Monday, February 28, 2011

Still Cutting Those Ankles

Yep, I'm still in the kind of dull cutting phase: score, score, score, score, score, score, score, score, score, score, SNAP! That really is TEN passes with the exacto blade for each edge. It's not the most exciting part of building a droid, but, as I tell myself when I find I'm putting off any tedious part of building, "that droid's not gonna build himself!"

I decided to chamfer these ankle parts before doing the long cuts -- that way the chamfers would be even, and I'd save myself a little bit of effort:

I clamped my bastid (haha) file to my work table -- this saved a bit of effort too!

I think the chamfers came out really nice -- and only about 20 minutes of filing per edge, too!

I did scrub that file between chamfers.

For a couple of the cuts it looked like I needed to cut the thick styrene curves by hand. This left some little tabs of styrene at the break edges.

So I clamped the curves piece to my table...

And filed those little tabs off!

Then, more chamfering. Here is a before and after kind of shot:

A single day's work! Not done, yet, but still a pretty decent effort!

Next I'll finish off the small detail cuts on those pieces. I also re-installed my router in preparation for cutting the last of the curved pieces, and truing up some of those long straight pieces that go inside the shoulder hubs and legs.

I've gotten used to every part of this build taking 2, 3, and even 4 times longer than I estimate! I will confess, though, that I REALLY hope to finish this year -- yes, a droid in 2011 is my dream. There, I've gone and done it and gone public with my deadline! Bwahahahahaha!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let the Cutting Begin! (Again...)

Not much to report today -- my first full day back from a great vacation!

I finished adhering the last of the patterns to my styrene, and began cutting the 1mm curved ankle pieces by hand. It's been a while: the first one was not too pretty. Ah well, that's what files are for!

That's all I had time for today. Hopefully more progress later this week. :-)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Back to Cutting Styrene!

Although it's been a while since I posted, I have been been working away behind the scenes. When I last posted, I noted that I'd decided to go back to styrene legs, and that I'd discovered I'd stopped cutting styrene at the point of the ankles. At least that's my memory of it! Anyway, I needed to do some more cutting, set up my router table again, and stuff like that.

I made many trips to the hardware store, because I found I needed to make a new router table. You see, I'd left my old one outside (sans router) to use as a painting table, and it got rained on in December and warped a bit. So I bought some plywood. It turned out to be too thick for the router mounting hardware! Went back to the hardware store: no M4 screws long enough available!! I finally decided to use the old table and clamp it to my work table in the dining room. Whew -- it's flat enough!

One of the first items needing cutting (or rather re-cutting) was the set of uprights for the shoulder hubs. My hand-cutting just wasn't accurate enough. Here is a picture of how each piece came out a different height due to the "flashing" from hand-breaking the scored styrene:

These are also different lengths (sigh) which creates the illusion that the bottoms were not level when the pic was taken. In short: they needed to be re-done, as having them the same height is critical.

I'd realized such things when I last cut styrene, but somehow these got missed. Anyway, time to set up to give them the router treatment!

First, I needed to create new "patterns" for them -- I decided to just use a square and ruler rather than print another set:

First cuts were by hand to leave just a bit for the router to remove cleanly:

Next I prepared the remaining patterns (by affixing them to the styrene using tacky spray) for the hand-cutting that needs to be done before routering:

The patterns are almost all stuck on (and I was relieved to find I had enough styrene left!), so next I'll cut, then router. Wow this feels like last summer all over again! :-D

Well good thing I've got this to do, as we've got rainy days ahead, so no painting -- which is what I'd have wanted to do. More soon!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Leg Decision

No pics today, as I really didn't actually build. But I did finalize my decision to go back to styrene legs. The A&A legs are really well-made, but just aren't right for my build.

I packed those away to sell later, and dug out my styrene leg parts. Everything looks good and ready to go, but I found out that I'd stopped cutting before getting to the it looks as if I need to set up my router table again! Well maybe I was just jealous of the East Coast and wanted to make some more snow! Hahahhah.

