Jeroen van der Veen

Always keep developing

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Painting the panels blue

After grinding and straightening out the panels, the time to paint them has arrived. I went to the local hardware store and bought some primer and a nice shade of dark blue paint. I did get a solid primer, because I did not want to run the risk of the paint coming off at the seems after a few weeks. The two paint cans set me back about 17 euros, but I’ll be able to use them for all the blue elements on the R2 later on.

I sanded and primed the panels, left it out to dry for 24 hours, and then applied the first layer of paint. After that had dried for another 24 hours I put on the final coat. Don’t forget to sand in between paint jobs, kids!

As you can see in the pictures the metal dome itself still has some rough edges, but I’ll smooth them out later. For now I’ve just put the panels in place with some electrical tape. This will come in handy later because I will have to remove them for the other holes I still have to make. I haven’t decided how to permanently fix them yet. Right now I’m still trying to figure out if I’ll make them moveable or to just affix them in place permanently.

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Get your Dremel running

After measuring out all the panels on the bottom half of the artoo dome, it was time to start cutting them out. You can do this with a small hacksaw, but fortunately I have a nice handheld multitool with some cutting blades.

Cutting metal with any type of powered device will generate a lot of heat. To avoid discoloration of the metal your cutting, be sure to keep it well lubricated with some WD40. The downside to this is it will create a big mess on your workbench, so be sure to cover it with some newspaper or cloth that you can toss out afterwards. Also, if you’re doing this, be sure to wear a facemask or respirator and some goggles. The metal dust is very fine and you don’t want that stuff in your airways and eyes.

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Measurements, references and drawing, oh my!

I couldn’t find any nice blueprints anywhere, but then again, having a very detailed blueprint would take all the fun out of the painstaking task of measuring out the different parts of my little droid. I went back to the astromech website to collect some good reference material on the dome itself.

Artoo’s dome is riddled with little panels, mostly blue. The first thing to decide is wether you want to just spray on the panels in paint, or if you actually want to do something with them. I chose to cut out all the panels, first of all because of the aesthetics of it, but also because I might want to do something movable with them later on.

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Where to start? The Dome!

As you might imagine I wanted to start with the most iconic piece of artoo, the dome. You can get pre-laser-cut aluminium domes on the Internet, or via some of the limited runs that the guys over at the astromech website do. But buying a $500 dome isn’t really being true to the ‘on a budget’ philosophy 🙂

First of, being on a budget means that the artoo will not be movie-accurate. I want to be as accurate as I can, but not at any cost. And besides being on a budget, I’d also like to make this not be a 10 year project.

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It all started with some LEGO

LEGO R2-D2Last Christmas my lovely wife bought me a LEGO R2-D2. After about eight hours of solid building I finished the 2127 piece set. Then about two months later I was trying to decide an a self-build project to start and naturally drifted towards movie and pop culture memorabilia. I could’ve decided to start with something simple, like a paperweight or a home-made candle, but no, I decided to build my very own R2-D2.

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