Sunday, June 6, 2010

Children's Miracle Network appearance!

Saturday was the Children's Miracle Network Telethon at the center court of the Bangor Mall.

For the past several weeks I have been busily working on R2 to be prepared for his big TV debut.  As the blog shows, that included fixing some anomalies in R2's feet, ankle and sorting out the electrical needs for his servo card to work correctly.  Toss in a fair amount of time for programming changes to his software, testing and get the idea!

Being R2's first "public" appearance, I really wanted everything to work perfectly.

I made arrangements with a former coworker at Sears to have them assist me unloading R2-D2, then using a backroom there to wire him up and test everything.  One problem I was having was the carpet there.  I had previously slowed down R2's speed controller and that usually means slippage on some carpet surfaces.  And that's exactly what happened.  It took a bit of lugging and pushing to get R2 into the back room in the electronics department.  Once in there, I started up his new Netbook which, after much testing, had worked fine.  But...for some reason I can't quite explain, the software fires up then stops responding.  As time was ticking by, I unpacked the backup netbook just in case...but the software started functioning and working normally.

We were supposed to be in the "green room" by 3:00 for air time around 3:20.  

Well, driving an R2-D2 the 100 yards to center court took a while!  After pausing briefly for photos, we made it to center court.  

However, I couldn't find who we were to check in with!  

But, no worries, as word of an R2-D2 being in the area, I was pretty easy to find.

Then it was R2's time to go on camera....but all the cables and wires taped to the floor blocked our progress.  I had to drag R2 into position, clanging him up and over the hurdle.

Tim Throckmorton, one of the hosts for the show, asked me how to pronounce my last name.


Yes, yours truly, who has been sweating like crazy getting R2 on location in a 90% humidity kind of day, is going on the air.


Tim asked what R2 can do and when I moved my remote to drive R2 forward, nothing happened.   Uh oh.

As it turned out, my thunking R2 around over that bundle of wires speedbump blew a drive fuse.  No time to change that now!

Thankfully everything else was working.  Tim asked if R2 made sounds and where they came from.  I showed him the center vents, where both speakers are located.

I had a quick moment to wipe my forehead with a paper towel and then, voila, the cameras were on us!

The interview was pretty quick.  I explained that my God Son passed away in 1994 from brain cancer and that the CMN and the staff at Eastern Maine Medical Center had done so much for him.  When I found the R2 Builders club and the R2-D2s they were building, I knew some kids who would adore a visiting R2-D2.

R2 gave a brief demonstration of all his doors opening and closing, the head moving around and some sounds.  After that, Tim wrapped up by pointing out the both of us are bald !  Ha!  
With that, we were done!

I lugged R2-D2 off to the side to see if my hunch was right about the blown fuse.

Yes, that was it!  And....wouldn't you know, all my spare fuses are 5 and 10s, not 20.

Thankfully my friend Dylan was there and he zipped down to the Radio Shack down the hall and picked up some.

New fuse in place and R2 was back to rolling around!  (I did, as a plan B, have a furniture dolly back in the van, should it be needed!)

Once we rolled to the backside of the set, we had kids and parents wishing to take pictures.  We stayed for another 2 hours so they could do so.  Several of my friends had been wishing to see R2 and stopped over for photos...

I drove R2 back through the mall and stopped several times for kids, parents, name it, everyone enjoyed seeing their favorite Star Wars robot!