BB-8 Build

Figured it was time for R2 to have a companion, so started #NOTBUILDINGBB8 thanks to the amazing talents of fellow R2 Builders who created incredible 3D printer files.

Got around to working on the lights, since we don’t know much other than what was shown on stage, this is my take on BB-8s lights.

Click the link below for the instructions/part lists and Arduino code.

Gizmos BB-8 Light Setup

SHADOW + Marcduino – more bells and whistles

So I fell into the R2 Builder sarlacc pit – which is when you complete R2, you have this incessant need to upgrade.  When I was out at events, it was cool having R2, but other than movement and sounds it didn’t do much else.

So I’ve decide to work on a ‘Dome 2.0’ which will have all the panels open/close.  Originally was looking at integrating some of the code from BigHappyDude but then came Vint32 who integrated the Marcduino boards into the Shadow system.  Now I’ll be able to have all the dome panels open and have sequences with very little work on my part.  Having R2 controls on an iPod/iPhone was never my thing, but Vint32s integration doesn’t require that part of the marcduino setup, although you could add it if you wanted both.

Its absolutely amazing the creativity and the talent found in the R2 Builders group!  Special thanks to Vint32 and BlackSnake for tolerating the emails and sharing all the work they’ve done to integrate the Marcduino into the Shadow system.  Thanks to Knightshade for the initial Shadow system and thanks to CuriousMarc for all the work on the marcduino system.

Here is a video of the system on the bench:

SHADOW controller update

I just finished an event at the Washington Nationals Star Wars day, this is my sixth event with the SHADOW system but definitely the largest attended event.  I was wondering how the bluetooth connection of the controller and any interference from the numerous cellphones would affect the system.

Everything worked perfectly without any issues!  The system was rock solid and very stealthy.  Many many times the parents were looking around for who was controlling R2 and they hardly ever found me.

Thanks again to Knightshade for all the work he put into developing the system.  I’d also like to thank Vint32 on the Astromech forum for the code to eliminate the ‘dome twitch’ when two controllers were connected, I’ve had zero twitches since the new code was added.

Several members of the 501st even complementing me on how hidden the controllers were and how that added to the experience.

R2 even made the Washington Nationals Facebook page!  Can you find person controlling R2?


SHADOW control system

I decided to upgrade the control system to the SHADOW system which uses the Sony Playstation 3 Move wand controllers.  These are very easy to hide and have a ton of buttons and options.

One of my favorite features is using the ‘L2’ trigger as a throttle for R2.  Instead of simply switching between low speed and high speed, you can ramp R2 up by pulling the trigger and it works like a gas pedal.  The more you pull the faster R2 goes.  This has worked great in numerous occasions.

Thanks to Knightshade on the Astromech forums for all the time and effort to develop this system.

PS3 Move navcontroller

Time for new wheels!

Ran into a problem with the Banebot wheel/hubs on the jaycar motors.  No matter what I tried the hubs would eventually slip on the drive shaft.  The drive shafts of the jaycars are keyed, but the banebot hubs are not and require a set screw.  I tried dimpling the set screw, using loc-tite, etc with no success.  Eventually the hub would come loose and slip.

I decided to go with DFRobot wheels (KIT0044) which came with a keyed hub, so I ordered 4 thinking I’d use 2 wheels and have 2 spares.  Turns out I ordered 4 sets of 2 wheels.  Cost for two wheels and hubs was $39 with shipping.

Got the wheels and used some of the free time over the holidays to install them.  Since these wheels are slightly larger than the banebots, I had to remove about 1/8″ on either side for clearance, but since its styrene it didn’t take too long.  Here are pictures of the before/after:

IMG_2735 IMG_4495 IMG_4497 IMG_4496

The worse part of the hub slipping was the hub would then get stuck on the shaft.  I would remove the set screw and still could not get the hub off the drive shaft.  Which in turn meant I could not remove the motor from the mount plate.  Thankfully my friend Greg cut me two more sets of mount plates and I purchased two new jaycar motors.  Now I have spares!  Here is the destructive testing I did to remove one of the hubs, still have one more to go.

IMG_4501 IMG_4502 IMG_4503 IMG_4507

Have skid and we’ll ride

Seeing that R2 doesn’t fit into the back of my Traverse, I needed a way to transport him laying down.  Borrowing heavily from Mr. Sparkle’s R2.0 skid design, I built my own skid that allows me to finally take R2 somewhere without having to bum a ride from Izzy.  I need to add handholds and sand/paint the skid but here is pictures of it so far.  I plan to use weatherstripping to cushion the edges that R2 rests on.  Here is the link on

IMG_3811 IMG_3817 IMG_3813 IMG_3812 IMG_3815 IMG_3814 IMG_3816

Shoulder Hub fix

Had a problem with the shoulder hubs falling out as they were only held in by friction.  Decided to JB Weld a piece of 1/4″ threaded rod to the back of each, I drilled a 1/4″ deep hole in the back center of each hub to help hold the threaded rod.  Once the JB Weld dried, I inserted the hubs into the legs and used a strap strip of styrene (drilled a 1/4″ hole), a washer and a wing nut to hold it all in place.  Definitely not going to fall out this time.

IMG_3468  IMG_3469 IMG_3470

Cost:  $x for 1/4″ threaded rod and wing nuts

R2 Dome re-wire

When I first wired up the dome, I got it to work and was happy as I had other pieces/parts to work on.  One of the ‘to-do’ items was to go back and clean up the wire installation. One of the main things that bothered me was the inline resister needed for the holoprojector LED.  I found round circuit boards at Radio Shack, and soldered on the resister and two two-pin headers.  I then soldered on two female connectors to both the wires from the arduino and those going to the LED.  I mounted the circuit board behind the HP, and now I can simply plug-in both the power/ground and the LED making for a simple swap-out if needed.  My HPs do not move, but in the future if I decide to have them move I’ll just relocate the circuitboard.





After cleaning up some of the wires, I used a blue mesh wirewrap to bundle the wires together.  I also moved the 25-pin connector from the vertical piece of styrene to the inner ring for a more solid and easier place to plug it in.

Re-wired Dome

Re-wired Dome

IMG_3248 IMG_3249 IMG_3250

$x Mesh tubing
$x Circuit boards