Apr 112019
 

As I get more and more comfortable and knowledgeable in using blender to design objects in 3D, the more addicting this becomes. Using the image reference feature in blender, I’m able to quickly design out parts for the project. When I first started working on the project, I didn’t pay much attention to how the ammo drum attaches to the back of the Dom. So I created a connection part that inserts into the back. I will probably keep this as I continue to build; but as I did more research and looked at the Dom more, I found upper and lower brackets that hold the drum to the back of the suit. Using the reference pictures, I designed the upper and lower brackets.

Also in this post, we recently printed some new shirts for this year’s SCGMC. Our new SCGMC mascot has its own t-shirt design. And since our theme this year is the “Ball”, we got a design printed on both a grey and an orange shirt for the two versions of the Ball from the various animes. The last shirt in the group is the judging shirt from SCGMC 2018 that we gave to our judging volunteers. Click on the images to get to the store, this is how we fund most of what we do for SCGMC.

More about the latest 3D designs for the Dom Barrage after the jump.

Going back to the feet details I printed from the last update; I needed connectors to these detail designs to the foot. Once they were designed, I printed in grey resin, for which I discovered has an even finer print setting of 25 microns verses the white resin’s 50 microns as the finest setting. These were connecting joints so I didn’t need 25 micron level of detail, nor did I need 50 microns. So I went with the 100 microns for the quickest print. I printed the connectors without thinking; and once they were printed, I went to test fit the detail bits and realized my error. Since there is a left and right foot, I needed to print a left and a right connector joints. I had only printed one side. Back to the printer, I made a mirrored version of the connector piece and a few hours later, I had the correct connector pieces.

Going back to the ammo drum brackets, I printed the parts first with the FDM (white pieces) to help size the parts before printing in the SLA. I dropped the size of the upper brackets by 1 mm and raised the size of the lower bracket by 1 mm and sent this off to the form 2.

Below is the test fit against the ammo drum to be and the adjustments worked out quite well for both the upper and lower brackets.

3D design and printing parts is VERY addictive. There was a pretty big learning curve for me with blender and that took a bit of time with trial and errors upon errors. I am almost tempted to go back to the gun frame and completely redesign it from scratch with everything I learned since working on it. But now it seems like the most efficient use of time to design and print the parts and then combine them to the kit. Which is now the next step I need to work on, getting everything fit together. Actually, the next step is the clean up work on the 3D printed parts, then it’ll come to combining things.

Mar 272019
 

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. It has been a decent while since the last update for the Dom. I got interrupted by the Exceed RX-78 thingy as well as a shiny new Form 2 3D printer. The latter bit ties in nicely with this update. Continuing from where I last left off sometime last month; I was still cleaning up the work on the front skirt. I had FDM printed the missile pods and created them so that they can be opened. The skirts were cut and sanded so that the pods can be inserted. Here are a few test pictures. You should be able to see that the two skirts are not identical and will need more work. The area for the lower small pods is a little off too, so more putty work is in store for these parts.

As with the larger missile pods, I made the smaller missile pods in two pieces so that I can display the pods opened or closed. Since the smaller pods have less room to work with such that I cannot install a polycap system. I redesigned the print to have a hole through the two pieces that I can insert a brass rod. Now it’s openable.

More after the jump.

Since the front skirts are in pretty good shape, I can start working on the side skirts. I cut into the side skirt (the area I had originally cut from the original front skirt piece and glued to the side skirts) to allow for the bigger missle pods to fit. Test fitting as I go, the area is filed down and more plastic is glued on to align the bottom of the side skirts with the new front skirts.

Once the side skirts were cut, styrene is glued into place on the front as well as on the back with supports (for the polyester putty to stick). Then the skirts are puttied and sanded to resculpt the shape. The process is pretty simple, but fairly labor intensive and a test in patience for things to cure.

Always test fit. Never build assuming things will fit. Bandai spoils us horribly. Whenever we go outside the kit’s original design, things go south pretty quickly if you’re not constantly measuring and test fitting. The pods are test fit and opened to make sure everything still works and there is room for the pod’s opening functions. The test fitting continues through priming just to ensure the clearances are correct.

I marked the front skirts to help with the additional putty work. With the pods for measuring, I can now get the final shape of the skirts down. I am doing nothing but adding more putty, then sanding and more test fitting.

The rear skirt gets a few rounds of sanding and test fitting as well. The rear skirt is starting to getting pretty heavy. I think the polyester putty may actually be heavier than a solid resin block.

It has been a good couple of minutes since I last posted and these pictures are at least a month old. It is hard to remember what I did without the notes that I write while things are still fresh. But I’m guessing that I did more test fits and more sanding. The front chest piece is coming together. The shoulders are getting some putty work, but I’m seriously slowing down and avoiding the shoulder work because I am seeing the same issues I will have as I did with the front skirts. Symmetry. The skirts are coming along and you should be able to see a difference in the shape in these pictures compared to earlier in this post. The transition between the lower pods and skirt is more uniform and show makes a little more sense with the lines of the skirt.

As I sand and sand, I’m constantly cleaning the putty dust off the work area. Work was getting late into the night which then told me the Dom needed a little pick me up, so I gave him a styrene tube and cut some lines for him. *SSSNNNNOOOORRRTTT* Ok, we can get back to work.

Things look deceivenly smooth. A layer of primer will really show off the surface.

