By: Rob Howdle
Droid : R2-D2 (R2-PF1)
How long have you been part of the Droid Building Community?
I joined in 2008 under quite sad circumstances (at the time).
What are your current Build/s
What made you build a droid in the first place?
At the start of 2008, everything was really good for me. I was about to celebrate being married for 25years in the May, had just been promoted at work, had also fully completed building the UK’s first full size replica of the Lost in Space Robot from the 60’s TV Show.
Around March time Julie found a lump in her chest, after dismissing it, she was persuaded to get it checked. When the hospital checked her in May, it was Breast Cancer, the most aggressive strain & had spread under her arm.
To add to the shock of this news, our youngest daughter Lucy (who helps me massively with my R2) was present when we were told as she was on School half term.
Julie’s chances were not great, but the hospital got straight to work on her, 6 operations later, it was time for Chemo, she was quite ill after the first dose, after the second she was very ill. A few days after the 2nd dose. I woke up early in the morning to find her on the bathroom floor pretty lifeless, I called an ambulance, she was rushed to the Oncology unit in the Bristol Royal Infirmary. They got her stabilised & told me she was a couple hours away from passing away!
While Julie was in the Oncology unit and, for some unknown reason, asked me if I would build an R2D2 in her memory as thought she was not going to make it. I agreed, but driving home that night had no idea how I would achieve this.
I was speaking to my friends on the B9 robot club as they knew all about our situation & mentioned her request. Immediately some of the B9 builders were also R2 builders & responded amazingly.
I was sent a highly polished 300mm Aluminium Dome with missing lower panels, Julie had a large ‘get well soon’ card , signed by many builders , plus a Hasbro interactive R2 for her.
I signed straight up the R2 club & was helped by many builders in the USA & UK.
The Builders from all the groups were incredibly brilliant, I could not have achieved this without all of them. Fast forward to 2015 , the droid was still not finished , & Julie had made an almost full recovery.
She asked me if her droid would ever be finished. I got back on with it and now I have a finished droid (well until the next upgrade) & a fully recovered wife. James F made me aware of our UK R2 builders. I joined immediately & made my lower dome panels from a metal lampshade from B&Q.
I am so proud to be part of this amazing group.
What future plans do you have for your droid? Constantly upgrading? Show piece? Events droid?
To keep upgrading & replacing parts on my Droid as required. As he’s a Tier 2 droid , I’ll also make whatever changes are required for future requirements .
Do you have plans to build more droids? If so which one (s)?
Not at the moment but if upgrades couldn’t be done for R2 , then I would build another Droid if needed.
Do you have any more droids? If so what other droids do you have either complete or WIP/ planning stages?
No other Droids, just my Full size Replica B9 Robot.
What are some of the challenges you have faced during your build?
The lower Panels were a challenge and I could not find a good solution, then the B&Q lampshade became available.
Do you have a ‘proudest moment’? If so what would that be (could be from the build itself or an event)
I have two. The first was the utter joy on Julie’s face when I had R2 completed & he moved toward her for the 1st time. That was the first time I had driven a Droid /Robot with blurred vision! That was very emotional for us all.
The second was Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, my R2’s first Tier 2 job. What an incredible weekend it was!
Having Lee there with me made it very easy to keep cool. He gave me a lot of help & guidance, it was great. To see MY Droid on TV when I got home was unbelievable.
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)
Has to be the home made mech for the Periscope, it took a year to get it right plus it took 2 of us to make it work. Pete my late Engineering mentor, taught me so much since 2004 (when I started the B9 build). The mech is very simple, but the periscope looks pretty effective on it. It controlled by a Pololu servo/ESC board. That doesn’t require me to do anything.
What is the most important piece of advise you would give to any new builder?
As everyone else has said , Research is the key. Plus join both the R2 & UK R2 clubs. Sign up to the FB groups. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I was able to get going on R2 pretty quickly as I had already been through a similar process of research with the B9 build, so did the same for R2 straight away. Was also aware that I was racing the clock at the time.
Twitter: Pauls R2-D2
Facebook: Paul Felski