Monday, March 31, 2014

Transporting L3-G0, the full size Lego R2-D2

People have asked several times how we transport L3-G0.  It's actually really, really easy.

Many MOCs (My Own Creations) are fairly fragile.  I was terrified of figuring out how to move L3-G0 and that was in fact one of my first experiments.  I had tons of bungees and other stuff ready to move, plans for a plywood base and all sorts of stuff.  Moving the Lego Space Needle is pretty challenging.  I feel happy that it only takes 1/2 hour (usually) to get it back together now.  That's only 4500 bricks.  L3-G0 is closer to 16,000 bricks!  So I figured it'd be harder.

He's only 60-65 pounds or so (almost 30kg), so unlike many other R2-D2 builds he's not too hard to lift.

The first part is to take off his head (remembering to unplug the wire helps) and stick it on the car seat, careful of the holoprojectors.  I put the seat back up as far as possible, but don't really worry about strapping it in or anything.
Then we pick up L3-G0's body and put it in back.  The front foot shell comes off and the casters get shoved in around the rear seat's mounting point.  Hooking the bungee around the top of the foot is about the only hard part since the hooks don't have much room on the mounting point.
And then last is to merely hook the back seat belts around the central foot guide post, pulling them to ratchet tight (like you would a child seat).  Again, watch the wire on the top.

The sad thing is that getting the bungee is sometimes tricky, and the last step, the seatbelts, is so simple, that I've forgotten about the seatbelts about three times already.  Fortunately the last two times I caught myself, but on the way to Hosik's science fair we were late & rushing, so I drove down the driveway with them off.  I was reminded to fix it when L3-G0 fell over on his face.  Fortunately it didn't do much damage.

Anyway, once he's secured, the model's ridiculously stable.  It barely moves and I don't need to be nearly as careful driving as with the other models.  (The Space Needle wants the sections I divide it into to fall apart, and the Lego Disney Wonder's nice wooden platform has slippery velvet on it, so it wants to slide around.  The worst part for L3-G0 is putting the front shell back together.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Little Darth Vader (Darth Lily?) Loves R2-D2

One of the fans attending ECCC, Lily, was dressed up as Darth Vader when she came to visit L3-G0.  Her dad asked her to go put on her Vader mask and pose with R2-D2.  As she came up, "R2" saw "Vader", made his sad sound and backed up.  She came closer and he did it again.  And again.

Lily didn't like R2 being sad, so she took it off and showed him it was just a mask.  Then she gave R2 a hug to comfort him.  She talked to him a lot saying how she saw his movie and he was her favorite robot and other stuff again.
Darth Lily hugging Lego R2-D2

Everyone wanted to put the mask back on again to take pictures, but she didn't want to scare R2 again.  They "talked" a bit, and her dad translated his beeping as really wanting to be scared again.  She asked if he was sure and I managed to hit a button that did a somewhat positive sounding beep.  Reluctantly she put the mask on again, and when he shuddered again, she quickly ripped it off and gave him a hug.

Normally L3-G0's a "don't touch", but Lily was so short and concerned and gentle I wasn't worried.  It's the kids patting him on the head that cave in the dome, or people tripping over his feet (I've learned R2 has big feet). 

Thanks to Lily and her parents for letting us share her picture and video.  I start this clip just before Lily so you can see just why he's so scared of her costume.

Yes, Lily, L3-G0/R2-D2 hasn't forgotten your name :)

Group photo at ECCC

Photo of L3-G0 with other R2 Builders Club astromechs here at ECCC.

It was great finally meeting other club members up here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Made it to Emerald City Comicon (finally)

I'll try to post more later, but here's a tiny bit about the first day at ECCC.  Everyone loved the full size Lego R2-D2.  Asking wonderful things like "do you know about the R2-D2 Builder's Club? (yes)  And then L3-G0 would beep and they'd go "oh, he makes sound too!"  When they started to turn away I'd drive him out and run around the show floor and they'd say "No way, he moves?!?!?!"
L3-G0 was supposed to get set up yesterday, but the skirt took too long to get behaving.  I blogged about what he looked like yesterday morning.  That required 3D printing some bricks and stuff, but I still had time.  Unfortunately the skirt's on the bottom, so he had to be upside down with the legs & feet off to work on the skirt. 
When I flipped him back over and stuck on the remaining parts I found little things like the dome wouldn't fit: 
  • Above the shoulders, I'd fixed a gap that was missing last time, he hadn't had that before, so I didn't know it'd cause clearance issues. Because of the tightness I'd left out a plate of thickness, about 1/8" and forgot it'd make the sides 1/8" too narrow.
  • The left battery box hadn't been Kragle'd and tried to disassemble itself when sticking it on.
  • Worst, somehow I'd messed up the center caster.  I knew the standards 3" caster didn't fit in my Lego shell, but my custom casters failed miserably.  But in the trials I found a 3" caster that seemed to work well.  I was so fixated on the fore-aft clearance I forgot about sideways, so he couldn't go backwards without the caster jamming or slamming the box to pieces.  So I gave up on Thursday.  Show didn't open 'til Friday @ 10 so I had time.  I used an early prototype and finally got his feet behaving around midnight.
Getting to the convention center was tricky.  His tie-down is actually really trivial in the minivan.  Jam the front casters into the hold-down for the far back seat (after taking out the seat) and throwing a bungee around it.  Then, with the dome off (sitting on the rear seat), stick the way-back seatbelts around the center post and let them click into being tight.  I'm used to Lego MOCs being fragile and insecure, but L3-G0 travels unbelievably well.
Of course that's before putting the fragile shell on it.  I thought I could lift it up, but it turned out there wasn't enough room for the bungee, so the shell came off.  That wasn't too hard, but I outsmarted myself and it was harder to put back on than I'd expected once I got to the convention center.

