Building a GONK droid

Below, you will find detailed instrucions on how I built my own GONK (power) droid from Star Wars. It is by no means the difinitive shining example of what you should do, but it will give you a good basis and reference for you to get started.

Click the quick links below to be taken to the specific section!


I started this project back in 2010 to have it ready in time for Celebration 5 in Orlando. I have been upgrading it in anticipation of Celebration 6 this coming August in Orlando again, But my little droid made the Official C5 Flickr stream!


Now...moving on to the build. Here we go - from the very begining...



For anyone wanting one of their own, it's pretty simple and can cost as little as $50 in bought parts. plus any greeblies you have lying around.

Here's a short parts list of what I bought:
2 - 18 gallon Sterylite storage bins
2 - 4 cup Ziploc storage containers
2 1/2" garage door trim
4" x 10' black drainage pipe
2 sheets of foam core board (for the feet, more is needed if you don't have scrap plastic)

Stuff I had lying around:
old hand-held shower head pipe
scrap HIPS plastic
hot glue
Krylon Fusion paint
2x4 wood
various screws

Click here to download the GNK feet pdf!

GNK feet




I began with what would be the top piece.






I found the center of the top along the long side (inside the bottom was 14" so the center was 7").





The inset in the middle is 2 1/2" wide, so I made my marks at the top...






...and bottom...






...drew the lines...








...and cut them out.






To make the inset pieces, I cut a strip of plastic (or you can use the foam core board) 3" wide and two 1" strips that taper to the bottom. I trimmed the 1" strip to match the curve of the bin and hot glued them into place.



Then added the 3" piece.







Do this for both sides and this is what you will see when you are done.







Next for the front, the inset for the "face" is about an 8"x8"x1" deep section. So I marked that out (finding the center like I did for the side).



For the box itself, I cut an 8"x8" base and glued 1" strips to it.





When you cut out for the face box, be sure to make it about 1/8" smaller all the way around to give the box a lip to glue to. But if you make it out of HIPS like I did (and screw up by cutting the actual 8"x8" out) just trim it up to let the box slip in from the front.

On the right front (left front as you look at the face) there is an "E" piece. I wouldn't recommend cutting this out of the foam core since the foam will melt when you paint it, so if you don't have any HIPS lying around, you can get For Sale signs and double (or triple) them up BEFORE you cut out the "E" to make it look like it's one piece of plastic.



For the "E," I made mine 8"x5" and made the prongs of the "E" 4mm tall by 5mm deep. This is because 8" equals 20mm and you need 5 sections (3 "E" prongs and space) and that works out better than trying to divide 8" by 5 and getting it right.






This is where the regular glue (like contact cement) comes in. Glue the "E" to the right side, centering between the inset and the front. The contact cement will secure it in the long run, but because of the curvature of the bin plastic, I used hot glue on the areas that were sticking up to hold it down while the main glue set.

On the back of the right side (same side as the "E") are "heavy power plug in sockets." I centered what would be the holes between the inset and the back and laid out the Ziploc cups to even them up and cut out the preliminary holes.





There are two "wires" between the two cups, so I cut them out of the old shower head pipe giving them enough length to not worry about them coming out accidentally.




After trimming up the "plug" holes so the cups would screw in tightly, I cut out small holes in the sides of the cups for the pipes.






I had actually bought 4 cup containers, but they were too big. These were older 2 cup containers I alread had and I traded them out with my wife. that's why there is baked-in gunk inside. It will be hidden by the paint.







(Not Pictured) I used a sanding brush attachment on my Dremmel to sand off the data from the bottom of the cups before painting.


On the back of the droid are a few plates. I cut three 6"x3" mains with three 4"x1" insets and 2 2"x1" pieces for the lower plates.





After finding the center of the back and doing a layout for the plates, I glued them on with hot glue (or the contact cement if you prefer). From the inside, however, before I put them on permanently, I drilled a few pilot holes for screws (small "pan head" type no more than 1/2" shaft) to secure the plates. Then I glued them on and installed the screws.







For the face greeblies, I just picked through various junk parts I had and glued them on. Since this started out as a costume for my son, I made sure to find ones that looked like lenses or eyes and cut out the base of the face so he could see through it. (The small holes are for lights I install later.)








Since this started out as a dual prop/costume I cut out the bottom to allow for walking. Later, I installed a flat bottom out of plywood for the legs to attach to. If this will be just a prop, you don't need to cut out the bottom.



There are also inset on the bottom piece so I centered...





...and cut them out. (You can see it's not as "tall" as the one on the top.) For this part, if it's a prop, you don't need to put in an insert. However I did and I just used the scraps from when I cut out the bottom.


A quick check of how it will look together!









After stacking the two pieces for the last time, I screwed them together through the lips of the tops, then stretched the garage door trim around the seam and screwed it in the back with a piece of plastic under it for support. (I didn't take a picture of it, but I made a more decorative plate to cover this and installed it)



And finally, after all that, I hit it with a coat of paint!











For C5, I added these power connection ports on the front. They don't actually have power coming from them, obviously, but I made them to go allong with...









...these cables I made from PVC fittings, an old extension cord, and hot glue to fill the plugs and hold it all together.







Here are the lights I added to the holes I cut earlier. These are simple 12vDC auto lights. The run off of the computer power supply I will talk about later.







When this was going to be a costume, I needed ventilation for my son, so I too the end of a busted Ryobi flash light and installed it on the side. Inside the light housing (just the swivil top) I installed a computer fan and ran it off a 9v battery. The other greeblie on the side came from an old toy.




For C6, I decided to make this into a REAL power droid. The parallel port shown here doesn't work, but the 2 USB ports are wired up to give the standard 5vDC power for charging needs!













You can see here where I have added a few things to the back. Starting with the computer power plug. This gave the droid 120VAC power. On the outside, you can see the 120VAC power outlet. Inside (not pictured) I added a 120V outlet to power speakers and an MP3 to play music and sound effects. The black switch is the main power, and the white switch activates the computer power supply that gives the 5VDC power to the USB plugs, gives the 12VDC to the front lights, and will eventually power some 12VDC power outlets on the back.

Even more upgrades are coming in time for Celebration 7 in Anaheim, CA in April 2015! Be sure to check back for those new pics!




For the legs and feet, originally, I had a large stand built that I could easily remove to allow my sone to wear this as a costume. But now that it is a prop, as I mentioned above, there is a plywood base in the bottom tub. To this, I added 2x4s for the legs and feet. Around the legs, I put drainfield pipe, since it is ribbed and flexable. The feet I made using HIPS plastic. (I didn't take pictures of the build, but I did create a blueprint for the feet and posted it above. You are free to download and use the blueprints if you so choose.) But, I secured the piping to the feet and slipped them over the legs before connecting the wood for the feet. The clear tubing you see is 1/4" fish tank tubing. I drilled a hole in the feet and the plywood bottom to attach them.

When you are finished, your droid should look something like this!



I hope you enjoyed this build. Have fun building your own! And be on the lookout for the upcoming ASTROMECH BUILD!