Jun 102019
 

Trying to keep up with the shorter weekly walls of texts. I’ve got some pretty cool things to show for this update so there is a decent amount of meat here. We’ll start off with the front skirts. The back of the front skirts to be exact. In the first picture, this is a picture of the cricut design space software with a back skirt design drawn out. The steps leading to this was first painting the back of the skirts so that I have better contrast when scanning the skirt backs in the all in one printer. The scanned JPG file is then edited in gimp to clean it up and convert it to a transparency PNG file that is then uploaded to the design space software. Once there, it was just a matter of cutting and adding shapes to create the underskirt frame detail.

More after the jump.

Finished with the design, I make some measurements on the real skirts and use these measurements for the image in the cricut design software. I don’t need to be exact since putty will fill in any gaps or just sanding will take care of any overlaps. But I want to be as close as possible.

The dimensions are locked in, the design is sent to the cutter. I’m using a cricut air explore 2, the setting is for poster board, and the blade is the deep cut blade. The cutter runs with a .4mm thick sheet of styrene. One pass with the cutter will cut almost all the way through the plastic so that I can pop the plastic out or scribe/knife trace it to remove the excess. But a second pass with the cutter will completely cut through the .4mm. I can probably do this with slightly thicker plastic and get decent cuts just by running the machine on multiple passes. Below is the cutting process.

Once cut, the frame is popped out of the plastic.

The frame is test fit against the back of the skirt and it is a pretty good fit. Since the back of the skirt was not finished (sanded smooth) I needed to sand it before gluing the frame. Since the back of the skirt is styrene, I just used tamiya extra thin cement to glue the plastic frame onto the skirt. After some small putty fixes along the edges to blend everything together, the skirt is primed and it looks like a solid piece.

While working on the above, I did some continued work on the ammo drum to add in magnets so that the top and bottom frame can hold the drum in place and be removable for transport and ease of painting. The side skirts got some additional finishing after test fits with the front and rear skirts (shown later). The top of the skirt connection piece got some drilled out details and plastic strip details.

Rear skirt work continues with more bondo to build up the edges. There will be lots of test fitting against the skirt to get the correct shape for the meeting points.

The bondoed areas are sanded down and constant test fitting done to shape the edges. Note that the test fitting is done with just the waist piece. This comes into play as this was the incorrect test fit. Even when I had gotten the surface smoothed out and fitting perfectly, this test fit did not account for space with the legs. It also did not account for the spacing and positioning when the front skirts and front belt piece are in place too. An important lesson in planning. This is a 3 dimensional piece, and test fitting against only 1 of the multiple sides can have drastic problems if the other sides are not accounted.

That brings us back to more bondo to rebuild what I had sanded. The legs pushed the side skirts out. The front belt and front skirts slightly change the position of the side skirts along that axis, so I really needed all these pieces in place while I test fit and sanded down the rear skirt. Learning my lesson here, I kept all the parts affecting the side skirts position static while redoing the sanding work on the rear skirt. My brain tends to go 2D when I should be thinking 3D.

A few years ago, I picked up several tools from Hong Kong and there are still plenty of those tools that I have not used yet. The alexan scraper tool is one such tool. I used the scraper as a beveling tool and beveled the larger missile pod covers. I had also scribed details on the missle covers and when I did this, I eyeballed the measurements. So while it kinda worked for one of the covers, it didn’t for the second. Laziness in these small moments usually comes to bite me in the asshole later.

Light curing putty is applied and I went in with proper measurements to lay out the guide tape for rescribing in that detail bit.

The fix is easier seen after the part is primed. But the first picture you can see where the putty filled in the skewed detail line and the new scribed detail. The lesson here is to just take the damn time to measure correctly. Also of note. Everything is fixable, so never be afraid of making mistakes; because you will make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes when building.

I joined the Mechanism live broadcast friday night and did some of the above work during the broadcast. So I did a quick dress rehearsal for the sake of the broadcast. This also works well as a before and after for the next stages of detail work – the chest detailing and fixes.

First detail piece I wanted is to scribe a line down the middle of the chest piece. I made the appropriate measurements and laid down the guide tape and scribed the line. The process is pretty simple and just a repeat of what I’ve done in previous scribing sessions. Measure first!

