Sunday, July 21, 2013

My favorite robot, R2-AL

This week's League of Extraordinary Bloggers topic is simply: Robots!

This is probably one of the easiest topics for me to talk about.     I originally was going to create a top 10 list of favorite robots.  Among those, Transformers, Wall-E, and Marvin from "Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy". 

 But, there is one little robot that I have loved forever and that is R2-D2.   I wrote a post about my R2 collection, so I am going to recycle some of it for this post.  I never realized how much R2 was beginning to take over my collection until my husband pointed it out.

This picture is just a fraction of my R2s.  Old or new, it doesn't matter to me.  I am bad about rescuing R2s.   My collection ranges in size from 1/2 inch tall to life size and fully remote controlled.  It is the life size R2 unit that I would like to share today.

Our R2-AL building project was started when our oldest daughter was just a baby, so it has been a 5 year labor of love.   It really should not have taken that long to complete, but life has a funny way of getting in the way sometimes.  I would like to myth bust a few things about building R2s.   It really is not as hard as I originally thought it would be to build.   It also, surprisingly, isn't as expensive as I once originally thought it would be.   Now granted, there are some who take R2 building to another extreme spending tens of thousands of dollars.   But you can build a remote control droid on a budget.

The Astromech Builders group is a valuable source for blueprints and other resources needed in R2 building, so that is where we started.   The building project began humbly.  You see the body is made from a sonotube,  much like the ones pictured here.  This was probably the most inexpensive part of the whole build.  It was free, and well, you can never beat free.    After a little work, the body was cut to the appropriate height for an R2 unit.   Using the  outer skin as a template, we cut holes for vents and other parts that make up the body.

This is the part of the story where our waiting game begins because it was a game of order parts, wait for parts, make this or that part while we wait for more parts, parts arrive, paint parts, install parts, and repeat.    Of course, everything is more fun when you have friends to doing the same things.  Two of our close friends decided that they wanted to get in on the fun ( blood, sweat, and tears) , so over the years we have hosted a lot droid building parties.  It really does help the process if you have someone to bounce ideas off of.

Finally, after lots of parts and paint the lowly cardboard tubes begin to look like something close to an R2 unit.  The blue and purple "bullet" is our R2-AL.

We originally were going to do the traditional R2 colors, but we had second thoughts.  It has been done, and well lets face it, there is only one R2-D2.  We felt that a custom color scheme suited us better.  So, we let our son select the paint colors.   The blue is actually an automotive "glitter" paint and the purple is an automotive color changing finish.  So depending on the lighting, you will see shifts in color.  We also decided that we wanted a "dirty" droid, so I do still have a little weathering to do to the paint job.

Once the bullet form was complete, we moved on to the legs.  Which until getting involved with this project, who knew R2 had 15 different parts on his legs alone.  So we went through a second round of making parts, ordering parts, painting parts, you get the idea.  Over the course of leg building, AL went from no legs to peg legs to completed legs.   I am trying not to bore you with every aspect of the build.

We had another child and just didn't have the time or energy to get it finished.  But our youngest is now one, so it is a little easier. The last step for us was to add the electronics and do some test drives.   R2-AL is powered  by a marine battery and driven with 2 razor scooter motors inside the feet.  The dome is driven by a power window motor.  In the dome, there is 200 LED lights and sound board and speaker to supply all of the R2 sounds.  

After years of being living room art, we were excited to finally get out and test drive it last weekend. So, I am excited to share some of our test drives with the rest of the League.  

  Please check out one of our youtube clips.   

 Now. lets take a look around the League and see what others thought about robots:

Fortune and Glory Days- gives us a top 10 list.

GoodwillHunting4Geeks- Loves robots!

Geek Show Ink talks about the Tomy Walking Rascal

Whatever I Think Of is talking about Hymie

Branded in The 80's talks about the love child of C-3PO and Maria

Cavalcade of Awesome talks about the Robonic Stooges

AEIOU talks about his favorites

PopPop It's Trash Culture talks about  Super Robot Red Baron.

Random Nerdness gives us his top 5 favorites

G.I Jigsaw talks about female robots

Miss M talks about her fear of robots

The 30ish year old talks about Star Wars robots

Erik talks about some of his favorites

Cave of Cool talks about damn robots

Pop Rewind talks about Small Wonders and Bill and Ted bots

Achievement in Gaming talks about robots in games


  1. That is awesome! And I want to see your whole collection! I've always thought that the only way to build a successful Star Wars collection would be to focus on a single character -- R2D@, Darth Vader, Jabba, etc. -- there's just too much stuff out there otherwise! That's a great looking collection, and I am envious of that droid! ;)

  2. I used to try to collect a little bit of everything, but it is exhausting. Mainly, I focus on R2 and Leia items now and recently more vintage pieces. We are so excited to have AL finally completed. It is going to its first con this coming weekend.