Saturday, September 26, 2009

This Weekend's Project: Sniper Rifle V2

Decided to redo the TF2 Sniper Rifle. It's not August 1st, but we'll have to settle for a late celebration. I'm building this rifle to the G-43 standard, and adding an addendum to the standard:

**Rifle grip firearms will have a distance from middle of trigger curvature to grip of 10mm. **

The rifle is larger by a small margin compared to the older model. We'll see how those compare in a bit. First, it's time to show you how the rifle gets made.

The rifle can be broken up into two part types: revolves and extrudes. Revolves are objects that can be made by rotating a 2D view around an axis of rotation to form a solid. In this case, the scope, laser aiming module (LAM) and barrel are revolves. These are made from using the Excel sheet mentioned in this explanation. Extrudes are 2D objects that are made 3D by making them thicker by adding the 3rd dimension, the width. Extrudes in this model include the frame, scope cover, and scope mount. Preparing Magic: the Gathering cards for making extruded solids is covered here.

From the schematic, I've scaled it 1:1 in relation to the final object, and traced out patterns of the frame. I've traced this pattern onto four copies of laminated magic cards, four layers thick. This gives us 16 layers, approximately 5mm thick. The four layers can be seen on the left of the above image.

The scope will be made of several tubes linked together to form the scope. I went for as exact of dimensions as possible for a good fit. The barrel was made from rolling printer paper around a 3.175mm diameter bamboo rod. I suggest using printer paper for rolled objects of little consequential structural stiffness and small wall thicknesses since the final part will have less of a noticeable seam to need to sand down.

This is the scope, assembled. The cylinders connect by overlapping anywhere from 3 to 5mm. I made the cylinders as thin as possible (1mm thick walls) so I could have a hollow, unobstructed scope. I cut some discs out of a CD jewel case for lenses and inserted them into the cylinders.

The scope mount was made in a similar manner to the frame: tracing a 1:1 scale final part pattern, then cutting out the appropriate number of layers to get the desired thickness. When making curved elements, you need to glue the layers together as they're in the desired final curvature. Bending a laminate is not suggested.

The two parts of the scope mount were connected by a small 2mm diameter rod. I decided to enhance the structural stiffness by running a paperclip rod through the tube and the scope mounts.

The frame needs a 3mm deep recess to accept the barrel. I made one prior to gluing the laminates together, so I have less machining to do.

One of this model's gimmicks is the moving bolt/receiver mechanism. I cut out a slot in the barrel for the bullet ejection port. I carved a 1mm deep groove into the side of a bamboo stick and bent a paper clip into the appropriate shape of the bolt handle. The handle was glued in place with Loc-tite. Things glued to metal using Loc-tite shears easily, but the level of shearing needed is much higher than what this part will see. I'll be using a bead for the handle knob. This part was glued into place.

Bolt completed. Next item of action: heavy Dremel action. Since I've made the frame from multiple cards' worth of length due to it exceeding the length of one card, I have an unsightly gap between cards. I covered the sides with one sheet of 110lb cardstock before proceeding to the sanding sequence. I gave all the lower parts a gentle 1mm radius round, then hacked off more material at the stock and handle regions.

Here's the result of some merciless Dremel action, followed by some light hand sanding.

The second functional part of this model is the front lens cap. I've glued a "U" shaped strip around a circular plate, 3 cards thick. The U part will rotate around the hinge, made of a paper clip. The holes were made from a 1/16" hand drill. I drilled the holes first, then cut the material around it. Otherwise, the material will deform and twist during drilling.

This is the scope lens, attached. The gun is largely completed at this stage.

Here's the final result. The top rifle is the newly crafted "high poly" model of the sniper rifle. It improves from the previous model featured below with added structural stiffness, enhanced scope features and rounder frame edges.

Here's a photo of the bolt action lever. Much better than the previous model which used just a tube.

Friday, September 25, 2009

J.Norad's Random Sewing Technique

A quick technique I came across in a sewing book for tying off thread ends. Most of you might find this useful if you're learning to sew and are sick of making knots to tie off your thread.

First, you need to thread your needle through an existing stitch where you want to put the knot at.
Follow the needle paths as depicted in the image

After you thread that through the last loop, just pull the needle out and the loops will close in and form a knot.

Whee. Precise knots where you want them!

Friday, September 18, 2009

This Fortnight's Project: Telemax Teleporter

In my attempts to fix some of the remaining issues with my TF2 dolls/figures/minions, I needed to actually build a toolbox for the Engineer. As it stands, it's currently a shoddy hollow one piece box painted red with no details on it. Surprised no one said anything about that publicly yet. (Then again no one reads this nor has the balls to say anything) Anyways, since I now have better skills and tools to work with, I can put the old toolbox of the past behind me and roll out a newer shinier (or in this case, matte finish) toolbox with actual features!

