Monday, August 8, 2016

STAR WARS Day with the Portland Sea Dogs!

August 6th was the annual STAR WARS Day event with the Portland Sea Dogs!  The Sea Dogs are a minor league baseball time that play out of Hadlock Field in Portland (Maine).  This was our third time being a part of this event!


R2 hasn't done any events since our work with the Portland Symphony Orchestra a few months ago.  I have been meaning to spend some time on the little guy, fixing all sorts of little things.  But with summer being here, working two jobs and 3D printing a lot of pieces for the BB-8 build, R2 sort of got left behind.

One thing I did need to resolve was one of the doors needed repair.  Kids keep trying to force open R2's panels and hatches and this door had the outside trim torn apart.  It's a pretty quick repair to make, albeit a bit frustrating.  A few well placed drops of gel-superglue, clamped into place for a few minutes and the door is ready to be sealed shut again!

We're having a very warm summer and we have not seen much rain.  The forecast was warning about severe thunderstorms rolling into the area around game time.  As I packed up R2 into the Honda Odyssey, I kept an eye on the sky, hoping for best!

About an hour from out from Portland, we drove through some very intense downpours that lasted less than 15 minutes.  I was curious if those showers were heading towards Hadlock Field!  

The staff reserved a parking spot right by the side entrance, making getting in and out easy.  All I had to do was worry about a foul ball crashing into my vehicle!  

With some help from a couple Mercs, we had R2-D2 unloaded and into the dressing room to get setup.  We had quite a group of people this time!  In addition to R2-D2 and I, we had a lot of Mandolorian Mercs, a few Stormtroopers, a Darth Vader, a Rey, a Ben Kenobi and more.  A really nice turn out!

The Event

R2 did not participate in the parade around the field as we got stuck in the soft clay where the service trucks drive on and off the field two years ago.  This year we stayed on the infield for photos with the players, staff and guests.  R2's foot motors did a great job on the clay and grass, showing that the JAG foot drive continues with perform very nicely all of these years!  I'd like to increase the ground clearance of the center foot sometime so we can avoid getting stuck in ruts and uneven surfaces better.

The Sea Dogs staff had their own Chewbacca who must have sweat his brains out inside that suit!  

With the heat in the low 90s, R2 was definitely getting quite warm.  After the pre-game activities, we headed to the dressing room.  The dressing room was very well air conditioned and I opened R2's dome panels to let the heat escape.  That dressing room was a very popular spot for the costumed people go in, cool off sip some cold water, then head back out.  After our short break, R2 and I tried to head into the lobby area.  However, we were so mobbed for photos, we could barely travel a foot or two before being stopped for a photo.  So, I gave up on that idea and just parked where we were!  We stayed put for about two hours, meeting so many kids and adults.  

Around the 7th inning, many of the costumed characters were changing clothes and gearing up to head for home.  The heat was really tough on those guys.  I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts, so I was quite comfortable!  Still, I had a two hour ride home ahead of me, so I decided it was time to pack up and head for home too.

I grabbed some late supper with some friends and then we were north-bound, back up towards Bangor.  

The Honda Odyssey's air conditioner worked great.  I was quickly reminded of what little offerings the radio stations had on that long drive.  Christian or Country.  Not much for good ole Rock n Roll!  I got home around 1 AM and decided R2 could sleep in the van.  I unloaded R2 and all my support equipment first thing in the morning.

Techie Comments

The good news is everything worked well on R2.  

And there's not really any bad news.  But R2 does need to have some minor repairs made.  The back panel is made of two layers of aluminum, held together with epoxy.  Over the years, those layers have begun to separate a bit, so the panel doesn't quiet sit flush like it used to.  I am having to use white electrical tape to seal up the rear panel and that tape has pulled some paint off.  I'm debating weather to take the back panel apart, epoxy it back together and paint....or make a new panel that would be one solid piece.  

And the center foot is about a quarter inch too low.  That's because the shims inside the center wheel structure are a bit too small.  I could use larger shims or maybe even find slightly larger wheels.   It's a very fine balance.  If the center wheels are too tall, then the outer foot drive wheels are tipped back, making R2's front-wheel drive not able to get good traction.

Isn't droid tweaking fun?!

And finally, I would love to get an onboard computer to replace the netbook.  With 3 hours of usage, it does alright.  However the netbook is 7 years old, ancient in computer circles!  I'm concerned about the condition of the built in battery after all these years.  Not to mention the hassle of taking it inside and out of the droid.  I have a Intel NUC I would like to use but then we need to review the power demands and possibly replacing heavy SLA batteries with more powerful, lighter and more expensive LifePO or Li-Ion/Polymer ones.

Anyways....that was our grand adventure last weekend and my thoughts on tweaking R2-D2 for our next events.

Here's some pictures from our day!