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

He doesn’t fit!?!?!?!!

I was getting ready to take R2 to its first event, the January meeting of the Washington DC Area Star Wars Collecting Club (DCSWCC).  I’ve been a member since 2003 and our topic for this meeting is droid building.  Greg, Izzy and Mike are all attending with their droids or pieces/parts of droids.

I thought R2 could fit into our Chevy Traverses cargo area for me to transport him around, I was wrong.  Even with the dome off he is still about two inches too tall.  Fortunately Izzy had room to take my droid, but now I need to figure out how I’m going to get him to events — and buying a new car isn’t one of them!

Does not fit


IMG_2987Are they really ever done?  My R2 is officially complete and ready for action.  I finished painting the rocket booster covers this past weekend thanks to unseasonably warm weather (70 degrees in late December!).  I purchased a set of resin booster covers as the styrene ones were a lot of pieces/parts and I just wanted to get him done.

Of course I already have a list of upgrades that I want to do, some were planned from the beginning others have come out through the build process.

Future Upgrades:

  1. Lightsaber popup – this includes the dome panel retracting (I’m a Luke Jedi collector so this is a necessity of course!)
  2. Charging port – I’m tired of having to pull out the battery to charge R2.  I’ve installed a dpdt switch that allows me to both turn him on, but also connect a charger.  Just need to work on the parts of the charging port.
  3. Weathering – as a good friend says, he’s showroom new, but eventually all R2s will become weathered.  I have a few dings on my otherwise perfectly clean R2
  4. R5 or R6 dome – want to be able to quickly switch between astromechs.  I’ve seen a few events were there are plenty of R2s and not many of the others.


I can’t hear you

Decided to upgrade the sound system in R2.  Instead of using the Bluetooth speaker I originally purchased when I was just using an iPod for the sounds, I went with regular speakers and an amp.  Definitely a lot louder than the other speaker.  Since the Padawan system has volume control, might as well have some range on the volume!

My plan is to mount the speakers directly behind each of the center vents.  I glued two vertical pieces of styrene on either side of the uprights for the center vents.  Tapped two screw holes on either side of the top and bottom vents to mount the speakers.  I bought 3-1/2″ 100W Pyramid 312SX speakers for $15 on eBay.

Speaker SupportSpeakrs mounted inside viewSpeakers mounted outside viewIMG_0141IMG_0142

To power the speakers I bought a Lepai 12V 2-chanel amp and a 3.5mm ground loop isolator noise filter on eBay for $22.  I glued in two horizontal support pieces to hold the amp as shown in the picture.

IMG_0149Amp mounted

Speakers: $15
Amp/Isolator: $22

Padawan system

Got all the pieces and parts for the Padawan system and worked on getting it hooked up.   Took the dome and the control panel over to Izzy’s so he could upload the dome sketch.  He customized the sketch so that ‘Luke Jedi’ scrolls across the top front logic display – how awesome is that!  Here is a picture of his dining room table as we work on R2.


Everything seemed to work fine, but R2 ‘jumps’ every so often, both the drive motors and the dome motor will move smoothly then all the sudden there is a ‘jump’.

To troubleshoot, I re-checked all the wires, made sure they were secure and connected to the correct location.  I reprogrammed the Uno and re-checked the settings on the Sabertooth and Siren motor controllers.  Finally, I hooked the Arduino Uno up to my laptop and used the PS2 library and serial monitor to see what commands were coming from the GameStop PS2 controller.

Bingo!  The controller was actually sending bad information sporadically.  I wouldn’t be touching it and it would be fine for a few seconds and then bam it would send a one line command indicating movement.  I bought the controller used through eBay since my local game exchange store didn’t have one.

I ended up buying another controller, this one was a Pelican brand.  That one didn’t work at all.  It would not communicate from the wireless receiver to the Uno.

During my troubleshooting, I messaged Dan F on the astromech forums and he was very quick and helpful in providing advice on getting the system working.

I saw that the DroidWiki Padawan page recommended the LynxMotion remote so I ordered one.  It arrived, I connected it to my unit and nothing.

I then ordered a new but generic PS2 wireless controller on ebay (  for $11.  While that one was in the mail, I stopped by another local GameStop and they had a new Gamestop brand controller for $20 so I bought that one too.

Izzy offered to check the controllers on his working droid, I can’t thank him enough for all his help.  He even lent me his controller so that my droid was operational for my kids birthday party.

Turns out both the GameStop brand and the generic one from eBay worked perfectly with the Padawan system in his unit so I installed them in mine and IT WORKS!!!!.  So now I have a backup controller.  He wasn’t able to get the LynxMotion controller working either so something must have changed hardware-wise since the wiki link was posted.

Connecting the pins from the wireless receiver to the Uno can be problematic in that they might not always maintain a connection.  If you have a local game exchange store, check to see if they have a PS2 extension cable.  I stopped by mine and the person gave me the extension cable for free as he had a whole box full.

I cut the extension cable about six inches from the connector, stripped the outer jack to expose the wires, and then soldered on dupont pins.  This allows me to connect the extension cable directly to the Uno and then simply plug in the wireless receiver.  No more forcing connectors over the receiver pins.

Controller: $11
Backup controller $20


Dome topper and bumps

There are so many different ideas of what to use for a dome topper on the boards.  I decided to go with a hand-cut styrene 1mm washer plus a 3/8″ axle cap nut that I bought at Lowes for $X.  I rub-n-buffed the styrene washer and painted the axle cap blue.


I think it looks ok.


Also got some resin dome bumps from Izzy and painted those as well.

Dome Bumps

Axle cap nut: $
Resin dome bumps: $

Coin returns – no money here

Been procrastinating on the coin returns as they are all hand-cut and made from 1mm styrene which is flimsy.  Plus with the cold weather its been hard to find a good day to work outside and you must work outside with the Weld-On.

This wasn’t as hard as I imagined and it went fairly quickly.  Again, I used the rub-n-buff to turn them silver.  I wish I had done all the silver parts in rub-n-buff now that I know how to apply it.

Here is a picture of R2, the only thinks that are left are the dome bumps, dome topper and the booster covers – almost done!