Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Stretch Is Finished!

A MAJOR step in the build has been finished tonight. The chassis is now extended to the desired length! This is great news, and I have Bo to thank for all the hard work and expertise he put into it.

Today was pretty straightforward, just removing the mounting blocks and finishing up the welds.

In other news, the shell is complete and the extra parts are almost done. It will be ready for pick up in about one week. I'm currently exploring options on how to best make this happen.

One route I'm considering is pimping the job out to the TV show "Shipping Wars", which focuses on transportation of weird or exotic goods. I think the MattMobile sure qualifies! I'm not entirely sure if I want to attract THAT much attention to the build, but I haven't exactly been keeping a low profile.

Caprice Stretch Is ALMOST Done!

BTW came over last night for a few hours of work. He brought with him a set of four brackets he had fabricated earlier. The brackets are designed to allow for precision vertical alignment of the rails on the frame.

After a few hours of measuring, hammering, and welding, here's how things look:

Here are the brackets that Bo welded onto the rails.

Good stuff! There's a bit of welding left to do, but I have every expectation that this will be complete before the end of the night. Awesome work Bo!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Front Plates Welded In

A quick session of welding today saw BTW attach the square plates to the front of the frame. Now all four plates are welded into place. Bo has concocted a neat methodology for attaching the rails to the body with a high degree of precision. He's going to fabricate a few little parts tomorrow at work, and bring them over afterwards for the build.

I see now that welding is a lot like machining. In the sense that you are constantly coming up with new and unique ways to solve unique problems. There's never a "one size fits all solution" but are instead a wide range of solutions that can be chosen from, depending on your skill level and the availability of materials and tools.

There's a VERY real chance, barring catastrophe or the unknown, that the stretch will be finished tomorrow.

Monday, March 26, 2012

TOS Tri-Viewer Update

Progress continues on the Tri-Viewer!

I've finished assembly of the monitor. This meant measuring out and cutting those three slats that go in on the tips of the triangles. I still need to cut down the sharp corners of the base and lid, but it's getting there.

The base is finished and painted. I have forgotten how agonizingly difficult it is to clean out EVERY little detail on porous surfaces. I really quite hate it! Very time consuming, and even after hours and hours of work, it's still not totally without flaw. BUT it will look great on film, that's for sure!

In other news, my Torchwood Vortex Manipulator FINALLY showed up. Shapeways was a little slow, but finally delivered. It looks pretty nice, though it needs some cleaning up. Smaller than I expected too!

Friday, March 23, 2012

What Does $450 In Steel Look Like?

It looks like this:

Yup, these six pieces of steel cost me $450 bucks. To be fair, some of that cost came from fees for precision cutting, but still, you can see how this is going to get expensive pretty quick.

Tri-Viewer Body and Base Primered.

Here's a couple shots of the tri viewer as of this morning. I have a couple of coats of primer on both the base and the body. That MDF just soaks up primer like a sponge! I'm going to give it a light coat of spot filler, to save me a tons of time.

As mentioned before, I'm extremely pleased with the overall dimensions of these pieces, and the uniformity. For something made out of press board and MDF, these turned out beautifully.

MattMobile Update - Caprice Sawed In Half

It almost kind of looks like an optical illusion. Your intuition tells you there's something terribly wrong, but you can't quite put your finger on it.

Well, it turns out... the car is now officially sawed in half! woah!

Bo came over yesterday with some steel, and his knowledge. While I was out doing a run to Lowe's, he finished the cuts on the other side of the chassis, thus rendering it in half.

Bo also did some work setting up the welder, and making sure it was working properly. After some trickery, he got it up and running. A couple of quick test welds were done, and we were finished for the night.

Overall, a very successful night. What I need now is a grinder. Work was halted because some grinding work needs to be done. Bo is going to bring his over on Monday to keep things moving.

Star Trek Tri-Viewer Progress

Yesterday was an extremely productive day on the Tri-Viewer. I spent many hours out in the garage working on this, and it came together very nicely. The bad news is that I've now officially entered the really painful phase of the project, which is the putty/sand/primer/repeat phase. ugh!

Here you can see the main body is complete, and I've started puttying up the edges. I still need to install three vertical slats on the side, but the overall construction of the main body is complete. I drilled wood screws into the underside, so the thing is never going to just fall apart. I'm also really happy with the pyramid.

In one afternoon, I finished the base. It may not look like much from the photos, but it was actually a pretty complex build, with a lot of pieces that needed to be cut pretty precisely in order for it to all fit together properly. Here you can see I'm gluing a couple of side panels to the bottom of the base.

And here is the whole thing assembled, but missing the corner triangles. Those were cut out later and glued into place.

As of this writing, I'm knee deep in puttying up the base, and it's coming together very nicely.

This also showed up in the mail yesterday. I got it from I originally purchased one from the same manufacturer at Home Depot, but it was too big. This smaller one fits perfectly, is invisible, and spins VERY smoothly. I'm pretty excited about it.

That's all for now. I will post some more pictures of the tri-viewer as I have something interesting to show, but for the next little while it's going to be very boring putty work.

Monday, March 19, 2012

WonderCon Post Mortem

I had an absolute blast at WonderCon this weekend, which took place in Anaheim. A really fantastic mid-sized con that was ACTUALLY a comic book con. People were there selling comic books! It was unreal!

I am loathe to put together a "best of" write up, as I know I would leave out a ton of stuff and a ton of people, so I won't do it. I will give a very generic and politically correct statement by saying that it was really awesome to see EVERYONE there, to hang out with so many great friends, and to meet so many new ones. A very positive and energizing experience, both inspirational and motivational.

Yup, that's the effect being surrounded by positive and talented people has on me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Road Trip To Sil-Pak!

