Author Archives: lukejedi

Magnetic connector for dome (version 2)

I’ve always wanted an easy and affordable magnetic connector for the dome to body connection.  I’ve used the DB25 connector with FlthyMcNsty’s board since the beginning and it works great, but it takes two hands to make the connection.

Here is version 2 of the magnetic connector that I’ve designed.  It uses conductive magnets for the voltage and then a 8 pin millmax connector for the data.  This mirrors the high current board I previously used.  Basically 4 wire for the slipring carry each leg of V+/V- times two as I run 5V and 12V to the dome, and the 8 remaining wires carry data.  Each wire is rated at 2A, so that gives a max of 8A per power leg, each magnet is rated at 8A, but I doubled up just to be safe.  So 2 magnets per power leg.

Here is a list of parts, again this is NOT perfect and will take some builder experience to get it working.  If I have time I may fix the things to make it easier to put together, but mine works so it won’t be a high priority.  Warning – the millmax connectors are tiny and difficult to solder as they are brass pins that heat up great but also melt their own housings.  Tried the solder verisons of them and just melted them all the heck.  So went with the pin mounts and provided a separate pcb board, much easier to solder these.  SO USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

3D Printed Female end
3D Printed Male plug
3D Printed Male back piece
8 sets of conductive magnets
Male Millmax connector
Female Millmax connector
PCB Board for female end (brd file)
PCB Board for male end (brd file)
PCB Board for Millmax connector X2 (brd file)
5.0 pitch 2-pole screw terminal x2
2.54 pitch 4-pole screw terminal x2

(obviously you’ll need a slip ring and a way to connect it to the dome – this is only for slip ring to body connection)

Here are pictures of the connectors


Video of the mating, sorry for the shaking video as I had one hand on the dome another on the camera.


Center Foot Upgrade – huge improvement

Finally got tired of the single caster in the center foot. My droid is styrene (Dave Everett’s plans) so it weighs just 89 lbs. Its been a solid droid for the last two+ years. However, you can see in the video it does not do well on cracks/lips so door transistions, sidewalks,etc are a nightmare. Decide to go with the vex setup using Kevin Holme’s bracket, added additional brackets so that its all metal from the center ankle bolt down. Then used Michael Baddeley’s center foot 3D model, and modified it to fit my custom setup using Fusion360.  The new center foot adds 3.5 lbs so now it weighs 92.5 lbs.

Printed the foot at 15% infill / 4 layers / 0.25 layer height, and then printed the sides at 15% infill / 4 layers / 0.1 layer height to smooth out the curves of the half moons. The left side is glued on, the right side is held on by magnets (mounted in the insets). The foot is solid!
There is access to the bolt to install/remove the bolt (and its large enough for a socket to fit over the bolt head), plus there is a hole for a screw to lock the ankle/foot, it also includes a slot for a washer and the nut.
The video shows the clear difference between the two. Now just need to prime/sand/paint and it will be show time! Also thanks to Greg Tracy for the huge assist on my build in the first place.


Parts List:
Wheel Assembly
Kevin Holme’s bracket – $35
4 – 4″ Omni-Directional Wheel – part #217-2584 – $18/each – $72
4 – Flanged Bearing – 0.375in x 1.125in – part #217-2732 – $3/each – $12
1 – Angle Bracket (Lowes) ML24-TZ 2″x2″x4″  (cut in half) – $2
2 – 3D Printed 0.5″ versahub
2 – 3/8″-16, 3.5″ long bolt – part# 91257A639 – $1/each – $2
2 – 3/8″ washers
2 – 3/8″-16 Locknut, heavy vibration – part# 94820A242 – $1/each – $2
6 – #6-XX, XX long screws, through VEX wheels to tie together
4 – #10-1/2″ bolts
4 – #10 nuts

Center Ankle Bolt
1 Shoulder Screw – part# 94496A540 – $7
1 3/8″ Washer
1 1/4″-20 Nut

3D Print Files:

Center foot
Left Side
Right Side
Top Cap

Force Awakens premiere

I was extremely honored to be able to take R2 to the White House premiere of The Force Awakens.  The premiere was being held for Gold Star families (families that lost a parent in war).  As a retired veteran I was so honored to attend.  We also took shots of R2 around the White House.

The second best part was after the event, I had loaded ‘Uptown Funk’ on R2 in case we met the First Lady as she said it was her favorite song.  We were all alone in the Diplomatic Reception room with just the President, First Lady and obviously secret service.  So I decided to play the song, and the First Lady said ‘That’s my favorite song, how did you now?’ and proceed to dance along with the President and the First Order troops there for the premiere.  Priceless event! 

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama join Gold Star families, R2-D2 and two storm troopers from Star Wars for a group photo in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Dec. 18, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

UPDATE:  The White House posted part of the dancing video on Youtube on May 4th, 2016

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