For Halloween, my kids wanted to dress up as Jawas from Star Wars. And thanks to all the great Jawa costumes and props on this site, they were quickly transformed into two little scavengers from Tatooine.
However, instead of using halloween candy buckets, they wanted a full-size droid to follow them around...hmm. Following some tough negotiations with these Jawas - they really are method actors - they agreed that a broken droid-head would be acceptable. After all, Jawas are renowned for collecting and dealing in technological junk - the empty space in the head could be used to store all their spoils!
This instructable shows how we made a Star Wars style droid head from two empty paint buckets and some common objects. I can't imagine anybody else would ever need to (or want to) reproduce this but we had fun making it.
Step 1: Scavenge for Materials and Gather Tools
Here are some of the things we used for this build:
- 2 plastic buckets: an empty 9L paint bucket (26-23cm x 26cm high) and 5L one to hold the goodies
- junk wood: for making the radar eye piece. I used about 11cm of a spare piece of 4"x1"
- various 'droidy' junk:
- clear and frosted plastic: for cover over holes in the bucket. We used a variety of yoghurt pots, lids, and ice cream tubs
- plastic lids: from a drink bottle and washing liquid bottle. Look for interesting shapes.
- tubes and protuding parts: We used a toy telescope and 22mm plastic plumbing pipe
- marble: when stuck into pipes, it looks like a lens
- cables: for decoration. We used old CAT5, usb, ac mains, etc.
- broken circuit boards: Unused old electronics to chop up and stick on for decoration
- metal grill: for the ventilation panels
- LED lights: We used various LED torches, battery tea lights, and christmas decorations
- 2xAA battery holder
- switch: for controlling all lights - could use battery holder with switch built in
- wires: enough to reach from position of each light to the batteries
Other things you might need
- hot glue gun: lots of glue to hold everything together!
- drill and bits: We used 56mm and 38mm hole saw bits as well as smaller sizes utility knife for cutting the bucket
- soldering iron: or your favourite method of connecting wires
- saw, sandpaper, joint filler, paint
That looks like a big list but you really only need the buckets. For everything else, just use whatever you have around.
Step 2: Prepare the Bucket
I had a couple ofemptypaint buckets (9L and 5L) that I hadn't got around to chucking out yet. There are some benefits (or excuses) to hoard stuff beyond their apparent usefulness!
Since the bucket is to be used for food (albeit mostly in wrappers), all traces of paint and other nasty chemicals was completely washed away. My old buckets held water-based paint so this was pretty easy with plenty of hot water and detergent. Make sure to clean your buckets - old paint doesn't taste so good.
We used spare joint filler for the big gaps in the bucket. Since we didn't have much filler, we first padded out the void using knotted rope I had lying around...but the filler ran out anyway. Oh well. The finish was pretty lumpy but it is supposed to be a broken droid, so it doesn't really matter.
My camera ran out of batteries so some of the pictures are taken out of sequence...a good start.
Step 3: Make the Radar Eye
We searched for faces of astromech droids for some inspiration. The bucket proportions aren't quite right and so this design won't win any beauty contests but is fine as a candy bucket.
Cut the eye piece
I got a piece of scrap wood (4"x1") and sketched the lines where I wanted to cut. The wood needs to be thick enough so there won't be big gaps once glued to the curved bucket. I then sketched a diagonal line on the left and some recessed parts on the bottom and the right. Since I wanted the 'eye' hole to be fairly big, I used a 56mmhole saw drill bitto cut out the cylinder that look about right, with the off-cut later used in the dome of the droid. When I was fairly happy with the overall shape, I sanded it and gave it a couple of coats of matt black paint.
Keep hold of any offcuts. These 'junk' pieces are often useful for other parts of the droid.
Fix to the bucket
Fitting the piece onto the bucket was a little tricky. Using larger buckets would prevent headaches since it'll have a shallower arc compared to the length of the wood. I pushed the piece into the side of the bucket to get a flat surface and drew around the outline with a pen. Then I cut carefully along the lines with a knife and pushed the wood in. When it seemed to fit snugly, I used hot glue on the inside of the bucket to hold in place.
Add the motion detector
I then hot glued a piece of clear plastic (from a yoghurt lid) over the hole. I had a small R2D2 toy that whistled and chirped when it detected motion. I ripped out the circuits and placed it behind the clear hole, hoping that it would do the same in this droid. Unfortunately, it became somewhat temperamental after the move...either caused by my poor soldering or a bad motivator, perhaps. Oh well.
In the end, we used two tea lights, an LED torch, and a broken droid toy - each with its own batteries and switch. Since we didn't want to fiddle with numerous switches or batteries, we connected all the lights to a battery pack and one switch. For each light, we removed the batteries and soldered/hot glued wires to the terminals. We made sure that these wires were long enough to be able to reach the top of the bucket lid. Any switch for a light was set to ON and all the lights wired in parallel to the battery pack, with the switch placed in series on one side.
Step 4: Add Other Face Features
Part A (Sensor thing)
Every droid needs a random sticky out bit for sensing stuff around them. The sensor on the left is a washing liquid lid painted black, drilled, and glued into place. I found that white-coloured plastic objects are good for these parts. Once painted black, dropping or scratching it give it an appearance of old parts found junkyards.
Part B (Processor state indicator)
Even astromech droids have feelings and need a way to express them...quietly. The circular panel below the radar eye is perfect for this. I marked a rectangle 5cm x 8cm and painted it black. Then a 38mm hole was cut and frosted plastic (yoghurt pot lid with plastic film) hot glued behind. I wanted this part to glow with multiple colours so used christmas decoration lights. I increased the distance between it and the panel by gluing it to a clear yoghurt pot so that the light was more diffused.
