Monday, October 31, 2011

NPC Motors and Other Stuff Arrives

I've been so busy with my micro videos for the Arkham City Grapple Gun build that I've neglected to post a lot of pics and stuff regarding R2. But don't worry, the lil' feller has not been forgotten.

A week or so ago, these arrived. They are the motors I will be using for the drive system on R2.

As of this writing, all of the parts for the drive system are on hand. What I really need now are foot shells. But I'm working on that, mind you.

The wheels are here also.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My 600th Blog Post.

And is anyone listening?? ;)

It was on November 12, 2007 that I started my first blog. It was dedicated to a single project, the build up of a Star Trek tricorder from an episode named "Endgame." For the record, that tricorder is still not finished.

I suppose this is one of those things where I'm supposed to reflect on what I've accomplished here, throw in some words of wisdom, and overall sound pretty proud of things. I'll give it a shot, but at the end of the day, I still feel like I'm just shouting into an empty room. lol

But for me, blogging is its own reward. I love documenting things that happen in my life, mainly because I love looking back at them after time has passed. I also collect photos of my life, and am still enjoying video tapes that I filmed as many as 20 years ago. I guess it's just part of my psychological makeup. So keeping a blog or two is really just a natural extension of that. And besides, I think it's fun.

I think my greatest thrill comes from meeting people whom are new acquaintances, yet they are intimately familiar with my projects from reading my blog. That's kind of a cool little kick in the teeth, and makes me feel like a celebrity. And isn't that what we all really want at the end of the day.

But let's get back to the projects. As of right now, I've got three projects that I'm really actively working on. The Grapple Gun from Arkham City, the Batmobile, and my second R2-D2. I cranked out a number of smaller builds in recent months, but wanted something more challenging, hence the grapple gun. R2 is just filling in the time until the batmobile shell arrives. When it does, I expect that to take center stage on the project workbench for months to come. I'm sure I will still divert every now and again to work on things like R2 or other "quickie" projects, but I really want to focus my attention on that darn car so I can get it done in a reasonable amount of time.

I've still got a billion things I want to take care of and get done before I keel over, so I'll have to stay busy. For those few of you who are regular readers, I hope I've provided some entertainment over the years, and possibly even some inspiration. Keep the faith, and I'll see you at post 1000!!

Arkham City Build Videos Continue!

This is number 12, I believe. Not very heavy on prop building content, but more a treatise on shopping preferences. Watcher beware.

Overall, the build is going really well, and I'm really enjoying this new format of documentation. I don't think it's sustainable, as it is a lot of work. I find it much easier to just take some photos along the way, then post them up to the blog at the end of the night, along with a few self-important sounding ramblings to give them some flavor.

But making the videos is pretty labor intensive. I've gotten my pipeline perfected, and I am definitely cranking them out with great efficiency, but it still takes about one hour per episode from start to finish. Add into that the overhead involved simply in filming the stuff while I'm doing work.

Don't get me wrong, it's very rewarding, and I'm pleased with the results. However, unless there is high demand for another one of these series' in the future, this will probably be a one time gig. Eh, I take that back. Who knows.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Arkham City Grapple Gun Progress Picture

After a couple of days in the garage, a few hundred bucks on tools, a minor injury to my thumb, and seven micro-videos later, this is where my Batman Grapple Gun stands.

Overall, I am very pleased with the progress. What makes me happiest is that I'm using tools to make tools. I find that fascinating. It's the pinnacle of human development!!!

I'm also learning a lot, and am having a lot of fun. I haven't even started the hand grip yet, but I've learned a lot that I can apply to that part.

Stay tuned for more videos, by the way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Batman: Arkham City Grapple Gun Video Build

I'm doing an experiment with a new build, the grapple gun from Arkham City and Arkham Asylum.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Legs, Armpits and Horseshoes.

I spent a lot of time working on R2 today, but don't have much to show for it. I'm involved in a bunch of detail work that takes a lot of time, and yields minimal results. Allow me to explain.

First up are these arm pit details. It takes a good chunk of time to get the styrent cut to the right lengths, and then the bevels sanded on each end. Then you have to make sure they all fit perfectly, glue the piece in, then putty up the seams. Just very time consuming, and there's four of them to do.

As predicted, I absolutely hate working on the legs. The whole putty/sand/paint/repeat process is just killing me. I picked up some different primer the other day that goes on much heavier, and that's making things go faster. But still, at the end of the day it's just very unsatisfying work. Still loads to do too.

