Saturday, March 14, 2009

Catching Up on Goofy Projects

The other day I finished the HQ ISAF Staph Campaign Medal just in time for presentation:
Staph Campaign Medal

It came together pretty well in my opinion, considering the shortage of tools and materials I had to work with. The suspension ribbon was actually a small piece of the ugliest necktie I've ever seen and the split rings that hold the medal to the ribbon are pieces of binding wire from a chain-link fence that was being dismantled here on the base. The medal was a cold-cast bronze casting. The mold was taken from my own sculpt which was basically built on top of a cap from a bottle of multi-vitamins:
Staph Campaign Medal2
It was a bit rushed, but I'm happy with it all the same.

Meanwhile, I've had no shortage of other goofy projects that I'm tinkering with. For example, I've always wanted an ED-209,* so I've decided to build myself one:

Although I might find plenty of use for it here, a full-size one will be tough to mail home. That's why I'm limiting myself to the desktop version:
ED-209 Assembly

This particular model is a vinyl kit that I mail-ordered from a dirt-cheap supplier in Thailand. The pieces and parts are badly warped and it's probably a third or fourth generation recast of an old Horizon brand kit. It's bad enough that I've given up on making it look especially good. Instead I'm just using it to get a better feel for how it's articulated.

While I am stuck with the small-scale version for now, there's nothing saying I can't start figuring out how to make it move and talk. To that end, I've been playing around with servos and microcontrollers. At this point I've figured out how to use a hacked Nintendo Wii controller to change the pitch and roll of the upper body. I'm still working on making it move around the yaw axis as well. I'll probably skip any attempt to simulate functioning guns for now, but I've been reading up on the design and construction of propane-fueled gunfire simulators.

More on that when I get to it. Before then I'll need to figure out how to make it talk:

No real rush on this one though. I have to get home and finish building the tank first...

In between twisting wires and writing code for that project, I've also started sculpting out the model for a custom shift-knob. It's about the size of a large apricot. I'm not sure if I'll go through the trouble of finishing this one, but here it is so far:
In other news, I've finished the sculpt for Katie from "Horton Hears a Who." Here are all of the clay parts for the character all set up in a box for molding:
Katie mold

These are the first successful castings from the mold:
Katie Cast

They're made of urethane casting resin, a fairly strong, lightweight material that's very easy to work with. It's simple to mix and quick to cure and generates a minimum of noxious fumes. Of course, for all I know I'm probably killing puppies in Pakistan every time I make a batch of this stuff here. So it goes.

Once it was out of the mold I went ahead and painted up the first set:
katie painted

For the picture I just set the painted parts on a yellow t-shirt, but I think she looks pretty good compared to the reference:

The next step will be fabricating the soft parts. I've ordered some faux fur swatches from, so once they show up I can pick a texture and color and order up enough fur and fluff to stitch together a handful of these little critters. Hopefully nobody will notice that the stitching was done by hand using "foliage green" thread from my Army-issue sewing kit.

I've also made some minor progress on my suits of armor, but that'll have to wait until I've got enought time to explain that project from start to finish.

In other news, I've only got about two months left before I can start winding my way home. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.
*ED-209 stands for "Enforcement Droid series 209." That's your dose of 1980's movie trivia for the day.


  1. It think Katie came out looking great.

    Is the skull knob the one you are working on for your Dad's car?

  2. I figure it'll work for his ratrod, but mostly it was just something to do to keep my hands busy.