Sunday, June 5, 2011

2011 Children's Miracle Network Telethon

Saturday was the CMN Telethon at the Bangor Mall center court.

As I did last year, I asked for and received permission from Sears to unload and setup there.  I arrived with plenty of lead time, just in case any technical issues arose.  The staff was great, helping me unload R2 and allowing me to use a side office next to the big screen TVs.  ( I used to work there part time back in 2004.  My friend John Dunning, who still works there, was a great liaison to get this all planned!)

Like last year, I knew it would take over half an hour to travel the 100 yards from Sears to the mall's center court.  Since I had no technical problems, R2 played around the big screen TVs and appliances, posing for pictures with staff and passing customers.

Anyone know how to remove the lint filter from an R2-D2?
 R2 and I had a fun stroll from Sears to center court, where all the action was already underway.  We checked in with the Community Relations folks to let them know we were here (I suspect the throng of children might have tipped them off).  I checked and double-checked for any huge bumps near the set.  Last year, a large bundle of power cables made for a difficult obstacle to drive over.  When we thunked over it last year, we popped a blade fuse that goes to the motor controller.  It was easy enough to swap out, I keep a huge stack of spare fuses in the dome...but a bit embarrassing!
We were told we would be on in a few minutes and it was a good time to roll on set and get in position.  I observed a 2 inch think cable taped to the floor.  Remembering last year, I slowly drive to it and went to drive over it.  It wouldn't go.  It didn't appear too big, so I backed R2 and hit it a little bit quicker.  This time we made it over.  And stopped.  Dead.  Again.

Quickly I pushed R2 into place.  I did a quick check of the controls.  Everything else worked.  It had to be the same problem as last year.  Oh well, we pressed on and waited the cameras to turn red.

Five, Four...(just like Wayne's World)

I've done a fair amount of TV interviews now but its amazing how the live ones nail you with instant dry mouth!  But we made it through the interview.  I was asked to bring some DVDs they had of the saga on camera with me but as you can see, with two controllers, I am out of hands.  Carolyn asked how the "girl" R2 was coming along and I answered that construction is on-going.  But, I assured her, when complete, they will have separate rooms. 

After the interview, I quickly inspected R2 to see if my hunch on the fuse was right.  I was.  Sure enough, its the connector on the AX3500.  The 10 guage wire is at a 90 degree angle onto the board and when the bump hits, its pulling the connector up on card.  Luckily the fuse is taking the hit but I need to either move that card or get a new connector.

With a new fuse in place, I moved R2 to a less busy part of the set to let people take pictures with R2.  I had a lot of people asking how long we would be around.  Kids had seen R2 on TV and wanted to come see us.  No problem, since we were on at 5:15 I told them we would stay for 2 hours.

We had a lot of kids and a lot of great interactions.  John took a lot of great pictures...

R2's batteries all held up very well.  When I brought R2 back to Sears, the netbook was down to 22 minutes of power.  With some help from the staff, I had R2 loaded back up and ready to go home.

Public events are a mixed bag, I am learning.  I am used to the smaller setting of visiting patients in their room.  This time around, R2 went home with a fair amount of damage from kids poking and touching after being asked repeatedly not to.  A center vent piece got pushed down on and broke, the front blinking red-blue light lens is damaged.  I had a mother watch while her child flipped the lighting switches on R2's dome off and on repeatedly.  (The dome lighting is a few hundred bucks)  While not damaged it certainly is frustrating to do so much work and see it taking a beating as parents stand by and watch.

Over the next few weeks, I'll work on repairing the damage.  R2 is due for a total overhaul into the new frame and I may do that during my week off later this month.

All things considered, we had a great time meeting many new friends.