Build: Han ANH Droid Caller (from a Linhof)

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MastahBlastah

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
For the sake of organization, I've decided to make a thread for this build that's separate from the "Deep Dive" thread that I posted on the screen-used prop earlier today. Here's that thread, if you'd like some background information on the Han ANH droid caller/Kobolds and Linhofs in general, as well as an explanation as to why I'm making some moves here that might deviate from the norm:

Deep Dive: Han ANH Droid Caller (Kobold vs. Linhof)

As I recently stood back and looked at my modest prop collection, I realized that I've subconsciously chosen to replicate props not only exclusively from ANH, but more specifically props that made their initial appearance on Tattooine, in the first hour of the franchise! This makes sense, as Tattooine is probably my favorite of the in-world OT locations and hey, why not start at the beginning? My next prop will be in keeping with that rule, and is something that I've wanted to replicate for a very long time ...

Unaltered Linhof_1.jpg


Unaltered Linhof_2.jpg


I picked up this vintage Linhof flash a few months back for a veritable steal, considering the insane prices of Kobolds and even these Linhofs these days. I'll just say, this one went for about what I would have expected to pay for a Kobold when I first started doing this about 6 years ago. I had been kicking myself for not taking the plunge back then, but patience can pay off!

In the sale photos, the reflector was still mounted to the flash so I couldn't tell if it had the coveted clip for an ESB saber (with accurate screw placement) but after doing some quick research, I deduced that it almost certainly did. Still, my heart was pounding when it finally arrived and I slid that reflector off!

Unaltered Linhof_3.jpg


As of right now, I have no intention of removing the clip, as I don't have a spare Graflex to build out an ESB saber, though that may change if I ever get lucky on another Graflex. If so, roygilsing makes a beautiful Kobold clip that I could throw on this guy.

As I inspected my flash and pored over the best reference material I could find, I realized that this Linhof is actually very well-suited for the Han ANH droid caller. There were at least three variations of the droid caller used in ANH alone (Han, Luke, Jawa) but there are variations of this flash with subtly different features, and this one is just best-suited to a Han. For a thorough explanation of why, check out the "Deep Dive" thread that I linked at the top of this post. This build thread is intended to show just the methods behind the mods I've made, not the reasoning.

Here's a great look at the screen-used Han ANH droid caller, courtesy of lonepigeon at "Parts of Star Wars" to reference the following mods:

Han ANH Droid Caller_POSW.jpg


1) Removing the Insert at the Top:

Though not visible in the above reference photo, it's apparent from tons of other reference that the piece below that's inserted into the top half has been removed from Han's droid caller:

Unaltered Linhof_Top Insert.jpg


Here's a screen grab from the Disney+ 4K version that clearly shows the lack of this piece:

Han ANH Caller_Top Piece Removed.png


To remove the piece, you have to loosen the two set screws pictured below. I had to bust out my precision screwdriver kit to get that little guy ... reminds me of my Macro days! :lol:

Top Set Screws.jpg


Once that's done just give the piece a twist and it should pop out:

Top Insert:Set Screw.jpg


Here's what's left. I made sure to put both set screws back in. Looks right!

Top Insert Removed.jpg


2) Removing the Bulb Assembly:

Bulb Assembly_Mounted.jpg


This was a bummer because I love the look of the bulb, but I'm going for accuracy here. See "Exhibit E" of my deep dive thread for what I consider to be clear reference that this bulb was missing. It's as simple as giving it a few counter-clockwise turns and it's out. This (as well as the removed top piece) will be kept safely with all of the beloved greeblies that come off of my builds, should I want to reconfigure this flash to its original state one day, or even better, should it pop up on some other OT prop!

Bulb Assembly_Removed.jpg


Bulb Assembly_Loose.jpg


That's it for tonight, stay tuned for details on how I dressed the bottom of the flash to match the screen-used prop, and eventually what I believe to be the final step of this quick build ... painting the lower tube!
 
