The Anatomy of an R2-D2 Astromech Droid

What makes up an R2-D2 Astromech? We chat with members of the R2 Builders club to learn about the process of building your own droid–the materials, power systems, and electronics needed to get started. Chris James of the Bay Area club chapter opens up his own R2 and shares the custom controls and components he’s designed to make his droid come alive!

Shot by Andy Bauman and edited by Joey Fameli
Music by Jinglepunks

Comments (7)

7 thoughts on “The Anatomy of an R2-D2 Astromech Droid

  1. Oh yeah,. I’d like to see more of this.

    Having recently started to try and make my own R2 unit. Im using an Ikea steel dome, wood frame and carboard covering with 3d printed details and an ardunio brain. The plan is to have him as automatic as possible with voice commands,. Don’t know if any of the ardunio systems I’ve been looking at will work perfectly, but it’s an adventure.. Oh, and he is living room size,. scaled down about ,78 🙂

  2. Chris is a great builder. Nice guy too 🙂

    Norm, we bumped into each other at Celebration on the floor and again at the R2 table at the Sandcrawler.

    I’ve been in the club since 2012 and built my droid out of styrene. The only people that really notice the difference in materials are club members. Even still, Chris is right, when you’re painting aluminum white and blue, it’s hard to tell the difference without touching it. Even a styrene dome can fool people when finished well. To casual observers, people are surprised that mine isn’t aluminum until they touch it. They usually assume it’s that or fiberglass.

    I control mine with an Xbox 360 controller and Arduino. I’ve open sourced the code. Several club members are also using my control scheme. Next I’m working on a similar system that’s a cross between the Xbee Radio system Chris was using and a game pad controller. I found a company that makes a PS2 style gamepad with an XBee radio socket. This should give me some better range and connectivity minimizing signal loss. That said, range isn’t critical. Generally you won’t want to be more than 30ft away. You won’t know if there’s a little kid in front of the droid and you don’t want to drive into a kid with an 85lb styrene droid let alone 250lbs of metal.

    If anyone is interested in building, I’d be happy to answer questions for Tested readers. Ask here or PM!

  3. Every time my 3 year old sees an R2 he says to my wife or friends that we can’t build ours yet because we don’t have parts in the mail box… I think i really need to undertake this build with him soon.

  4. Alright. This video finally pushed me over the edge. I’ve been a club member since 2010 but keep putting it off. Time to start!

  5. I have thought about doing R2 before, but have never gotten around to it. Think I will have to look into it again more seriously now. I definitely want one.

  6. Chris is good people, he has helped me out on many tech problems in the club. I built my 1st R2 in ’06 and have done 2 others, on my 4th build now.

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