Introduction: R2-D2 Astromech From Cardboard

Picture of R2-D2 Astromech From Cardboard

I wanted to build R2-D2 for my son's birthday party but didn't want to spend two years and $10,000 so I went with a non-moving (for now) cardboard version. The whole project took about a month ( just a few hours a night as I have a full time job) and probably cost about $50 since I had most of the materials.

Step 1: Research and Planning

Picture of Research and Planning

The first thing I did was research. I found a list of R2-D2's measurements online. Throughout this project I referred to my interactive Artoo , taking measurements and scaling them to full size. All I needed was the dome size ( approximately 18") and everything else was scaled around that.

Step 2: The Dome

Picture of The Dome

This was the hardest part. I cut several 18" circles from corrugated cardboard and cut them in half. I used them as formers for the dome glueing them to another 18" circle with hot glue. My glues of choice for all projects are hot glue and The Ultimate white glue. Next I cut tapered strips and glued IMG_6912.JPGthem along the edges to make a semi globe. I then apply a layer of spackle to the entire dome. I allowed it to dry and sanded it and repeated this process until I had a smooth dome.

Step 3: The Structure

Picture of The Structure

I made the legs from wooden 2x4s so they would be strong enough to hold the body and give it some weight. The body was two cardboard circles glued together with a series of 1" thick foam core strips.

Step 4: The Legs

Picture of The Legs

The legs were made with foam core and mat board over the wooden leg base.

Step 5: The Skin

Picture of The Skin

I Wrapped a sheet of mat board around the cylinder. I then drew the compartments on another sheet of mat board and cut them out (saving the cut-outs and shaving off thin strips). Next I glued the cut-out layer to the cylinder and then glued all the compartment cut-outs. The round detail in the bottom center was made with a plastic solo cup and some mat board pieces.

Step 6: The Dome Details

Picture of The Dome Details

I drew the dome details with a pencil and then traced them with a nail to etch the details into the dome.

Step 7: The Details

Picture of The Details

I cut the vents out of mat board. I made the leg details from gift wrap tubes. Additional leg details include some paint lids and a highlighter marker split down the middle with a hacksaw. The sensor eye was made from a plastic convex mirror I found in the automotive dept at Walmart. I colored it with a black Sharpie marker which worked very well. I painted some airline tubing gold and attached it to a painted marker cap and glued it to each foot.

Step 8: The Holoprojector

Picture of The Holoprojector

I made these with plastic containers found in a vending machine and mat board. For the one on the front of the dome I inserted a small flashlight I bought at the dollar store.

Step 9: Painting

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I sprayed the dome silver and brush painted the dome compartments. I sprayed the body white and then did a wash with dirty black paint water so he didn't look so brand new.

Step 10: Finishing Touches

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Finally I punched a circle from a piece of red reflective tape and stuck it on the dome. I also put a yellow on on the back side of the dome. I cut a hole in the dome and inserted the flashlight and Holoprojector . I put a rod in the center of the dome so it can be manually rotated. At some point I hope to mechanize the dome and build the third leg so he is truly finished but he looks pretty good for now. Just have to make sure the Jawas keep their hands off of him.


porgo0 (author)2017-08-04

i´m not such a big star wars fan but wow this is really amazing!

all the detalis and the painting, great job!

i would like to make a trashcan that looks like this for my sister ^^

simonrafferty (author)2016-10-09

Fantastic - I love it!

JimD102 (author)2016-07-01

You should sell thses...I would buy one...

frehleycooper (author)JimD1022016-07-24

I would sell one for the right price. The problem is that shipping would probably be very expensive. Not to mention this took about a month of my spare time to build.

LukeC67 (author)2016-07-18

I would love to buy one, i will pay for shipping and material. No paint needed. Although i would pay extra for a paint job

frehleycooper (author)LukeC672016-07-24

I would sell one for the right price. The problem is that shipping would probably be very expensive. Not to mention this took about a month of my spare time to build.

Tomeuet02 (author)2016-06-17

How tall is the body? And how have you done its lower part?

MichaelM498 (author)2016-02-09

I suggest you look up how to use an Ardunio. It should be able to do your dome spin, roll R2D2 with a remote, and make all the sounds. With a little work, this could make an awesome photo booth!

I've been hearing that name a lot lately. I will check that out. Electronics are not one of my strengths but I do want to learn. Thanks.

If you can do this, you could learn your way around an Arduino or Raspberry Pi. (Either would be good for basic "robot stuff."--The RPi would be more adaptable in the long run.) Either way would cost you about $100-$200 by the time you bought motors, driver boards, lights, etc. But I feel you about not having $10,000 to blow on the project.

Check into EZ-Robot. Amazing capabilities, not to mention a user community that is incredibly helpful. At least two guys have built R2's controlled by the EZ-B - check it out!

MirV1 (author)MichaelM4982016-02-09

Arduino is weak and slow. Better use Raspberry Pi 2 or same powerful microcomputer.

Chocolate11 (author)2016-05-28

This is the coolest yet easiest DIY I have ever seen! Awesome!

hello213 (author)2016-05-25

That is awesome!

frehleycooper (author)2016-02-11

Here is the compartment layout I used. Not sure where I found it.

