Sunday, October 31, 2010

This Weekend's Project: Reworking the TF2 Rocket Launcher

This weekend's project comes from the pile of "looked ok 2 years ago, but looks like crap compared to newer stuff" programs. The Soldier's rocket launcher has been a simple and primitive build. The paint has been very lackluster. However, there was little improvement possible for the build, leaving just a new paint job and maybe a few extra polygons.

Here's the 2008 prototype model (top), compared with the 2010 production model (bottom). Major changes include the less-half-assed construction, increased weight due to a liberal use of Magic: the Gathering cards for a stiffer build, thinner inner barrel diameter, and the addition of a firing mechanism.

Yes, this model fires out projectiles.

The Mechanism
Let's go build ourselves a working paper rocket launcher, shall we? First, let's explain a few things. This mechanism is a simple, using a total of two moving parts: a trigger and a launcher rod. There's two springs, easily obtained from mechanical pencils.

 The mechanism works by the use of this odd shaped metal wand and a wooden 3.175 diameter dowel with a 6mm diameter head. The barrel diameter is 6.35mm, giving the rod enough clearance to move around freely.

 The rod fits in a slot that runs through the diameter of the barrel.

 The part that dips low at the top between the "ears" obstructs the head of the launcher rod from moving. Pushing the metal wand upwards into the slot in the barrel allows the dip to slide into the barrel wall, leaving the barrel clear. It's a simple mechanism that is reliable and fairly easy to build. The downside is that it requires a large diameter barrel to make good use of it.

The Build
You'll need the following schematics for the major components:

You'll need the following tools:
  • This excel spreadsheet from this explanatory post explaining how to make cylinders out of paper 
  • 110lb cardstock (don't even bother using printer paper)tack of Magic: the Gathering cards (or structural equivalent, Yu-Gi-Oh! cards need not apply.)
  • X-Acto knife and a cutting surface, and regular scissors
  • ruler
  • Sandpaper (coarse grit at a minimum)
  • Elmer's glue (any strength, but not a Glue Stick), and Super Glue of any type
  • Paper clips (smaller the diameter, the easier)
  • One 1/8" (3.175mm) diameter wooden stick
  • Guide to building with Magic: the Gathering cards (optional)
  • Pliers (Jewelry Beadmaking pliers HIGHLY recommended, regular needle nose pliers mandatory)
  • Badass paper clip bending skills
The level of involvement of Magic card use for this project is minimal and borderline optional. There's only one part that requires cards, and it's pretty easy. The biggest challenge will be your ability to bend a paper clip to this following component:

 This is the key to a successful construction. The closer you are to the dimensions, the better the result. The two legs of the wand have a little protrusion for holding the end of the spring between the head and the middle of the wand. Without that small protrusion, the wand will slide out of the handle, and the spring won't have anything to push against. Your success will depend on whether you can replicate that out of a paper clip. Hope you bought that 100 pack. Don't even try it by hand.

About building the wand: Use a beadmaker's jewelry pliers with thin rounded tips to initiate small bends. After the bends get close to a "U" shape, compress the entire "U" together with needle nose pliers. You'll have two chances to get it right. You can usually undo the bend once before the metal is too fatigued and snaps apart with a second attempt.

About the spring: start from the wand's open end and take the termination end of the spring coil and thread it around the two legs. Spin the spring around until it eventually screws into the region. You should be able to compress the spring while it sits in between the wand head and the protrusions in the middle without any obstructions.

Building the components

 The center object is the trigger housing. The housing preferably should be made of Magic cards. The side wall is 2 cards thick, and the thin walls are 3 cards thick. A plastinated wall made of 110lb cardstock and enough super glue permeating through it may be acceptable, but is very messy. The center of the trigger housing has two walls protruding inside the trigger pathway. This is there to keep the trigger from falling out too far. May be critical if your spring is too stiff or too long for the wand. This, and the bottom of the trigger will be the only parts that Magic cards are helpful for, but can be done without.

