Monday, December 8, 2008

Starting R2's Brain

R2,s brain is in the beginning stages. The main-frame is the AMD64 bit Opteron computer, software and O/S has been loaded, in this case a Berkely California version of UNIX, NET-BSD 4.0. I have chose 2 Z-world Rabbit semiconductor processors to interface the computer to motor controls. 1 Rabbit 2600 with Ethernet for computer interface, and a rabbit 2000 for motor control. Each rabbit processor has multiple digital I/O ports, and 4 serial-232 ports. The UNIX O/S is set at 4 User runlevels. the "NEURON" run-level is the superuser-god run-level. Run-level maintenance uses the same permission and command-line mode, but has home folder overwritable by the neuron user run level. User Run-Level "Halcyon" has limited maintenance functions, and "OPS" user actually is enabled to receive digital I/O signals as well as RS-232 input from the Rabbit Microprocessors. OPS user mode ensures an isolated operating mode that cannot affect other user runlevels due to limited system permissions.
Here is the AMD OPTERON, both Rabbit Microprocessors connected with the Flash Load cables and the Process Tree (TOP) running on the UNIX O/S

Monday, October 6, 2008

Example #2, door construction

Here is a larger door. The aluminum angle is riveted to the hinge side back of the door. The rows of rivets are counter sunk within one centimeter from the edge of the door. This method will allow the outer skin layer to cover the rivets, Use a good quality contact cement on both the door and vinyl outer skin, allow to dry, then press together.
The result will be a great looking, functional and solid door.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Door fitted and finished you can see how the door looks after being fitted with the outer skin made from a vertical blind... I set in into the utility arm bay to see how it looks...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Assembling the equipment bay doors

The doors are made as follows:
sand all edges of the door panel, then cut 1/4" aluminum angle to length of each door. on the hinge side, clamp the angle 2 millimeters from the inside edge.
drill 1/8" inch holes down the angle, and through the PVC door. Next, using a large drill bit, carefully counter-sink the hole on the outside of the panel, use aluminum countersink pull-rivets to fasten the angle to the door. The angle will be used later to attach the pushrod horn and hinges for door actuation.

Cutting out more holes

a quick shot of the progress on the body skin. the holes being cut out for more aluminum parts and "droid hardware"

Back after a long break

Moving took a lot of work and getting settled meant I had to take a break from building R2D2...The project is back in business now, in the next pic, is the hand made aluminum coin slot for the front of the droid...It is made very easily from thin aluminum and glued to the skin.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I cannot post any progress this week because R2 is in a box packed away under many moving boxes.
I bought a house in Lake Havasu City and the moving is a very big project. Although it's only three hours drive from here, it is a real pain in the neck. R2 will have a large garage to be assembled in, and the kitchen table will not look like a mess, VIVA LHCAZ!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Finally purchased a dremel on sale at Home Depot, Hooray, Now I can cut out Utility arms and vent opening for the metal parts that are going on the body...

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Fitted together the PVC shell to frame and checked placement of all internal enclosures and rings.. looks like I need to adjust the lower ring up 1/4" higher, (a wrench will take care of that) but everything so far looking perfect. The body still seems perfectly round in relation to the dome...
Im starting to get a little excited now that this is starting to progress.


Today the body tube is ready for final sanding and primer. All doors are cut, and all etching is finished. This is rather a time consuming process, but in the end, the result is a great PVC exterior, and even though it was a lot of work, it really looks good. All edges have been checked for smoothness, and the body will get the final cutting for the upper utilty arms. I will cut these holes out by going by the outline of the real resin parts so that all will be correct.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


..Now comes the door panel removal using the 1/16" router bit used in etching the body tube to cut out the equipment bay and utility doors. Do the door cutting in two more passes to avoid breaking the router bit. The bit makes perfect cuts, it will look like a 1/16" laser cut it. Set the router with the bit back into the previous etching as the guide to reset the angle track guides onto the body tube, then clamp them down. Do two more runs with the router, increasing the depth with each pass. In my case I have many doors to cut out. so it takes time, but not so difficult.

Any little corner errors or zingers etching with the router can be fixed with a razor-blade, polyester body filler, and 200 grit sandpaper.

After the rear equipment bay door is cut, the body still is very strong, the thin area above the rear access door is much stronger than I expected. Do not worry about it breaking or cracking in this area......It wont.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Kitchen Table is a Mess

I cleaned up all the PVC shards for the third time from the kitchen floor. All vertical grooves are done, and I have started the lower horizontal etchng on the body tube. The cleaning takes almost as much time as the etching. The PVC material is extremely static, and only a vacuume will pick up the mess. I put all the tools and parts on the kitchen table, and dining in my home is relegated to the coffee table after a house cleaning.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Etching the body tube

Tonight I started etching the body tube. This can be done very easily, but a few steps are needed in preparation for each line. A pilot dimple should be drilled at the beginning of each line, then the router bit with a nice depth setting needs to be set into the dimple, then the aluminum angles are snugly set along each side of the router, next the router is slid to the end of the intended line, to double check the straightness. If all looks correct, the angles are snugged down, and they act as rails.
on both edges of the router, a 1/8 strip or shim is adhered to the bottom of each side to keep it from wobbling on the arc of the body tube. Simply place the router bit in the dimple, flip the ON switch, and rout to the end of the intended line, carefully flip the switch OFF, then remove the router from the rails after the bit stops spinning.