Part C (Holographic projector)
This was made by using a broken toy mini telescope glued to a plastic hemisphere from a vending machine. Abattery tea light was glued to the back to give it a yellow glow.
Step 5: Make the Dome Panels
Using a ruler and pen, I drew a line across centre point. I drew a second line to make a cross, and measuring halfway points between the lines, further divided it into sixths, then eighths. I thought 10mm seemed about the right width for the struts, so I drew 5mm either side of the centre lines. For the last edge of the panel, I traced along the bucket about 15mm in from the edge.
At first, I used the multitool saw to cut grooves in the bucket, but it looked pretty awful so just cut through with a knife. Now I had some flappy triangles and struts that needed to be joined together.
Luckily, we have the leftover wood disc cut with the hole saw earlier. Placing the wood over the centre and using the panels as a guide, I marked and cut it into an octagon. I cut a groove and glued the struts evenly. Finally, the triangular panels were sandwiched between the octagon and a plastic disc using a screw and plenty of hot glue.
Note that painting the bucket white first makes it much easier to mark the lines.
Step 6: Make the Side Panels
To add interest, we thought there should be a mix of rectangular access panels on the bucket, as well as some ventilation panels and recesses.
We marked four small panels (35mm x 55mm) around 15mm above the lid. Above three of them, we marked three larger panels (35mm x 125mm). Around the rest of the bucket, we added more short panels at the same height of varying widths. For each panel, I used a knife to carefully cut through the top three sides of the panel. Then the knife is used to gently score along the fourth (bottom) side without cutting through. The panels can then be bent and pushed into the bucket and hot glued on the inside. We painted the panels in red before glueing them down.
Droids need to keep their cool in case they're stranded on a hot desert planet. Above one of the square panels, three rectangular holes (90mm x 10mm) were cut out. I cut and hot glued a piece of spare aluminium mesh. We originally intended to use an oldbroken sieve but couldn't find it in my junk pile - I must have chucked it away when tidying.
Cooling pipe thing
We created a recessed area using plastic packaging with a flexible drinking straw pushed through two holes. The packaging was hot glued to a rectangular hole that was a little smaller than it.
Step 7: Add More Lights
Many astromech droids have a small sensor towards at the rear - probably to stop Jawas sneaking up from behind.
We glued a rectangular piece of plastic offset onto the surface to make a raised panel. Then a short 22mm piece of plastic plumbing pipe pushed through a hole drilled into the side. A drinks cap with a drilled hole was glued to the pipe and agreen LED torch inserted. On the end, a marble pushed and glued in place to add a nice glow. Since this light was so bright, it really helped to stop the little Jawas from tripping in the dark streets.
Step 8: More Buckets...
By now the inside of the large bucket looked pretty messy: full of holes, wires, glue, and pieces of wood and plastic. The wire and glue mess wasn't going to survive once kids and sweets were added to the mix. Luckily, we had another smaller 5L bucket to use to cover this.
Fix the small bucket to the large lid
We placed the the smaller bucket on the lid of the 9L bucket and marked the outline with a pen. I cut outwards from the centre of the lid up to the circle outline. I kept cutting until triangles strips were narrow enough to match the arc in the small bucket. To fix, I made sure there was enough clearance for the handle to swivel and glued the triangle stripsto the small bucket. Be careful when adding large items to the big bucket or the smaller one may not fit!
Put it together
Since the batteries should be replaceable, I drilled a small hole in the lid and ran the wires from the battery holder through it. These were connected to the rest of the circuit and checked. When we were happy with the positioning of the lid on the bucket, we used a bit of PVA glue on the lid and fixed it in place.
Step 9: Add More Junk
A broken droid should have wires and electrical parts showing, but this one looked fairly bare...so we added some more details.
Add cables and wires
Varying lengths of cables - CAT5, usb data, mains electrical - were stripped and frayed. The cables were bunched in flexible hose for a washing machine. This was then pushed through a hole in the lid and secured with hot glue. I only realised afterwards that the head wouldn't now sit level - ideally, any cables should be shorter than by how much the inner bucket sticks out.
Add electronic junk
Interesting looking sections from circuit boardsof old broken electronic equipment were cut out with a saw and hot glued onto the lid. Haphazardly adding rectangular pieces resulted in an odd and messy appearance. It may look better to cut out circular sections that follow the shape of the lid.
Safety note: Be careful when you're dismantling or chopping up old equipment. Some devices can hold a charge long after they've been disconnected from the power source and the dust from cutting can be harmful if inhaled.
Cover the handle
The bucket's plastic handle didn't look great. Replacing it or covering it with leather would have been great, but I was fast running out of time and getting bored. So I simply appliedPVA glue along the handle and wrapped it inblack wool.
Step 10: Paint It
Well, we actually painted most of the different parts as we went along because we didn't know what we were doing.
- The entire droid was covered with a couple coats of leftover white emulsion. You could use silver metallic paint, the mask off sections before painting white to better resemble damage.
- Most of the panel sections were painted with a dark red paint that I had left over from painting a wall.
- Most other features were painted with amatt black paint - again, left over from home decorating.
- To make it look like it was salvaged from a scrapyard, the black paint was watered down and liberally brushed over the entire surface. I then used an old damp rag to wipe off most of the paint, leaving dark shadows where there were dents and cracks. I did this a couple of times to make the droid look pretty filthy. When all was dry, I brushed on a light brown water-based varnish that sealed the paint and gave it a deserty battered look. Looked pretty gross.
Step 11: All Done!
After all that cutting and painting, we've managed to turn two buckets into...one bucket! Maybe one day we'll get around to building that full-size droid...but until then, at least my little Jawas are now ready and eager to go roam the suburban wastelands scavenging for treats.
Thanks for reading!