For reference, here is how my work bench looks after ONE DAY of work. It was clean when I started this morning. Once I kind of get rolling, putting stuff away takes a back seat.

I worked on these little buggers A LOT today, and still didn't quite get it right. I'm trying to fix the radius on the corners here, using my dremel and the router attachment. I think it might be time to just go buy a good router. Ugh. These are not turning out really well, and I think I just need to step away from it for a while, and come back fresh some other day.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Primer Tests, Coin Return

Work continues on the coin return innards.

I'm doing some primer tests. I've committed myself to using off the shelf paints for the body and legs. The auto stuff I used last time is too much hassle, hard to maintain, costs a fortune, etc. So here I'm doing some tests to find the primer that works best with the white paint.

Coin Return, Rockler

I finished my first scratch built coin return. Overall, I think it turned out OK. It's far from perfect, but it will do.

The rockler bearing also arrived. This is what R2's head sits on so that it can spin.

Pocket Vents and Skirt.

There was some pretty significant clean up to be done on the pocket vents. I used super glue gel and some zap kick to fill in the big holes, then puttied over the tiny cracks. Oh, here's a pro tip. If you want one side of the surface to be really smooth, like the facing side, put down some scotch tape, then glue from behind. Its not perfect, but it saves you from having to grind down a big bubble of glue.

Then onto some primer.

The skirt is just about finished, I think. I may need to add some junk to the inside to reinforce it, but cosmetically, it's where it needs to be.

R2: Center Vents Are Done.

Not much to report other than these are done. They are a little sloppy, but oh well. I probably should have been a little more careful when getting the vents to fit inside the surrounds, but it's one of those details I'm convinced nobody will ever notice.

R2: Lots of Misc Progress.

Some scrap metal I'm going to use for the coin returns. These are just pieces cut out of the skins that have no actual purpose for R2.

This is the drawing I made in Adobe Illustrator of the coin return innards.

Here is a paper prototype I made for the innards of the coin return. I didn't get it right the first time, but nailed it the second time.

I put another coat of primer on the back door.

After a few hours of filing, grinding, and measuring, I have these. Overall the shape is really nice, and I'm quite pleased with them. But because they got handled so much, the surface is not quite where it needs to be. But for a part that is so insignificant in the overall R2 appearance, I'm not that worried about it.

R2: Senna Drive Train Parts ALL Ordered

Today I ordered the last few parts I need to put together the Senna drive train. As soon as the NPC parts and the wheels show up, I'll have everything. However, based on Mike's recommendation, I should wait until I have my feet in order to start working on the drive. Fair enough. Hopefully I'll have more news on that front shortly.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

R2: Primer, Primer, Everywhere!

Here's the first shoulder as it came out of the clamps. A little bit of sanding to do, and some edge clean up needed.

Here's the other shoulder clamped together.

The center vent surrounds got some primer, but there is still some clean up to do on these.

The body got its first coat of primer.

I put a coat of primer on the shoulder shims. These will be painted silver eventually.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

R2: Skirt, Skins and Shims

First up is the skirt. I pulled out my belt sander to work on some shims, and figured while I had it out, I would sand the flash off the back of the skirt. I did a TINY bit of sanding on the surface, and then hit it with a coat of primer. This is a good example of a situation I am going to handle differently on this R2. On my first one, I spent A LOT of time cleaning up all the little problems with the skirt, all the while lamenting the fact that note of that hard work was going to be seen. And it's true, none of it was seen. So this time around, I'm just going to do a little bit of clean up, you know, like the major dings or holes, and then be done with it.

I also did some more work in securing the skins evenly. Ultimately, they are not perfect, but nobody will know. I had to go back and re-glue a few parts, and also drilled a few more holes for screws. Here you can see a new technique I am using to apply pressure to glued parts, so that they will go together more snugly. I'm using little blocks of MDF and masking tape. That way, I get a good amount of downward pressure in areas where magnets would not work. Pretty clever!

Not really exciting, but here you can see where I've glued in five panels on the back door. Only a couple more to go, and the back door will be complete.

And here you can see a shim I am gluing in place, in where the shoulder will go. The idea here is that the frame didn't go together perfectly, and in some parts, the frame is not supporting the skins. I guess in retrospect, I could have just shaved a thin piece of wood and stuck it down the crack, but instead I just glued in a thick piece of MDF that takes up the necessary space. No big deal, but it works.

Friday, October 7, 2011

R2 Back Door & Body Panels

Despite the fact that my foot is still hurting, I managed to get some good work done on R2 this morning.

