Introduction: Employee #R2-D2

About: By day, mild-mannered CS prof. By night, husband, father, basement tinkerer, video game player.

Yep, yep, yer hyperdrive motorvator is shot. (Kuat Drive Yards poodoo -- buy Incom and you won't have to buy it twice, that's what I always say.) Yeah, it'll have to be replaced. Lessee, with parts and labor that comes to...carry the 2, add 15% for shop supplies...that comes to 30,000 Republic credits.

But if yer willin' to wait a week, I got a buddy on Tattooine who sells refurbished ones. With that I could do it for 23,000 Credits. Whaddaya say?

The idea here is "what if, in an alternate Star Wars universe, R2-D2 was a human, just some guy who worked 9-to-5 as a maintenance tech on a Starship?" And if so, what would he look like?

The two main pieces are a hard hat styled to look like R2's dome, and a Xwing-pilot-style chestbox styled to look like R2's iconic barrel-body. Some extras, like a belt and a wrist communicator, help add some splash

Step 1: Hard Hat: Painting


  • blue hardhat
  • masking tape in various widths


  • utility knife
  • fine sandpaper (e.g., 220 grit

It is important you begin with a blue hardhat! The reason is hard hats are a type of plastic that doesn't hold paint very well, so if you paint it one color, then apply a tape mask over the paint, then the tape will pull the underlying paint off with it. I learned that lesson the hard way.

Mask the helmet in such a way as to expose the silver parts of the finished product and protect the blue parts. I found it useful to use standard-width tape for the rectangular blue sections and shreds of wider tape for the triangular sections. I also opted for a mohawk stripe starting at the top and going down the back. Shape things with a utility knife so you get nice clean edges.

I also found it useful to lay out the triangular sections with the narrower masking tape criss-crossing the dome of the hat. This helped keep the triangles on both sides even.

Once masked, lightly sand the exposed plastic, then prime and paint silver, a couple coats of each.

After the silver dries, score the paint along the tape edges before removing the tape. Again, paint doesn't stick well to this plastic.

Step 2: Hard Hat: Periscope


  • 3D printed periscope (scaled down so that the base is approximately 1-3/8 inches in diameter).
  • 1-3/8" dowel, about 4-5 inches long.
  • micro-size hobby servo


  • hand saw
  • 1-3/8" Forster bit
  • drill press
  • hot glue gun


I'm probably the most proud of this step, because the geometry here is bizarro, but simple at the same time. We're trying to get a cylinder (the dowel, which acts as a mount point for the periscope) to stick straight up from a dome (the hard hat).

The solution is to drill a hole straight down through the curved side of the hard hat. Looking straight down it's a circular hole, but because it's drilling on a curved surface the actual hole is oblong. The pictures show this in better detail than I can describe in words: secure the hat to the drill press table, then SLOWLY drill straight down. When you're finished you'll have a hole the dowel can stick straight through.

Prime and paint the periscope black. The pictures show the electronics, which I'll discuss in a later step.

Then cut a slot on one end of the dowel to accommodate the servo; it should hold the servo tight. I had to hack together a 3D printed piece to mate the servo to the periscope. Paint the dowel black, then hot glue it to the hat, then put the servo and periscope on.

On mine the periscope breaks off pretty easily, but reattaches just as easily.

Step 3: Hard Hat: Radar Eye and Holoprojectors


  • 3D printed radar eye and 3 holoprojectors, all scaled appropriately. I made the front holoprojector a little larger.
  • a small plastic Easter Egg
  • spray primer
  • silver, black, and blue spray paint


  • hot glue gun
  • utility knife


  • radar eye model by Thingiverse user ameliechucky
  • holoprojector model by Thingiverse user

Prime and paint the models: blue for the radar eye, silver for the holoprojectors. Paint the more-spherical half of the egg black, hot glue it to make the prism of the "eye", then cut any waste away.

Hot glue the radar eye assembly, and the holoprojectors, into their appropriate places.