 Now if you've built all the pieces, you should now have the following items:
 These are the major components needed. Anything not mentioned in the drawings is stylistic and not structure critical. Depending on your spring length, you may need to either trim it down or change the dimensions by pushing back the rear end stop into the conical part.

The sight works better if you use Magic cards. I did it with 110lb cardstock 2 years ago and it was acceptable.

 The rear part of the launcher is made of three conical sections. You can put them together by making cones or carving down a cylinder. Not structurally important, as long as it stays together.

The build is mostly tubes and squares. A simple project by normal means. I recommend doing some test fires before gluing both halves together. Always good to verify the mechanism works reliably now than have to redo a section later because of a failure. The mechanism isn't the best, but it's effective. You will need to push the trigger in as you load the rocket launcher so the head can clear the obstruction. I haven't tested out other means of assisting the load mechanism, but there's some room for improvement.

After you've assembled the rocket launcher, you'll want some rockets. I recommend making generic projectiles 5mm in diameter and fairly long so you can push the launcher rod in with it. They go fairly far using mechanical pencil springs, despite my reservations.

Happy blasting! (Now with video!)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

TF2 Minigun Documentation

Doing a bit of housecleaning on this mess of a blog. Realized that I've never posted the drawings used to build the Heavy's minigun.  The drawings were used as a backdrop for the finished model. It's like I suddenly had a minigun built, without any construction progress documented at all. Not too useful if I for some reason need to rebuild one. Luckily, I've re-drawn 95% of the parts properly, so that even you have a chance in hell of reproducing the minigun!

 There's four sheets of diagrams total to document each part. This model can be built entirely out of 110lb cardstock and 1/8" diameter bamboo sticks, with little or no Magic: the Gathering requirement for strength. You'll need a good understanding of how to read an engineering drawing, otherwise parts may get confusing. All dimensions are in millimeters.

Assembling them all together is left up to you using a general idea of where the parts go. Shouldn't be too hard. I haven't split up the parts into basic components, so how you go about it is up to you. There's a lot of weight for the model, so you'll have to get creative in saving weight. It won't be a good beginner's model, but handy if you need to draw most of the gun using CAD, and wanting the result to be in scale. 

EDIT: Thanks to wargrounds for pointing out some errors in the schematic that make the assembly ambiguous. The updated schematic is here and the old one taken down.
This sheet details the spinning barrel assembly.  Details how the inner and outer assembly are made, along with the end cap to allow the inner assembly to stay in place while allowing for rotation.

 Miscellaneous decorative elements and the supports for the carrying handle.

 Main handle assembly and small view of how the barrel is assembled using the featured rod.

All these parts deal with the  ammo drum and the six barrels. The center item with the multiple specified lengths of tube to make deals with the individual sections of the barrel. These fit over the 115mm long rod, and are spaced out with the four disks and the muzzle.

 It looks huge, but it is 1:6 scale despite what I thought it was. This will help you figure out where everything goes.

I'm in the process of cleaning up some old drawings to save folder space. Nothing like having a folder stuffed full of schematics for 1:6 scale junk no one wants to build.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This Weekend's Project: 1:6 Scale Pancor Jackhammer MK3A1, Version 2

This weekend's project is part of the continuous improvements tasks, where I blatantly don't try to build anything new and revisit older projects since I have little incentive to go forwards. A little under two years ago, I built a 1:6 scale model of the defunct Pancor Corporation's Jackhammer automatic shotgun. That model was pretty good back then. But that's like saying "You did a great job there building that hovel with those rocks and twigs, but you could have used this shovel if you knew how to back then and make it suck less."

So, with Disappointment Depot behind us, let's move onto another Bad Tutorial! Last time, I attempted to teach you how to build a TF2 shotgun. Now I'm going to semi-attempt to tell you how to build your own Pancor Jackhammer. Chances are if you can't build the first one, you sure as hell aren't going to make it far on this one! With the demeaning taunts done (or am I), let's get to the schematic.

