Star Wars Mouse Droid (Tatooine Edition)

I made a mouse droid companion for my R2-D2. Unlike its Death Star brethren that are all black, mine is a rusty one from Tatooine.

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This was a quick side build to my R2-D2 (I guess I should upload my R2 build here too!). Unlike the real R2-D2 Star Wars movie prop, which was highly designed and had complete set of detailed drawings from which it was built, the Star Wars Mouse Droid was improvised on the go by the prop shop with stuff they had around. So I decided to do the same, and make my own interpretation with random stuff I had at hand. He is built from R2-D2 reject parts, and whatever I had laying around: an egg beater toy from my kids, a gorgeous VFD display, RCA plugs, a speaker filter and a radar dish made out of random hardware. But do not judge by his rusty appearance. He is a decorated race droid alright, as he won a gold medal at the Mouse Droid races at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim.

Let's start with the end result! Mouse droid driving around the in-progress R2-D2.

And here it wins gold in the Mouse Droid races at the Start Wars Celebration. Yeah, I might have missed a cone or two, but so did everyone else...

The base for the Droid came from a vacuum formed plastic shell offered on I stuck a RC car chassis in it.

The fun part was adding all the greeblies on the top shell.

It has two arduinos in it, one for controlling the front lit panel, and one for controlling the VFD, sound and movable antenna dish. The VFD controller is my own design, though heavily inspired by a clever controller design I found on the web.

Painting scheme is by my teenage daughter.

It werks!

My VFD wiring.pdf

Pinout of my VFD display

Adobe Portable Document Format - 959.75 kB - 04/14/2022 at 07:23


MSE Controller

Source code for the MSE controller, includes the VFD driver code. It is based on my MarcDuino R2-D2 controller code (

x-zip-compressed - 49.95 kB - 04/14/2022 at 07:14



Binary for the ATMega code

hex - 40.71 kB - 04/14/2022 at 07:12


VFD Driver

The Gerbers for the PCB

x-zip-compressed - 30.35 kB - 04/14/2022 at 07:11


DesignSpark VFD Driver

DesignSpark files for the schematics and PCB

x-zip-compressed - 80.15 kB - 04/14/2022 at 07:10


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  • Painting

    curiousmarc04/14/2022 at 07:00 0 comments

    The painting scheme is by my teenage daughter, who used about every color available.

    Here is the finished shell after painting.

  • Electronics

    curiousmarc04/14/2022 at 05:28 0 comments

    One ATmega 328 does pretty much everything to control the Droid. It does the sounds, the VFD control including the high voltage regulation, and the random movements for the dish antenna. I re-used my custom controller board that I use for my R2-D2 and that I call a "MarcDuino", which you can see here on the right, the purple board. I added the VFD driver and HV supply electronics on a prototype board underneath. 

    In the above picture, you can also see the sound system consisting of an MP3Trigger from Sparkfun in the middle and an audio amplifier board to the left.

    Here are the electronics at work, with the MarcDuino controlling the antenna, the front panel lights, the VFD and the sound. Another ATmega 328 controls the front panel lights.

    The VFD driver is my adaptation of a clever design I found on the web, can't remember where. The high voltage is a boost circuit that uses the ATMega as the controller/regulator. Very simple: monitors the voltage on one of the anaIog pins, and varies the duty cycle of the MOSFET switching accordingly. I will upload the schematic in the files section.

    Here it is all wired up. Since the RC car battery voltage is sort of in the middle, there is a voltage upconverter for the 12V of the audio amplifier and a downconverter for the 5V of the ATMega 328 board and other electronics on a little side board at the bottom. The high voltage VFD supply is on the board below the ATMega board and is regulated by the ATMega.

  • Greeblies

    curiousmarc04/14/2022 at 05:01 0 comments

    Adding the greeblies was great fun. I put many random parts I had on hand. A few are related to my R2-D2 build.

    The front LED-lit panel is behind one of the R2 doors. It actually has a name but I can't remember it. A laser cut part was available from, as well as an electronics board with the LEDs. I rewrote the controlling software so it gave it a more organic feel rather than the on-off ants march of the original. I think that software has now become the default for the panel in R2s...

    The top spiral antennas are rotating, and are actually part of an old egg-beater toy, painted silver

    The wires around the spiral antenna go to RCA jacks I had lying around. The main antenna is made from random hardware, and also moves around in a random fashion via a servo.

    The right side has a slow rotating fan, and paint trial panels from my R2.

    The left side has my favorite greeblie: a large VFD display that displays random numbers,  and strange looking alien glyphs. The circles and lollipops are extra parts from my R2 holoprojector mechanism. The metal cylinders are from cheap flashlight bodies.

    The back greeblie is from a dead ceiling mount speaker filter.

  • Joiner Frame

    curiousmarc04/14/2022 at 04:47 0 comments

    For joining the two halves of the shell, I made a simple wood frame.

    It imitates the side profile of the original Mouse Droid

    just plops down in place. It is simply held in place by the weight of the top shell. That held on good even during the races.

  • Mouse Droid Chassis

    curiousmarc04/14/2022 at 04:42 0 comments

    The base is made from a vacuum plastic shell that is (was?) available on I cut out the opening for the wheels and put an RC car chassis in it.

    I had to reinforce the suspension quite a bit to support the weight of the droid shell, which was far higher than the RC car was designed for. I put much stronger springs and machined a few suspension bits.

    I did change the front wheels too so they would look more like the mouse droid.
    The shell needed reinforcement underneath also, in the form of a metal plate bolted to the chassis.

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Enjoy this project?



RudyAramayo wrote 04/15/2022 at 18:26 point


  Are you sure? yes | no

curiousmarc wrote 04/25/2022 at 09:03 point

Thanks! Your R.O.B robot pretty awesome too!

  Are you sure? yes | no

davedarko wrote 04/14/2022 at 07:50 point

but where is the sand?

  Are you sure? yes | no

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