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I make toys for kids who don't want to grow up. I'm on the lookout for new projects. If you're interested in commissioning me to build something ridiculous, shoot me an email.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

HALO M6G Pistol Build, Part One

How do you like them apples?

This was the end result of 7 hours and 26 minutes of run time on the new machine (which still needs a name). I cut it out of MDF and the finished surface was surprisingly smooth. Now all I need to do is stick the pieces together, sand, paint, stamp some lettering into it, and make a mold. Here's a shot of me holding it with the pieces just stacked together:

The digital model was one I found in the Google 3D warehouse. I don't remember who made it though. Here's a closer shot of the pieces all stacked together:

While I realize that seven and a half hours seems like a long time, I have no idea how long it would've taken to make one of these by hand. On top of that, while this thing was doing the bulk of the work making my pistol, I was able to put my attention elsewhere. Among other things, I put primer and a base coat on a lot of my pieces:

Before anyone asks, the primer was a two-part automotive primer shot with an HVLP gun and the green that I use for a basecoat is Rustoleum Army Green.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I Love My Robot Workshop Helper

Here was the full process for the inner thigh parts. First, I spent about an hour finalizing the design in the carvewright software. Then I uploaded the file to the machine, lined up a chunk of 2" thick insulation foam, and fired it up. Unfortunately, the piece I was making was wide enough to block most of the vacuum dust collection port. Add to this the fact that the foam was inclined to build up a lot of static cling and hang onto every surface inside the machine. This meant that every half hour or so I had to go in and blow out all of the foam fluff with compressed air. Even so, it took four tries before I managed to get through the full carving without having foam bits gum up the drive belt for the vertical axis. Note to self: don't make pieces so wide that they cover the dust collection ports.

Here's the final (successful) carving of the inner thigh prototype coming out of the machine:

And here it is dusted off and ready for final smoothing and prep:

It turned out to be a good thing that I had three incomplete versions of this piece to experiment with. I tried every kind of paint I had in the shop looking for something that wouldn't eat the foam. In the end, it took two solid coats of normal, water-based, latex house paint to seal off the foam to prevent the textured spraypaints from destroying the prototype. Note to self: next time use a more chemically-stable material than foam to make prototypes.
Here is the master all painted up prior to moldmaking:

Making the mold was as simple as it gets (especially for me). Simply mix part A with part B and pour into the void carved around the prototype:

Once the silicone cured, it was just a simple matter of peeling it out of the master. It came out perfectly clean, so if I want to I can pour more molds to speed up production. Awesome!

Making the pulls is pretty simple too. I'm using a 2-part urethane foam rubber (often referred to as "cold foam" because you don't have to bake it to cure it) with black pigment added in. The rubber gets poured into the mold, then a flat board with a piece of spandex tacked onto it is laid on top and weighted down to keep the foam from bubbling out of the mold. As the foam rises, it soaks into the spandex and the two become one reinforced piece. The foam I'm using has a 5-minute de-mold time. Once it's cured all that remains to do is peel it out of the mold, trim off the excess, and attach it to the rigid thigh armor.

Here's the first successful pull from the mold:

Here's me holding it inside one of the thigh castings:

And finally, here's the money shot showing one of the foam rubber inner thigh parts taped into one of the rigid outer thigh castings:

In related news, I've started tinkering with weapon builds using this thing too. Because I'm overly ambitious, I've started slicing up a sniper rifle model made by a character who calls himself Vrogy with some improvements by 405th.com member Bevbor. For my first attempt at cutting it, I made the muzzle brake out of 1/2" black acrylic. Here's the before pic showing my shiny black piece of acrylic:

Here's the after shot when the machine had done its business:

And here's the assembled muzzle brake:

Unfortunately, the acrylic sheet was a hair under 0.5" thick. As a result, the finished muzzle brake was not quite as tall as it was supposed to be. On top of that, I've got the same problem with static cling that makes the much harder bits of acrylic tend to get stuck in the tender working bits of the machine. It took two tries to get the finished, too-small piece cut out. When you factor in the cost of the material and the difficulties of cleaning up the finished piece, making masters out of acrylic is a really bad idea.