I made a list, and went out and got the hardware. Building will start tomorrow, and will take several days no doubt, as I get back into my styrene swing!

So much for a day off! ;-)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Something Old, Something New...

Another pretty productive day in Bith's Droid Dining-Room!

Wanting to play some more with the new toy (my real drill press), I dug out my utility arms, and drilled out the area where I'll insert a bolt so they can move.

Then I inserted some plastic spacers I'd bought. I tested them with the bolts, and the bolts not only did not fit, they were too short! I tried a few thinner bolts, but the arm flapped around too much. I realized that I really should have bought the threaded spacers called for. Must go searching for those!

Next it was time to enlarge my dome ring holes a bit (I'm showing how I checked to be sure the ring was level):

That worked really well! I added some washers to be sure that the ring sat upon the Rockler perfectly. Because the horizontal part of the ring is not perfectly level, each bolt required a different number of washers. To ensure the ring was always placed back in the same space I marked each ring/area of the Rockler bearing with a color code:

Next I finally installed the (pesky) Radar Eye!! Looks pretty good, and I am calling it DONE!

I thought I'd move on to the legs next...and here's a bit of back-story: months ago I'd devised a plan for some special weathering, but I needed the legs to be solid for this, rather than hollow (as found in the styrene plans). So, even though I'd already cut out my styrene legs, I purchased a set of A&A PVC legs.

I spent some time labeling parts, and getting things organized. Then, I did some test-fitting to see how things went together. Hmmm. These are a LOT heavier than I was expecting. I'll admit I'm worried about whether or not my styrene frame can handle these.

I think I'm going to set these aside, and start building my styrene legs instead. I'll see later which ones will actually go on my droid. If I don't use these I'll just sell them at cost on

Busy day tomorrow, but I'm going to try to get to the hardware store for leg stuff. I should be back to building in a couple of days! (I'm actually pretty bummed I have to take a day off...haha!)

Rockler Pwnage! Did I Just Type That??

Okay, started with finishing. In this case got the awesome drill press fully assembled, in spite of the inscrutable instructions!

Immediately put it to the test on a bit of scrap wood -- woo! Love the lasers!

Okay, one test done? That's enough for me! Set up the ring on the drill press using a level and all kinds of clamps and shims...and drilled! Wow this machine is sweet: quiet, easy, safe! I love it!

Proof that the right tool will solve many problems: success in installing the Rockler bearing! Here it is all affixed to the frame and everything:

Thrilled as I was, I found the fit, while accurate, was still a bit tight. I might enlarge the holes a bit tomorrow, as I expect to be removing the dome frequently in the future. Anyway, I decided to move right along..

Clean-up was needed, as well as organizing the new hardware, so out came the small baggies.

When I had the room, I did some more Dremeling for the radar eye lens, then siliconed it in yet again. I hope this is IT!

I also prepared a new sawed-off screw to glue into it -- this time I'll choose the correct end!! Tomorrow, I'll pop it in (I hope).

And that's it! It seemed as if I did much more...but that's how it always is. :-)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Several Days of Droid Work in One Post!

Four days, to be exact. Yep, worked on my droid every day for the last four days, and only now am sitting down to post. After all the time spent writing, and choosing and uploading my photos I think it's safe to say I won't be doing THAT again!

I'll try to be brief (especially since, in spite of all that work, I really didn't move forward much).

Feb. 3:
Here is a shot of the use of my Dremel "drill press" putting in the holes for the frame mount screws in the the Rockler bearing (lazy susan mechanism that allows the dome to spin). I remembered to tape off the space that exposes the bearings!

The finished holes! These will be used to secure the bearing to the frame.

Knowing I wasn't going to get to more drilling today, I started stripping out the silicone that holds the lens into the eye. Again. I think this is the second or third time. Finished, but that was it for the day. I need to figure out what's wrong with this eye!

I used the Dremel Press to put starter holes in the dome ring (after placing the bearing using pennies -- pictured later). Then used a standard drill to enlarge the holes freehand. This did not work...the drill bit always drifted and the holes ended up misplaced. I ended up taping over the holes and preparing to begin again.