For this task, you'll need the following tools:
  • Stack of Magic: the Gathering cards (or structural equivalent, Yu-Gi-Oh! cards need not apply.)
  • X-Acto knife and a cutting surface, and regular scissors
  • 110lb cardstock and regular printer paper
  • ruler
  • Sandpaper (coarse grit at a minimum)
  • Tweezers (by Yawgmoth almighty, you'll want these badly)
  • Elmer's glue (any strength, but not a Glue Stick), and Super Glue of any type
  • Paper clips, and preferably a 1/8" diameter rod
  • Dial calipers (oh hell yes you need this unless you're a savant)
  • This excel spreadsheet from this explanatory post explaining how to make cylinders out of paper
  • Guide to building with Magic: the Gathering cards (optional)
  • Pliers (recommended unless you're a badass)
  • 1/16" hand drill (highly recommended, but completely optional)
 That's a lot of tools, no? You'll need every single tool here unless you're a badass. I'm not a badass.

From the schematic, you'll need to make a few templates out of cards or 110lb cardstock to trace out sections of the gun. I've drawn some diagrams of how some parts need to be assembled, but you'll have to fill in the gaps. It's like woodworking, or shop class, except my shop class experience was a lot of New Yankee Workshop episodes on PBS and no actual building.

I've fortunately done most of the hard work for you, mapping out all the major components. We'll break down the gun into regions to work on. We have the following zones and sub components:
  • Magazine (1x 9mm outer diameter, 2mm inner diameter 110lb cardstock cylinder, 12.5mm long; 10x 3.175mm inner diameter, 4mm outer diameter printer paper cylinders, all 12mm long)
  • Grip/receiver (Magic: the Gathering cards, to be documented later))
  • Pump (2mm diameter rod, 75mm long, made from a paper clip and covered with a roll of printer paper glued with loc-tite super glue; lots of MtG cards)
  • Magazine housing (13mm wide x 32mm long MtG strips glued together to form a 10mm radius half arc; 2x MtG card covers built to schematic specs, 4 cards thick)
  • Stock (2x 8mm outer diameter, 3.175 mm inner diameter, 16mm long 110lb cardstock tubes)
  • Carrying handle/sights (MtG cards, to be documented later)
  • Barrel and muzzle (45mm long, 3.175 inner diameter, 7mm outer diameter tube; compound tube with a 13.5mm long, 8.5mm outer diameter first section; transitioning to a 10mm outer diameter, 3.5mm long second section, uniform 7mm inner diameter throughout; 100lb cardstock)
Good Galacian, that was a lot of stuff to build. Here's what most of that junk looks like:

If you thought that was hard, well, the rest is more of the same. Time to explain the receiver/grip and the pump. For this model, we're going to make the model have a sliding pump to release the magazine like the real one supposedly does. You can skip parts of this if you wish, and it'll make the job obscenely easier. I'll note the options you can skip if you want a static model and describe anyalternate steps in italics.

The top part shows the template for the grip/receiver. Trace out this on a 4-card thick lamination of Magic cards.  Cut a 2mm wide groove along the receiver, above where the trigger guard is, but only cut it 3 cards deep and not all the way through to the 4th card. Glue two of these together to make a 8 card thick block of Magic cards. Add two 3-card thick panels of 33mmx13mm to the sides of the receiver to thicken it to 5mm.

The pump needs a template too. Of the 9mm tall section, you'll need just 6mm of height, as the center region will mate with the barrel's underside. Do the same as the receiver and cut a 2mm wide groove on the bottom of two 4-card thick sections of the pump. Roll printer paper around a straightened paper clip until you reach a diameter of slightly under 2mm. Glue this rod to the pump groove, and only to the pump groove. Highly suggest using loc-tite or super glue to coat the rod to enhance durability. Make 16 cards thick worth of the center part of the pump, then another 3 card section of the full profile to do the side grips. The additional 3mm will overlap the barrel, and needs to be bent outwards slightly. Tweezers helps a lot with this task.