While scribing this detail line and planning out the other details I want to add, I realized that I didn’t like the bevel on the chest. The were not uniform because I had sanded the bevel by hand which has absolutely no precision. The best thing to do is to create a jig for hand sanding that makes things uniform. But since I recently rediscovered that I had a tool for scraping out bevels. Time to use that tool. But first, I need to rebuild the edges of the chest, effectively erasing the bad bevel.

This is where light curing putty comes into play. I work on one side first by applying the putty to the bevel, place the part under direct lighting for a few minutes to fully cure, and sand the surface to recreate my hard edges on one side of the chest. The same is done to the other side. Light curing putty is an amazing tool for quick fixes such as this that does not completely derail the workflow. Once the edges are sanded to the correct edges, the beveling scraper is used to create a uniform and smaller bevel.

The unprimed visual is harder to notice; but easier to see once primed. Below is the before and after comparison both primed. I think the bevel looks better now. The added details later will further accent this. The last picture shows the guide tape in place for more detail scribing.

Next up is the work on fixing the missile pod’s missiles. These were originally 3D printed in the FDM, so the finishing isn’t very good and there were holes in the print. My first thought was to apply putty and sand down the filled in holes. But that would take much more work and sanding would be difficult. The easier thing to do is to just cut plastic circles out and glue those cut outs on top of the missiles. I have a punch tool that I can punch out different sizes of circles.

Once the circles are glued to the pods, another detail strip of .5mm x .5mm x 1.5mm is cut and glued to the top of these circles to finish the detailing.

The chest detail work is done and after another priming session, I did a quick mockup to make sure everything still fits and looks correct. I bought the kit out to RoboToyFest that happened Sunday, June 9, 2019, as we organized that judged the RTF mecha contest.

It was a busy weekend so I didn’t get as much work as I wanted. The very last bit of work is the beginnings for the arm modifications. My style of working begins with blocking out the area then sanding and cutting to sculpt. Plastic strips are cut and glued to the arm pieces Saturday night. At the tail end of Sunday night, I started sanding and shaping one of the arms.

So far so good, shorter walls of texts and I have a decent amount of visual work.

Jun 032019
 

I had a pretty productive weekend for the project. This is mostly cleanup work; but there was a small bit of leg detailing that I didn’t quite complete before my last update. I also want to ramp up the progress since I want to be finished by the end of the month. Who knows if that’ll happen. But goals. I’m going to do shorter walls of text, but try to do weekly updates from here on out. Famous last words.

Returning to the leg, last week I glued in a piece of plastic as a structure base for more bondo. Here I have the bondo added to the back of the legs. I’m also reshaping the back legs to get rid of the small point from the OG Dom’s leg See the last picture in this set for comparison. This meant rescribing the detail line as well as sanding away plastic details that I had already added. This happens when you make mods. You change your mind and have to start erasing or sanding it away only to add it back… it’s all plastic in the end. The putty cured overnight and the legs got sanded. Lines rescribed, and some light curing putty is used to help fill in mistakes here and there. A piece of plastic was cut and scribed(really hard to see until I prime it) but this new plastic piece is the new back leg cover. I filled in the detail marks at the bottom of the legs. Another line is scribed on the inside part of the leg and detail holes were drilled.

More about this weekend’s work after the jump.

I puttied over the detail insets on the back of the legs as I wanted to add in some scribed detail. I cut some dyno labeling tape measured for length and angles. A pencil line marks the measured height of this detail. Tape is placed and a .3mm BMC chisel scribes the lines. Another two drilled out detail bits and some extra plastic plate I had cut from the previous update is glued to the surface. One leg done, now for the other.

Notice that there is a white plastic bit on this leg piece (near the hole on the right side). I had made a mistake when drilling the hole, so I needed to fill it. I used styrene glue and a plastic rod and a little bit of white putty. Once that cured, it was sanded down and the detail drilled hole was attempted again. Once that looked correct, the plastic details were glued and this leg is ready for primer. Mistakes will happen, it’s part of building process. It’s only plastic, fill it back and try again, and again, and again until you go insane or get it right – there are only two options here.

Once primed, all the details start to pop better and a comparison shot with the original leg piece shows how much has changed. And realistically, not much was done. Just a little sanding and cutting and the whole look of the leg completely changes. The legs were primed at different times because I had to wait for the plastic and putty on the mistake to cure. Which worked out as I can show the difference between the primed part and the modified multi-putty-plastic-colored look of it all.