Hi frehleycooper could you please email the plans to me as I'm in the process of doing a radio controlled R2D2

EvanProjectMaker (author)2016-02-12


JoshH54 (author)2016-02-11

too epict to make

DarylM11 (author)2016-02-11

Very impressive! Thanks ofr sharing!

frehleycooper made it! (author)2016-02-11

Here is the compartment layout I used. Not sure where I found it.

frehleycooper (author)2016-02-11

Here is the compartment layout I used. Not sure where I found it.

SwiftA1 (author)2016-02-10

Phenomenal work...if i may ask...where did u get the plans and what equipement did u use

frehleycooper (author)SwiftA12016-02-10

Sorry but I really didn't use plans. I found s very basic compartment layout but can't seem to locate it. I found a list of measurements on a thread from I also heavily relied on scaling up from toy Artoos.
The tools I used most were just an x-Acto knife and both hot glue and a product called ultimate glue. Looks like Elmer's but much stronger.

ElaineU1 (author)2016-02-10

Incredible!!! How will you top this on the next birthday?

DavidA207 (author)2016-02-10

That is a very good job. Who says ya have to make R2 from wood or metal?! Excellent work!

kgentry (author)2016-02-10

Very nicely done.

Radford (author)2016-02-10

Wow!! I LOVE that it is made with 'around the house' materials. It just makes it so much more creative. But then to get that sort of accuracy.... again Wow. Awesome work. Thanks for sharing.

AlyssonS (author)2016-02-09

Awesome work, man. Where I can find the plans to build the dome like you, using just paper
and courage? :)

frehleycooper (author)AlyssonS2016-02-09

I really didn't have any plans for the dome. I just cut out a bunch of 18" circles and cut them in half. Then I folded the half a in half and spoked them around another circle. The more the better. Then I cut narrow triangles for the facing of the dome. I also added about a two inch ring around the bottom to extend it. Artoo's dome is a little more than a semi circle. The important thing is to glue everything solid. The dome must be sturdy or the spackle will crack. Thanks.

This was well done. I am thinking bondo might be a better long term alternative to the Spackle.

jcantalupo (author)2016-02-09


naza1974 (author)2016-02-09

Jaw dropping. The best and the most fantastic. Well done, well done, well done. Thank you so much for sharing

MrGuineapig (author)2016-02-09

I'm sitting here with my mouth open. When I saw the first picture, I thought it was a reference shot from the films. I've put off building an R2 because of cost and time. Now that the cost issue is non-existent, I'll simply have to find the time (right after I finish my B9).

Absolutely stunning. Your talent is amazing.

dj505Gaming (author)2016-02-09

I'd love to make one of these, but it isn't the droid I'm looking for... :P

Move along.

ChuckS30 (author)dj505Gaming2016-02-09


luelusten (author)2016-02-09

I love this build and I could really do this for a new epic PC case but what you would recommed making the card stiffer ? maybe using some kind of filler over it after you get the main shape or some kind of glue? I made many PC cases from card in in the past but aways from stiff never really something that has shape any ideas?

I have phome card like the card you used for the struts what would work epic for this.

frehleycooper (author)luelusten2016-02-09

Maybe a glue or polyuerthane sealer.

jon.stokes.902 (author)2016-02-09

Frehleycooper, (can I call you Al-Ace?)

I can see a few minor (and hardly worth correcting) discrepancies from the R2 Builders club spec, but sweet Jebus for a $50 cardboard build that is beyond super awesome-tastic!

You have reset the bar for budget builds. Much respect sir. Consider yourself a true R2 Builder.

If your dome came out that nice, you should consider doing a BB-8 in cardboard.

Nice. Yes you may. I think I referred to a list of measurements posted on the astromech website forum. I think the cylinder might be a bit too long on my version. I've always been a bit loose with measurements. I am considering doing BB8 but am torn between that and Han Solo in carbonate. That's another one I've been wanting to do for years. Thanks .

jamspandex (author)2016-02-09

Excellent! If you got a few small remote control cars, to go under the feet, you might be able to make it move around at no great cost!

wylekat (author)jamspandex2016-02-09

Or... Ez Robot.

They sell a kit, and they have a module that does everything. Almost.

frehleycooper (author)wylekat2016-02-09

Thanks. I just checked Ez Robot. What a cool site.

everettdale (author)2016-02-09

Cool droid man. I've always wanted to build a 1/6 scale replica out of cardboard/paper. You mentioned online measurements, do you have a link or two you could share?

MikeF102 (author)2016-02-09

So you want $50 for it then :-) Seriously awesome. I am not that talented and if you ever want to make one to sell I can use it for our local charity organization that I work with. I have commissioned someone to make me a full scale (non working) BB-8.

Eh Lie Us! (author)MikeF1022016-02-09

MikeF102 - you're not that talented? Man, we don't allow that type of loser talk here! You made it to this website so you're halfway there. We all started feeling that we didn't know much. Small steps, my man!

MikeF102 (author)Eh Lie Us!2016-02-09

LOL Thanks for the encouragement :-)

e5frog (author)2016-02-09

The finish looks great!
Header is a bit misleading, it's not just cardboard but a whole lot of other nice materials as well.
Time to mechanize it next then?

flyingpuppy (author)2016-02-09

I hope you won a prize for that.

cheekypaper (author)2016-02-09

Ditto on all of the positive comments. !

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