By: Rob Howdle
Droid (s): R2-D2, R2-AC3, BB-8, D-O
How long have you been apart of a Droid Building Community?
Well, I joined astromech.net back in May 2015, interested in building R2. But the sheer scale of everything in there, the apparent complexity of building R2 and no immediate evidence of UK builders put me off. It wasn’t until celebration London in 2016 and saw that UK builders existed that I decided to actually give this droid building lark a go!
What are your current build? (Droid, Materials etc)
R2 and AC3 (Same droid body different domes and detail pieces) Mainly a traditional CSL Everett frame, resin pieces from Don Jarr. MrBaddeley MK1 3d printed domes. Customized Padawan 360 drive system. I’ve been slowly replacing parts with 3d printed bits so I can swap between the 2 IDs easily.
What made you want to build a droid in the first place?
Who doesn’t want R2 in their house?!?
I wanted a challenge, I’ve always built things since I was little. (Tracey island anyone?) I even remember trying to make an R2 out of cardboard when I was 9 or so! It didn’t go well..
But at the time in 2016 I thought that now’s a good as time as any so why not? The new films were coming out so I could see a renewed interest in Star Wars appearing. Then I found out that all the costuming group’s did charity fundraising. I’m not sporty so I’m never going to do a charity marathon or anything but raise money by bringing R2 somewhere? That I can do!
What future plans do you have for your droid? Constantly upgrading? Show piece? Events droid?
R2 is currently going through a major repair phase. He’s gone through the wars lately and it’s starting to show. Once I’m happy he’s fully working again I’ll start doing events again. (I have 2 young kids so family commitments permitting) Upgrades? I’ll be redoing the domes to the newer Baddeley versions, mainly so I can get the panels to open. I mucked up the build on the current ones so those will never open. Though must admit Lee’s aluminium domes are tempting…
Do you have plans to build more droids? If so which one (s)?
I have a 39.1 droid on the go, just bought the pit droid plans too. BD-1 is queued up on the printers and card as well! My local council also gave me more recycling boxes than I asked for, wonder what I could make with 2 of those…
Do you have any more droids? If so what other droids do you have either complete or WIP/ planning stages?
Just finished a MK1 D-O. BB-8 is WIP, having lots of issues with him, mainly due the experimental drive system in him and I’munhappy with the body panels, so printing Cary thin panels now. I also have a R6 dome sat waiting to be painted and given lights.
What are some of the challenges you have faced during your build?
Trying to build a droid in effectively a corridor. I now have a proper workshop so that’s no longer a problem. Learning Arduino coding, which I actually really like doing now. Learning to slow down, as in not rushing the build. The times I’ve had to go back and redo something has forced me to think a bit before making that join or cut. I’m still prone to rushing ahead though!
Do you have a ‘proudest moment’? If so what would that be (could be from the build itself or an event)
I took R2 into work when he was first finished. Another member of staff, who is blind, walked over and felt around R2. He thanked me as he finally knew what R2 looked like after hearing him in the movies after all these years. The other one is definitely the dreamflight event, even though I was one small part of that experience I’m glad R2 helped to brighten up those kids day.
Are there any parts of the build process that have surprised you with how easy/ hard you found them? (For example something that you thought would be very hard that turned out to be easy for you etc)
The electronics! I was dreading doing them and accidentally blowing myself, or R2, up. But once I started it was quite straightforward and both of us are still in one piece! Granted my wiring is not neat though.
What is the most important piece of advise you would give to any new builder?
Don’t be put off by the seeming complexity of building a droid. Start small if you want, the 39.1 droids are great starter ones. But don’t be afraid to ask questions, even ones you may feel are stupid or obvious. We’ve all been there at one point.