Introduction: R2D2

The purpose of this Instructable is to provide the reader with a guideline on how I approached building the R2D2 robot. My R2D2 has the following features:

  • Dome Rotation
  • Projection
  • Front and Rear PSI LED’s
  • Front and Rear Logic Boards
  • LED Holoprojectors
  • Audio
  • Wireless Ethernet communication to an existing Lost in Space robot

The R2D2 is stationary and does not have motorization for the leg.

Wiring schematics and movies of the R2D2 in action are below.

Step 1: R2D2 Unfinished Shell & Components

Step 2: Dome Bump / Dome Top Pushbuttons

Step 3: Projector

Step 4: Wireless Ethernet

Step 5: Triggerable Digital Video Player

Step 6: Speakers

Step 7: PLC (Programmable Logic Controller)

Step 8: Dome Rotation Stepper Drive & Motor

Step 9: Stepper Drive Motor Hub

Step 10: Lazy Susan Bearing

Step 11: Lazy Susan Gear

Step 12: Connectors

Step 13: Power Entry

Step 14: Power Supply

Step 15: Relays

Step 16: Acrylic Cabochons and Spheres

Step 17: Stepper Drive/Motor

The dome rotation is controlled via a stepper motor connected to a stepper drive. The stepper drive is an AutomationDirect STP-DRV-4850 that is connected to an AutomationDirect STP-MTR-34066 stepper motor.

The stepper drive is connected to the Allen-Bradley MicroLogix 1400 PLC via a serial cable that comes with the stepper drive. The PLC sends commands to the stepper drive such as position, velocity, accel, and decel. I discovered that the PLC will not always communicate to the stepper drive after a PLC power up was initiated but it would always talk via the software tool for the drive. To figure this out, I connected the drive to the software tool and monitored the communications between the software and the drive. What I discovered is that there a few undocumented commands that must be initially sent that make the communication work every time. The following text commands must be sent one time during the initial communication between the drive and the PLC.

  • QT
  • HRCM
  • SK
  • CM21

The stepper drive requires a power supply to provide power to the drive and the motor circuit. Since I am using the STP-MTR-34066 stepper motor, the PSB24-120 power supply was utilized that you can also be purchased from AutomationDirect.com. To reduce current when the motor is not turning and to allow manual positioning of the dome before a sequence starts, I have configured the motor to have no idle current 2 seconds after the last move.

When a show is started, I set the position to 0 via a software command, this is like a manual home of the dome. Therefore, having the motor current at 0 allows me to physically rotate the dome to the desired start position so the dome can have any home (0) position desired.

Step 18: Dome

Step 19: Body

Step 20: Rotation

Step 21: Logic Lights

Step 22: PSI LIghts

Step 23: Miscellaneous

Step 24: Paint

Step 25: Control

Step 26: Pushbutton Operation

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    6 years ago

    I love Star Wars!! I've been wanting to make an
    R2-D2 but being a teenager I don't have much money to buy and R2 replica. But making it would be awesome!! (Not to mention having the bragging rights of making an R2 it would be a lot cheaper to make one too) anyways how much would it cost to make this?? May the force be with you.....


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    The R2 pieces can be cobbled together for around $1300.00 but after purchasing the control system parts for it (PLC, Stepper drive, Stepper motor, Dome bearing, Projector, Etc.), you can easily be into it for over $2000.00. Thanks for checking the indestructible out. I hope it provides some help in the future.


    Reply 1 year ago

    I was into my unit for about $3,000 over 20 years ago. That is over $12,000 in today's dollars.


    Reply 1 year ago

    I am excited that young people want to build R2D2s. Some 15-20 years ago, I too was bitten by the bug. I joined up with another gentleman, Dave, from Australia, and we formed the R2D2 Builders group on Yahoo. Soon there were people from all over the world joining with the same dream. When I left the dream we had over 5,000 R2D2 builders as members.

    We utilized out team building efforts actoss the globe and members who had a skill or access to a product sold those items at minimal cost to others in the group. Our goal was to help others build R2D2s, not make money.

    For example, I found the original holo-projectors were passenger reading lights from a particular version of Boeing 727 aircraft no longer in service. I searched old aircraft bone yards for over 6 months and finally found several planes in Brownsville, Texas. We had a builder down there so I coordinated with him to go to the bone yard and pull all the lights. He then posted what he had and sold all of them to other members.

    We found one member who had access to a metal spinner and he then sold the spun aluminum domes. Another member from Canada was a professional resin caster and he sold cast resin parts. I had access to a laser cutter and made and sold the skins covering the body out of PVC.

    We even went so far as to contact the original R2D2 builder and got he "classified" paint colors so we were as close to the original as possible.

    Those were good times for me and I now ask you to keep the dream going.


    Reply 5 years ago

    Same here, I'm a teenager too!! I've searched the whole web to know how you build the R2-D2 but all if found yet is its body on this link:


    I' m searching for how to make its Dome and hands but with no luck till now.

    if you find something let me know too.

    May Obi Wan help you.....