Building R2D2: Entry #3

blueprints poster.jpg

Not so long ago, in a place that sometimes feels like it is in a galaxy far, far away, a man who couldn’t build a birdhouse to save his life decided to try something way over his head. This is his story.

In the previous article, “Building R2D2: Entry #2,” I mentioned blueprints in addition to assembling the frame and cutting out the shoulder pieces.  So about those blueprints.  Yes, a normal person would have started the article series with the blueprints, and I sort of looked at blueprints first before I did anything else, but not so much.  The cool thing is that once you join R2Builders Yahoo! Group, you have access to blueprints which give you all the measurements for R2D2. The only problem is, they are actually blueprints, not like the assemble-by-number instructions you get with furniture you buy from Walmart, etc.  You are going to want to make sure all the blueprints you reference are for building the same size droid–and the easiest size to build would likely be the 1:1 size which the group has standardized the measurements for.

My dome is only 18″ where as the official dome size is 18.25″.   I have scaled my body frame down to match the dome, but I am planning on using the “standard-sized” leg blueprints, resin parts, etc., for convenience.  The R2Builders Group has a Builders Council that approves parts and blueprints that all meet the same size requirements, which I think is brilliant.  But, surely a dome and body which are minus a quarter of an inch in circumference are not going to require hand-crafting all the detail pieces to perfect the change in scale (why do I feel people are laughing when they read this sentence?).  I am not too concerned if this quarter of an inch prevents my R2D2 being “screen accurate,” whatever that is supposed to mean (as the R2D2s in the films were different from scene-to-scene and movie-to-movie).

Many of the blueprints for R2D2 are saved in files with extensions like .DWG, which is basically a 3D blueprint drawing in a program called AUTOCAD. Having attended an engineering school (as an English major), I have heard of the program, but I’ve never had the need or interest to actually use it.  Who would have thought I would ever actually need to look at an AUTOCAD file?  But here I am.  Now I only need to look at the files, not create them, so I just need a viewer for these .DWG files.  A quick Google search led me to this viewer, eDrawings 2014, which is a freeware download that opens the .DWG files so they can be viewed.  When downloading this free software, I first had to check boxes to verify that I am not from certain disreputable countries and am not a terrorist seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction using this software.  I guess those activities are only available with the registered version.

AUTOCAD files are a good way make an English major want to cry!  I opened my first AUTOCAD file and was overwhelmed with jumble of numbers and symbols (and lack of words) standing between me and my project.  It’s not 100% foreign, but it is a little off-putting, especially as different plans go back and forth between the English and Metric system.  With determination and perseverance I am figuring it out.  This project was taken on as a challenging learning experience in an area of weakness as much as anything else…


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