Taking a quick break from the skirts, I move down to the legs. I will need some surgery to the legs so first things first, mark off the parts of the legs and LABEL everything. I don’t want to be working on a specific axis for what I think is a particular section when it isn’t and completely F things all to hell. Lessons learned from previous modification projects. Permanent marker the crap out of things so that the part you are working on is the correct part. Some cutting is done and some styrene is glued into place and the legs are pushed to the project’s backlog and forgotten just as quickly.

This is about the time I got the Exceed RX-78. And a week after that, I got the Form 2 SLA 3D printer. So having done enough testing, I want to revisit the gatling gun that I had been working on using the FDM printer to help augment that build. My originally built gatling gun melted after I had placed the whole assembly into an acetone vapor bath for too long. I was using the vapor bath to help dissolve the resolution lines from the FDM printed parts. The side effect for vapor baths is the loss of sharp details. So if you were going for rounded parts, this works. If you want very sharp corners and details, avoid at all costs and just go with putty and sanding to fix the .15mm(highest level of resolution with the FDM printer) resolution lines.

Since I melted the original gun. Time to build a new one using the same 3D files from the FDM print and print them out using the new Form 2. The results are not bad as seen in the comparison shots below. I can continue forward and start on the frame.

Originally, I had cut out styrene using the cricut die cutter and a drawing of the gatling gun’s frame from reference pictures. The lack of precision bothered me a little even after sanding, so since I had the Form 2 now, I can probably print the frame as a whole. I went back to blender and designed the frame from the ground up. Since that worked sorta worked out fairly well, I kept going and decided to redesign the main part of the gatling gun(for which I had already printed out with the first set of 3D files). I needed to check the size references with the newly designed frame with the main gun, so why not. Scrapping everything I did earlier for the main gun round pieces, I started from scratch and redesigned the main gun with what I had learned all the new techniques I learned thus far. The ejection port was redone as well as the ammo feed port. I mocked up the barrels so that I could get a better proportional view of the whole gun. The actual barrels will be styrene tubes, but everything else is 3D printed.

I spent a few hours a day on the design and after about 10 days, I had two parts for the gun. The frame and the main gun piece. The design is opened on the formlabs preform software. The software is very user friendly as it fixes some really crappy designs so that it can be printed. Supports are generated and the printability is checked and when ready, its a click on the preform software to send the object data to the printer and then a touch on the printer’s touch screen menu and click of the one physical button on the printer. Set it and then forget it, ala Ron Popeil.

The thing takes about 10 hours to print. The original estimation put it at about 6 hours. After the print, the resin needs to be cleaned up, so the first step is an isopropyl alcohol bath. The part is supposed to soak for about 20 minutes, so I move a step up by putting the soaking tub into the ultrasonic cleaner and running in for about 15 minutes. All the excess uncured resin is dissolved in the alcohol. The print is then dried off and thrown under some UV lights to cure. The Form 2 package came with a nice UV lamp that fits into the dehydrator, so combining the two, I have a heated curing station. The dehydrator is set to 95 degrees for a half hour and the part is placed into the UV lamp assembly and in half an hour, the part if completely dry and completely cured.

The supports are carefully removed; read clippers to cut the pieces off. If there are supports in delicate areas of your print, it is best to clip the supports off and sand the nubs than trying to break them off with your fingers(because the supports break off fairly easily with light pressure from your fingers). Guess how I learned that lesson? When I designed the main gun, I also hollowed out the tube. This saves on print time as well as resin costs. A liter of the resin costs about $150. So it is a damn good idea to design your objects with that in mind.

And now the moment of truth, test fitting to check the scaling with kit. I had built the front barrels a total of three different times using different lengths. The first print of the main gun was too long, so I shortened it and I think the scaling looks correct. It is a massive gun, but shouldn’t be so massive that its completely out of scale. The really nice thing about a 3D design is that you can always change up the scaling to get a better fit. This will come into play later; but when testing the fit and size of the design, it is great to have an FDM printer to do all this throw away work a fast print using cheap ABS/PLA materials before getting the scale correct and printing on the very slow SLA with expensive resin.

I grabbed several angles to make sure the scaling looks correct. The gatling gun is officially my first almost fully designed 3D part. With the FDM, I’ve always designed augment pieces. So I’m pretty proud of the fumbling around in Blender that resulted in this piece. I definitely learned a great deal while designing and printing.

Feeling pretty confident in my Blender skills. I moved over to Zbrush as I took a class on the software last year. I had forgotten a HUGE amount of the damn class; but I took notes and looking over them, quickly reminded me on what I needed to do. Since I was fairly successful with the gun, I wanted to try my hand at doing the shoulders. Earlier, I had touched on the problem of the shoulders with symmetry, or rather, the lack of and the attempt to achieve it. Since the shoulders are a round shape, I figured zbrush was good for sculpting. The software has a feature that makes the UI transparent and then you can have a desktop image of your reference and turns the software effectively into a light table. Using zbrush’s timeline feature, you can lock the position of the design at different view angles and easily slide between them while you sculpt. It is a pretty cool feature. But I quickly learn that I’m not familiar enough with zbrush so that idea gets abandoned after about a day’s worth of trial and many many errors.

Back to Blender. Blender does have a similar feature where you can import your reference pictures and get the same light table effect. But I haven’t figured out how to get it as smooth as zbrush in switching between views and locking down those views while i work on the design.

