I built a R2-D2 with the Public blueprints from:
But it seemed to me that a lot of them used bulky controllers from model airplanes. This Instructable documents how I used a Spark Core to allow me to control it wireless with an IPhone or Android device. I use an Android phone to control it, but I tested it with my friend's IPhone and I had no issues with it.
Step 1: Making the body
There is more than one way to skin an Astromech, and how you build your R2-D2 depends on 3 things:
1. Experience - Some people already have experience with wood or metal working, or working with styrene through other projects like cosplay. Even if you have no experience, there are people who can help you.
2. Time - Some methods like styrene are also faster than others, but if you have the time, then it's worth taking it. Then again, you do not always have the time, such as with this story:
3. Money - Wood is more expensive than Styrene, metal is more expensive than wood, Carbon-fiber is more expensive than... you get the idea. Files can be found on these sites:
I used a friend's laser cutter to cut pieces of styrene that I bought from a sign shop. As it cut I also had it etch in the alignment marks. You should be able to also do it with a CNC machine, but I have not finished building mine.
Step 2: Filling in the details
As you can see I had chosen styrene for both the frame and skin, but there were a few pieces like the lens for the eyes that I could not yet make myself, so I got those here:
I have also not finished building my 3D Printer yet, so I had to borrow a friend's to print the details, but you could also use one of the many "Online 3D Print Shops". To save money, I took the 3D files from the websites mentioned earlier, such as:
and I used them as "negatives" in blocks that I printed out. I then used the boxes as resin molds. I did this for two reasons:
1. Some parts were too big to print, so I printed multiple boxes and then glued them together.
2. Making a solid part out of resin is cheaper than 3D printing it at the same density.
DON'T FORGET TO SAND!
I took any "seams" off with 60 grit, and then worked my way up to 400 grit to give it a nice feel.
I panted it with a silver primer and Krider Blue : http://astromech.net/droidwiki/Krider_Blue
The white part is just a clear catalyzed urethane automotive coating because I used white styrene.
I used 4000 get automotive wet sandpaper over everything, but be sure to test it with your paints and coats before you use it on your droid!
Step 3: Adding the electronics
Using the sites previously mentioned, I put the basic electronics together. So far, pretty standard compared to the other R2-D2s.
I used a small LED flasher from Frys.com but I replaced the red LEDs with brighter red and blue LEDs. But you can also get a better one from a "Parts Run":
The controls for spinning the dome and movement are simplified versions with less features of this system:
Step 4: Introducing the Spark Core
This is where things really get original, and the magic happens as you can now control the R2-D2 from any device with the Spark IO App instead of having to hold a bulky, heavy, and cumbersome Hobby Airplane remote. It is very simple to add as the Spark Core can be added directly to the original micro-controller.
Here is the main resource I used for my electronics:
I could not afford to follow those instructions exactly and I could not afford all the lights and movement of that droid. What you see here is a simpler droid on a much smaller budget, for example I used a Spark Core from Spark.io
Please vote for me in the contests, especially the Enchanted Objects contest because winning that one would change my life. I am an Electronics Engineering student, and if I do not win I'll still have to buy an Oscilloscope and a Bench Top Power Supply, and that would mean I'd have to get another dreaded student loan. Plus the "Enchanted Objects: Design Human Desire, and the Internet of Things" looks really cool! To paraphrase Leia's holo message on R2, "Please help me, you are my only hope!"