape it yet but its in the back of mind looking at this dome.
It took 3 days for the styrene to dry over the hole I made and it still was wet. So I dug that styrene out, used JB Weld instead then glazing putty and were getting closer and closer to painting.

The Comic Con is only 7 days away from the time this photo was taken and do or die I have to put the black coat on by Sunday and I haven't even started on the radar eye yet. So its time to 'semi rape it'. I figured only I'll see the bad stuff and everyone else will look at it for a few seconds take a photo and move on. I can fix the parts I don't like later. Plus when you paint something black it will show every imperfection there is that you can't see until its painted.

I also forgot to mention after I paint it primer, black and then some parts copper. I have to install all of the electronics. So yeah, its rapethirty at this point of the build.

As I installed the Teeces logics I had unexpected bugs and it didn't work of course. So I grabbed the electronics out of the tinted dome and they worked just fine. 
I got the dome done just in the nick of time. The feet and skirt aren't done yet. More on Phoenix Comic Con on my next update.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dome is pretty much finished

After some careful work reshaping the Radar Eye to fit this dome the project is almost done.
Right now I'm going two steps forward and one step back. As expected the parts I JB welded on  to the paint aren't holding. So its time for a backup plan. My fix to hold these parts in position is I'm going to make a 1/4 inch thick acrylic ring that fits inside the dome. I'll notch out holes for the Holoprojecters, PSI holders and logics. The ring will also be used to center the dome on the body. My wife calls it my never ending project and it sure feels like this is never gonna end. I think its really looking cooler with each upgrade. Some of the dome is getting yucked up with small scratches, smears from where and tear. Its been a fun experiment however.
I have also started to work on the all black styrene dome that will also go on this droid. That project isn't going to last 1 year and should be done in a few weeks. I'll progress photos of that coming soon. When both domes are finished then its time to install the radio control electronics and install the feet.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dome Work

I've been doing a lot of work on the tinted dome now that I have all the parts I need for it and electronics soldered together.

Lets begin with cutting the front logics display into an acrylic tinted dome. I used my laser cut styrene dome to help me trace were all the panels go. After I painted the black panels on the inside of the dome. I marked where to cut in the logics, PSI and HP next.

Here I drill a series of holes and slowly remove material and then file it away very slowly until I reach the size hole I want to make.
Now I have both front logics cut in. They'll hide behind the paint somewhat. Next I'll need to drill holes in them, paint them and mount to the Teeces Logic display. I was worried that small black bar between the logics in the dome would break. So far its holding up nicely.
Again sitting by the pool either soldering parts, painting or cutting up something in Arizona. I'm typically shirtless in our awesome weather working on droids. Here I'm marking where I'm about to cut open the rear logic display by using blue tape that I copied after I put a laser cut styrene outer dome shell over this one.
I drill several dozen small holes into the area I want to cut out. I slowly bust this out with a 4-40 threaded rod to finish the same holes and connect them.
Later I file it until the logics fit in.
Now I drill out the PSI hole with a drill by a series of small holes.
Then I used a round file to remove more material until I got close to the circle I made with a silver marker. I put blue tape over the dome to protect it in case I get carried away and accidentally hit the dome with a file or drill during construction. I highly recommend doing this if you choose to follow this route. Protect your investment in product and painstaking time not to damage as you build. 
You're not going to make a perfect circle with a file and a line. To get a better circle the old method is using a wine bottle with sandpaper on it. So I used 80 grit sandpaper on it and pulled it to tweek the fit for the Holoprojectors to fit actually how I wanted them too
For my dome bumps I bought 2 carriage bolts for 60 cents each. I cut the head off, painted it black and will glue them in for installation. 
Now I'm cutting out the top HP in the dome. I put some blue tape around incase my drill slips. After I drill out the hole. I had some left over 4-40 threaded rod. I use that as a round file to connect the holes and remove this piece of material.
Now all of the holes in the dome are cut out for the front side.
This is the backside with all holes cut preinstallation of the Teeces logics and other parts.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tempe SciTech Festival

I never heard about this before but it seems like fun and something cool to do for free starting around 5 PM at Mill and University Avenue. We had 2 full sized RC droids and another droid showing it in the process of construction.

R5-D4 showing his best angle.

You'll always see people with great costumes and others with whatever they could afford. Things like this are amazing at the local level of craftsmanship you see every 15 minutes. People come and go and you always have a smile saying "look that is so cool". I see a homemade Cylon costume that wasn't perfect but still it was cool. Wish I had a photo of it.

After a while this felt like Pre Comic con 3 but out doors and free!

By the time Phoenix Comic con hits here its either 90 or 105 so its a gamble on the weather. Tonight was 'cold for Phoenix', perfect night for something like this.

This pair of Predators were pretty awesome! The one on the left had around a dozen LED lights on each  piece of armor. A serious effect on detail went into that as a droid builder that I respect. This might not be 'hero' quality for a movie close up. But its pretty damn good that could be used for a team member Predator in a group shot. Kudos for whomever is the maker as its very well done.

Note:R5 is watching from a distance, ready to scram if he needs to in his own slow way.
The Walking Dead.

I took R5 for a trip around the place to troll outsides who didn't happen to walk past the droid area we camped in. I ran across this zombie women who had been bitted and was infected with rage or being dead or something.

Know I know that your average female can spend atleast 1 hour in the bathroom a day putting on makeup. How long did she take to put this blood all over here? 5 hours or 5 minutes. That's the question.
Lashing out at the crowd members For once the family friend event stopped. This zombie girl as I came across here was laying on the cement as me and R5-D4 drove by entertaining kids no less. She lashed out at us so we got the F out of there as fast as we could at R5's slow speed. When I reached a relative safety zone for R5, I stated taking photos of the zombie girl who just tried to kill him. 

A few events back somebody tried to kill R5 buy pouring too much beer down this throat and drown him in beer electronically. This time was a random zombie attack and its not R5's first encounter with a zombie. R5 is not worried because he's not alive and if taken apart a master like myself can just reassemble him in the future, thus he know he can't be killed and ain't afraid of no zombie who can die again.
 This is the final shot of 'it' before 'it' was finally put down by the AZ Ghostbusters. They saved the day yet again!

This is only 4 of the local AZ R2-D2 builders clubs with the builders and there droids. We grow in size each year except last year when we lost 2 long time members. So we gained 1 and should level off by Comic Con.