Gosport sci-fi fan spends three years building gaming PC in R2-D2

WHAT started as a simple dare more than three years ago turned into a full-blown labour of love for one Star Wars fan.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 26th January 2016, 6:00 am
Chris Wheeler with his custom-built R2D2 gaming computer 
Picture: Tom Cotterill
Chris Wheeler with his custom-built R2D2 gaming computer Picture: Tom Cotterill

Chris Wheeler has spent hours building the perfect computer – inside a full-scale, home-made replica of R2-D2.

The 35-year-old, who works as an engineer at computer firm Novatech Ltd, in Hamilton Road, Portchester, said the idea came while joking around with friends.

‘We’re all a bunch of geeks and we were just talking,’ he explained.

‘Then one said to me: “Can you make a computer that’s shaped like R2-D2?”.

‘I thought that would be easy. They then dared to me to do it.

‘Someone said that I couldn’t build R2-D2 with a fully-working computer in it, so me being a stubborn bloke had to go out and prove them wrong.’

‘That was about three years ago. Now here we are.’

Chris’s first step in his project was to hunt for the best materials to construct the iconic droid.

Initially, he had hoped to use a bin and a bowl from Swedish furniture store Ikea to form R2-D2’s shell.

However, he soon ran into a series of set backs.

‘Ikea stopped selling the bowl, which was probably a good thing, because my original design would have only been two-thirds the scale. Now it’s full scale,’ said Chris, of Queen’s Road.

Instead, he built the outer casing himself, using a red lampshade for the dome-like head, wood, and lengths of flexible hosing more commonly used in household plumbing than futuristic robots and LED lights.

‘I’ve had to learn so many new skills just to complete this,’ he added.

Despite the countless hours of work, Chris said this R2-D2 was merely the prototype for future designs.

‘I have to neaten up the head a bit more, he added.

‘There’s still a lot more niggly little bits to get done.

‘I have got plans for the future to make a radio-controlled R2-D2 and one that works as a baby monitor too.’

Chris’s current computer has already proved a hit both at work and online.

‘Loads of people have been coming up to it to touch it and have their photos with it, which is really nice,’ he said.

He added: ‘I’m a big fan of Star Wars and do like Star Wars – I was born in 1980 so I grew up with it.

‘But I wouldn’t say that I am the biggest nerd in the world.’

Chris’s computer, which would need to be hooked up to a monitor to use, is not for sale.