R2D2 Dome Work

An R2D2 isn’t an R2D2 without the iconic dome.  Ours finally arrived before the new year.  In addition to being a very cool piece, it also represents a decent portion of work that needs to be done on the droid.  If you think about it, most of the personality and expression from R2D2 comes from his dome.  The eyes, the holo projectors, the lights, and the spinning around to “look” at things.

The dome comes in several pieces.  There is an outer dome, which has been laser cut for “easier” removal of all the panels, and an inner dome which comes uncut and must be manually cut if desired.  Eventually the two domes are bonded together to create the beveled look that is so familiar.

The R2D2 dome right out of the box.

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R2 Ice Cube Trays

Wow.. R2D2 Ice Cube Trays.. but how well do they work?  Will they really look as great as this marketing picture?  Our baby shower is Saturday and my wife wanted to do a robot theme.  We have robot cupcake pops and other themed items, so I thought some robot ice would be good and maybe I could also use the trays to make some robot chocolates or some other candy.  I’ll make a bunch of ice ‘cubes’ during the week and later in the week make some candy. Continue reading

Finally!! – The iPhone is allowed to control serial devices!

First a bit of history

It’s no secret that Apple keeps a tight reign on what they allow developers to do with their hardware.  I don’t necessarily disagree with this.  But it can be annoying when you want to do something special – like use the computing power of an iPod Touch as the brain for a robot.  Because that requires some way to interface the iHardware with all the robot sensors and motor controllers.  But my understanding when iOS4 came out was that you could communicate with outside devices via the 30-pin dock connector.  Yeah, not exactly.

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First part is in… and it’s not right :(

I want an all aluminum droid. You can build one out of any number of materials (wood, pvc, cardboard, styrene, resin) but none of that is appealing to me at all. But all metal means expensive, it means heavy, it means complicated… and it means waiting… possibly for y-e-a-r-s…

The first thing to know about R2 building is that aluminum parts are built in runs. Some brave builder will find about 40 other people who need the same aluminum part he needs, and will organize a part run.  The idea is that no one makes any money doing the run, costs are kept as low as possible, and by doing 40 pieces we all get a lower price. I’ve looked in to doing one off CNC parts and it’s crazy expensive and shops don’t want to touch it.  But much of the cost is in the setup, testing, and then turning the machine on to do a bunch of pieces.  When doing only one the overhead is too much.  All the parts are manufactured to a club spec so they should all fit together.  And these days people are doing “diet” parts where they drill away parts of the metal that aren’t seen in order to lower the weight as compared to producing a solid piece of aluminum.

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