For the Horizontal grooves, just use the metal adjustable guide that comes with the router, Its very easy, and faster than the vertical grooves

This pic is not great because my camera batteries died and I had to use my mobile phone camera.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


This weekend I started constructing the utility arm enclosures..They are composite box structures skinned with aluminum and aluminim angle on the corners drilled for servo-motor mounts. this is entirely decided by the individual builder. I cannot really instruct the method in building these, but only minimal skill is required in measuring and fitting the cardboard patterns used to create the metal and composite boxes. It all depends on how many functioning utility devices will be used. I may have gone a little overboard for such simple boxes, but I want this thing to be absolutely indestructible as well as practical enough to be able to mount any motors or devices I could foresee in the future...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Starting R2's Head.....

Today was spent doing the primary layout for R2's Dome. His head will include moving Holo-projector, Working data and logic displays, and the all important radar-eye.
I created a Jig out of a simple strip of auminum, and after I marked the measurments for panel spacing on the dome, I drilled 1/16" corresponding holes in the jig. This allowed a Razor-point pen to be inserted into each hole, and rotated around the dome, creating flawless circles for his dome panels. After the panels are all marked, another jig will be made for a rotary cutter, and the panels will be etched into the dome. The Periscope panel will actually be cut out completely to be added to the top of R2's pop-up periscope.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


After the frame is roughly pieced together, everything is fitted together to make sure all is correct. The unwelded ends are measured for steel brackets that will be riveted to secure the correct diameter and radius for the body tube. The head is placed onto the frame to ensure the body frame matches flush, as the the head has a perfect 18" diameter. So far, everything looks excellent.


The frame is constructed by using the body tobe as a guide to drill the holes. The rings are sandwiched flat-side together just inside the body tube. The center lines on the rings are checked against the center lines on the outside of the body for reference. Two holes on opposite sides are drilled, then a 5/16" bolts dropped in temporarily to keep the rings from shifting. The rest of the holes are drilled, and then the third ring is drilled the same way, placing it with another ring, and drilling through its holes as a guide to be accurate. To deburr the 5/16" holes, a 1/2" drill bit is spun by hand a couple times over both sides of each hole to clean up sharp edges. Using the body tube method rather than a drill press to drill the rings ensures everything will be accurate in relation to the PVC body.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cut the frame rings today.

Spent a couple hours in the shop over at my office cutting the data port slot and 1/4" off of each unwelded ring. The rings now fit perfectly in the body tube. Now all I need to do is finish filing smooth cut surfaces of the rings, and I can start assembly of the frame. I should be able to have most of the structure completed this weekend.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Start of the Frame..

Aluminum angle formed into 18" rings will form the frame. Tonight was spent measuring cut-outs required in the rings to create the frame. The top ring is marked to be notched to allow flush fit with the data port and bearing that will be used to spin the dome. The dome will also incorporate a ring. The central ring is marked to remove a section facing the rear of the R2 for easier access under R2's rear access panel, and that leftover section will be used for a radius on the front of the droid to form a box around the utility arms.

The lower ring must have sections on both sides completely cut out, and flat lengths of aluminum angle will be welded back into place to create the flattened areas on right above the lower skirt so The feet will clear the body correctly.

After these critical lines are marked, The rings are double-checked, and the final center lines drawn on. The center-lines will allow correct alignment of all three rings used in the frame, and allow them to be drilled correctly with a drill press.....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Exterior aluminum panels.

Today was spent going to the hardware store, finding the correct thickness aluminum for R2's vents, buying files and bits. I used the Vent patterns cut out of the old sheets, cut off 1/32
around the aluminum pattern to allow the panels to line up with the etched lines in the body tube.
Cutting aluminum is not difficult, just time consuming as there are small vent details, and the filing can take time. I was lucky to find some nice looking aluminum sheet with no scratches and decent thickness to work with. the "coin return" vents actually use 2 pieces for depth. I think in my case I will cut and bevel the body tube where needed, and then add the inner chute to the bevel.

Monday, April 14, 2008

R2's Head arrives...

R2's machined aluminum dome arrived in the mail today, and WOW is it nice.
Spun from a solid piece of metal, It also has the grooves around the base milled in, and fits his body very nicely. I can't wait to get to work on his head.. But I have to finish his body first, lots and lots of work..

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Body ready for etching and cutting...

Here is the corrected Body tube, using revised versions of prints for the panel lines
The newer version had slightly changed sides for the vents, and areas around the fold out utility arms, but my original interior panel prints lined up actually quite well. Here you can see the finished result ready for etching.


David took a look at my droid layout and noticed a problem, something was not correct.. after going over his new blueprints and the ones I was using, I now see he was right! I need to add 1/8' to all panel and door lines..
Im glad he noticed this. The corrections will be very simple just adding the additional space around the panels..I also noticed the central lower panel needs to be the same flush line along the bottom of the droid body, and the side vents need to be corrected. I realize this diagram while basically correct is patterned off some older diagrams and toys..probably the MPC R2-D2 model I had in 1979... Thanks again David~!

Body tube layout

Today I went to kinkos, printed the full size EPS files, cut them out, and stenciled the etching and panel lines.. The patterns were about 20 dollars to print full size, and a couple rulers and pens from Micheals Hobbies for a few dollars more..

Here is the body tube with the pattern being test fitted onto the tube

David's PVC Body Tube

Thanks to David in Phoenix for making the blank 18" PVC body tube complete with accurate beveled data port, and pre-marked panels to help with pattern alignment. The body tube is incredibly strong, and could resist very strong blows, or possibly being ejected from some strange Degobahn swamp creature with hardly scratch....simply amazing...I highly recommend this body skin in conjunction with aluminum frame for the toughest droid possible. Mercedes-benz Diamond white auto paint optional...
I found an Aluminum dome Charlie from Colorado had for sale, Its a second generation Formosi, so it should work out great. David was actually the previous owner of the dome, so he gave me some advice. I have the most important parts to the R-2 unit, and I owe it all to David L for helping me with the parts procurement.