Monday, October 23, 2017


Chopper !!!!

Ok, so when it first hit, I was not thrilled about the Rebels cartoon series.  After some of the more adult themes in the Clone Wars, Season One of Rebels seemed a bit... kid centric.

The concept of Chopper really struck me as cool, and I wondered who in the astromech builder's club would be first in line to make him a reality.

Wookiepedia entry :

C1-10P or "Chopper" was known to have existed for a few decades past his manufacturer's expiry date. Despite his antiquated age, Chopper refused to consider himself old


Flash forward 3 years or so, and there are a handful of Choppers out and about.  With the assistance of 3D printing and files provided by the same maker who rendered and sliced the BB-8 files, I decided to give my 3D printer a real workout and commenced printing a full droid.

I exclusively use ABS when printing.  My machine is dialed in for printing ABS, and the ability to "weld" the pieces together with acetone is a real plus.  Sanding and finishing of ABS is much easier and produces a better finish than PLA (in my opinion).  PLA tends to melt if you sand too aggressively.  I have used all manner of power sanders on ABS and have had great success, so why change something that works ?

Here are some photos of the build process.

Foot shells.  Probably the easiest to print, as they were pieced together shells.

The legs had a lot of pieces to print.  I decided to modify the files a bit and allow for a 1" x 1" 80-20 aluminum bar to fit in for extra strength.  Time will tell if this was a good idea or not....

Every droid needs power.  Here are the battery boxes.  Three pieces for the main part of the boxes and a couple of end caps to finish it off.

The completed skirt.  6 pieces in all make up this component.

The main utility arm.  The nice thing about the 3D print files is that with a little bit of software, you can tweak the original model to make it more to your liking.  

The original skin files had mounting points on many of the panels.   Originally, I liked this idea, but in the end, I covered all but the holes that were exposed in the animated version of Chopper.  Ultimately, I am happy with that decision.

Yeah... get sanding and filling Mr. Blogger Guy.

As I was printing, and completing sections of the build, I would sand, fill, sand, fill, sand, fill..... and then get all excited and put the pieces on the droid.

Once the droid is at this stage, it is nearly impossible to resist the urge to paint him up.  Alas, more priming, filling and sanding were in store.

The first dry fit test.  At this point, I was in love.  I really dig the design of Chopper, and in real life, he's pretty darned cool.

Interior shot looking down the dome into the body.  You can see my numbers where the pieces were to fit together.  Many of the pieces are similar enough that they could be assembled in the wrong order, causing much grief and unwanted re-prints.

Some leg mounting hardware drilled through the 80-20 support skeleton.

Some more 80-20 for an internal frame.  The barrettes will most likely sit on top of this support as well.

And of course, I have help when building.  If I could get him to stop growing, the internals and drive system would be a breeze.  Now the tough part is going to convince him that he is too big to fit....

More random test fitting photos.

A nice shot of the aluminum support skeleton.

Shoeless Joe from Coruscant, MO

When files are not readily available, you have to pull out the 3D rendering software and make your own.  These are very much a work in progress, as I am trying to get the dimensions right.  My ability to envision then properly size parts in the 3D virtual realm needs a bit of work.  

Added some custom filler material to further support the leg struts.  Again, used 123Design - a free 3D rendering program to make these pieces.  They fit like they were made to be there.

Fortunately, I had enough foresight to run wiring before final assembly of the legs.  Typically, I am not that smart.  These are the thing s that haunt you weeks down the road.  Overzealous building can lead to many fouls words spouting from your lips.

Internal support again :

I modeled up some mounts for the rocker bearing (the lazy susan that will allow his head to rotate).  I am still not 100% sure if these will be used, but they are attached with the Acetone-weld method nonetheless.

More test fitting before another 200 rounds of sanding.  This was still before I covered all of the bolt holes in the skins....

Please do not attempt this at home.  A little homage to Ezra, courtesy of a little photo trickery.  I am actually standing on the table behind Chopper.

Final assembly of the legs.  

Bolt holes all filled, sanded and primed.

Skirt paint :

Initial dome paint :

And some first pass painting of the entire droid.  I am very excited on how Chopper looks at this stage.  Certainly good enough for a static prop.  But... you know... who wants a droid that just sits in the corner ?  BB-8 is stealing some time from the work flow for Chopper, and I realize an update on BB is LONG overdue.  In the meantime, enjoy the last photos for this entry.

Comparison of my Chopper and a shot from the animated series original.