Once there, the fans loved him.  One seems to have found the droid they were looking for!

L3-G0 worked really well.  On the previous trials parts fell off and there were other small problems, like when the shoulder broke.  But he was really reliable.  Unfortunately the battery died before lunch, and I let it get really low, so it wouldn't fast-charge.  Fortunately I found a motorcycle shop that had another.  Alternating two seemed to work fine later in the day (though it's annoying to swap), but we'll see tomorrow. 
The worst part was the prodding of the fans.  They liked to poke.  And many wanted pictures with their hand resting on the top of his head.  Which is the most fragile part, so his head was dented a few times.  And he had an accident with his front foot, but for the most part L3-G0 was strong and ran well.
At the end of the day the sprockets on the bolts I'm using for axles started slipping :(  The best I can do is probably tighten the set screws in the morning and cross my fingers, but I think it'll be OK.  And maybe slow down the acceleration curve a bit.  It looks like the rest of the stuff I did to tighten up the wheels worked OK though, so it should be solvable.
Gotta get over to the R2-D2 Builder's Club folks sometime, which should be tricky as they're in the other building, and worse, on the other side of the trade floor.  The alternate route crosses the street and L3-G0 hates pavement (way, way, way too bumpy).
Need sleep, two nights up way too late.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Umm, when is ECCC?

Emerald City Comicon's tonight.  L3-G0's gonna be working, flashing lights, sound and everything, right?!!?!?!?

He's decapitated, and the body's upside down!  And doesn't that 3D printer look like its on and running to you?  Hope it's nothing critical.
The table's covered with a pile of parts, tools everywhere.

And his legs are off and the insides of his feet are showing.

I'm supposed to be at Emerald City Comicon when!!?  Maybe I should show him as R2-D2 in the droid factory.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Latest Video

Still needs legs and a few other details, but lights and sound are working now!  He went on another test run at work (Microsoft Building 50).  Afterward we took a spin through the cafĂ© where he got quite a few pictures taken.

Latest video:

Friday, March 7, 2014


Well, this is a bummer :( 

We had a little mishap at the science fair.  This is what happens when centripetal force gets to L3-G0's head and he spins too fast.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sealug Meeting

L3-G0's not done yet, but he's getting there!  We went on a test run to the Sealug meeting, which was held at ECCC's headquarters.  The kids loved chasing around a life size R2-D2 and were willing to look past his partially completed state.

He's obviously missing his legs/shoulders, skirt, front foot skin and a few other details, but I wanted to test transporting him and see what problems I might encounter, and where he might fall to pieces.  I don't want to be spending all of Emerald City Comicon fixing him!  Sounds are also still on a random loop, and he has no dome LEDs at the moment (which means he can spin his head a ton).

I have some video of his outing, the meeting starts about 40 seconds into the clip.  I took a week off work to make a big push to get him from frame to nearly complete:

I didn't think I was going to get the dome reattached before the meeting, but Lara prodded me and it was mostly reconnected just in time (I was a few minutes late).

The test outing was a great success, we learned tons that we'll need to know for ECCC later in the month:
  • He does great with his new shoulders in the car.  Tying down's going to be tricky when the front foot cover gets on, but otherwise much more stable than when I took the frame to work.
  • The new shoulders (laminated plywood) seem to be doing OK.  Since he has 4 wheels in each foot, there's a lot of stress when he turns because some of the wheels have to slip.  That pretty much destroyed the old thinner shoulder hub.  I'd expected to need aluminum, but the plywood's doing OK.
  • On a related note, when turning hard, the feet can chatter a lot, enough to knock off the battery box (at 60 seconds in the clip one of them is missing).  The outer foot panels chatter too.
  • He can spin his head fast enough to throw off a holoprojector, which happens at about 1:20 in the video.
  • With the throttle limit off on the motors he has pretty much a perfect amount of power, much faster than walking, but not so quick as to be uncontrollable or unrealistic.  (My previous outing was limiting the motor controllers and he was just under walking speed).
  • He looks funny without shoulders :)
  • The vibration from pavement or even a sidewalk is a bit scary, he knocked a couple dome panels loose that way.
  • The body held up really well.
  • L3-G0 knew to expect rain in Seattle, but it started to snow at the end!
We still have a ton to do before ECCC, crossing my fingers that we can get it all done!  L3-G0 will be in "Brick Nation" at ECCC, the biggest Lego display yet at Emerald City Comicon.  Ground floor of The Conference Center building.

Starting to get back together

Update for my L3-G0 build, the full size Lego R2-D2.

It's like cleaning where things get worse before they get better.  Finally he's starting to get back together WITH his frame!

He was upside down a bit while I tried to figure out the skirt (built back on "Day 3", but haven't had anything to attach it to until now.... and now it's not right :(
And unfortunately the shim that the dome's bearing is on didn't fit once the body was bolted together.  The original shim was hand cut, but now the body is in a laser cut 12-sided shape.  Apparently without a frame it had more play.
Even worse, the (@*&#()*%& bearing didn't come with properly spaced holes, so I had to get at the bearing to transfer the bolt holes correctly.  And the bearing was on the bottom of the dome.  I almost got away with having the dome upside down, but it didn't survive :(

I'm hoping to get the dome back together for the Sealug meeting tomorrow, but it might not happen.  He obviously isn't complete, but I'm hoping to see how well he transports.  I'd rather mess up tomorrow with weeks to fix it than mess up on the way to Emerald City Comicon and have a few hours to fix it!.