I removed all the tape and magnets from the most recent round of body panel gluing I did last night, and put a few more in place. I then spent about thirty minutes using my dremel and a cutoff wheel removing the back door from R2's body.

Here you can see the panel I removed from the inner skins, and also the outer skin that will compose the back door. Removing all of those panels from the outer skin was a bit of a pain. Because the metal is so thin, it's rather delicate and you have to take your time. Otherwise, you risk distorting and stretching the metal.

I then slathered on some glue, and got the two pices of the back door together. I used a combination of clamps and magnets to ensure proper fitting while the glue cures.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

R2 Body Work Continues

I managed to break a few bones in my right foot yesterday, which means work on R2 may slow down. Kind of a super bummer, as I was planning on using this non-mattmobile time to plow forward on R2. Oh well. Still, I'm doing what I can.

For the most part, this means gluing in the little rectangle shapes on the body. As you can see, I've finished attaching the inner and outer skins to the wooden body. Now it's just a matter of gluing in all the little inserts. The glue takes about six hours to fully cure, which means I can do a couple sets per day. I use rare earth magnets to hold the inserts in place while the glue cures.

I also flattened out the radius on the ankles.

Rear Lights & Seats

Still not much to report lately on the MattMobile build front, though I continue to collect parts, tools, and research data.

Recently, a few big boxes arrived at my house!

The two big ones contain the racing seats I purchased from ebay. The smaller box contains two ferrari lamps I purchased from a dealer in England. These will be the large tail lights. I still need to find the small ones.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

RPF Lapel Pins

Got my order in the mail today. They turned out great!

R2: Body Work, and Guts Pulled

Today I made a significant decision about progress. I'm going to pull a lot of parts off my existing R2. I'm going to take the drive system out, and the dome motor. I have also decided, for the sake of speed to completion, to use the entire dome from my first R2 for the second. This will allow me to finish the "walking" droid much faster. I can then go back and do the dome at a more leisurely pace.

Here's version 1.0, with all of his guts pulled out.

Here's the guts!

I got a lot of work done today on the new guy. I assembled and glued together the body frame, and also attached the inner front and back skins.

Klingon Disruptor Detail Parts Painted

This represents the last little bit of detail painting I needed to do on the Klingon Disruptor. I still need to do some weathering, but other than that, it's essentially finished.

Monday, October 3, 2011

R2: Aluminum Skins Acquired

If there is one thing that has been consistent in my experiences with the R2 Builders club and R2 builders in general, it's their generosity, patience, and kindness. Generosity both with their time and knowledge. And often their supplies.

Today was no exception. In fact, today was kind of one of those days that makes me wish I spent more time within the R2 building hobby. With that sappiness aside, I'll get down to the story.

Long story short, I have of course kept in touch with a few of my fellow, local R2 builders, and the very moment I reach out to them for assistance, they bring it. Like madmen! I spent a couple hours with the legendary Mike Senna today, checking out his latest projects, and also chatting about R2, naturally. Because I'm doing this droid differently than my last one, there are a number of things that I don't know how to do. Fortunately, Mike has blazed the trail on the exact topics I'm interested in, so he's the perfect dude to talk to. Just an all around nice guy, with a real knack for mechanical solutions.

Then it was off to FELLOW nice guy, Matt Henricks. He of course is the gent who provided some expertly made pieces to the club, a couple of which I own. In my conversation with Matt just the day prior, he convinced me to go with Al skins instead of styrene. Not so much convinced, as gave me the nudge I knew I needed to get me pointed in the direction I knew I wanted to go. The thing that really sealed the deal was when Matt offered me one of his spare sets of skins. Now THAT is brotherhood!!!! :) I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up with Matt, checking out his stellar array of impressive projects, and of course, chatting about R2. And the Batmobile too!!! I happened to have a couple of Batmobile (oops, I mean "MattMobile") parts in my trunk, and he seemed pretty fascinated by them. Anyhow, apologies for the unusually gruesome "Smoke blowing up skirt" episode of The Project Workbench, but man, it was just such a great experience to hang out with fellow builders who are both enthusiastic and positive. We really need more of them, and it makes spending time in the hobby so much more worthwhile!

Thanks guys!

But onto the good stuff. Here are the skins that Matt so generously provided to me.