The magazine.
I want my magazine to be removable and to be able to have ten 12 gauge shotgun shells be loaded into the chambers. If you're making this model static, simply build a 18mm outer diameter tube with any reasonable inner diameter and a height of 12mm, and skip the rest of this step.  Glue 10 of those 3.175 ID/4mmOD tubes around that 9mm tube. Fill in the crevices with some wedges made of MtG cards or anything handy. I offset the 10 tubes by 1mm from the center one so the shotgun shells sit flush with the cylinder face. After this, sand the outside smooth and cover the outer perimeter with printer paper.

The Magazine housing.
Didn't take a damn picture, so here's what you're ultimately trying to get:

It's a hollow section made of two walls and a half circle arc made all of Magic cards. Trace the front profile of the magazine housing from the schematic and make it 4 cards thick. With two 13mm wide, 32mm long strips of Magic cards, glue them together to form a half circle and glue that to both halves. You want the bottom open area to be the side that is completely circular and not the side with the weird dome. Fill in the top dome with 110lb cardstock and sand flush with the sides.

At this stage, you'll want to make the grooves on the side of the magazine. Make some right triangles with 7mm height and 5.6mm width for the side facing the barrel. Make a series of "L's" 6mm tall and 5.6mm wide for the other side. Printer paper works fine.

Barrel and stock assembly: 
Barrel's just two tubes as described earlier, but you'll need to cut the muzzle at a diagonal. Join the muzzle with the barrel and leave 40mm of the barrel in length unobstructed. To attach the barrel to the receiver, go nuts with the super glue or add a 3.175mm diameter rod to the receiver to support the barrel.

For the stock, you'll use two of those 8mm diameter, 16mm long tubes. Flatten the sides of one of them by shaving off material with a sander/knife. Glue the two to the oval looking shape from the stock's drawing. That section needs to be 12 cards thick. Add the little details for the stock at this point. Should be trivial at this stage.

If your gun looks remotely like this, you're doing great! Time to make heat dissipators!
To make these, I used two 8mmx33mm cards glued together, and curved slightly. I drew a 18 hole array onto the sides and drilled them through with a 1/16" hand drill. You can simply poke a crude hole or make a dimple with a ball point pen. To glue these to the gun, glue three 2mm wide strips of MtG cards to the sides of the upper receiver, and stick these on those. See the photo for a reference.

Carrying Handle.
 Trace the template but leave just a 1mm tall section above the holes instead of tracing the full template. Make two identical 2-card thick sections with that template, then glue those to another set of 2-card thick sections. This time, leave the bottom 3mm hanging off, so that the part with holes lines up with the edge of the Magic cards. This will need to be bent outwards with tweezers. I recommend scoring the fold first.

Glue both halves together and rejoice! You've completed the hard parts. Complete the handle by making two 3-card thick rails and gluing them to the upper 1mm wide section above the holes. Should make sense if you look at the schematic. Now it's detailing time!

 The muzzle isn't cylindrical, apparently. I added some flats using 110lb cardstock, and cut slots with a knife to represent the flash diverter things. You can add the trigger and the oval handguards now. I cut a triangular groove in the pump handle sides which may be noticeable in the photo above.

This part sucks no matter who you are. The stock has a separate region that tapers off. I made it using about 22 cards worth of thickness, and cut it to shape using an X-acto knife. Then, I added the little ridges using tweezers. There's a little circle at the bottom of that end piece which I'm uncertain about the purpose of, but it's there on the photos. Have fun doing that.
 So, after a whole week wasted for you guys later, you'll have a 1:6 scale Pancor Jackhammer! Since no company makes a 1:6 scale model of this, this is currently one of few ways you have to obtain one. If you opted to make the moving pump version, go celebrate by buying some 1:6 scale shotgun shells or make your own! You now have the most badass 1:6 scale Pancor Jackhammer model money can't buy (or if you built it poorly, the most crappy model ever!).

 Now go equip some infantry and enjoy using excessive force.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Golgo 13 Suits Up

Rather than sew a terrible suit, I went the easy route and bought a grey suit off toysity. Suit cost me $15 with $15 shipping, adding another $30 to the overall cost of Golgo 13. I'm starting to understand why the Hot Toys Golgo 13 cost $220+. The suit Hot Toys has is pretty obscenely detailed and well done compared to anything else out there.

