Name: Kelly Luck
Home: Kansas City, MO
Day Job: Software Developer
Makerspace: Hammerspace Workshop in Kansas City, MO.
How did you get started in making:
I used to work staff at various local fan-cons, and would see groups like the R2-D2 builders and be amazed that they could actually build replica R2s, full size, actually working and everything. I started building replica props in a small way, working my way up to more complicated projects, and once I was confident of my skills, I built my first droid. I have been an avid bot builder ever since.
What kinds of stuff do you build:
I’m a robot builder. I have mostly concentrated on droids from the Star Wars universe, but I’m researching builds from other properties such as Wall-E, Short Circuit, etc. The list never gets shorter, only longer.
What’s something you’ve made that you’re really proud of:
Probably my R2 droid. It’s not the best thing I’ve made, but it let me prove to myself that I could do it. Building my R2 droid wasn’t so much a learning experience as several learning experiences, one after another. Hand-soldering all of the dome lights was definitely the toughest soldering job I had ever tackled.
The body was my first time dealing with metalwork, and adjusting the frame to my custom build took a bit of experimenting. The legs were CNC-cut wood, and the smaller pieces were everything from sheet plastic to 3-D printed to resin cast, and even recycled junk. In short, just about every way to build an R2 short of Legos or papier-mâché.
Along the way I got crash courses in woodworking, wiring up multiple circuits and backflow-proof drive systems, brazing aluminum, finding realistic metal looks for wood and plastic, and even building a simple “sled” to get him in and out of the car. I keep saying one day I’ll go back and rebuild him using all that I know now. But at the moment, he is just fine how he is. I am still awfully proud of the fact that I saw it through to the end.
Any advice for people reading this:
If you have ever looked at something someone else made and said, “I wish I could do that, but there’s just no way.” Believe me, I have been there myself. Find some small part of it, something you know you can do, and do that. Then use that to move on to another bit. It’s like the old joke, “How do you eat an elephant: One bite at a time.” If you break down a huge project into a bunch of small ones, you will amaze yourself with what you can do.