Another week or so is spent to design the shoulders. The nice thing here is that I only need to design ONE shoulder. I started with the inner shoulder piece and after measuring distances, just designed that with straight cubes and cylinders. At this point, I hadn’t figured out how to do the rounded shapes or even the rim for the shoulder. A few youtube videos later, I discovered the Nurbs Surface. Working with this, and the mirror modifier, I was able to get a pretty close representation of the Dom’s main pauldrons for the sides of the shoulder piece. Some more youtubing and I learned about using bezier curves to create the shoulder rims details. Once the top was done with another nurbs surface, the rest of the details were fairly easy. The shoulder bar as well as the free floating detail piece at the outer end of the shoulders were simple shapes and cuts. The scribbled line as well as inset details were done too using simple shapes and booleans. The whole project took several hours every day for about a week before I was ready to actually print the thing. I have a rendered colorized view, another blender feature I learned to get another visualization for the designed object prior to printing.

I designed shoulder to have separate elements such as the end details pieces as well as the inset details. This way, I can do a quick print on the FDM to check for sizes using the base shoulder piece. In hindsight, I could have just tested this against the internal shoulder piece I modeled first and that would have saved even more ABS and print time. The first print was too small, so I made the adjustments and printed again. My FDM printer shifted a little during the print (as they sometimes do if the table shakes or something odd happens). But the printed part is a good fit so I know the dimensions I need for the SLA print.

Design one shoulder, print two. With the scaling done, the part is sent to the Form 2 to print for the next 6 hours.

6 hours later, the print is done and I do a test fit with the arm and everything looks good; almost. I do notice that the end detail did not print correctly and the ends of the shoulder rims are not completely printed. This is a design mistake and not a printer error. That detail piece was designed as a free floating piece that is connected at the end of the shoulders – since the reference pictures showed this as a free floating part. To fix this, I needed to add a mesh from the main shoulder piece to this detail part. Lesson learned here is to make modifications and judgment calls when following exactly with the reference or deviating when necessary.

Here is a mock up with the Dom with the first shoulder print. I’m getting a Kondo style feel here, but this feeling doesn’t hit me until a bit later.

Another 6 hours later and I have the correctly printed shoulders. You will see that the end of the shoulders are not missing now. This is a good lesson in print orientation and limitations on what can be printed depending on the orientation. I let this sit for a day and then looked at it again and made a comparison to the reference pictures. The shoulders were a little too long. Scaling with the rest of the kit, they didn’t look correct to me. Again, that Kondo style feel is hitting me ever so slightly. From the side view, there is just too much room from the internal shoulder piece. The internal area was a little too tight so that the shoulder ball doesn’t have room to move and is actually being held in place by the resin shoulder internals. The cylinder connection point for the joint piece that juts out from the should ball is also too large and is not the actual area holding the arm to the shoulders. These are all things that I completely missed in the initial test print. I was a little overly excited to get the print sent to the SLA. Another lesson learned here. Patience is key, and would have saved me at the minimum of 12 hours of extra print times and resin.

I went back to the 3D design and shortened the shoulder length by 4mm; this is small but in the scale of 1/100, this is about 1.3 feet of difference Small, but noticeable. The detail bits were adjusted to fit the new size. The original connecting cylinder piece was a little too thin so I thickened that up. It was still too large after printing, so I designed an insert that works to attach the original part’s frame piece. I widened the internal shoulder piece to give a little more room for the shoulder ball. This made the addition of the round insert piece more important as the earlier print had the internal shoulder walls holding the arm in place where now the joint area is the contact point for the shoulder and the rest of the arm. How it should be.

Another 6 hours later and I have the below comparison picture. The left side is the first prints with the larger shoulders and the right is the shortened shoulders. Looking at the whole kit, I think the shortened shoulders scale better.

Below are the rest of the angles for the shortened shoulders. Overall, i think this looks much better. Work continues, but I’m starting to get more comfortable with Blender and naturally, this means more 3D designed objects; to help “augment” the scratch building…

Mar 252019
 

Ok, personal life post time, so if you’re looking for something TGG, SCGMC, or Gunpla related; you may want to skip this one. This is about a part of my life that has been with me for the past 15 and a half years. And he’s gone now. So this is my goodbye.

This is the very first picture I took of Hugo when I brought him home in early December 2003. He was born on October 27, 2003 and I had somehow found an ad for him by the breeder out near Lake Elsinore. THe breeder had actually kept him separate from his littermates as she was originally planning on having him become a show dog. He melted mine and Clementine’s hearts immediately and we brought him home. I did not know that 13 years later, we would get Bob from this same breeder. Once home, his first order of business was to find something and drag it along the house.

This is the very last picture I took of him late in the evening of March 23, 2019, still smiling because all his friends hes gotten to know over the years are within smell radius.

He had been suffering from early onset of arthritis in his right leg sometime in middle of December 2018; and has been on pain meds to treat that. He had fainted Friday morning on his usual morning pee routine. I took him to the vet that afternoon and after an exam and some x rays, he looked completely healthy to the doctor so he would refer me to a neurologist as the problem may be nervous system. I got the call Saturday morning with a location and called the neurologist and pleaded for an appointment and we were squeezed in. The doctor there witnessed a feinting episode and noticed that Hugo had stopped breathing, so she grabbed him and rushed him into the back room all the while screaming for her technician. Yuki and I freaked and pretty much braced for the worst. 15 long minutes later, the doctor came back and she he was now completely fine. Breathing normally, heartbeat normal, and fighting the intubation tube. He wasn’t quite ready to leave.