Done with the legs I move to the front skirts. There is a crap ton of work for the front skirts. I had printed out a detail plate that I glued over the top of the scratch built skirt. The marriage of the two pieces is not perfect, so there is a decent amount of clean up and putty work. Light curing putty really speeds up this process and I was able to finish one of the skirts Saturday night. The yellow areas are the light curing putty.

As I slowly progress, I have the other skirt piece left alone for a before and after photo.

Test fit! Testing with the other armor pieces shows the areas I need to fill and build up. Once I start puttying and sanding, I keep going back to checking on the fit to make sure it a: fits, and b: looks correct. You should be able to clearly see the filled in light curing putty areas. It is just putty and sanding. Just lots of it. And as we progress, the working skirt is being built up and cleaned up. There is a bunch of CA glue residue to sand down (which is a bitch and a half to sand btw). I had done a quick print for this detail piece so the resolution lines needed to be sanded away as well. The last thing I did before going to bed was prime the piece.

Here is the comparison of the primed piece and the other skirt piece. And as always, test fit, and you should clearly see the differences in fit and the numerous gaps for the before and the after. Happy with the one side of the skirt, time to work on building up and cleaning the second skirt piece.

No progress of that other skirt piece because it would be redundant. Just mirror image the above in your mind and there you have it. Time to move to the rear skirts and work on some more sanding and shaping to fit it with the waist as well as get the correct look with the side skirt alignment. I still have more filling and sanding, but the end of the weekend crept in and I’m done for the night.

I primed more than just the skirts, I also finished priming both legs as well as the top of the feet and the vent detail. There is quite a bit of cleanup for those areas, but more primed pieces gives me a sense of accomplishment. Even more so when it’s time for another full dress rehearsal. I snapped everything I had together for some pictures. This also works to check that all the small detail work for each small subsection still work in the big picture of everything. This is getting exciting, things are really starting to come together.

The rear skirt pretty much covers the rear leg details. But for anyone looking under it’s skirt, that’s there for ya; ya damn perv. The internal leg motor and thrusters can be seen which is pretty cool. The thrusters are modified from the original to lengthen and just beef them up.

As far as the build, I believe I have the gun and the rear skirt to finish building and soon we’ll have a fully primed project.

For shits and giggles, here are some pictures of the progression/evolution of this project from day one to now.

From the above to below (so far)

May 292019
 

It has been a while since I made an update. Real life got a little busy with a trip to Toronto for a wedding and just being busy. I’ve been getting work here and there with bits and pieces. One of the major bits is the skirt. I had used the original skirt and tons of bondo and plastic to build up the rear skirt. My skills with Blender has gotten better and some slow down at work tempted me to try designing the skirt. Printed out, it’s not perfect and it’s slightly heavier than the bondo version, but it look fairly decent. There is still a decent amount of work needed to meld the piece with the waist which was easier with the bondo piece because it was built up from the original rear skirt. Here is the skirt and a quick mock up with the kit.

This update is fairly large since it has been over a month and a half since my last update. So there’s much more after the jump!

Returning to the printed skirt, I glued in a support beam (plastic tube) and then built up some bondo so that I can fill in some gaps between the original top skirt piece(purple plastic bit) and the printed skirt piece. The bondo also works to add surface for drilling in some holes for new support points to the kit’s waist unit. The waist unit’s contact points are measured against the rear skirt and the new holes are drilled. There are some gaps between the rear skirt and the side skirts, so some base plastic plates are glued to the rear skirt that will eventually be used to support a layer or two of bondo.

The next step, once the above support layer of bondo cured, is to drill the holes and add in some brass/aluminum rods as the new connection points. These also work as support since the damn rear skirt is pretty heavy. Bondo is applied to the sides to build up those sides of the rear skirt where those points meet up with the side skirts.

Moving on to the feet. The last post touched on the 3D designed foot vents that is similar to the Dom Trop’s foot vents. Since this kit is probably closer to the Dom Trop than the standard Dom, a decent amount of work is necessary to modify the legs and feet. With the vents pointed, I did a quick size and test fit against the feet to make sure the look correct.

I designed and printed a connector joint that attaches the vents to the feet. My previous progress post talked about printing mirrors of objects so we don’t run into issues of two left feet pieces. With that resolved, I now need to make mods to the feet so that the connectors and the vents fit and look correct.

