Sunday, June 2, 2013

Children's Miracle Network Telethon 2013

Saturday was the annual CMN telethon which is broadcast live from the Bangor Mall Center Court.

I received an invite for the event last week and were asked to be available to go on the air sometime between 4:30 and 5pm.

As I had done for previous appearances, I asked my friends at Sears if I could unload and setup R2-D2 over there.  I used to work for Sears years ago and there's a nice back office area in the Electronics Department I could get set up in.  They were great and said I could make use of that space, plus get some help unloading/loading as needed.

This was my first event since my friend Fred and I made changes to the aluminum folding wheelchair ramp.  (I'll document that later in another blog post)  But unloading and loading was a LOT easier with R2's center foot wheels getting jammed up!

We got to Sears at 3:30.  I figured a good 30 minutes to get set up and take pictures with the staff of Sears (their one request!) then 30 minutes to drive the 100 yards from Sears to Center Court.  After getting R2's head hooked up and the netbook fired up, R2 was roaming the electronics department and interacting with the large group of people who had heard the beeping!

We were having some fun spinning the head back and forth to the "Harlem Shuffle" when I no longer had any head movement.  The Pololu motor I had put into the dome drive, a spare, suffered the same fate as the previous.  The gears failed.  You could hear the motor spinning but there wasn't anything going to the drive shaft.  Nuts.  I'll have to resume the search for a stronger motor that has that neat stepper-motor like sound again.

After posing for pictures at Sears, we headed down to Center Court.  

I have to admit, this is one of my favorite things.  Take a famous robot down the halls of a busy mall shopping center and await the reactions.  Everyone....EVERYONE loves R2-D2.  Watching the kids come over, the adults and all those drop dead gorgeous gals that work in the lady's clothing stores run out with camera phone in hand was pretty funny.  As expected, it took 30 minutes to get to Center Court after pausing for pictures.  (I wonder how many Facebook Profile Pictures have R2 on them today?)

We checked in with the CMN staff, who were well aware of our presence!  R2-D2's sounds are pretty hard to miss.  I was told our time slot was 4:53 and Joy Hollowell came over to let me know what we would be talking about.

My one worry was the thick power cables that surround the set.  The ONLY times R2 has ever blown a fuse was when trying to drive over those.  R2 would land with a THUNK and the impact would ground out the foot drive circuit.  I had spare fuses in my pocket and had prepped R2 to be ready for this.

However, I had nothing to worry about this time, the side of the set we would travel in did not have the monster cable bundle on it.  We drove into our assigned area with ease.  Joy and I chit chatted quietly on the set.  My mouth evaporated into dryness.  Typical, anytime a video camera points at me!

When the red light on the camera lit up, Joy smoothly transitioned into our segment.  We chatted about our pediatric visits at the medical center as well as the other places we have traveled recently.  I was asked where that pink R2-D2 is...and I assured everyone that it is still in the works!  (The new R2 will replace this one, this one will have all the blue pieces painted pink for our "girl" R2)

And that was it.  It went pretty smooth.  I saw the video later and despite hating how I appear under bright studio lights (Make up!  Next time, I need a make up artist!), we did fine.

While at the mall, I really wanted to visit Radio Shack.  The staff there has been especially helpful in finding odd connectors, power cables and all things electronic.  Or, as I was telling people there..."I told R2-D2 that if he behaved, I would take him to Radio Shack"   The staff thoroughly enjoyed meeting R2-D2.

After pausing for pictures as asked, we headed back to Sears so we could load up for home.  When we got back to Sears, one of the staff wanted to get some pictures...and one of the best ones, a nice big kiss!

R2 still won't let me clean the dome in that spot...
Despite the dome drive failure early on, I didn't have any issues with R2-D2.  Everything worked really well and we had a great time making a lot of people smile....and do double-takes.

Here in Maine, it was a very hot and humid day, something we aren't really used to (low 90s and high humidity).  Once I had finished sweating out getting R2 loaded up, R2 got to watch me get an ice cream on the way home!