The dr said it wasn’t nervous system, but his heart. He wasn’t getting enough blood pumped around his body so excitement and such creates a vacuum of energy and he faints. Dr releases him to the emergency clinic across the parking lot and we head over there. The vet there highly recommends they keep him, plugged into an EKG, IVs and all sorts of other things for the next two nights so that he can see the cardologist Monday morning. Hugo is 15 and a half years old. He’s in a strange place. He’s with completely strange smells. He’s at a vet office that is 25 miles from our house. Yeah, this wasn’t going to happen. We checked him out around 3pm and hadn’t seen him since his episode at 11am. Yuki saw him being brought out in our stroller we have for him and he had the look of bewilderment and anxiousness which completely washed away when he saw/smelled Yuki and I. Yeah, he is definitely coming home with us.

We grabbed some food as we hadn’t eaten all morning and I shared some of my grilled chicken with Hugo who quickly wolfed the two pieces down. Then drove home. I tell the wife to send a message out to a small group of friends letting them know what’s kinda happened and that if they wanted to come by and visit/say goodbye; tonight was a very good time to do so. Friends popped over and some stayed longer while others had other engagements that this kinda threw a complete wrench into, but this is what family does in such times. Yuki and I are very grateful for having such loving people in our lives. Stories were shared, my usual method to deal with something of this magnitude is to just be as morbid and try to make everyone laugh. I think it was a good night; for the most part.

I made some calls to Hong Kong so that I could video chat my step dad and my mom as well. They had no idea about this until I called. This brought them to tears as he’s been a pretty big part of their lives as well.

I video chatted with Clementine too as he too was a big part of her life. Yuki and I updated her on what has been happening to Hugo. 15 is pretty damn old for a corgi.

Yuki video chatted in her parents as well since they wanted to see him as well. They were looking forward to spending some time with him later this year when they come to visit. This is pretty profound as their last visit was only a few short months, but the little fat bastard wiggled his way into their hearts as well. Especially Yuki father, whom he was never far away from, keeping one another company during their entire stay. Yuki’s mom shed some good tears too.

Our friends got some food for us and we ate and left Hugo to rest. With all the people in the room, he didn’t sleep once. He was obviously tired and fell asleep immediately once we left and turned out the lights. Yuki couldn’t stay away long and went back to keep him company, to let him know that he’s never alone. This is one of the first pictures I took of her with my boys.

Yuki was dead on her feet and wanted to take a half hour nap. So at 10:30, she headed to bed. Folks had been taking turns hanging out in the room with Hugo, sometimes a large group, other times just Yuki or I. Everyone also noticed that if I left the room, Hugo immediately realizes this and starts looking for me; so I limited my time away from him as much as possible. We had put him in this room because it was further away from potential noise of barking dogs and such as folks came and went. My step dad also slept in this room a few months ago while my parents were visiting and Hugo is by far, my step dad’s favorite. And Hugo really loves him too, so having his smell in the room should help. Yuki moved a pillow down behind Hugo to give him something to lean up against and he immediately reacted by sniffing the air and looking around.

We were in mid conversation when I noticed that the breathing pattern changed. It was about 11:30. I told one of the friends to go wake Yuki up, as I believe he was getting ready to say goodbye. Yuki came in and held his paw while I cradled him in my arms and his breathing slowed and a few minutes later, stopped. It was a very peaceful passing and I really believe that he didn’t want to go earlier so that he could be visited by all his friends. I still feel bad that some of the friends hung around to watch him pass, they really don’t need the imagery in their lives. But Yuki and I are very thankful for their presence. And we believe we made the correct decision to take him home as we truly believe that he would have rather come home with us than stay in a strange place with complete strangers. I don’t believe he would have lasted this long if we had left him there that afternoon.

I have a huge hole in my heart now because it feels like 15 years of my life has been ripped out of me. I know this is not true and I know that he had a VERY good life with us. He’s met so many other furry friends and has been a pretty big part of the lives of my friends too. Hugo has made friends and left his glitter on everyone that has ever stepped foot into my house. When I am at home, he goes where I go, and is never far away from me. He let me put him in the most ridiculous of situations.

He hangs with me while I build models and sometimes participates, willingly and unwillingly. And was part of every build gathering I had at my houses.

He had 3 younger brothers, Beanie, Kenken, and Bob.

He’s traveled to Vegas, Arizona, Sacramento, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and everywhere in between. He has been on every ski trip I went on since he was born.

And has gone out of his way just to make me laugh.

He was unconditionally loyal and loved me absolute. I could not have asked for a better furry friend for the past 15 years. He has always had my back and I would love to believe that I had his.

Through pain, joy, utter silliness, he was there for me. It will take some time to get over the real hurt and fake emptiness that I feel because 15 years of those memories do not equate to the insignificant amount of pain I feel right now. Thanks for being there for that last 15 years, it’s your little brother Beanie’s turn to hang out with you; he doesn’t have to be alone now.

Mar 022019
 

This is easily one of my quickest projects to complete in the past 10 or so years. The tough part was figuring out how to take the damn thing apart, and you can check out the disassembly video here:

Naturally, I need to add lights to the thing so I built a light setup for the eyes and the mohawk piece. I also wanted to lower the light bleed below the eyes so I added some styrene to the face piece just under the eyes. The nose vents are just holes so I covered this area with some plastic as well. Styrene tubes are glued to the back of the eyes to focus the light as well as have a place to slide the eye light assembly.