Realizing this, I made another copy of the muzzle brake out of a piece of 1/2" foam just for gits and shiggles:

While these experiments have been fun and educational, I'm thinking that my next round of prototypes are going to be cut out of plain, ordinary, medium-density fiberboard. Also, having realized that I should learn to walk before I run my first marathon, I'm going to start by making a pistol instead of a 6'2" long rifle.

In the meantime, I need to come up with a suitable name for the machine. It seems like calling my robot shop assistant "it" is disrespectful. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dog Pictures

I've been snapping a lot of pictures of these guys and decided it was time to round them up and post them here.

First is a shot of Bain and Kira sitting outside the cafe where I have my morning coffee:
Deck Dogs

After a long walk on a warm day, here's Kira cooling off in the fountain in downtown Petaluma:
Kira Fountain

Bain, being the slimmer dog, was not nearly so overheated:
Nice Day in Downtown Petaluma

Here's a snapshot of Bain relaxing in his customary spot in the middle of the driveway:
Driveway Bain

Not long after that, I caught Bain and Kira both going after a gopher:
Digging dogs
I tried to get a picture of Kira hanging out in the bed of Dad's truck, but she didn't seem to like it very much:
For some reason, Rose's bulldog looks more at home in that particular vehicle:
More recently, Ana left her little buttheads with me:
Her dogs are half Chihuahua, half Dachshund. You may have heard of Chiweenies before. I'm trying to start a trend of calling them "Franks & Beans."

They're tiny but, believe it or not, my dogs ride easier in my car:
Ridin Bain

Ridin Kira

Mine even stay where they're supposed to when I park:
Bijou on the Hood

But her dogs make better lawn ornaments:
Lawn Ornament Bijou

And fit on the little scooter better:
Scooter Ru

Anyway, now back to our normally scheduled programming.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

At Last: a Robot to Do My Bidding

Well if not my bidding, at least it can do my whittlin' for me. A little while ago I picked up a Craftsman Carvewright, a computer-controlled carving machine that can carve patterns into wood, foam, and a variety of plastics:

After reading and re-reading the owner's manual, I finally went ahead and built a test project. I grabbed a small scrap of mahogany and set up the machine to carve a handful of pictures and some text onto it. Here I am looking happy about it:
Shiny New 1
I made it a point to include as many small details as I could. It managed to cut them all, but since the ball-nosed carving bit had a 1/16" tip, I was making it work a lot harder than it was designed to. While there were some problems with some of the smaller details on some of the pictures, the text came out great:
Shiny New
Having found the limitations of the device, I started making pieces and parts. Here's a rough draft of the replacement insignia I'm making for my father's RatRod built from an International Pickup truck:
Testing the Machine
For those of you who don't know, "Cornbinder" used to be a somewhat common nickname for International trucks. I didn't know either.

I'm also using it to make a few parts for the HALO project. Here's the prototype for the inner thigh part:
Inner Thigh Prototype

Now I'll be painting this piece and making a silicon mold to pull copies in urethane foam rubber. Painted black, they'll look like so:

There's also a function that lets me import 3d models, slice them into pieces that can be carved from flat stock, and make parts that can be stacked and glued together to make a 3d object. I'm building up to be able to make one of these:

Done right, this thing will be about six feet long. Fun!

In the meantime, I'm still trying to think up a name for my new robot shop assistant.

Stay tuned...

Monday, March 22, 2010

And Now, For No Reason at All...

...nuns with guns:

From http://www.hotchickswithguns.com/.

Random, the things you find while browsing for airsoft guns.

What I was after was this:

Which you can buy from Amazon.com.

You're welcome.