 The suit set comes with a black shirt, red tie and some very forgiving and flexible shoes. I wanted to get a white suit/black shirt/white tie, but they didn't have plain white suits that looked good. Or white suits in general.

 The suit offers a good range of freedom, combined with the joints of the Dragon Neo 3 Body. However, it should be noted that either the body has rather beefy arms or the suit's really designed for our elbow-challenged non-combatant, Ken. The arms are a rather tight fit.

The pants have pockets and belt loops, which was nice. No belt though, but not complaining. The pants were a tight fit at the waist, with or without the shirt tucked in. May be a bit of a problem if I decide to give Golgo 13 underwear too. The shirt, coat and pants fasten with plastic clasps; no Velcro here. That makes for a clean look, but a very unforgiving fit. Unfortunately, I can't fully put his hand into the pants pocket for his casual pose.
 I can however, hide the fact that I can't by covering his hand with the suit.

 I finally bothered painting the case. Mechanically, I'm happy with it, but it's still large and not a discrete means of transporting an M16. I may try making another variant with the parts angled about for minimum volume and surface area.

 Overall, I'm happy with the suit, despite it not being lined on the inside. For $14, it's ok, but for $30, I'd at least want some extra slack on the waist and a belt. I could have gone the crazy route and bought a $60 suit from Saturday Toys, but I was going for cheap Golgo, not "same price for an inferior product". Right now, we're at $104 for "Golgo 13 for Under $130". The Saturday Toys suit would have made that goal a fail, at $134. And that's without a trench coat too.

 I'm also missing a .38 revolver. Duke Togo will have to make do with a .55+ caliber Ambassador! Not quite an easily concealed revolver, but it'll have to do. I'll have to build a proper revolver, knife and sheath/holster later.Until then, we can now make Duke Togo do completely un-canon acts for our own amusement.

 Hooray for the terrible idea of using my monitor as a backdrop! Duke is not impressed.

What if we had Golgo 13 snipe people with bunny ears?

Golgo 13 does not approve. I wonder if that could be imposed as a job requirement if you hire him.

Fortunately, where Hotaru fails, the mighty hand of J.Norad can force Golgo to do anything.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

This Week's Project: Golgo 13's Rifle Case

I've actually had this project completed last week. I've just been apathetic to finish up the M16A2 first.

Anyways, each Golgo 13 figure has had the M16 rifle stored in a case. I opted to replicate the Hot Toys version since it best fit the layout for the M16A2. Skynet's version is smaller, but I didn't like how the inside was arranged.
Figure 1: Hot Toys' case (top), Skynet's case (bottom)

I like my cases laid out orderly, with none of this "diagonal part orientation" business. 

There's no point posting the sketches I used to build this case, since they're useless and indecipherable to you; not to mention you're totally not going to build this out of Magic: the Gathering cards.

First, we need to construct the two halves of the case. I did my best to size up the Hot Toys' case to my rifle dimensions, and ended up with a 100mmx50mm case interior with an interior depth of about 22mm. I made the bottom half 13mm deep and the top 9mm deep. Since the footpath of the case is larger than the face of one Magic card, I had to make some extended sheets, featured on the left. This does leave a crease in the face where the two cards join, so we'll need to fix that later. For now, I made both sides 4 cards thick.

To make the walls, I did the same technique as I did with the guitar. I laminated strips around the case backs and taped them down as the glue dried. Since there's a lip where the two case halves meet (it's there to help hold the case together when closed), I made the interior wall 2 cards thick and 1mm off from the remaining 2 outer layers. This gave me a 12mm interior wall height and a 13mm outer wall height for the lower case, and a 10mm inner/9mm outer for the top. After these dried, I glued them to the case backs. I added another sheet to the case backs to overlap the wall edges to help hold the two sides together and to hide the edges.

I did a layout check with the parts to see how they'd look inside. I had determined the layout before drafting the case dimensions, because the reverse order is just a bad idea.