The complete finishing steps after the jump as well as completed pictures.

A quick test with a battery shows that the lights work just fine.

THe mohawk piece was cut apart too so that I can remove the clear red sensor. The sensor piece was glued to the main head piece and a plastic insert fits over this. Again, this is part of the breakdown video. That gap for for the cover piece needed to be glued and puttied. The back sensor was just paint, so I drilled it out and sanded the area. The inside needed some work so that when I fit in a clear piece, it sits decently and not too far back from the front of the plastic.

A few holes are drilled into the side of the head pieces so that I can fit some metal accents. A simple detail mod, nothing fancy.

I rescribed some of the lines to deepen some of the panel lines and then it was off to primer to check the surface work. I also gouged out some plastic while I was figuring out how to disassemble the kit as well as taking the original head vulcans out so light curing putty was used and the primer is to check for that fix as well.

Once the mistake areas were fixed, it was reprimed to recheck then baked in the dehydrator for an hour and the black coated. Over the black base coat, I sprayed a dark grey to get some very heavy shading/highlights. Again, back into the dehydrator for another hour.

A mist layer of a lighter grey is sprayed over the head to blend in the darker shaded areas and give me a color lifted gradient to the shading.

Once that was done, I masked off these areas and painted the “internals” for the head. After some detailing, the parts are clear coated with a gloss. So the next picture shows a shiny head piece.

The above video shows the use of an FDM printed neck base from MarcoGunpla. Thursday afternoon, I picked up a new SLA 3D printer, the Formlabs Form 2. So after setting it up and doing a quick test print with something small; I kicked the printer off to print Marco’s neck piece in resin at .05mm resolution. The print took about 10 hours. Below is a video timelapse of the print.

Once printed, I did the necessary cleaning and curing, then test fit the electronics. Once that was done, I did some quick sanding on the support connection spots and primed the thing. I can see the resolution lines but I cannot feel them. I did some light sanding for the part and filled in a few areas and the part was off to more primer and then paint.

While all this was happening, I got the main head piece decaled, 2nd gloss coat, panel lines, and final flat coat. This was done with the help of the dehydrator working after each step which seriously sped up my build time. The Base is pained and gloss coated.

The last bits of work is the decals, panel lines, and final clear flat. I also drilled out 4 corners of the base to add some more metal accents. Once the head is on the display, it’ll be a little difficult to see, but for those looking, they’ll find them.

Even before the glue has time to set for the metal addon bits, I popped the head piece on to the base and started taking completed pictures. This was a VERY fast build and a nice little break to complete something in the middle of the Barrage build and I have something completely new to bring to Valleycon 2019 which happens tomorrow.

Feb 252019
 

This past weekend, I saw a FB post from one of my local shops (Neo Happy Land Co) saying they had the RX-78 Gundam Exceed Heads in stock. They’re selling them there for $10. Which isn’t too bad a markup being that they’re gashapon items from Japan. I have a few of the Zaku Exceed Model heads from my own trip to Japan, so I definitely needed to get this one as well.

Also over the weekend, a modeler that goes by Marcogunpla post up pictures of his 3D designed neck piece for displaying the ’78 Head. He also posted the files up on Thingiverse. Marco printed it on a SLA printer in resin and the neck piece looks very nice. I downloaded the file and printed it on my FDM printer at .25mm and this took 3 hours. I did a print estimation for .15 and that would have taken 6 hours. I also ran a print estimation for an SLA printer (Formlabs preform software for the Form 2) and at .05mm the print would take about 8 hours. Still not too bad for the quality of print that I saw in the FB posts. The head unwrapped, the assembly is very simple. There is a chin piece and the V-fin that need to be assembled. The sides of the head pull out and you can grab the forehead piece to bring it up and the display is complete.

If you don’t build/paint/etc stop here. If you are a model builder and have picked one up or are planning on getting one to mod/paint/etc; read on!

When I first unwrapped the thing, I figured it would be similar to the Zaku head. It’s not. The Gundam head is designed as an unwarp, assemble the 4 extra pieces and done kind of model. The initial attempts to pull things apart ends in failure. Any more force would break the plastic apart. So I came to the conclusion that the thing was just glued together. I made a quick 13 minute or so video talking about the breakdown of this kit:

The video basically says what I will be writing about for the rest of this post. But it comes down to examining the kit and finding where seams were and where there weren’t seams. The visor piece was whole and under the v-fin attachment area, I saw a seam. The same seam is visible from under the head at the back. This tells me that there are 2 main halves for the head. Looking inside, I can see male/female connector pegs. I can see two here. But I need to deal with the visor first. Since there wasn’t seam down the middle of the visor, there’s not break in the middle here. There is a seam for the visor that runs perpendicular to the vertical seam. This piece is obviously glued, so I took a scriber to start off a groove then a very thin hobby saw and started sawing along the same. This will take a bit of time because you need to take care not to slip and gouge the surrounding plastic. But once the visor is cut along the attachment seam, it pops off fairly easily and you can see the glued areas where the visor was attached to the head. And, you can see the rest of the seam.

You can also see inside easier with more light being let in from where the visor used to be. Pulling on the two halves, one will quickly understand that the connector pegs are also glued. This means cutting them. The saw is carefully inserted and the pegs are cut.

