Monday, July 05, 2010

Celebrating July: Maltese "Build a Modular SMG Month"

Finally got around to working on something for a change. There haven't been any other projects worth pursuing, despite playing a game that offered 13 million gun possibilities. A different scope or magazine does not mean an entirely different gun. We call that an "accessory". Borderlands was a rather disappointing run after you realize your weapon never matches the level you're at ever, and the best loot gets acquired long after you're bored with the story missions. "Hooray! I got me a TD52 Cobalt Tsunami! I can use it on that fun mission that I can't play now because the mission was a one time event!"

Anyways, enough of that mess. I've secured my first trophy, Sledge's Shotgun, since that gun was notable in appearance and function. However, my second trophy is distinguished by in-game function only and has 750 variants (150 if you remove magazine choices), and is visually identical to a generic version. It's the only other gun worth considering: the Maliwan Hellfire. In particular, I'm interested in the HX (body 5) version, Cobalt material grade. To better explain the scope of this project, let's bring on some diagrams!

Figure 1: The Pain Begins.

The above drawing is the preliminary planning for the gun. Since I don't want to build 150 versions of this gun, I'm going the modular route and building interchangeable parts. There's 5 different bodies, 6 stocks (counting no stock), 5 barrels, 5 magazines and one grip to choose from. (Maliwan by default is grip 3 for SMGs, therefore there is no option for that to choose from). This gives me an idea of what I'm looking at in terms of total parts to build.

The next phase of building is taking reference photos and scaling profile shots for use in drafting up schematics. Only problem is that there's no sense of scale in the game to use, and the gun wasn't designed to be ergonomic, based on preliminary fit tests. This resulted in an understanding that the g43 standard I've been using omitted a critical weapon category in determining scaling: bullpup configurations. I have not factored in ergonomics for bullpup rifles, which the Patrol SMG fits in, shape-wise. With some rough estimates from other rifles, I've accepted that a comfortable bullpup config has a 1:6 scale length from stock end to middle of the trigger of anywhere from 6-7 millimeters. This value gave me more variance than I liked. I settled for a reasonable and comfortable 6mm distance and set out taking screenshots.

Figure 2: Welcome to Hell. Fire.

I'm focusing on the HX designated body 5 for now. Bodies 1-4 will be built later. Screenshots were compiled by running through a glitched Armory level and picking up every Maliwan SMG in every chest for a good sample population, then chucking them all to the ground. Could have gathered them with the save editor, but that's no fun. I figured out the naming conventions for patrol SMGs in the process, which are detailed in Figure 1. Body 4 for Maliwan SMGs was the rarest for me, as a side note. The following diagrams were drafted for the key parts:

Figure 3: HX body laminate construction

Figure 4: Barrels

Figure 5: Body 5, Barrel 4

Figure 6: Magazines and Grip

Figure 7: Stocks

With that out of the way, It's time to build stuff. Figure 6 details the actual mechanism used to connect all the parts together. A T shaped rail integral to the grip will hold the barrel and body together. This piece required reasonable uniformity in spacing throughout. I found that a 2mm wide rail 2 cards thick retained enough strength to not shear off during repeated use.
The stock uses the same mechanism to hold into place with minimal wobbling. Here's a photo of the individual layers of stock 4. The middle layer has a notch to accept the mounting rail part. All sections are 4 cards thick.

Gluing stacks of card together is trivial to explain by now. I'm confident you all can glue 12 cards together and cut them. Parts here were built with some modifications to the diagrams from Figures 3-7.

Test fit of the HX430 config. No barrel has been built for Barrel 4 yet.

Test fit for Stock 3, in the HX 330 config. Stock 3 and 1 are the most unstable to build due to their low amount of material.

Stock 3 consists of two rods with notches that fit onto the retaining rail for mounting the stock. Not doing so would allow it to shear easily. Other options involved drilling holes and reinforcing with paper clips, which is what I did for the rear part of the rods.

I've started on the details for individual components, after being satisfied with how the parts fit together. At this stage, I've completed magazines 1,2,3,4, barrels, 1,2,3,4, stocks 2,3,4,5 and body 5 and tested for compatibility with each configuration. Time to etch out the grip details.

The grip has a few uneven layers that need to be carved. I took care of the larger noticeable side profile depressions by tracing them on with the template shown in the middle. I used an X-acto blade to cut out a groove, then peeled off the card layers gradually until the desired thickness was achieved.

After some carving, this was the end result.

The HX230 is looking better with the semi-finished grip. At least it matches now. Time for some part roundups.

HX 100, with barrel 1

HX 220 with barrel 2

HX 330 with barrel 3

HX 440 with barrel 4

Stock 5 was built, but I wanted to illustrate the parts with similar numerical groupings. Barrel 5 and magazine 5 have yet to be completed. After those are completed, work may begin on the other bodies.


Sabine said...

Holy crap! Awesome posts like this are why I check your blog almost daily.

How do you cut the holes in those parts?

JNORAD said...


For a thicker laminated part, I score the top layer of card, then peel it off. This forms a boundary between the higher and the newly formed lower layer that I can continue tracing with a knife. I progressively cut until enough layers get removed. This works for smaller holes.

Larger holes just get drilled through with a Dremel and the edges are carved with an X-acto knife. Hope that explains what you're asking about.

Sabine said...

Yep, it did. Thanks :) I do have building your shotgun in my project list.