For hinges, I used some Loc-Tite bonded printer paper rolls, made around a paper clip. Each half would be glued to the flat sloped pieces, forming the hinge attachment points. The hinges aren't very strong, but with enough Loc-Tite, they can become stronger. I had some issues getting them to stay on securely, even with notching a groove into the cylinders to better mate with the hinge plates.

For the handle, I stacked 12 cards together and hacked away until they formed a decent looking handle. I used more Loc-Tite to roll up the hinge parts (if you use Elmer's or anything that doesn't form a more solid, plastic bond, the hinges will slowly decay over use). The attachment points were some small wedges of 12 Magic cards with a slight groove cut into them to better stick with the hinge parts.

To handle the seams that resulted from gluing two cards together to make one larger surface, I covered the entire case with a single sheet of 110lb cardstock. I tried printer paper, but I had quality problems with the glue not spreading evenly, resulting in air pockets. 110lb cardstock was more forgiving in spreading the glue without tearing. I cut out sections in the side sheets to allow the hinges to be glued directly onto the case walls without fear of the lower strength paper cover tearing off first.

For the feet, I just cut some 3.175mm diameter (1/8") bamboo sticks about 3mm tall.

Naturally, the rifle case has latches or something to hold it together. Since I'm not happy unless there's some absurd detail added to my stuff, I opted for working latches. Bit of a problem due to the small design space. I made some 2mm diameter hinges around a paper clip, attached to a plate made of two Magic cards bonded with Loc-Tite. This is important, since it'll deform and bend quicker if any other glue was used. Practically makes the hinge plastic.

The hinges swing open enough to clear the pin holes I made to secure the latches together. To lock the latches in, I drilled a 1/16" diameter hole into the latch and the latch plate, and glued a 2mm long paper clip into the latch. The paper clip fits securely into the bottom case plate, and doesn't move easily. It only needs to hold the case shut, not support a massive load, so this solution worked fine.

Here's a better view of the latch. I used a Dremel to sand down the paper clip tip to make it flush with the latch.

To fit all the parts into the rifle case, I needed some foam. I bought a sheet from a craft store for $0.99, which was enough to line about 5 cases. I chose black instead of red since I liked a black lining better. The deep red from the Hot Toys case wasn't a color I could easily get at the craft store anyways. I can use the black foam for other things too. I traced out each part onto the foam, and cut them away with an X-Acto knife. There was a few rough edges after cutting, but they're only noticeable with all the parts extracted. I did my best to smoothen it out by trimming. Didn't work that well, but it was acceptable.

For the M16A2, I finally painted the rifle and all the components. I also finished up the two magazines and added a bullet to the top of each mag. The bullets were made by carving a bamboo stick until it somewhat resembled a 5.56 round. I replicated the 20 round mags from the Skynet rifle, since that was the only one I had a decent photo of for a size comparison. The magazine grip grooves were done by cutting V shaped grooves with a knife, and run about 75% of a Magic card's thickness deep.

Instead of choosing to do what Hot Toys did and make Golgo 13 have the option of assembling the rounder triangular M16A1 grip along with the M16A2 grip, I went for a silencer/suppressor. The second grip option made no sense to me since it would just be a M16A2 receiver with a different hand guard. I'd still know that it wasn't truly what it was supposed to look like and it would annoy me. I also found it odd how neither set gave him a suppressor, even though I would assume he'd have one for the more covert jobs. He clearly used them in numerous occasions, so there should have been one in his case. I reworked the integrated flash suppressor to have slots all around instead of just 2 like the ones the Furuta/Soldiers of the World rifles had. This gave me the opportunity to clean up the dimensions to allow the suppressor to be universal with the Soldiers of the World M4 that I used as a reference. Hooray for interchangeability!

Added costs to the "Golgo 13 for Under $130" project: ~$3 (Matte Black paint and foam sheet)
Total costs so far: $66 (body) + $2 sculpey III head + $3 (XM-177 rifle) + $3 (paint and foam) = $74