Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Now underway!

I've started building the dome - ie the head part. I'm building an initial full-size model out of paper, on the grounds that it's cheaper. Much, much cheaper. So, an hour or so spent with scalpel and rotary cutter have meant I have the beginnings of a dome.

It's not going to be the final version, but it's worth doing - if I end up going to a local plastic cutter to get the sheet styrene cut, if I can give them a DXF or DWG it will be easier.

So I've used a bit of mathematics to build 1:1 scale, flattened PDF versions of parts.

So I've got the top section cut out (at least one, I'll double layer it), and the mostly vertical bit of the head. Next will be the neck, and the body skins...

And on their way - two 24 volt, 100 watt motors, with a mounting frame and wheel!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What is an R6 astromech?

We shall start off defining our problem... What is an R6 unit? Well, in the SW Expanded Universe (all the stuff outside of the movies and series), a lot like R2 - a bit more capable, the biggest difference is a different shaped head.

R6-D14, current colour scheme

The advantage with the head shape is that it's much easier to scratch build than is a hemispherical(ish) dome. And I find it a bit more aesthetically pleasing. Why is scratchbuilding important? Simple - money. Until I have enough money to throw around getting the top end equipment (like a machined aluminium inner frame), I'm going to have to make do.

So, at the moment, I trying to find ways to make do. A bit of searching, a bit of maths, and some talking online (thanks to Dan Stuettgen, builder of R6-D1 for his dome plans, I'd link to him, but he has no current website), a demo copy of Turbocad, and a couple of visits to a local retail store with a printery (that can handle printing A1 and A0) has lead me to having copies of the front and rear skins (of the body), and two of the head. At this stage, I've only put the hatches on the top of the dome in, will slowly get the other ones for the head done as I can.

The paper plans will eventually be used as templates for making a frame (admittedly, machined aluminium would be nice)... and paper with give way, either to more aluminium, or to sheet styrene. No guessing which will be cheaper, easier, and lighter, though. I might have to make do with wood for a frame...

For those of you who haven't guessed, this could be an expensive hobby... and I haven't started talking about what I want as the electronics inside. I'll give you a clue - not an empty, static display, and not radio controlled...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

In The Beginning...

So... after many... well, I have to admit years of wanting one, I am going to actually start making my own Astromech.

Firstly, the legal: The design is owned (as far as I know) by Lucasfilm... or whoever. It's not mine, is the main thing. The look of the Star Wars astromechs is copyright.

Secondly: Don't ask me to make one for you. For starters, I don't have the time. Additionally, you don't have the money that you would have to pay. Also, the fact that the design of them is patented means that the money would go to George Lucas, via the Clone Army of lawyers that would be launched. However - Mr Lucas has gracefully allowed fans (such as myself) to unleashed our creative and/or technical talents in recreating elements of the SW universe.

Now that we have that out of the way...

What strikes me is that the internal, electronic systems are an interesting (albeit potentially major) engineering project. The stuff beneath the shell is up for grabs - think of it as building a robot, except having an external design to adhere to. External sensors are limited (for the most part, I might have to fudge) to what can be seen, but under the skin has plenty of options open.

So - Why an astromech?

Simple. I'm a fan of the rotund 'bot. Yes, I know how much "personality" was not much more than puppetry, but they are an interesting design. Yes, using a set design makes it more difficult... but I'm claiming that as part of the challenge.