Monday, March 15, 2010

HALO Costume Project Update

I've been wanting to get a few more pics of me wearing the parts I've made so far. Unfortunately I've been alone in the shop most nights while I've been working on these things. Then the other night my sister Rose made the mistake of stopping by the workshop to visit. That's when I shanghaied her into taking these:

Here I'm wearing the torso armor with the new ab plate and one of the pulls from my undersuit molds. It's a bit snug, but I think it looks pretty good:

Speaking of snug, I'm really glad I decided to separate the front and back halves. Getting it on and off while they're attached is a bit painful:

Since she was there, I also coaxed the sister into trying the rig on as well:

She's bit too small for this outfit:

I guess it makes sense that she looks a bit wrong since I'm a good four or five inches taller and it's almost too small for me:

Someone mentioned this photo needed some photoshop magic to maximize its cool factor. I don't think there's any way to make this kid look cool:

In other news, the thigh molds are done:

I've only poured two pairs of thigh armor so far, but I had to take a few shots of me wearing them:

I'm holding them in place with black duct tape for now. When I finish the flexible inner thigh armor, that should hold them much better. That plus a worthwhile strapping system should make it possible for me to avoid the pooped pants pose:

Fortunately, I can still strike iconic poses:

Now all I have to do is finalize my faceshield design, build a new vacuform table to make copies of them, finish sculpting out the undersuit pieces, mold and cast copies of them, then re-prototype, mold, and cast the boots, and paint the whole thing. Piece of cake.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Unseaworthy Vessel of the Week

This particular little pusher tug has been moored/aground in the same spot along the bank of the Petaluma River since I can remember:

I just love its amazingly apt name.

Jury Duty

Just before I paid off of the last ship a summons came in the mail notifying me that I was to appear for jury duty. I realize that this may sound strange, but this actually struck me as a good thing. Somehow I've felt like I've fallen behind on civic duty in the past few years* and it's nice to be a useful, contributing member of the community again. Aside from this, the only thing I do for folks I don't know is donate blood.** I'm probably the only person I know who would actually be looking forward to something like this.

According to the little stub that showed up in the mail, I was to call the courthouse phone number or check the website the night before my report date to see if my Juror Number was required to appear in the morning to be a part of Justice in action. I checked in for five evenings in a row, eager for the opportunity to visit society's vengeance upon some wayward citizen. I was anxious knowing that, for the briefest of time, I would be part of one of the three branches of our constitutional government. I was almost giddy with anticipation as I waited for my turn to flex my raw judicial power.

My juror number was 1325 and they only took a couple hundred per day. On the fifth evening, there was a message posted on the website as follows:

Juror Numbers 931 - 1700: since you were on call and not asked to appear, your services are complete for a period of at least one year.

Blast! Now I have to wait at least another whole year before I get another chance to send someone to the chair. So it goes.

*Yes, I know, seven months in Afghanistan should've made me feel like I've done my bit lately. It did, but I'm talking locally. The average Afghan dude doesn't impact Sonoma County all that much.

**I am not allowed to donate blood for two years from the date I left Afghanistan. So there's even less that I'm doing for society.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Handful of Interesting and Entertaining Videos

I've been seeing all sorts of good video online lately, so I figured I'd share a few that caught my eye for various reasons.

The other day I stumbled across this amazing short starring the little guy in the green "WALK" sign at a crosswalk in Tokyo:

Then there's this movie that tells the story of a day in the office from the photocopy machine's point of view:

Memoirs of a Scanner (Martinibomb Version) from Damon Stea on Vimeo.

Speaking of unusual points of view; here's a gorgeous little short film shot in New York using tilt-shift lenses to make the city look like a model:

The Sandpit from Sam O'Hare on Vimeo.

I've also found a wealth of interesting project videos like this guy's timelapse and photo mashup of a two-year project to make his own R2D2:

I need one of those, but it's pretty low on my list of things to build right now. It's somewhere between the battleship and the gyrocopter.

First I have to finish building the suit of armor though. On that subject, there's a HALO prequel game coming out. The dialogue in the preview is a bit cheesed up, but the costumes look great:

The in-game clips almost make me want to run out and buy an XBOX 360. I can't though, because then I'll want to scrap my current armor project in favor of this new version of the outfit.

I also figured I should share this video, a reminder of why I love theOnion:

Obama Caught Lip-Syncing Speech

Here's an entertaining film from Patrick Boivin, one of my favorite makers of short films:

I'm pretty sure I was on that flight.

Here's another one of his that was worth chuckling at:

And if you feel like losing some sleep, here's a zombie clown movie:

There've been plenty more, but I've wasted enough of your time already.

Thursday, March 11, 2010