Hello! My name is Elly Madrigal, aka “luckyxero”. I am currently a Pharmaceutical Program Manager by day, and maker, costumer, builder, “designer”, engineer, etc. by night. This site documents many of my favorite projects related to droid building, cosplay, drone flying and any other random things. Please enjoy and MTFBWY!
Like a lot of people, I followed the standard roadmap of getting good grades in high school, going to college and getting a graduate degree in business. That all leads to happiness and joy in life right? Kinda…..let me elaborate. I was always told that if you get good grades, graduate from college, and even better get graduate degree, you will achieve the American dream. That is partially true, as it does set you up with a stable job and a solid professional foundation, but I think it’s only the beginning. It was only at about 10 years after graduating from Tufts University with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, that I realized that I might have picked the wrong degree. Don’t get me wrong, I was “hooked up” at my first job at DuPont Pharmaceuticals with a great environment for learning all of the unit operations for developing drug products (diagnostic imaging products), and they also provided free tuition for grad school (part time), which I took full advantage of. But after 5 years of grinding it out doing lab work, travelling monthly, and going part-time to Boston College for investment banking (yeah…..), I thought was finally done. But that only provided the income for me to do the things I really loved….. Building things!
While I was doing all that career stuff, I was also building a Battlebot on the side. My brother in law (who also helped me build this site) and I were both doing it as a fun project to emulate the show Battlebots (season 1). We learned about DC motors, speed controllers, metal & polycarbonate DIY fabrication, mechanical transmissions, etc. I had a lifter and my brother in law built a wedge pusher. We never appeared on the show, because we were only doing this for our own stupid selves – the best way to do things! But we fought, and I lost, and it was still really fun. I still have that bot today, almost 17 years later.
One of the things I learned about 10 years after I selected my major was that I think I actually chose the wrong degree when I selected Chemical Engineering as my major. The selection process in high school was very simple…… I like doing math and science, and Chemical Engineering pays the most, plus I can learn how to do pyrotechnics and make cool products. That was it. It took all of 1 day and a college reference book to decide. But I should have thought about it harder. Today, it’s the mechanical and electrical things that have me the most interested, because you can touch and feel the output. Moving robot arms, blinky lights, talking droids, swearing droids, etc. 🙂 I don’t regret becoming a Chemical Engineer because that’s how I met my wife, and in the ChemE major, you learn alot about mechanical engineering, chemistry, and some electrical engineering.
My Dad and Mom
One of my biggest inspirations was (and still is) my dad. My dad was a Mechanical Engineer, and as an immigrant from the Philippines, he was an “old school” engineer. He could draw things on the back of an envelope, look at it, and tell you if it would work. You know that really neat handwriting that you only see as a font on mechanical drawings or on cartoons, that was his. He was an all-around mechanical engineer from DIY house plumbing and construction to industrial HVAC. It wasn’t his craftsman skill that motivated me, but the “you can do it” attitude.
My mom is my educational motivation. She grew up in a family of professionals and my grandfather has about 10 degrees in different professions. She always motivated to get the best grades in school and was a stereotypical mom when she would ask why I only got a 98 on a test. She’s a nurse and has an MBA from Columbia, ran her own business and has been by my side for a long time.
…Back to me…
So after finishing at BC with my MBA, thinking I’d be grinding it out at an investment banking firm, the crash of 2000 happened. That was the best thing that could of happened to me. I did not become an analyst at a job in NYC! Instead I became a Project Manager at Gillette. Everything you see on “How It’s Made” was presented to me from injection molding, to aerosol can fabrication, to razor blade and handle design, which really helped my understanding of commercial manufacturing and process optimization. All the courses in Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, Quality by Design, etc. were part of that job. If I had a GoPro, I could have produced “How It’s Made”!
Fast forward 5 years, I was taking a photography course in Woburn Massachusetts over a weekend, and looked out the door to see this parade of Star Wars troopers outside of the lobby. Camera in hand, I took some zoomed in pictures of their website, and eventually visited the site – www.501NEG.com. This was the beginning of my journey of prop building and cosplay. I convinced myself that I would only need 1 really good costume that would last me my whole life. I mean, who spends $500 on a Halloween costume right? Well I could just this one time. 🙂
Starting in January 2007 and until about 2012, I was building at least two 501st approved costumes per year. These are not just Halloween store bought costumes with some added features. These are costumes build from screen accurate references and could potentially be used in marketing appearances for LucasFilms. They are that good. I have 13 approved costumes, and over 10 unfinished or unapproved costume parts. Remember that “I would only need 1 really good costume” phrase? That went out the door right after I built my first one. I am still in the 501st Legion, and go to events about 5-10 times a year, and have met some of the greatest friends, skilled artists, master fabricators, or all of the above by being part of this group.
Switching gears a bit, in the spring of 2013, I distinctly remember my sister-in-law Rose asking, “Why aren’t you into drones?”. I sat back down on the couch, got on Youtube, and searched for drone videos. This led to “drone FPV” (FPV=first person view) where videos from Juz, Charpu, XHover, and others had me glued to my computer. With a fully decked out cosplay shop in my basement, I decided the room next door, the finished basement, was the place to start building a drone. Research on RCGroups.com, FPVLab.com, and other web retail stores, had me flying a DJI Flamewheel 450 by the end of the summer. I was flying like a bird in the comfort of my lawn chair on the ground! It was great, all of the benefit of the views of flying, but none of the bodily injury risk from crashing. Since then, I’ve probably built over 15-20 drones in my basement (lost track of it after #10). This hobby has also led me to flying RC Planes as well. So my army right now consists of both drones and fixed wing FPV planes.
In October of 2015, now having skills at costume building and drones, someone asked me why I didn’t have a Star Wars droid…..Well no one really asked me, I did. He may not realize it, but my 20 something year old friend, Drew, brought his newly built R5-J2 to the Woburn Halloween parade. In typical geek fashion, I hovered over him and inspected his droid as he proudly assembled it for the parade. All I thought in my head was (and in no offense to Drew), “If this kid could build it, then I definitely could.” It was more of an age thing for me. I am almost double his age and should be able to do this successfully. Fast forward 8-9 months later, alot of questions to my friends Bob, Aaron, Kevin and Paul, who’ve all already built their own droids, I was now presenting my R5-D4 at the Boston mini Maker Faire. Yeah! I’m now part of the elite Star Wars club the Astromech Droid Builders. And I have a shirt and badge to prove it. 🙂
Right now, I’m still doing all of the above, and wanted to build this site to collect all of this stuff in one place. Eventually, I do want to retire from the corporate rat race and do this full time. But for now, let’s just get the plan together to figure it out………
BTW – I am married and have 2 children. I like to keep family life separate from my hobbies, but from time to time pictures of my family members may slip into the picture feeds. 🙂
Lucky was my dog, and Xero was my cat at the time I had to choose a screen name in 2002.