Saturday, December 26, 2009

This Week's Project: Crafting a Chair

You can only build so many firearms and bladed weapons before you need to sit down and think of more to build. This week, I've opted to go ahead and build a chair than my original plan of a sniper rifle. I can use the chair more than the rifle will ever be.

Chair has a padded seat. The inside is comprised of layers of somewhat thick cloth unfit for doll clothesmaking. I haven't perfected the method yet of making chair cushions. Once I finalize it, I'll share.

For this project, I needed thick, but workable stacks of card. I started off with 4-card thick stacks cut in the shape of the chair part template. By combining five of these stacks (I wanted a 6mm thick leg, so 20 cards ~6mm, in case you're wondering how I pulled that number) and bending them before they dried, I could achieve a gradual curve for the parts. Worked out well, but cutting out the pieces was tedious. I need to perfect the system first.

The chair back was done with a single 4-card layer, glued into place with Loc-tite adhesive. I didn't go fancy this time and put proper joints to assemble the chair like for 1:1 scale furniture, something I rather regret not doing. I'll be sharing what other things I learned from making more furniture in the future.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sewing Some Ushankas

First off, all credit goes to the boys over at The Sixth Division for their in depth tutorial on sewing a 1:6 scale ushanka. If you follow their guide, you'll get some cheap and decent looking ushankas. I'd just like to add that you might want to consider browsing the kid's hat section instead of looking for fleece gloves. I found a kid's fleece baclava for $6 that has enough material for about ten ushankas. Gloves were priced at $9 with enough material for about 3. Of course, there's always thrift.

They kinda look like bad afros. No wonder why it's not supposed to be solid black.

On a side note, I'd suggest making a star and gluing it to the cap. Embroidering one might be a bit tricky since the thread sinks in if you pull the thread taught. Mine look like crap. But hey, not bad for about 10 minute's work apiece. I might try painting the outer cap grey to better resemble the in-game model for the Officer's Ushanka, since the guide does mention painting it to get the right look. A solid black appearance makes identifying the flaps difficult.

Maybe after crafting a few of these things, I'll finally get one in game.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

J.Norad Makes Paper Ball Joints

This post is more for personal reference than of possible use to any of you. Today, I'll be covering some parameters for designing a ball joint. A ball and socket joint provides excellent movement capabilities but isn't an easy element to build with paper.

The key to building a robust ball joint with paper is to have the appropriate materials needed. A good ball joint should provide adequate joint stiffness, but it may vary on your application.

Designing the Ball and Socket
You'll need to know a few things first:
  • Figure out how big your joint is going to be.
  • Figure out how much mobility you want.
Here's some calculations to help assist you in figuring out the dimensions of your ball and socket joint.

Figure 1: The Ball Joint Schematic

There's four design parameters that dictate the performance of your ball joint:
  1. Ball radius (r1 in Figure 1) (You'll hopefully know this value first)
  2. Socket depth (Hl in Figure 1) (somewhat adjustable, has a lower limit)
  3. Support rod diameter (2P in Figure 1) (adjustable, has a lower limit)
  4. Range of motion (phi in Figure 1) (defined by values 1-3)
For a given set of construction variables, r1, Hl and 2p, you can figure out how much motion your ball joint will provide. We'll use some trigonometry to solve for the angle phi, and use this to determine the total angle your joint will provide.

First, we must acknowledge that the support rod diameter 2P and the lower socket height Hl limit our angle. This is because the rod hits the edge of the socket, defined by how deep (Hl) the socket is. Second, we'll define the angle the joint provides as the angle that the center of the support rod makes with the line parallel to the bottom of the socket. This angle will be phi.

From Figure 1:
  1. The red angle Beta formed from the point of contact with the socket edge (Hl) and the support rod walls is less than our desired angle, phi. Since it's a right triangle, we know from the pythagorean theorem that the length of from the center to the tip of Hl is the square root of r1^2 + Hl^2.
  2. The angle formed from the line OP to the support rod centerline is the difference between angles phi and Beta. We know the thickness is 2P, and that OP forms the hypotenuse, and half the rod thickness P forms the opposite wall. Therefore, the angle Phi- Beta = arcsin(P/sqrt(r1^2 +Hl^2)).
  3. From trigoneometry, the angle Beta =arctan(Hl/r1)
Solving for the angle phi, we get Phi = arctan(Hl/r1) + arcsin(p/sqrt(r1^2 +Hl^2)).