With these two pegs cut, I pulled the two halves apart and heard a snap. There is a third peg at the back of the head. Not too big a deal, bot for those that read this before they take apart theirs, you can take the hobby knife and slice this area too.

Earlier, I had tried to pull the side pieces from the head and they were not budging what so ever. And there is a VERY good reason why; because there is a screw attaching the two half pieces to the side head sliding bit. Unscrewing this piece, the sides of the head halves just drops.

The face piece and the top of the head piece are just attached with friction and encapsulated with the two halves, so no glue here. The face piece is made up of the clear green visor and the face plate. The face plate is painted black and red. I believe this is a single piece that was just painted. The clear green eye piece is glued in place and pretty tightly, so I will not be removing this from the face. I will just mask and paint to get this done.

The internal sides/vents for the head are also glued pretty tightly to the head halves. So I’m not going to bother to pry these pieces off either. I will do too much damage gouging the plastic if I tried more what I already attempted.

The vulcans were kinda crappy. One of them wasn’t even glued all the way in, so I had to gouge that out with the hobby knife. Some putty repairs are in store for this area. I also build new vulcan barrels with styrene tubes and an IC pin for the internal. Yes, these are supposed to be live ammo bullets firing out of here, so the IC pin make no sense, but this is a visual aesthetic and artistic licensing.

Once I have most of the kit apart, time to start putting things back together. Since I will eventually need to reassemble the head, I rebuilt the male/female connections with styrene tubes and brass rods. I drilled out a 1/8in hole on the female side to get a new hole. For the male side, I drilled out a 5/64 in hole for the brass rod. I added a styrene tube over the cut male end so that I can kind of sleeve in the 1/8 in rod and have a more secured connection point in rebuilding the male end. Everything is glued together and now I have perfect alignment when the two halves come back together and the new male/female connection points hold.

The last bit of the break down is the red camera sensor in the front of the forehead piece. You can see that there are 3 parts, the clear red piece, and the two white plastic pieces that sandwich the red piece. From the bottom, I slide a hobby knife and slowly cut away the glue connection so that I could get a bigger tool into the area. I used the side of my tweezers and carefully wiggled and eventually, the glue to the red piece popped lose and the top of the head piece is now three individual parts. They painted the internal area of the clear red silver so that the camera has detail when looking at it. This is avery nice bit of detail to the kit. I will have to rework this as I’m planning on doing a few more mods before painting it up as a quick little project.

Since the .25mm layer hot glue gun 3D printing style leaves a decent bit of resolution lines; I put the neck piece into a vapor bath for about an hour and a half and this worked to melt together some of those lines. I’m left with a very shiny piece and some of the detail are not as sharp. Once I get my hands on an SLA printer, I will redo this piece so I have a much better looking base. But for now, this will do. The last picture if all the pieces after breaking this kit almost completely down. The only bits I didn’t separate were the internal pieces glued to the side of the head halves.

This should be a nice quick break from the Dom project. Progression for that project is slow because it is nothing but putty and sanding, more puttying and more sanding as I get the shapes of things as close to the reference pictures as I can.

Feb 122019
 

Progress slowed down a bit because I spent a few days making a mold of a crappy Thai made resin recast of Faye Valentine that a friend of mine picked up back in 2003. The resin is so brittle and ceramic like in texture that it is near impossible to work with and sand. I had made some casts of the Dom’s leg thruster parts and had extra silicone to make one of the Faye parts and after that one piece, I just fell down the rabbit hole.

But back to work on the kit and like the last post, I will try to keep things organized towards the sections I got work on since the last update. First up is the work on the head. I started with tamiya epoxy putty quick type but that stuff takes a little too long and is pretty hard to sand, so I switched over to the polyester putty. And here are some comparison pictures to the original head. I also got the LED wired up and tested that look as well.

More head work after the jump.

A little interesting thing I saw while taking screen shots of the thing off Gundam Battle Operation 2. This Dom has a second camera mono eye on the top of it’s head. I guess this makes sense since the forward facing mono eye has limited view since the majority of the head is blocked by giant shoulders. So to keep with the reference materials, I add this modification to the head as well.

The visor piece was cut and I drilled out the top of the head. Once I had a pilot hole drilled out, I used metal files to start shaping out the square opening. For the internal piece, I cut the top of the part and sanded it down so that I could glue a piece of styrene tube. This will hold the second head LED as well as the camera lens. A quick test assembly is done to make sure everything works. The last picture shows the parts of the head. The additional SMD LED wired, the modification to the inner head, the lens, and the head armor.

First priming session will show all the areas that need more work and attention. There are gaps to fill, some potholes, and areas to sand.

Light curing putty to the rescue. The gaps and potholes are filled with light curing putty and then everything is sanded down again . The primer really helps the process here since missed sanding areas will show up nicely and it is easier to the surface imperfections.

Another priming session and we’re ready for the next steps in detailing the head.

The thing to note is that there is an order of operation here. The major rework to the head needs to happen first and all the priming and sanding sessions to get the surface looking correct. After all this, we can get down to smaller surface details like scribing in new lines and such. If I started scribing in the small details first, they would end up getting lost in more putty or the sanding sessions. Dymo tape is used to create a few guides for the scribing tools. I also drilled out a small circle to drop in a metal detail piece.

