Introduction: Moving R2-D2 With Live Video From R/C Car

First, let me ask you a question:

Who doesn't want a droid that can move around and take videos that costs about $0?

Yeah. That's what I thought. Anyways, here's our pitch:

My sister and I loved seeing the other R2's in the contest and decided we should make one too, but we decided to take it a step further. This R2-D2 is extremely cheap to make, with the main parts being cardboard, glue, and a repurposed R/C car. And it moves! This R2 has some other interesting tricks up its sleeve though. You can add a slot for a phone so that when you video conference with it, R2 will instantly become a stealthy spy droid. While this project is definitely just a starting point for some awesome things you can make from R/C cars, we would love to see if you guys come up with other cool add-ons for him! We really want this to be an open-source type project, so if you feel like making the arms move, go for it! Want a mars rover instead? Why not!


  • Large Cardboard box (with as much space on each side as possible)
  • Old R/C car that you are willing to sacrifice
  • toothpicks
  • Two Skewers (You can also use chopsticks or pencils)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Screwdrivers, Philip's head (multiple sizes will be needed)
  • Scissors
  • Flexible measuring tape
  • Ruler for lines
  • Masking tape
  • Box cutter
  • Can of white paint
  • Blue trim (Paint, colored paper, crayons, etc.)
  • Aluminum foil

Optional: To have a live feed of what R2-D2 sees, you will need a phone that can run a video conference. It takes some extra work, but in the end, it is worth it.

Step 1: Make the Main Body

Using the giant piece of cardboard that we got, (And hopefully you, too) we start by cutting out a 1-foot diameter circle. This will be the bottom of R2's main cylinder body. Next, you will cut out a 40-inch by 20-inch rectangle that will soon become the walls of R2's body. Make sure that the short edges go in the same direction as the ridges in the cardboard. After you finish cutting it out, score the cardboard in the same direction as the cardboard ridges so that it can wrap around the circle.

Step 2: Attach the Pieces

In order to do this, you will need to have the side that was scored facing on the outside. You will need to use a hot glue gun to slowly go around the circle to join the two pieces. If you need extra help as we did, you can use masking tape to hold the pieces together while gluing them. Once the glue dries, you should basically have a cardboard drum.

Step 3: Add a Frame for R2's Head

Using two or three straps, You can make a basic frame for R2's head that makes it easier to assemble easier. We used a total of three straps, each 1 inch by 18 inches, and we glued the edges to the rim. Make sure that the open side of the cylinder is on top.

Step 4: Add the Phone Holder (Optional)

Using the diagram we made, make a phone holder that fits the phone you will be putting in it. This will be used as a camera for your droid. Using a few stiff cardboard straps, attach the phone holder so that it stays in the center. glue the brace to the edges and cut off any excess.

P.S. The phone we used was not able to use zoom in landscape. Newer phones are most likely to support this feature. Do what works for you.

Step 5: Upgrade R2's Head

After the inside of the head is done, you can start closing up the frame. In order to do this, you need to make a lot of triangles to cover up the head between the straps. To make the triangles, measure how far it is from one strap to the other at the bottom of the straps. Then measure how tall the triangle has to be in order to cover the whole area. When doing this, add an inch to each side and then cut it down to size. Then bend the triangles to curve along with the straps. Remember that none of this will be visible, so it doesn't matter if it looks very bad. (I know ours did) The more area you cover the better, but make sure to leave an opening for the phone if you included it.

Note: Each triangle may need to be a different size, so measure and glue them separately.

Step 6: Make the Legs and Feet

The legs and feet are crucial to getting R2 to balance upright. To make the feet, you will need to cut out the pieces from the above photo twice. This will become R2's two main legs. You will also need two half-skewers for wheel axels, and you will need to cut out your own wheels. We made our wheels 3 3/4 inches. Make the third foot with the same shapes but using different dimensions in order to cover your R/C car. You will then need to cut out two identical legs to suit the size of your droid. Then connect the two main feet with the legs and test to make sure that the third foot fits over the R/C car.

Step 7: Paint and Decorate

Finally, something interesting to do!

Start by painting the legs, feet, and body white. You can use a can of paint or use spray paint. The head will be covered with aluminum foil, so it doesn't need to be painted. After the coat is dry, use a pencil to make marks for where the trim will go. You can look at pictures of R2 on the web to get an idea of how to do the trim. We used blue paint and a black marker, but you can customize your droid any way you like.

It's starting to come together!

Step 8: Connect the Legs and Car

Now that you've finished the legs, it's time to connect them!

You need to start off by using packing tape to connect the R/C car to the inside of the third foot. Make sure that the switch is still sticking out and useable. Then glue the third foot to the bottom of the main body, leaving some of the top still exposed. Using another two half-skewers and hot glue, connect the legs to the main body.

Step 9: Upgrade R2's Head (Again)

Start by cutting a rectangle out about the size of the hole left in R2's head. Cut it until it looks about right and bend the cardboard to make it more flexible. Then glue it so that it can work as a flap to access the phone. Cut out a hole in the flap to let the camera see through. Cover the whole head by gluing on aluminum foil, including the flap, but make sure the flap can still open. You can finally paint some blue and black trim onto the aluminum foil.

Step 10: You're Done!

You did it! You should now have a droid in your house!

And it can move too?!

Seriously. How cool is that.

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