My goal for the next 24 hours is to get the frame assembled, and if I can figure out what adhesive to use, to get the skins mounted to the frame. I also want to start sanding down the dome. Things have changed a lot since I put together my last droid, and the dome surface is now MUCH smoother, and should require a lot less work. I'm also going to review my old blog entries to see how I did it last time, in the hope of recreating the same finish.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

R2: Frame, Legs, Center Vents

I got a surprising amount of work done today, and I'm pretty happy about it. It was one of those "lots to show" kind of days, which is always gratifying.

I unclamped the second leg, and they both look great together. Definitely a lot of edge clean up and sanding to do, but the overall shape is just beautiful. I'm very happy with the Henricks kit, and glad I went in on it.

I sanded flat the backs of all of my resin pieces. There's a few that I can start painting and getting ready for attachment, independent of anything else. That's always a good thing.

But the real magic of the day comes in the form of the frame. I did a mock up build of the frame just the other day, only to realize that a major piece was missing. The top ring. I purchased the kit from Matt more than four years ago, so I was a little worried. I wasn't sure if Matt was still making the kits, if he had left over parts, if the kit had undergone revisions, or whatever. I put an email out to Matt, and he had bad news. The router was no longer available, so he would not be able to immediately put together a new part. But the next day, he emailed again to say he had miraculously found the part I needed! whoohoo! EVEN better, Matt was going to be in my neck of the woods on Saturday for a car show, and he was going to bring the part with him. I met with Matt, got the part, and was back in business.

Folks, THAT is customer service.

That said, it was also really great to chat with Matt, catch up, see what he's been up to, and talk some shop. I felt a little guilty for interrupting his time with his son, but the lil' feller seemed really distracted by all the cars and the award ceremony, so I soldiered through my guilt. Matt had some good advice for me, and told me a few things I already knew. We talked a bit about the direction I am going with my droid, namely that I'm going with styrene skins. He confirmed what I already believed: that there are two parts on the droid you REALLY need to have as metal. The dome and the skins. I always knew this, BUT I figured for the sake of getting him completed in a reasonable time, I would go with styrene. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of beautiful styrene builds out there, and I'm not knocking it. It's ENTIRELY personal preference, based on a million factors, including budget, tools, available materials, skill set, comfort level, etc. But for me, I always knew in my heart that what I wanted was aluminum skins.

The problem is, there are none available. I've asked a few friends if they had an extra set, and nobody does. I don't know when the next run is happening, so I figured I'd just go with styrene.

I will finish this story up in my next post.

I did a mock up assembly of the frame tonight. No glue or screws, I just wanted to make sure I knew how the whole thing went together, and that there were no MORE missing pieces!! :) After about ten minutes, I arrived at this:

I still have some pending questions about assembly, though I suspect reading the instructions will answer many of them.

Lastly, I began assembly on the vents. I didn't even know I had an aluminum kit, but I do. I think I may have gotten this from Mike Senna. Thank you Mikey! I am using that glue from Evercoat, "Maxim", which is just amazing. It's way better than JB weld, though a tube of it is about 40 bucks. It's the same size as a tube of caulk, so you get TONS of it. Ounce for ounce, I'm sure it's cheaper than JB, but you have to buy a ton of it. Still, the stuff is amazing, and I recommend it to anyone gluing metal parts.

That's all for today. My plan for tomorrow is to glue together the body.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

R2: Leg Assembly, and General Unpacking.

September 30th, 2011. My first official day working (again) on R2 number 2. For reference, this will be a regular R2-D2, not one of the variant droids. I'm not looking to be an individual :)

I've also decided that I WILL resurrect the R2 blog, though only as a duplicate of what I put here. I personally like the organization I came up with on that site, and want to maintain it for reference. I've also decided that I am not going to make the blog as detailed as the first R2 build. In general, it will focus on the days accomplishments, not so much how I got there. I fear that if I try to document it too well, I'll lose traction.

Here is the Henricks leg kit, as it came, straight out of the box.

I got the instructions sheet from Matt, and got to work on it. I ended up using some different dowel rods that were SLIGHTLY smaller, and a much better fit. I also had to pick up some new clamps, as the ones I had were not big enough. And there were not enough of them.

I used a micrometer to measure the lengths, a vice to hold the dowel, and a coping saw to cut.

Here's the center leg all glued together.

Here's how the outer leg looks all clamped together.

I went through my old R2 boxes and dug out all the left over or duplicate parts from my last build. I would say I have more than 50% of the parts covered.

The naked dome! I really hope all the heartache I endured on the last dome pays off on this one. I can feel that I'm already intimidated by it.

I did end up finishing all of the legs. Now comes the fun part of puttying, painting and sanding them until they are smooth.