While all the above is happening, the internal parts are getting painted. THe main head internal is painted with alclad magnesium. The mono eye lense are painted with clear red on the edges to create a pink ring when lighted up. I also wired up the two LEDs in parallel and have one set of wires coming out of the bottom of the head.

The head is painted with the standard Dom Barrage color scheme. Or what I see as the standard desert themed scheme. Using the dehydrator, I’m able to speed up the work time by several orders so I effectively did all the paint work in one day. Masking and painting, the head armor is almost complete.

Assembling everything together I have an almost completed head. There are still some rough spots but I wanted to feel like something got accomplished. I will probably go back and fix some issues with the head while I continue to work on the rest of the kit. There is a sense of accomplishment with a small part of the project this close to being done.

Returning back to the skirts, the bottom of the plastic sheet for the skirt needs some structure or the putty has nothing to stick and hold on to while it cures. Stripes of styrene are cut and glued into place. I also 3D designed and printed a prototype for the rear thruster engine covers for the skirt. The rough look is there, and like everything else in this project, a huge amount of refinement is in store.

Since the plastic skirt piece was printed on a flat sheet of styrene, it wanted to stay flat. When I applied the polyester putty, I also put the whole assembly into a vice to bend the sheet while the putty cured which would result in a more curved piece.

And then a more curved piece I got. I applied another layer of putty to continue the build up for the part.

After some test fits, I found that the part was too curved. So in bending the part to uncurve it, the putty breaks and I have a area where I can add in some styrene rod as a structure to hold the part while I add more putty and basically adjust the shape of the rear skirt.

While the above is curing, I get to work on the Dom’s rear belt piece. Reference pictures show that there is a cut in the part so after some measurements, some dymo tape is dropped and I go to work on removing the excess plastic. With most plastic removal processes, I drill out pilot holes and then cut the excess plastic and sand down the edges to get the finish I want.

A quick test of the belt over the rear skirt piece. From the reference pictures, the cutout are where the tops of the thruster engine covers go, so that design makes sense.

Sanding, sanding, and more sanding results in a pile of plastic dust.

Returning to the front skirts, I go back to Blender and design the rocket pods that go into the front skirt pieces. Since I’m going to try to have them openable, I designed the cap piece first, then from that cut it out and worked out the base piece. I also designed it with and without rockets. I figured I could make the missiles from styrene tubes and paint them separately. But I think the pod with rockets will probably be easier to work with since I don’t have to fill and sand as much for the pod without rockets. Below are the STL files for the rockets; clock on the images for the STL file download. I used larger pictures so you can see the size reference I used when I scaled these prints out for the Dom.

Here are what the pods look like just tacked onto the skirt. I used sticky tac to hold everything in place as well as display the pods opened and closed.

I will need to cut out the skirt pieces to fit the pods into place. So that work on the front skirts started with drilling out pilot holes and then sanding. The upper edges of the skirt are very thin once this area is cut, so I reinforced this area with strips of styrene glued into the two halves of the Dom’s original front skirt parts. I also have a quick mockup with the lower small rocket pod.

I designed the opper pods to be openable with a polycap, so a few stripes of styrene cut to size and a hole punched to fit the poly cap and I have a hinge piece. A fairly large hinge piece mind you. I will have to design something completely different for the lower skirt pods as they are much smaller than these pods.

Since I’m posting up the STL files for this project, here are the files for the lower skirt pods.

Here are the three pieces for the gatling gun front. They include the barrel, the center support and the barrel base piece. Styrene tubes thread through these to complete the front section of the gatling gun.

Feb 012019
 

Feb 1, 2019. I started this immediately after finishing the Dreissen project. Pretty much the same day. I stumbled upon the Dom Barrage, MS-09 F/Br a few years ago and was interested in doing a build of it off the MG Dom. But the reference pictures were pretty lacking and I think I found one online, built from the HGUC Dom Tropen. Using a Dom Trop really makes sense since the Barrage is a variant of the Tropen (Funf). I did find a conversion kit for the Dom F, but since I’ll have to modify that kit. So since there wasn’t a 1/100 F, next best thing was one of the MG Dom’s off my backlog. I already built 2 of these. And for some reason I have 2 more. According to a friend, one of them belongs to him, but he doesn’t build so he doesn’t mind me using it. Ok, references aside, the idea lingered in my head as a possible big project. But with the limited reference materials, I was hesitant. Fast forward to a few months ago, while playing Gundam Battle Operation 2; they released the Dom Barrage as a playable support suit. Once I got the suit, it meant unlimited screenshots from as many angles as I can get. Challenge accepted!

An MG Rick Dom is sacrificed for this and the project officially begins after the jump.

First step is the mess with the head and eyes. I will be jumping around since things need to cure and such but I’m trying to group sections to things make more sense. This is almost 2 weeks worth of work so far. I modded the mono eye with a flat U-venier from wave. I like to encapsulate the clear eye piece. The head gets a little sanding to rough up the surface.

Epoxy putty is laid down to start the process of reshaping the head. This will probably be the last area I use epoxy putty as I discovered that I would end up needing way too much epoxy putty if I went down this road.

Liting the mono eye. Coming off the HGUC Dreissen size LED mods, I absolutely have to up the game and add LEDs here too. I soldered a white surface mount LED to some wires and using some styrene tubes, added to the back of the mono eye.

Then attaching this to the Dom’s original mono eye socket and ball joint piece, I now have a lit mono eye that keeps the move function of the original part. Never be afraid of cutting away plastic. It is only plastic. You can always add it back!