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thd9791

Master Member
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This is a quick build but you're doing it beautifully!

I've always had a dream of putting those spring clips on a wooden stand for belt props, just snap them in place
 

MastahBlastah

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Looking forward to your take on this Linhof!

Thanks 2Cell ... same goes for your Linhof build!

This is a quick build but you're doing it beautifully!

I've always had a dream of putting those spring clips on a wooden stand for belt props, just snap them in place

That sounds like a great idea! I'm planning on mounting this thing on a full leather Han ANH belt one day, but perhaps I could just get the clip first and make a stand out of it, then mount the clip to a belt when I have it (likely way down the road). That is, if you don't mind me taking inspiration from your great idea?
 

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MastahBlastah

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Alright, time to mod the bottom of this thing!

After lots of searching, I managed to track down an accurate camera mount screw for the bottom, as seen on the screen-used prop:

Han ANH Droid Caller_Mounting Screw_POSW.jpg


For anyone who doesn't know, the screw circled in red above is a common type used on tripod plates, camera/flash mounts, etc. They've come in countless, subtle variations/dimensions going back decades and decades. When I was a 1st AC, it was literally my job to have dozens of these screws of all shapes and sizes available in my kit at any moment, but in all my experience I'd never seen a screw with these dimensions (they have a uniquely large diameter). I've seen photos of the original mount that came with the Kobolds (and probably Linhofs as well) and they definitely came with one of these screws, as well as two smaller screws with a 3/8"-16 threading, but it's pretty hard to come by a Kobold with its original mount and I've never seen one pop up on its own, though I'm sure they're out there.

I did however manage to find a small number of these exact screws. They're the same material, same diameter, same straight-knurled pattern, and have the same prominent, concentric machining marks on the face that can be seen in the film. Furthermore, they all came specifically from German camera/flash mounting systems of the same era. I'm confident it's the same screw:

1_4-20 Metz Screw_1.jpg


1_4-20 Metz Screw_2.jpg


I'll be making a few of these available in the junkyard soon, if anyone is interested in an accurate, vintage screw for their Han ANH droid caller. These are threaded for a 1/4"-20 mounting hole (found on Linhofs and Silver Kobolds), but I have some low-profile thread adapters that will allow them to fit a 3/8"-16 mounting hole (found on black Kobolds and the metal droid caller replica by dmachinist).

If you have a Kobold, these screws should thread right in, but for whatever reason Linhof decided to permanently affix a cold shoe mount to the bottom of their flash:

Cold Shoe Mount.jpg


As you can see from the following still, the screen-used prop has a bit of a gap between the screw and the base of the flash:

Camera Mount Screw_Depth Reference.jpg


I immediately wondered if the cold shoe mount would allow for the proper sized gap:

Metz Screw in Unaltered Hole.jpg


Maybe, but as you can see above, because of the way this mounting system works there's a second gap between the screw and the cold shoe. The hole is blind-tapped (not drilled all the way through), so this is as far as it will screw in. You can see from the inside that the hole doesn't go clear through:

Unaltered Linhof_Bottom Interior.jpg


In order to remedy this, I drilled the hole the rest of the way through to the inside of the flash, starting with a small bit and working my way up. I was careful not to damage the original threads, and once the hole was large enough I tapped the rest of it to extend the 1/4"-20 threading:

Drilled_Tapped to Extend 1_4-20 Hole.jpg


It's threaded clear through to the other side now:

Extended 1_4-20 Hole.jpg


Now, will this give an appropriate gap?

Metz Screw in Exteneded Hole_1.jpg


Metz Screw in Exteneded Hole_2.jpg


To my eye, no. The gap still seems too wide, and that cold shoe is prominent enough to where I feel like I'd see it in some of my reference. So, using my Dremel, a file and some 300 grit sandpaper I removed the square part of the mount, leaving the round bit underneath:

Masked for Cold Shoe Removal.jpg


Cold Shoe Mount Removed.jpg


Metz Screw in Exteneded Hole with Cold Shoe Removed_1.jpg


Camera Mount Screw_Depth Reference.jpg


I'm happy with that!

