Introduction: Lego Droid Repair Factory (Lego, 3D Printing, 3D Pen, Paper Mache, LED, and More)
My son is into Legos in a very big way. He saw me on the Instructables website looking at the Contests page. He immediately asked me if there was anything he could submit. After some discussion, we agreed we would work together to submit a project. He, of course, wanted to do something with Star Wars Legos. Since it was his project I told him to come up with a design and plan of what he wanted to do. He is 9 by the way. This is the final result. It took a lot longer than I ever thought it would and tested my craft knowledge a little more than expected. We ended up using a lot of different craft and DIY techniques to get the end result.
Step 1: Foundation
Why, do you ask, did it "test" my craft knowledge so much and how difficult can it be to help a 9 year old put together a bunch of Legos (exactly my initial thoughts when we started the project). Well, he decided he did not want ONLY Legos, but wanted a mountain where a droid repair factor is housed, with a secret catacomb below and an image of a death star. And a few LEDs would not hurt either. So, we started with the basics.
I saved two large 12X12" card board sheets which came with some package not to long ago (I do not remember which one). But they were about the rights size to form the basis of the mountain and were lighter than wood. So, I took a two foot dowel of 1/2 wood and cut into 6" strips. Then punched holes in the cardboard and inserted the supports.
Step 2: More on the Frame
I needed a frame to help support the paper mache we decided to use. I'm sure there are numerous ways we could have done this and numerous other materials to use, each with their own pros and cons. I decided to simply go with materials I already had so I would not need to buy anything or at least, very little. So paper mache was the choice.
we took popsicle sticks and affixed them to the cardboard frame along the edge. we then took more popsicle sticks an attached them (with glue) so they protruded outward. We were going to need an angle from top to bottom to create the shape of a partial mountain.
Step 3: Wire Frame
I did not have any chicken wire (typical for paper mache) and we needed to conform the rock a certain way. So, I took my trusty 3D pen and weaved and weaved and connected and simply printed the underframe. It worked out pretty well.
Step 4: Paper Mache Time
After some trial and error I found that 1 to 1 1/4 or 1/2 of white flour to water gave me the consistency I was looking for for the paper mache. Like I said earlier I'm sure there are 100 or more ways to do the paper mache or other material for this, but I was going with what I had on hand. We started out with old newspaper. After about 3 layers, I took the 3D pen and built up several small cliffs and crevices. We then put on another layer of newspaper and finally, I used paper towels. The towels allowed me to better control the crinkle and small rises and indents to form a rock like image.
Step 5: Paint
Probably the easiest part for me was the paint. I just used some black spray paint but sprayed in short bursts to create an uneven feel and coverage. We then went back and filled in cracks and other areas which were missed by the can.
Step 6: Next Comes 3D Printing
I knew I would need some parts to help build the catacombs and stuff, so I turned to my new toy. .. a Da Vinci 1.0 3D printer. After looking through Thingiverse for some pre-created images (I've not gotten around to learning to use Blender or Sketchup) I took a regular pet food bowl and reduced it by 70%. When it printed, it came out about the size of a roll of Scotch Tape. This would be the display center like in the Attack of the Clones, the bad guys watched the battle on the surface form the protection of the cave. I then reduced and printed a Death Star which was hollow and came in two parts. Kudos to both authors.
[Side note: I tried 3D printing lego blocks and plates to help out, but that did not work out so well. Apparently it is hard to print them to be compatible. I'll get back to trying to make that work later.]
Step 7: Small Electronics
We decided to have the Death Star suspended above the viewing circle. A blue LED below to give that electronics feel and a red one goes in the battle station so it looks like its about to fire. I trilled a small hole under the viewer and put a blue LED. I used a 220 ohm resistor for both LEDs. I bored out a small hole at the base of the Death Star and glued it into place directly across from the hollowed out cannon sections (it printed that way, so I didn't have to do anything else). We wired the two in series and connected them to a 6V power supply fueled by 4 AA batteries. With the wires underneath I needed to raise the viewer up so it would not look funny or tilted. Back out came the 3D pen and I built small legs under the viewer just high enough to allow for the wires and heatshrink.
I then used my 3D pen to create a support for the Death Star and connected it to the viewer. Being both ABS plastic, the support beam just melted into both the Death Star and viewer creating one piece. While you can see the support beam, it does not really take away from the effect and my son said he thought it was fine so that is what we went with.
Step 8: OK, Now for the LEGOS
My son did most of this. He took two Lego plates and placed them on top of the mountain. He built the walls around the droid repair base. Up and Up they went. He also built a patrol vehicle.
Step 9: Inside the Base
He built a table and placed 1/2 a battle droid on the table with arms and mechanical assembly equipment all around. He built, with help from his 6 year old sister, several fully assembled battle droids in the corner. Then came the gun defenses and stations.
Step 10: Below Ground
Below the mountain's surface four small grey Lego plates and built off of them. There was not much to do there because the main focus of the underground chamber is the Death Star. He did built a control computer station but for some reason I cannot fathom he put wheels on it.
Step 11: Building the Scene
So for this Instructable he wanted to build a full Lego scene consisting of the repair base being under attack from the clone army. We started with his Lego table (a project built using a folding table and 12X12" Lego plates which will be part of another Instructable). He placed the mountain to one side and began building the scene. Gunships came in, AT-ST vehicles were used. Anakin Skywalker and another jedi were even on horses. The clones scaled the mountain and the droids fought back.
We then placed the Death Star underground and flipped the switch. I must say we like the effect.
Step 12: Individual Areas
Step 13: Underground Death Star
Step 14: Scaling the Mountain
Step 15: More Individual Stuff
Step 16: The End
And finally everything was together. We had a blast making it and now he can say he submitted something. . . . and it was Lego.