Jumping back to the upper toros. The problem with projects like this is just finding somewhere to start. I started with the mono eye because it is small and simple and once that gets going, it is easier to start sliding down the rabble hole. The chest needs some major work to reshape it. I need to add plastic here. First thing to do is to glue on strips of plastic as a structural unit. Some quick measurements are made and glue is basically poured in with cut strips of plastic.

Once I have the basic structure in place, I add in the putty. Returning to the original idea that I would be using epoxy putty is completely out of the question. It would just cost too much. In the past, I have used tamiya polyester putty. This is great for doing projects like this. If you look at the linked modeler page above, the builder used some kind of polyester putty for his Barrage too. Tamiya polyester putty is a bit expensive for what it is, so time for a cheaper alternative: bondo. The stuff even smells the same and works exactly like tamiya polyester or mori mori. The putty is applied with a putty knife and pretty much cures and is ready for sanding in about an hour to 2 hours. MUCH faster than epoxy putty quick type. And sanding is MUCH easier. It is softer than resin, so some care is needed to not over sand or be too rough with the sanding.

More fine tune sanding to get the basic shapes. The shoulders are also puttied over glued on plastic strip structures. The putty really needs something to grab. Think of this like pouring concrete without an internal structure.

This is not a putty once and done type thing. Several cycles of putty, sand, putty sand and then more puttying and sanding will get to something that is close to the reference pictures. Here’s a comparison shot of the original part and the modified one; again, I have more than 1 MG Dom, so this will make direct comparisons relatively easy as I progress down this rabbit hole.

Notice that I added the giant ammo drum. The part is from the Kshatriya Repair that I bought for the Bear Guy project. The kit will not go to waste and I will continue to part it out to various projects.

The rear of the Dom’s upper torso was also framed up and puttied. The original thruster molds and ports are filled as they are no longer any use. Once sanded, the polyester putty is sold enough that I can drill through it and punch an attachment hole. I added a piece from the MG Ball, another kit I grabbed for the Bear Guy project and added an attachment point for the drum. This area of the kit requires some guess work as I couldn’t see completely in where the drum attaches to the backpack. There are 4 attachment points from the upper chest and lower back to the drum, but I just guessed at a center attachment point.

As said earlier, the main drum is built from three round parts off the Kshatriya. I then designed some quick end caps to the drums to finish off the basic look and feel for the ammo pack.

A quick test fit with the parts so far. The head is starting to get some sanding but I will definitely need to come back and add more putty there. But things are progressing. The “belt” if you will has been modified to remove the raise middle section that is more inline with the Dom Trop’s belt style.

Next up, the front skirts. Using the reference screen shots, I drew out the rough shape of one of the front skirts and ported it to the cricut design software to cut the part out of plastic sheet. The cutter with the deep cut knife can cut fairly cleaning through .4mm thick styrene. I’m cutting through .2mm styrene for the front skirt so I made 4 copies. I glued two copies together to get a .4mm front skirt piece.

The front skirt pieces are just glued to the original skirt. A quick look at the rather thin front skirts. This will be fixed soon enough.

As with everything else so far. As we all need structure in our lives, the front skirts also need structure. I randomly glue in plastic. Once this is set, polyester putty is slapped on. The structure gives the putty something to grab.

While that stinks up my room, I set it aside to cure and move to the other side of my workshop to design some new thrusters for the back of the lower legs. The original thrusters are too short and from the reference pictures, the new thrusters look much longer, so a quick design session on blender and I have new thrusters for the back legs.

Continuing on to other thruster work, the back skirts have some massive thrusters. I know that I have some resin copies of metal thrusters to I want to try to see if I can make something work here first before resorting to the 3D printer like the previous (I couldn’t find something that fit, so I had to make some). I glued a few thruster bells together and made some more casts of the other pieces. The nice part of having thruster bells with so many different internal pieces is that I can do some interesting things. I casted one of the internal bell pieces in clear resin. Then assembling them and adding a light at the end of the tunnel, I can effectively create a halo effect within the thruster bell and use the design gimmicks of the center bell piece to allow light through small holes. I think this is a pretty cool effect.

Next up, we go back to blender and design a front gun barrel. This is much easier than measure and drilling out holes that are completely lined up and spaced evenly. The center structures to the gun barrel are also designed and printed. The barrels will be styrene tubes.

Pushing the tubes and rods through the printed piece I get a general idea of what the first third of the gun looks like. I will make adjustments after I make more reference measurements and modify things as I continue to build.

Frame pieces for the gun are designed and cut in the die cutter. The main gun assembly pieces were all designed in blender and 3D printed. I printed in sections for easy printing and easier assembly. Here is a quick mock up of the gun. This is very rough, but I get a better idea of where to make adjustments and I have something I can see.

The original frame pieces were a little too small for my liking, so I made some adjustments and cut new ones and here I have all the gun pieces laid out. I designed and printed out the spent shells exhaust port as well as the ammo belt feed attachment point.

Rear skirt is drawn and cut on .4mm plastic. Here is a comparison to the original rear skirt.

Clamps are used to hold the flat plastic sheet against the curvy rear skirt piece while the glue sets up. Very similar to how the front skirts were initially built.

And here is what the project looks like so far. The adjusted gun design; the chest, front skirts, backpack and rear skirt. Not too shabby for about 2 weeks work of work so far.