Dewey, Drone #01 from "Silent Running" in 2/3rd Size

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Markus

Well-Known Member
In between the SciFi milestones "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) and "Star Wars" (1977), was the often overlooked gem: "Silent Running" (1972). Directed by Douglas Trumbull (who worked on the special effects for Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and later for those on "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"), it introduced the SciFi world to the three iconic drones: Drone #01 (Dewey), Drone #02 (Huey), and Drone #03 (Louie).

silent-running.jpeg


After a long time, recently I watched "Silent Running" again, and decided that Dewey would make a nice companion for my home. And, of course, I want one in real life size. However, although they don't look too big, it turns out that these drones are not that small either. So, I decided to build it in 2/3rd of the original size. This is still large enough to make it feel "life-size" while it occupies significantly less space.

As usual, when planning a new built, I checking for resources and previous work. And I found this wonderful article on how they made the original drones: 1971 - "Silent Running" Drones - Doug Trumbull, Don Trumbull, Paul Kraus & James Dow (American) - cyberneticzoo.com

Then, there are also plenty of previous builts. I found quite a lot here at therpf.com:
... and some on other webpages
Here is a video of a built with a beautiful construction of Dewey's arm :

Finally, I found the page Silent Running Drone Info which has the dimensions. I used this as a starting point, scaled these by a factor 0.66, and rounded them to nice fractions.

Dewey-dimensions.jpg


Based on this, the total size of my Dewey will be approximately 23 1/4" (w) 19" (h) 11 1/2 (d).
I will build Dewey from 3/16" plywood cut with a laser cutter. Only a handful of pieces will be cut by hand. I still have no idea how to build the arm, and I will leave that for later.

The next step was to create the files for the laser cutter. Here are two examples, one for the center piece of the body,

sketch-mainBody.jpg


and one for Dewey's right side.

Dewey03a.jpg


Further details are also posted on my build blog:
- Part I: Getting Started
- Part II: Main Body and Sides
- Part III: Adding Details
- Part IV: Legs and Feet and Toes
- Part V: Painting and Assembly
 
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Markus

Well-Known Member
The arm is ALWAYS the hardest part.

Looking forward to your progress on this!!
Honestly, while I love Dewey's shape (and I hope to be able to reproduce the essential elements), I am not very ambitious about the arm. At least at the moment, I envision having a rather crude approximation made from some wooden pieces. I don't think I could create any structure from metal, and anything with a functioning gripper seems out of reach.
I'm really enjoying your builds, keep up the great work!
Thanks for your kind words!
 

Markus

Well-Known Member
I start with the assembly of the center piece of the body.
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The the top plate.
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And the bottom ring.
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Sanding the edges of the top and bottom pieces,

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and both are glued to the center piece.
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Markus

Well-Known Member
I was just enjoying a discussion on the thread on the typography of the "Zero Gravity Toilet" sign from "2001: A Space Odyssey". This inspired me to have a look at "Silent Running", but this does not feature much in this respect. The only thing that I quickly found is the "Valley Forge" operations manual that Lowell is referring to when reprogramming the drones.
These are the screen captures:
ValleyForgeOpManual.png
MaintDrones.png
OpProgr.png

And these are my versions (Futura Display and Futura Heavy)

ValleyForge01.jpg
ValleyForge02.jpg
 

Markus

Well-Known Member
Adding some details to the sides of the body.
The vents and the handle for the right side.
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These triangular pieces (plus later the toes) are the only details that are not made with the laser cutter.
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The handle and the "unidentified detail" for the left side.
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Markus

Well-Known Member
Details for the front side and the top
Here are the pieces that will be inserted into Dewey's front frame:
The "speaker grille"
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The structure on the bottom left
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On the right side, the lamp at the top and the piece with the blue and yellow wires in the middle

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and the two assembled (the front will be glued to the lamp after painting).

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And here are the top greeblies.

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The memory cards are made of four pieces (3x plywood plus acrylic).
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More images are posted on my blog.
 

Markus

Well-Known Member
Assembling the last pieces: Legs, Feet, and Toes
The feet are simply two small flat boxes.
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The legs are built as octagonal structures. The edges of the long pieces are sanded at an angle of 22.5 degrees.
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To have Dewey's legs standing at an angle, I designed these joints that connect to the feet, and to the body.
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The toes are some of the few pieces for which I could not figure out how to make those with the laser cutter. So, these are made with table saw, a miter saw, and a disk sander (to achieve the rounded shapes). And I used a hand saw for the engraved lines.
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Then comes the boring, but important part of sanding everything - and here are all of Dewey's assembled pieces.
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More details are, again, posted on my blog.
 

ScourgiousJinx

Well-Known Member
Your build looks great! ! It actually inspired me to watch Silent Running. I had heard of it but somehow never actually watched it. Was a lot of fun, time well spent. Bruce Dern was entertaining as usual. Looking forward to more updates on your build!
 

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Markus

Well-Known Member
Wow, this is looking good. Will this have any functionality like a tea timer as well?
Thank you! I am thinking about this... However, I have a HAL 9000 with a tea timer, and a GERTY 3000 with a tea timer - I don't think I need any more tea timers :lol: . With props like HAL, GERTY, the Flux Capacitor, etc., the design of the electronics and the programming was always significant work. I don't have any great ideas what Dewey could possibly do anyway - so, this time, I consider just building the shape and enjoying the beauty, without any electronics. (... unless you come up with a great idea that hits the right nerve ...)
 

Markus

Well-Known Member
The next step is painting.
I decided to use Lowe's Valspar paints which worked really great on a recent project. When applying them with a foam brush, they give a very even coating. They also dry rather fast, so that you can easily alternate between two pieces: when the first layer of the second piece is done, you can already go back and continue on the second layer of the first.
Here are some blue paints, compared to screen captures from the movie. Dewey's color in the movie changes a lot depending on the lighting in different scenes. I think that the "Enchanted Sea" blue is the best choice.
Dewey-color.jpg

I was thinking about painting the dark pieces black, but then I figured that a grey like "Muskeg Grey" is closer to the movie. For the legs and the lower body, I was torn between the more brownish look from the screen captures, and the more reddish look that you find in many other Dewey replicas on the web and that I really like. Ultimately, I settled for the "Jazzy Red" which is a nice compromise between the two.

Dewey-color2.jpg

This is my final selection of paint colors.
 

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