Seeing as I've yet to find a Linhof without this cold shoe mount (save for one that had been forcibly removed) I'm leaning toward the actual bottom being a Kobold. I really doubt the prop makers would have gone through this trouble, and if they decided to pry the cold shoe out, then why would the screw be sticking out? It's pretty safe to say that the screen-used either featured this screw on a silver Kobold bottom (I'm leaning toward this) or an un-found identical screw with a 3/8"-16 thread on a black Kobold. Unless there's a Linhof out there sans cold shoe with a threaded hole? I know the Kobolds are extremely varied, but these Linhofs don't seem to be, save for some very minor details. Who knows! Aesthetically, though, this is looking really accurate to me.

Now all that's left is to paint the lower tube and this thing will be good to go! The question is, wrinkle paint or plain black paint? For more speculation on that issue, check out my deep dive thread below:


Stay tuned!
 
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MastahBlastah

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
So after a lot of time spent staring at the best reference I could find for this prop, I've decided that even though the Han ANH caller may have been a silver variety Kobold or Linhof that the prop dept. painted black, it's just too hard to say. Because of this and the fact that other users here have since shown me proof of a black Kobold with no-step top, I've decided to follow suit and go with wrinkle paint for my Linhof, like most others have for this prop. I really do love the effect of the wrinkle paint when done properly, so I was pretty excited to give it a go.

Initially I hadn't planned to fill the Linhof logo because it's almost certain that the real prop had a logo here, but I decided to fill it after all, out of worry that the change in depth may cause drips or just not look good with the wrinkle paint. Also, with the logo filled I can explore the possibility of having a Kobold logo milled in, right over the filled existing logo. I'm not certain that it needs it though, and I'm open to this replica being just a hair idealized in that way.

Filled the logo with JB weld:

Filling Linhof Logo.jpg


Sanded and masked for paint:

Masked and Sanded.jpg


I used some 1/4"-20 threaded rod, a large washer and a 1/4"-20 thumb nut that I had lying around as a rig for painting and baking the piece:

Painting Rig.jpg


We had rain this whole weekend so I had to wait for the proper conditions to paint, but today was perfect. I hit the whole piece with a red Scothbrite pad and degreased with some alcohol, then (per the instructions on the can) I gave it three coats of the wrinkle paint, allowing 5 minutes to partially dry between coats. I applied each coat in a different direction (first vertical sweeps, then horizontal, then diagonal) then let the piece dry for about 10 minutes before baking at 200°F for one hour:

Oven Rig.jpg


The piece came out looking great. I plan to give it a full 24-48 hours to finish curing, but it felt pretty solid right out of the oven.

Final Wrinkle Paint_1.jpg


Final Wrinkle Paint_2.jpg


I believe it's the baking process that gives the paint this tighter wrinkle pattern, which I feel is more accurate to the real Kobolds. I'm super happy with this! Once it's fully cured I'll do a bit of cleanup on the bottom knurling with an x-acto knife.

Nice and consistent on the filled logo side:

Filled and Painted Logo.jpg


This is mostly finished, save for maybe the small knurled nut on the timer assembly. dmachinist at Dark Energy Creations was kind enough to send me a timer assembly from his beautifully machined aluminum replica of this prop, which features the cone-shaped variant of this small knurled nut. His timing assembly doesn't fit this Linhof, but I'm confident I could disassemble both of these assemblies to swap out the nuts if I wanted to. My dilemma though, is that I still can't be certain from available reference which nut is accurate to the screen-used prop. I'm happy to have both knobs now though, in case better reference ever turns up and proves this to be the one! Until then, I plan to keep the vintage Linhof nut.
 
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MastahBlastah

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Thanks for the kind words, all! I've always wanted a droid caller in my collection, but didn't expect that it would so quickly become one of my favorite props ... I can't put this thing down!
 

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