Saturday, May 12, 2018

Evelyn & Jose's Wedding

Today R2 was the ring bearer in Evelyn and Jose's wedding.

I had been contacted a few months ago to help make their dream come true of having R2 be the ring bearer in their wedding, and agreed to do it. We met up a couple weekends ago to go over logistics and rehearsal.

Today I arrived a little after 3pm for a 5pm ceremony. The wedding was outdoors at Luminarias restaurant, and there wasn't any good places to hide R2, so I had to hide him in plain site.

Sometimes a droid has to suffer a little indignity to get the job done.

I had the Best Man, Tanner, tie the rings to the pillow, as he'd be on the hook to untie them during the ceremony.

The guests arrived and were seated, and the ceremony began. I kind of hid behind a portion of the restaurant, which meant that everyone in the wedding party passed by me, although I was unseen by the guests.

I quietly and discreetly uncovered R2 and prepared him to do his thing, while all eyes were on the bride and groom.

On cue (the usual, Best-Man-"Forgot"-the-Rings), R2 appeared to the rescue. He drove down the aisle, stopped in front of the gazebo for Tanner to fetch the rings, and then moved aside and the ceremony resumed. The guests really enjoyed the surprise.

As the new husband and wife departed the ceremony, I got to be the first one to shake their hands.

And shortly thereafter, we took pictures at the gazebo and in front of a fountain near the restaurant's entrance.

R2 also visited the reception for a little while, where guests took the opportunity to take pictures with him. (He's in there somewhere.)

One last picture on the dance floor before we hit the road.

This is the sixth wedding R2 has attended, and his third as ring bearer. I always like having R2 be a part of such a happy occasion, and today was no exception. Congratulations Evelyn and Jose!

Friday, May 04, 2018

Día de los Niños at CHOC

Today R2 returned to Childrens Hospital Orange County to help support their Día de los Niños event. Mark Chu Lin organized our appearance, and we were joined by some super heroes, including Hulk-Buster Iron Man, Batman, and Mark was an Avengers agent.

We'll start with the usual CHOC pose.

Our appearance ran from 9:30am to 2:00pm.

Since we can't take pictures with the patients, I don't have much to share. We did get to take pictures with some of the other performers though.

I got to have dinosaur chicken (or maybe it was just dinosaur), along with chicken-chicken, for which I was very grateful, given the meals I've been missing lately.

Just before 2:00pm we wrapped up with a group photo.

It was another good appearance at CHOC, and I hope to visit again in the not-too-distant future.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Star Wars Nite at Disneyland

Tonight was a special opportunity for R2, as he got to entertain guests at Disneyland for their first ever Star Wars Nite. We were joined by fifteen other droids (sixteen counting a mouse droid), along with their builders and wranglers. Mike Senna and William Miyamoto were also in the park, on their secret missions.

Our call time was 6:00pm, so I went straight from work to Disneyland, and arrived right on time.

We gathered in a visitor parking lot where we unloaded our droids and secured them to wooden, wheeled platforms, in preparation for loading onto a box truck.

We loaded the droids onto the truck and then ratchet-strapped the platforms to the inside attachment points.

Sixteen droids + 1 mouse droid ready for transport to the Disneyland backlot.

We boarded a shuttle and followed the box truck to our staging area in the backlot. Once we were in the backlot area we were not allowed to take pictures.

In the meantime we unloaded our droids from the truck, and stored our toolboxes and gear in a conference room nearby where we were to appear.

At 9:30pm we made our entrance into Disneyland, and were escorted over to the fire station on Main Street USA. It goes without saying that it didn't take long for a crowd to gather for pictures.

Around 9:45pm they had a Star Wars-themed fireworks show. Unfortunately the shops mostly obstructed our view.

We were scheduled to go until 1:00am(!), so we kept on entertaining the crowd.

At midnight the Star Wars Costume clubs (501st Legion, Rebel Legion, Mandalorian Mercs and possibly others) had a parade, and we lined up to greet them at the end.

Finally, at 1:00am it was time to wrap up. We were escorted out (in a good way), and we were done with our appearance. After returning our droids to the backstage area, we returned to the conference room to gather our belongings, and then start packing up.

The droids were secured back to their carts, and the carts loaded and ratchet-strapped onto the truck once again for the return drive to the visitor parking lot.

By the time we got to the lot it was already 2:00am, and we unloaded the box truck and loaded our droids into our vehicles for the drive home.

Two and a half hours into the new day and I've already burned 90 calories! Time to close up the Droidmobile and head home.

Suffice it to say my head didn't hit the pillow until after 3:00am, but it was well worth it. Everyone had a great time and I hope we get to do this again in the future. Some people may get to do it sooner than later.

The full photoset is here.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

UCI NICU Reunion Carnival

Today R2 joined Mike and Amy Senna with BB-8, and a number of characters from the Star Wars and Marvel universes to welcome former patients to the University of California Irvine Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit's Reunion Carnival. As usual with these things, no pictures with the former patients, but there were plenty of people in attendance.

We found a shady spot for photos, and were joined by our two other Star Wars characters, Rey (Liz Perales) and Kanan (Sal Perales).

We were also joined by a pony. Fortunately, a continent pony.

Mike Senna's BB-8 gives my droid the thumb's down. What does he know.

We also did photo ops with the other characters (and the continent pony), a few of which are represented here.

It was a good visit for a good cause, and I hope to do similar events soon.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Updated Speed Controller

After over 10 years on the Vantec RDFR23, I've decided to move on to the Sabertooth 2x32 speed controller from Dimension Engineering. Why? No, the Vantec did not die, but it is older technology, and I have seen some peculiar behavior off and on, so I decided it was time to make a change.

Here's the Sabertooth 2x32 out of the box. 2x32 means it controls two motors continuously at 32 amperes.

Dimension Engineering recommends using standoffs when mounting the speed controller to wood for ventilation, so I pulled out the old Vantec speed controller and used its mounting bracket for guidance on making a new one from PVC for the Sabertooth.

I used the mounting holes on the 2x32 itself as a template for drilling the holes in the PVC. The user manual provides a template to print, but my printer wasn't calibrated accurately enough to use it.

Speed controller mounted to PVC with #4 machine screws.

And finally, the PVC is screwed down to the wooden frame. Ignore the messy wiring. I know I do.

I ran into a little trouble when I used the 0v and 5v lines coming out of 2x32 to power my receiver, I think it created a ground loop with my dome and sound automation circuit that Mike Senna helped me to troubleshoot. I unplugged those wires and used the battery elimination circuit to power the receiver that I used previously, and I *think* that eliminated the problem, but I will keep an eye on it.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Wondercon 2018 - Day 3

Today was the third and final day of Wondercon, in the Anaheim Convention Center.

This time it was my turn for donut duty. You could say I'm one donut short of a dozen.

While it was early and before it got too crowded, we decided to do a mouse droid excursion around the convention center.

We ran into these guys.

We returned to the booth, where we had a little of everything.

Unlike the bird that visited the booth yesterday, this porg did not poop on my droid. Given his size, that was probably for the best.

Neither did the wampa. Same sentiment applies.

At 1:00pm I was a panelist on Mark Chu Lin's "Causeplay: A Hobby in Service to Others" panel, where we discussed charitable appearances and hospital visits.

In the afternoon, a bunch of us drove our droids through the convention center and out to the lobby for photos. We made a few stops along the way.

We wrapped up with a droid group photo. There's also one with the builders, but it was taken on William's phone. Hopefully it's out there somewhere.

At 5:00pm we packed up and headed out. I was pretty exhausted, but it's always great seeing everyone, and I look forward to the next one.