I cut the outside sides of the feet to fit in the connector and vent piece. Cut, sand, test fit, and repeat until the joint fits correctly. Once done, I glued the connector piece into place. The vent parts are just being held to the connector joint with some sticky tack.

The legs got some cuts and plastic glued several weeks ago. Time to revisit and start working on the legs. I measured and drew some guides for cutting the outer areas of the legs. I have the legs labeled clearly to make sure the correct area and correct legs are being cut. The plastic glued to the front of the legs gets some sand work to shape it. Some plastic is cut away, and some plastic is added, and a sanding stick works to shape everything.

More test fitting with the feet to ensure everything looks correct with the reference pictures I have. Light curing putty (the yellow bits) is used to quickly fill and sand the surface. The last picture is a comparison with the original Dom’s leg to see differences.

Once the base shapes are cleaned up, time to get into detailing the legs. I scribed in some lines with the BMC chisel and dyno label tape as well as tamiya masking tape as guides. The lines were measured and drawn in pencil first to check for the look. Once the look and measurements were correct, the lines were taped up and the chisel run. I first started with the .2mm chisel. Once I removed the tape and sanded the surface a bit to clean up some rough edges, I found that the lines were a little too thin, so I carefully went over the lines with a .3mm chisel. The lines really show up much clearer after a layer of primer. I laid down some tamiya tape and measured out 5 mm marks and then used this as a guide to lay down marks on the legs for the raised details. The source reference shows scribed details and I didn’t want to scribe all those little details, so I went with raised details instead. The Chopper II from Northwest Short Line was used to precisely cut identail pieces of plastic details. A note as of this post, NWSL is planning on closing their doors forever in the next few months, so if you haven’t picked up the Chopper II, DO IT, <arnold s.>”GET DA CHOPPA!”</arnold s.>

The detailing done, or so I had thought, I took some comparison shots with the OOB Dom leg.

Once primed, all the off colored bits tie together and the scribed lines really pop. I also drilled out some detail bits that I beveled slightly with a rounded jewelers grinding bit. Looking at more reference pictures, I saw that the back of the legs were also different, so I’m currently in the process of fixing that with the glued in styrene at the lower back knee area. The two halves of the legs are also glued together since the leg armor is a whole piece and not split down the middle. There is also more scribing, but that will come after I get this mod done.

Moving back to the top half of the body, the chest needed more refinement. I start to work on the back of the chest block and just ended up gluing the front and back chest armor to the chest block. Seams need to be fixed as well as the difference in building up the two halves separately are glaringly obvious.

The previous posted saw the prints for the ammo drum attachment racks. Here, I’m mocking up the attachments to the back and doing a ton of test fitting to make sure it all looks correct and fits. Sticky tack is great here as a quick adhesive. The only problem is that the fit isn’t exact with the sticky tack, you get a general feel, but not the exact fit since the sticky tack has surface area of its own.

Test fit, test fit, and test fit. I also start to fill in some of the pits and pot marks on the chest block with light curing putty. In the middle of a build session, it’s tough to have to apply a putty and wait the full day or how ever many hours required for said putty to cure. Light curing putty works very well for small fixes and even small sculpting bits and doesn’t completely interrupt the flow of the build session.

The Dom’s original shoulder straps were too rounded in comparison to the blockly Barrage style suspenders. Bondo is employed to build up the area and sanding sticks and metal files to shape it. And in the last picture, more light curing putty to keep the sanding and shaping process going. If I’m nearing the end of my build session, I’ll use a cheaper putty and just let that sit over night since I’m done building. In the middle of the build? Light curing putty all day long.

After the test fitting with the ammo drum and the attachment bits, fit required adding plastic to the back to fill gaps and fine tune the look. I glued in some plastic strips and added some putty to fill in these gap areas. With the added size in the back, another test fit is done to check the fit and gaps.

The following day, the back bit is sanded, puttied, and sanded to shape everything. Test fit, test fit, test fit.

And more detail sanding and light curing putty work to get closer to the final sculpt of things. Once satisfied, the lower attachment piece is glued into position.

Another quick dress rehearsal with most of the principal parts to make sure everything is still fitting together. Working on small sections at a time, it is easy to forget the big picture, and it is always good to revisit that big picture. Plus, it works as a nice story piece once this is finished to watch the progression as a whole.