I was in need of some silicone rubber for a few projects. Rather than order online and get dinged for shipping, I figured I would just drive up to the valley and grab some. The upside is that I was going there anyway, so this all worked out great.

It's a very humble looking building on the outside...

But on the inside, a magical land of wonder!!!!

AND just down the street is Circus Liquor, which is used in EVERY SINGLE TV SHOW EVER.

Trek Tri-Viewer Continues To Take Shape

Assembly of the main body continues, and is moving along quickly. For extra rigidity, I sank a series of wood screws into the top panel and up into the side walls. I then glued the bottom plate into place. Screws will be put into it once the glue dries.

Meanwhile, I cleaned up the outer rim of the pyramid and glued it into place. Lots of clamps and tape were used to make sure it was held in place firmly, and that any warping was pressed out.

Overall I'm very pleased with the progress on this so far. Next comes the no fun part, which is puttying out all of the wood grain. ugh, I hate that stuff!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Star Trek Tri-Viewer Progress, and Booze.

Not really much of an update, but regular readers will know I enjoy being thorough. This morning I laid in a coat of fiberglass on the pyramid for the tri-viewer. I want to add some structural strength to it, and also some more material under the seams, as I will in the future be sanding them down to match the softer contours seen on screen.

I have also pretty much settled on my design for the base. It will mimic the second prototype I drew up yesterday. If new information comes to light, I can always build another one. I find that I do a lot of things twice, as I learn a lot on the first go-through. It seems that no matter how long you do this stuff, there's always new things to learn. Which is probably one of the main reasons I like the hobby. It's never the same project twice.

In other news, WonderCon approaches! Many people put together photoshop mashups showing which characters they will be costuming as (or cosplaying, depending on who you ask), but I thought I would put a different spin on it and show you what MY plans are for WonderCon...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tri-Viewer Base Version 2

I made a few tweaks to my design, and also fixed some flaws in the first version. Here's a paper prototype that incorporates these changes. This feels and looks much closer to what I want it to be.

Unless there is some earth shattering reference that comes to light in the next day or so, which is entirely possible, I will pursue this model for the base.

Trek Tri-Viewer Base Prototype

I have what I believe to be a good design for the base of the tri-veiwer. My main reference came from a fairly straight on shot of the viewer that can be found in THIS blog post. I straightened it in photoshop a little bit, but the front face is undeniably shaped like a pyramid with a rectangular base.

Another few screen grabs show some other details.

Here's my process. I drew up my design in illustrator, then printed it out on card stock. This is the same stuff that pepakura folks use to make Iron Man and Halo armor.

Once cut out, I assembled all of the pieces as much as I could, but keeping it flat. Please note that it was about at this time I realized there was a problem with my design :)

After another iteration with the top plate, I taped it all up and here's what I got. You can see from the pics that there's a flaw in my print out, as I forgot to account for the fact that the corner triangles are set at an angle, and are not lying flat. Hence the three gaps. This has since been corrected.

I'm definitely interested in feedback if anyone has any. I've really based this off about four screen grabs, and I may very well have missed a detail or two.

Interestingly enough, I JUST realized I made a tiny error in my calculations. I was looking at the profile of my prototype, and comparing it to the profile of the Mudd capture. I realize that what I saw as the angled edge on the side of the base is a different edge on the prototype. Hard to explain without some pictures, but the punchline is that I need to modify things a bit.

MatMobile Chassis First Cut!

It was a very exciting day over here in SoCal, as work on the chassis stretch OFFICIALLY began today!

Welder Bo came over today to get some measurements. The shop he works at has a steel cutter, which will be able to get the box steel very precisely cut to the length we need it. He took some measurements, did some calculations, and SEEMED to be finished for the day.

But no.

He was so anxious to get going... that we got going.

Here's Bo removing a few cables and lines that run along the length of the chassis. Fuel line, fuel return, emergency brake, stuff like that.

I swear, I left the garage for five minutes to send an email, and when I got back the drive train was gone, and the transmission cross member was removed. Yikes. The dude works fast.

After a few minutes with the reciprocating saw, the first cut was made! I was stoked! things were finally happening!!!

Nosy neighbor came by (Just kidding Bonn! We love you!!) to peanut gallery the affair, and added some good laughs to the evening. After all was said and done, this is what the chassis looked like.

Pretty awesome! I need to grab my extra set of jack stands from storage, and pick up a fire extinguisher. Just in case.

That's it for now! Pretty awesome day!

TOS Tri-Viewer Pyramid and Body

As with many of my projects, there is a lot of trail and error. What will often work perfectly in my mind does not translate to the real world. Sometimes I just forget a piece of information, which ends up being my undoing.

Case in point.

My plan was to construct a template out of styrene in the shape of the pyramid, then slush cast resin in it to get the final shape. The factors at work here are the styrene is very easy to work with, it's very easy to get a high degree of precision with, and best of all, resin does not bond to it.

I very quickly put together this master form, after making a few cardboard prototypes to make sure I got the overall shape right.

The thing I forgot is that the resin I'm using heats up a lot when it cures, and heat warps styrene :( The piece I produced was very decent, but was warped a bit too much for my liking.

So it was back to the drawing board, though this time I was committed to using a material I had more faith in. MDF.

Here I've cut out the pieces using the same templates I used for the styrene.

Here's the MDF all taped together and being glued.

Here's the underside, with a bead of wood glue on it that is drying.

I also did some work on the main body. One of my dimensions changed slightly, so I re-cut the walls. I used my belt sander to bevel the edges. This way the pieces will fit together better at final assembly.

I would say things are going very well with this project. The only thing really remaining that could be problematic is the base, but I think I have that all worked out. (Please re-read the first paragraph of this post right now)