The toolbox might be a bit bigger than I remember it was supposed to be. Oh well. The Engineer won't be holding it all the time. It'll mostly be stood or sat on by the Engineer. Or used to actually hold items.
Since I'm now building to a higher standard than what I used to settle with last year, I've decided to make the toolbox house a teleporter that can be unfolded from inside the box. That involves making sure the toolbox has enough space internally while being structurally sound to fold open and closed. The toolbox has no perpendicular faces to the floor, so some simple geometric calculations were needed. I went about establishing the angles the faces made with the floor for each side, then using some trigonometry to figure how much to elongate the sides.

The toolbox would be formed out of two single sheets to form the bottom and lid.

Once the halves were defined, I reinforced the thickness with three layers of X-men cards. These were done in separate panels. I cut out a V shaped groove along the seams to allow the panels to fold together.

Now that I have the envelope for the teleporter constructed, I determined the final dimensions of the folded up teleporter and scaled some screencaps to size. The above image highlights the various methods to get the teleporter to fold out and lock together. The folding arms use a sliding pin mechanism to restrict angular movement, accessible underneath the arms where it's not easily noticeable, but still accessible during the transformation sequence.

To make the arms, I decided it was easier to form the solid arm out of a single sheet, then reinforce individual sections with more X-Men cards. The sliding pin locking assembly involved a series of double hole plates around 2mm thick. These would interface together where the arms break apart.

A lot of the next stage is making filler to hold the components together. This involves making guide plates and empty boxes and stuffing them in the arm envelope. The outer part of the arm is just a hollow box with some reinforcement to keep the top surface from warping under additional weight.

Here's a few views of the sliding pin locking mechanism, with the top removed. The pins can come out 2mm and interface with the outer plate without interfering. Sliding the pin out engages the outer plate 5-6mm and restricts movement fully. For the mechanism, I ended up using 5.7mm diameter rods with a 5.9mm diameter hole. Odd, since the hole punch I used should have made 6.35mm diameter holes. I suggest ensuring your holes do not deviate more than 0.5mm apart when building all three plates. You want some wiggle to slide them freely and any large offset will likely cause seizure.

The center spindle involves two cylinders. The outer is made of two more complex shaped half circles with an array of tubes. The smaller ones allow for hinge movement for the arms. The larger one interfaces with the smaller center tube. A 5.9mm diameter rod (or equivalent clearance) eventually goes through the smaller center tube and connects the two outer halves. It needs to fit securely but loose enough to provide movement with a layer of paint on it. The rod will also interface with a hole on the base of each arm to lock them level once assembled.

Here, you can see the hole positions. Note the hole in the right arm's base and the alignment with the outer spindle halves.

To attach the arms, I used 3.175mm diameter bamboo sticks. The sticks do not run through the spindle halves. This allows the main connecting shaft to run unobstructed. From this stage, it's mostly decorative.

Here's the full sequence of building the teleporter from the toolbox. All the major components are now in place.

Right now, I have almost a full set of Engineer crap. However, highwaychile's dispenser is still a loaner and needs some improvement. Mostly needs to be rescaled, and done the proper J.Norad way. If I can figure out how to make it collapse into the toolbox, I'll make that the next TF2 figure update project. Until then, time to enjoy the glory of having a kick ass toolbox.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

About The Vortex: The Circle of Suck

I normally try to keep day-to-day issues off this blog, but I'll take an exception for today.

"Wow! You're on Kotaku!"
"Wow. They used the worst picture ever."

If you've managed to find this blog/page, I thank you for visiting. Seems that I've been linked on, and with the most unsightly progress image ever. Fugly medic with a sad looking pyro and with a demoman with Michael Jackson issues. At least they got a shot of my minigun.

About this Blog:
I originally intended this blog to document random things I built. More for me than you, actually. Seems like it's leaning towards you now. The main intent was to:
  1. Highlight some building techniques I discovered or learned or found useful
  2. Show off what those techniques could build
As a result, I don't have a gallery. Just a long pile of posts that show what went into making things. Best you'll have to work with is my DeviantArt page, which I actually reluctantly created.

About me:
This blog's about what I make. I don't care for drama, nor should you be subjected to it. Jacob Norad's not even my real name, if you're wondering.

About the Goods:
You probably have come here looking for my Team Fortress 2 related crafts. I don't blame you, I've been making them for a year. I do make other things, but they're not as popular. If you're wondering, I have no intent of selling them, simply because I feel that they could be a lot better in quality. I'm never happy with what I have and always feel that I could have done better. And also, it's a pain in the ass to build this:

I primarily use Magic: the Gathering cards to make my stuff, simply because I have a lot of them and they're quite easy to work with. And you kinda need some sort of shtick these days...

About the Fugly Medic
The Medic was my first doll head attempt. Really bad. So bad I made a new one and mailed the old one to Canada. Unfortunately, I'll forever be known as the guy who sucks at sculpting the "Medic with the giant Jew nose." I don't mind nor care about criticism. Shows that, just like me, YOU will not settle for any old crap. I like people who know what they want. It also shows me that I really need to get better at doing this sort of thing.

I could easily edit all my old posts and photos so they all look nice and presentable, but that's like lying. Lying about your past, and what you could do. Doesn't show people that your early work sucked hard. I'd rather keep those around to remind myself that I'm getting a lot better, and to never settle for crap.