The angle we actually want is the complimentary angle to Phi, since that determines the angle relative to the null position. So we take twice the compliment to Phi (two directions) to find the angle of our joint.
Total angle range for the ball and socket joint = 2(90° - Phi)

Where Phi = arctan(Hl/r1) + arcsin(p/sqrt(r1^2 +Hl^2))

This equation tells us some obvious relations, which help support the validity of the result:
  1. If Hl is longer than r1, the angle decreases
  2. if p increases, the angle decreases
  3. increasing r1 increases the angle.
Now for the actual construction!

The Socket
The socket should ideally consist of a durable material. 110lb cardstock will not work, as it wears out fast and easily over a few cycles. The smooth varnished surface of a Magic: the Gathering card is an excellent material. It will withstand more cycles and is fairly strong. Since paper (and Magic cards) does not have "negligible" thickness anymore (you're now working with a system that will requires a few thousandths of an inch in terms of tolerance to work well), you need to account for the overlap of paper. Magic cards have a thickness of 0.30988 mm (experimentally measured), which translates to 0.0122 in. This is enough to make your cylinder a slight oval if there's overlap. (If you consider that the accuracy of hand building has a tolerance in the range of half a millimeter anyways, it might not matter in the long run. And you can always correct for it later...)

Figure 2: The socket.

By acknowledging paper overlap, we form our socket by cutting out a strip of Magic card of a length equal to our projected ball diameter so that when we curl it up, both ends sit flush with each other, thereby eliminating the overlap. Once you have your cylinder, you can freely complete the cylinder with additional layer of Magic card without worrying as much about overlap. Removing overlap helps reduce wear of the ball and socket over time, since the raised edge is most likely to wear first.

Remember: paper is not incompressible. You'll lose a few thousandths over time. Adjust accordingly.

The Ball
The ball part is perhaps the most difficult part to build. Not also do you need to have the dimensions as close as possible for a tight fit, it needs to be built well and uniform.

First, you'll need a decent support rod to use. 1/8" (3.175 mm) diameter bamboo sticks are a good choice. They're usually $2 for a pack of 100. Pick one with low eccentricity if possible, and look for non-slivering/splintering ones. Those will snap first over time.

Next, you'll need to use the excel sheet for making cylinders. I suggest using 110lb cardstock for the ball, since it's easier to work with and tears less than printer paper. However, printer paper glued together with superglue will provide a nice solid sphere. I like to sand the ball after it's made, so I use 110lb.

Figure 3: Tapering the strip. Note the 5cm allowance before tapering.

To make the spherical shape, you need to taper the strip to a triangular shape. If using the 1/8" rod method, start the taper from 5cm from the starting edge and taper it linearly to 3mm to the other side.

Roll the paper around the rod as tight as possible. Any gaps or loosely bonded sections will result in failure in the rod axial direction, meaning it will start to deform and separate as you push it in the socket.

After you've finished, your sphere will be somewhat octagonal in cross section. Break out those calipers and sand that sphere down to as best as you can to a uniform diameter throughout. Irregularities will result in uneven performance, where certain positions are looser than others. You ideally want the ball to be a few thousandths (0.003-0.010 in) larger than the socket for a nice snug fit.

Adjusting the Fit
Your ball and socket joint may be loose or come loose over time due to thermal expansion, humidity, wear or other factors. You can easily adjust the joint to regain stiffness. Options include:
  1. Adding some additional material to pad out the socket to reduce the inner diameter. I suggest using a small section of paper (printer or 110lb works, depending on the looseness) inserted into the joint
  2. Thickening the ball with superglue. Make sure the ball is dried completely before re-inserting.
If there are any other adjustments or updates, I'll add them as necessary to this page.