Step 4: Hard Hat: Electronic Jibba Jabba


  • extra-large (20mm) red and green LEDs (one of each)
  • 2x large (10mm) yellow LEDs
  • lots of 330-ohm resistors
  • Arduino UNO
  • 9v battery case, with switch
  • AAx4 battery case, with switch
  • plenty of wire (repurposed telephone cable works great!)
  • male pin headers (I prefer the 90-degree ones for their low profile).
  • Velcro strapping


  • soldering iron
  • hot glue gun

The electronics here are almost exactly the same as those for my Animated R2D2 hat, so go there for the wiring diagram and Arduino code, noting that:

  • The periscope uses the same servo motion as the entire R2 head from the earlier build, so connect it accordingly.
  • The blue holoprojector LED is left unconnected in this build
  • The 20mm red and green LEDs are connected exactly as in the earlier build

The other difference is that the yellow LEDs that make up the periscope "eyes" are simply connected to the Arduino's +5v rails (i.e., they don't blink or anything). I recommend burying the resistors for these LEDs inside the periscope itself.

Tuck everything inside the hat as best you can. The internal straps provide enough space (barely!) between your head and the hat. I used Velcro strapping, plus some sticky-backed velcro, to secure the battery packs and Arduino.

Step 5: Chestbox


  • 3D printed chest box and greeblies
  • 1" wide nylon webbing, blue
  • sew-on velcro


  • scissors
  • needle & thread
  • hot-glue gun
  • cigarette lighter (or matches, aim-n-flame, etc)

The STLs for this step are attached below. After printing them out, prime and paint each piece separately:

  • white: the big box
  • blue:
    • utility arms
    • the big rectangle
    • the six small rectangles
  • silver: the vents

Glue the greeblies in place once the paint is dry, then weather everything.

Cut a length of webbing sized to hang the chestbox around your neck. Make sure the loop is big enough for your head to go through! Burn the ends a little to keep from fraying, then hot-glue onto the box.

Cut a 2nd length of webbing sized to go around your ribs (or wherever the bottom of the chestbox falls). Burn the ends, then saw velcro on each end so you can fasten it behind your back. Hot glue the middle of that strap to the back of the chestbox, near the bottom.

Step 6: Coveralls


  • white coveralls
  • 1" wide nylon webbing, blue
  • blue thread
  • Imperial patch


  • seam ripper
  • sewing needle
  • scissors

Remove any visible sewn-on labels with a seam ripper, then sew a length of the nylon webbing on each leg, from the waist to the cuff. I'm not exactly a master seamster (despite being the official seamster of the Honors Lounge in college...long story), so I just went with a basic running stitch and it worked great.

An Imperial patch looks a lot like the silver hubs in R2's shoulders, so I put one of those on a shoulder of the coveralls.

Step 7: Wrist Comm


  • 3D printed Star Wars-style wrist comm. (The one I used is no longer available, but several other options are out there.)
  • sheet of 1/4" craft foam
  • elastic


  • utility knife
  • soldering iron
  • heat gun

Using the wrist comm as a guide, cut the foam large enough to go around your wrist. Form it into a cylinder, using the heat gun to set it. Add the rectangular details with a soldering iron (if you like). The foam will need to be primed with a couple layers of spray-on Plasti-Dip, then primer, then blue. Prime & paint the wrist comm itself silver, then glue to the bracelet. Weather it after everything is dry.

I hot-glued a couple lengths of elastic as shown in the pictures. This lets the cuff expand a bit to get it over my hands, but keeps it closed while wearing it.

Step 8: Belt and Misc. Greeblies


  • 3D printed belt pieces, data cylinders, and wrench
  • white web belt, 1"-2" wide


Belt: STL's for all the belt pieces are attached. Each one is 2 pieces: the "_face.stl" file is the front and the "_support.stl" file is the back. Glue the two pieces together such that they create a hole for the belt to pass through. I printed 3x of the small belt boxes, 2x each of the large belt boxes and octagons, and one each of the other components. Oh, and enough spacers to go in between each piece (about 10x).

Prime all pieces, and paint as follows:

  • octagons and "dented box": silver
  • "bit box" and the small and large belt boxes: blue
  • buckle: silver interior, blue exterior
  • spacers: white

Assemble the belt by running it though the slots in each piece. The buckle is designed so that you can first buckle the web belt, then slide the decorative buckle over top. (I had to turn my web belt inside out to make it work.) The first picture shows a render of a suggested way to arrange things.

Other greeblies:

  • Paint the data cylinders silver. My coveralls had dual pen pockets on the left arm that were perfect for these.
  • Paint the wrench gray. Again, I had a handy pocket on the leg that was *almost* perfect for this. I say "almost" because it fell out and got lost while I was coplaying. :)