Moving from the upper torso, we go down a level to the front skirts. The back side is sanded but not polished and finished since it is only a surface to glue a plastic backing. The backing will be where the missile pods attach. And I can also easily scribe the surface as well as easily glue styrene details to the plastic. Glueing to the mostly bondo works best with CA glue or even an epoxy glue. For detail work, I’d much rather use styrene on styrene with plastic cement. Paper clips are used to hold the parts together while the backing glue cures.

And I completely forgot to snap pictures of the front skirt detail pieces I designed and printed. I wanted a small raised surface with the details in the front skirt, so I designed and printed. The resin is a bit brittle and easily broke, but once glued, I can fix everything in post (later).

Again, as I get more familiar with the 3D design software and how my printer works, I’m more comfortable creating things. This time, I’m redoing the ammo drum. Here is the drum compared to what I built first. The fit with the attachment racks is perfect as the measurements of the original drum went into making the new and improved drum. Details such as the ammo port as well as all the surface scribed lines and raised surfaces. I did run into a problem when I raised the surface on the top and bottom. The lower attachment bar from the body to the ammo drum did not account for the small raised surface, so the fit was ruined. I had to redesign the ammo drum to remove the bottom raised surface and create an embedded surface instead.

Once that was done, the drum was reprinted and more test fit sessions to check and recheck things. Everything is looking pretty good here. I’m still debating on how I want to finalize the attachment of these pieces. I was thinking magnets. That will help make things transportable. But gluing everything down is always a good option.

The drum was printed in 3 pieces. Resin is expensive, so it is ALWAYS recommended to design with hollows. The rear skirt is a design that is bad and not hollowed, so there is a great deal of wasted resin that makes the part way too heavy. I really should redesign that skirt piece, but I don’t want to; I’ll worry about this on the next project.

More parts are getting primer to check for defects and just to level out the colors. Primer makes me feel like I’m progressing. Another full test fit session to get back to looking at the big picture.

These test shots were taking at different points in the build. The front skirt details are glued, the operating of the missile pods was checked. And another print of the gun frame was redesigned slightly because the first print started to warp and the break. The walls were too thin. I went back to the Blender files and modified the design to thicken areas and just have a cleaner print using all the techniques I have learned since my first print of the frame.

Next up, the ammo belt. There are a bunch of aftermarket ammo belts made of plastic and metal. Those belts don’t have the level of detail I want, so I designed three ammo belt pieces; the top attachment to the ammo drum, the middle link, and the end piece that attaches to the gun’s ammo port. I put a decent amount of detail into the design and some of the details don’t show up correctly since the print is so small. But I ended up hollowing and printing 30 middle links as well as one each of the front and end pieces. The front piece completely failed to print correctly, but this isn’t a big deal since that front piece was only meant to have an additional internal area as a wire stop. I designed the belt pieces to be interconnected with a wire so that I could flex and twist the belt as needed. The first test fit used one 24 gauge wire to hold things together for a quick, yet very flimsy test fit. I was really only checking for length and actual fit at the end points to the ammo drum and gun ports.

I ran out of the 24 gauge wire, so I went with 22 gauge and that worked better than the 24. It fit snugly so I do not need glue to hold the middle pieces in place and it retains flex and twist motion. I will glue to first and last end pieces. With the wire stacked into a flat belt; the ammo pieces are fished over the belted wires, the whole assembly is test fit with the drum and gun and everything looks pretty damn good. I just need to clean up the belt and get it primed.

The odds and ends are just build areas that didn’t really fit anywhere else in this post. The original design of the shoulders had a indention. This is attributed to my novice knowledge of the 3D design program and how to do rounded pieces like the shoulders. But it’s not really a showstopper as I can apply some light curing putty, sand, prime, and the shoulders are rounded with very little muss. Fixing things in post.

The legs saw some glue for the frame pieces. Since the rear skirt is quite heavy, I glued the legs which will help support the rear skirt. Once everything is done, the lower half of the kit will be completely fixed posed and glued together. I plan on keeping the mobility of the upper torso, but those plans may fall the pieces as the gun is also heavy even though it’s hollowed, but compared to the left side, it’s unbalanced, so the upper torso may also see a solid glue joint.

Hopefully the next update won’t take so long and I start getting things completed. There is a ton of build work, but I am getting closer to the fun paint stages.

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.