Other issues:
Demoman's racial identity crisis has since been fixed. Pyro's in a state where my technology is too subpar to make better. Going to stay horrible for a while longer. I'm trying to shift off TF2 for a bit and try other things, so it'll be some time before I fix the lingering problems. The main reason is that by doing other things, I'll pick up some more techniques that I can use. You can't get better if you're afraid to try doing other things.

Anyways, thanks again for visiting. If you've at least laughed your ass off at my past failures, or liked my better works, then I think it was worth the click.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Labor Day Spoils: Building a Moonfire Sword

I've had a fondness of exotic weaponry. Drakengard will always have a place in my "Stuff to Build" pile due to the wonderful assortment of weapons and great lore behind them. One of the long swords I liked, appearance-wise, is the Moonfire.

The Moonfire sword, according to Drakengard's weapon history, is a granite blade that burns hot except to those under the protection of the moon god. My Moonfire is a sword made of a $0.76 bendy plastic ruler I bought at a local drugstore and some X-Men TCG cards that burn if you take a lighter to it. Not quite as exciting, but when you're building on a budget, it's acceptable.
This sword had the main goal of a translucent blade. Painting a sword red is pretty easy. I could have done that and been done in a few hours. I wanted something that was a bit different than the other bladed weapons I've built. I needed a blade approximately 20cm long for the Moonfire, so that limits a lot of raw material sources.

The above image shows stages of the Moonfire's construction. The first stage involves cutting out the materials and preparing them to be structurally sound. I've made cutouts using leftover 6-ply X-Men cards from the Devilscale for the guard. A notch was added for the bamboo stick grip and the blade. The blade itself was cut from a Penway "Megaflex" ruler. I remember the days when school supplies were solid plastic objects that splintered when you tried to slash at someone in school with them. The good old days of consumer safety. As a side effect, I have a really limp blade to work with at the moment. More on that in a bit.

I've hidden the notches with two layers of card on each side, then added two more to define some details in the guard. The third image shows the primed guard with the raised details. I created those details using a sheet of 110lb cardstock and cutting out the lowered parts. The thickness of the paper was sufficient in making the details stand out. The bottom image shows the details painted. I first painted the black details first, leaving the raised parts unpainted. What I should have done was paint the entire thing black first. Gold paint isn't good if it's thinned, and in some cases, the enamel paint thins as you use it, leaving light spots that show a bit of primer. If I had painted everything black first, then gone over it in gold, the gold would have stuck better to the layer underneath. I'd also know quickly which spots were underpainted. Oh well. Lesson learned.

So far, I've barely made use of my four month investment building Aelia. For all that work that went into building her, she's been photgraphed less than the minigun. I figured what better way to make a sword interesting than an armored girl using the sword. I'm experimenting (or better yet, just now bothering) with enhancing the photos I take, since I'm not going to wait until the weekend where there's better natural sunlight to take photos. They look a lot different than my usual darkened desk photos. Anyways, some opportunity to use Aelia in some photos!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Where You're Going, You Won't Need Hats

Decided to deviate from the usual merry weapons making and revisit the simplicity of bladed weapons. The task isn't too difficult: it's nothing harder than gluing a cutout of a blade onto a stick. I've yet to devise a standard for melee weapon making as I now have for firearms. So far, I only have a rough guideline for grip diameters and blade thicknesses. I'll iron out something formal in the coming weeks when I experiment with different weapons.

"My, what a big blade you have!"
"The better to cleave you with, my dear..."

This week, I decided to build the Devilscale from Drakengard. Loved the weapon in game, and decided that some variety in my projects was needed. For this, I worked around in-game screenshots and a standard handle width of 4mm to scale up the polearm. The blade is rather massive and required stock material of a length of two card lengths. I tried to use some of the X-Men TCG cards I acquired for this task, since I'm never going to get rid of those otherwise.

Regarding material properties, here's a quick comparison:

Magic seems to be a bit less resistant to bending than the X-Men cards. Slight difference, but it's noticeable. The thicknesses are however equivalent. Further testing is needed.

I pretty much half assed this weapon since the references weren't too helpful in determining details. Can't really see much from a polygonal PS2 model built for quick renders. However, the staff part turned out better than I thought.

Anyways, what does one now do with a 1:6 scale of a giant bladed polearm?

"I'll teach you to hit on me via teamchat!" -Hotaru

For this photo, I decided to make use of a technique I saw in a LEGO diorama: use of the aquatic red bushes as an excessive blood spurt effect. I actually love that effect so much that I've stocked the LEGO parts close by for quick access. It's conveniently the right scale for a 1:6 scale decapitation... (Is it a bad sign I have a blog post tag for "decapitation"? Maybe...)

I've also kept around the sprues from my Gundam kits, in the event I need some thin plastic rods. With the clear ones, you can use them to suspend random body parts in the air. I've jammed the rods down the clothing for the Sniper and Scout to help support the heads hanging.

Anyways, next time: I'll attempt to make a simple task of sword making idiotically difficult!