Painting the utility arms

As I’ve been building R2, I realized right now that there may be a number of people who, although are Star Wars fans or geeks or nerds to some degree, they don’t know all the names of the characters or in the case of a droid, what certain parts are called or what they do.

Since I’m building R2D2, I’ll only cover the names of parts as I continue, and what they do on the movie version.

Yesterday I spent some time painting the utility arms. “What are those?” you might ask. Directly below R2’s dome and his large data port are some arms, which typically would be used to hold things as he does welding, or a communicator, or whatever George Lucas comes up with.

So without further ado:

The arms currently primered and ready for paint.


The first blue coat using Rustoleum Cobalt Blue Metallic.



What this build has done to my office

When we built our family room, I had added on a small office space for the design work I had been doing.

The eventually it became a sound studio for my daughter.

And now it’s a build room, more or less.

Uh, yeah.

Details Details

So now the body was done, I spent some time – mostly nights, some weekends, and so on making parts from scratch styrene vs. buying aluminum or resin cast parts.

Turned out to be a lot of fun and pretty rewarding when all was done.

Prepping the shoulder horseshoes for paint



The side vents

Drawing out the side vents

Cutting as R2 watches

Ready for the backing

Done and ready for paint!

 The pocket vents

One pocket vent

And painted

Coin returns

Using my LDP to get the right curve

Almost there


And one of three done!

And there's one.

Two more to go and then paint.

Aren't they pretty?

Amazing what paint can do to cover up a lot of little mistakes.

And the Coin slots – my one only aluminum machined detail part.


Body Work 2

So, after spending a lot of time cutting out the pre-scored skins, mounting them, tearing them off, remounting them, and again and again til they fit good enough, I masked off the body where I was going to glue stuff on like vents, and then went to town on painting the body.

Masked and ready to go

The droid rotisserie

Anyone want some nicely done droid?


Body Work

This may not be completely in the order I’ve done things, and since my last LAST post a lot has been done. So, without further ado- the body, skins and all.

Frame painted

Dome motor mount


Large data port and bearing placement

Skin cutting

Cut skin..

So, one thing I learned – take your time when cutting styrene, make multiple passes, and watch your blade.

Skins mounted and glued

More to come!

Working but no updates

So, it’s been a while since I last posted anything. To be honest, I haven’t had much time to work on R2, but when I have, I’ve taken photos and put them on my Mac but that’s about it.

I have an iPhone now. I can take pics and videos and upload them with the handy dandy iPhone app for wordpress. It’s a perfect solution.

That is if I remember to post updates…

The Dome – Logic Displays

Logic Displays- those little sparkly lights on the front and back of the dome that make R2, well, R2. They tell you this is a live thing, that something’s going on inside that dome of his.

The original logic displays were fiber optics that ran to a light with a color wheel. That is so 1977. Today we have LED’s and computers to get the same effect. I lucked out and was blessed to get a Hyperdyne set (expensive) from a friend for practically nothing. I truly believe that God has been blessing this build, and so far He has helped me save a lot of money on the build. Amen!

What the boards look like:

Rear logic

I had a friend make some black screens for these at work on the CNC (I’ve GOT to get one someday).

Screen next to the rear logic bezel

And the rear display mounted.

Rear display mounted

And the front displays being mounted

Mounting of front displays

And from the front of the dome:

Front logics in place

Next up: Adding in the PSI light circuits

The Dome- Holoprojectors (or HP’s)

Moving along, the next step was in mounting the holoprojectors – the projector lens housings that stick out of the dome in a few different spots. For the most part, the two that go on the top and back of the dome are painted all silver, and I used acrylic cabachon lenses from Craftics, which cost me something like $5.00 a piece. Ask for Tracy Pineda and tell her what you want them for.

So, I thought I’d really focus this post on the front HP, which is going to move via RC servos and be hooked up to an automated system. One of the builders on developed and sold a kit that holds the moveable HP (which comes in resin or aluminum). The kit is all CNC cut styrene.

All the bits with some of the hardware

There’s really no instructions- just a list of hardware that’s needed, and the design of the rig from different angles so you can kind of get how it goes together. The rest is trial and error- thus why it’s called droid building. There are some things you need to sand, grind away, and so on to get it to go together and eventually fit into the dome next to the PSI housing.  I decided to paint the front HP to match the one from Star Wars A New Hope.

All the pieces together

After assembling it, I needed to add a small tube to the base of the HP that would a: be actuated by the servos, and b: used to route the wires for the light inside the HP.

The copper tube


Then I needed to find a suitable light source- in this case it was a LED push light for $3.99 from the hardware store. Some dismantling, adding some wires, and voila!

Light board mounted

Side view

Built completed:


Another view


Added some servos then did some grinding to get the HP to fit next to the PSI.

Ground down

And mounted with servos from the inside. I uses a liberal amount of silicon glue to hold this in:

HP mounted

And from the front:

HP in!

Next up: Logic displays


The Dome- PSI diffusers

There’s been a debate on about what the diffusers are for the PSI lights are – the blue and red light on the front of the dome and the green and yellow one on the back of the dome. These are known as Process State Indicators, and sometimes tell how R@ is feeling, or can also tell when he’s processing something (and the flash faster accordingly like the activity light on a hard drive). Some guys sell diffusion lenses (spendy), and others find diffusers from materials at the local hardware store. Me? Old milk jugs cut up and glued in…

Milk jug circle

Glued to the PSI housings

And in the dome…

PSI's mounted

The Dome- Radar eye

Howdy. For lack of a better term of hello, I decided to use Howdy. So, last look at the dome, it was painted silver.

I did paint all the blue panels (but didn’t take any photos). The process was sand them, primer them with automotive gray, wet sand, then a layer of silver paint, wait 10 minutes, then a clear purple, wait, then clear blue, wait, purple, and then a clear coat.

The Radar eye photos show that process sort of. Also are some pics of the lens, which is one of those hobby ornaments from Michael’s you can fill with potpourri. Photos below:

The eye painted silver

Purple then blue 1st pass

and then one more purple coat and clear coat




The lens uncut

The lens cut to size and not painted

The lens installed to the back of the eye


The finished eye!

The eye now mounted