I love riding my bike but I moved to a big city known for it’s traffic. I bought a road bike but needed a helmet. My uncle had this old motorcycle helmet laying around but it was so round and bulky that it inspired me to make some modifications.
It was incredibly big and awkward looking, which also describes my head to begin with, so it I felt kind of like the Mushroom People from Mario Kart while wearing it. I realized how dome-shaped it was and immediately knew what needed to be done.
Before starting a project, I like to do a little research to see if someone has made something similar already. In some cases it’s a good thing because it will provide inspiration or instruction, while in other cases it may just make it not feel worth the trouble. If I want to appreciate the process of making something, I’ll assemble a model or a Lego set. When I make a project from scratch I want to end up with something unique that cant just be bought.
Unsurprisingly, I’m not the first person to think of doing this. Someone named Jenn made a pretty good version a few years back and blogged about it. Hers was just a paint job though and I already knew I wanted mine to have all the bells and whistles. Speaking of bells, the bike accessory company Bell makes an R2D2 bike helmet, but only in toddler sizes. It’s a little more 3D, but I still felt like I could do better.
So I set to work sanding the helmet so the paint would adhere well.
After removing the bill on the front I sprayed it with a primer coat and drew out where I wanted everything to be. This was a lot harder than I expected. R2’s dome is spherical and the helmet isn’t quite, so to get all the components on and in proper proportion took some thinking. You can find a lot of good R2 DIY guides among the various communities of people dedicated to replicating the droids. The most useful things I found were usually at Astromech.net or the Replica Prop Form.
Once I had it laid out, I made templates of each piece and use these to cut out pieces of EVA craft foam. I wanted the designs to stick up off the surface of the helmet a little to accentuate them, and masking out all those elements sounds like a nightmare. For the larger blue piece that holds R2’s eye, I used a thicker piece of EVA
I used a hole saw for the round openings and a Dremel tool for the square ones. Under the shell is about a solid inch of dense styrofoam. This actually worked out well because it gave me a way to fit in and wire the lights and sounds.
For the lights I used some cheap LED flashlights. I also got an LED candle and wired the lights for the rectangular banks through the candle circuit so they would flicker.
For the bleeps and bloops I used a sound chip from Invitebyvoice.com. The sound chip is programmable, so I got the 5 best sounds I can find and assigned them each to a button.
I had a hard time wiring the lights because of how much current the 9 LEDs from each flashlight used and I end up splitting the solid and flickering ones into two separate circuits.
A lot of painting and gluing later, and she’s all finished up.