Feb. 5:
Realizing I'd forgotten to depict the pennies method of centering the Rockler bearing in the dome ring, here is a shot. This is my improved method, with pennies taped together, as most of my droid-building-time during the previous two days felt like I was catching pennies as they tried to roll away!

Marking the ring for drilling using existing Rockler holes. Done each time.

No more photos, because the exact same thing happened as the day before: when it came time for drilling the bit somehow slipped again and the holes did not line up. I also somehow lost some hardware while testing the lining-up. Done for the day again!

Feb. 6:
I decided to start the day by finishing up a bit on the holoprojector servo assembly I hadn't completed yet. I drilled a hole in the screw-on base through which I'd pass a long machine screw.

Here it is all assembled. The slots in the popsicle sticks slide back and forth around that long screw, which will articulate the holoprojector if all goes well!

I felt good finishing that off, so back for a third run at the dome ring drilling project we go! Again with the pennies, marking, pre-drilling, this time counter-sinking, then hand-drilling (with a new super-heavy-duty bit).

I guess I don't need to tell you it failed again: the holes did not match up! What was I doing wrong?? Well, when in doubt, I turn to Victor's writings. I found there that he actually left the Rockler on the ring while drilling. He also always uses a real drill press. Okay then! I'd put off buying a drill press because, dang if those things aren't huge, and I think I mentioned I'm doing this in my apartment dining room! But if that's what my droid needs, well that's what my droid gets!

So first I did the pennies trick, and taped up that Rockler bearing really well so it wouldn't wriggle.

Then, it was off to the hardware store to get the hardware that had vanished during the past few days, and a drill press. Wow were we lucky! They were out of the cheap model, so they sold us the fancy one for the same price!! We saved about 80 bucks!

Of course assembly is required:

And...we'll finish tomorrow (the motor part alone weighs maybe 70 pounds, so this part requires hubby help). And hopefully finish the ring drilling! Whew!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On With The Eye, and Servo Fun!

*sigh* O Radar Eye, you pesky thang! Today was affix-you-to-the-dome day...

Let's back up a bit: a few posts ago I sawed off the head of the bolts to be inserted into the back of the radar eye. On that day I remember telling myself "be sure to insert the sawed end into the radar eye, so you'll be able to get the nuts on the other end that doesn't have ruined threads!"

So guess what I forgot and therefore did wrong? Yep, I'd glued the wrong end in! Just on one of them, but... :-(

I'll see what I can do to fix it tomorrow, but here is the placement at least:

I needed to feel a sense of accomplishment, so I moved on to another part of the project. I tested my latest hardware purchase, and it looked like it would work, so I proceeded to assemble the holoprojector servo unit. 4-40 X 1" machine screws seemed to be the magic ones! Order of assembly proved crucial too -- I had to take it apart several times to figure that out...

First the "popsicle sticks" as I started to call them:

Then the ring with many holes:

Then, the other ring. I actually had to undo the previous screws to affix this, then reattach. Kinda hard to explain. But it has to do with both room to work, and the length of the screws.

After much fussing (I reversed the screws on the popsicle sticks for one thing) here it is! I need to get some paper clips to run from the servos. I think? We shall see!

I'll come back to the rest of this at some future time (like when I start working on the electronics). Tomorrow I'll deal with that eye, and maybe install the Rockler bearing!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Today, I believe that I finally finished work on the PESKY radar eye! Wooooohooo!

Using CA glue I affixed the cut-off screws onto the back, then siliconed in the lens. It's now curing overnight on a coffee can from times of old (before the dark times, before Starbucks!).

Tomorrow I'll screw it onto the dome!

Next I began work on the holoprojector servo assembly. This will allow the HP to be moved around like a wiggly shiny piece of candy for curious little hands, er..., I mean move around to "look" at items of interest. ;-)

Again, some of my hardware was just not quite right. So it was off to the hardware store (this time I did not trip on a drill cord, injure my knee, and spend nearly two weeks side-lined).

Back to it tomorrow!