Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day 63 - The gun!

I bought a gallon of polyurethane gloss varnish (the kind where you need mineral spirits to clean the brushes off) and mineral spirits, so that when I'm done with all the sanding and filling of the dome, I can slather a few coats of that on.

However, after working on the dome off and on for two weeks (I think there's seven coats of Bondo on the thing, with more to come for filling all the streaks and pits), I temporarily switched direction tonight, which brings us to ... the gun!

When I got to work today, I saw that my friend had dropped off at my cubicle a slightly sanded-down aluminum pipe, and the gun bosses I had given back to him for measurement.  He had mounted the pipe on his lathe and sanded it down with a variety of sandpaper coarsenesses until the bosses fit quite snugly onto it.

Freezing the pipe and boiling the gun bosses expanded and contracted the metals to the thousandths of an inch needed to get them into their approximate positions.  Perfection, but handle with care.  (Thank you, thermodynamics!)

This only left the work needed on the rods.  I borrowed a vice from my friend Jacki at work and clamped it on one of my work tables.  I took a bit of square scrap hardboard and aligned the rods to where they were approximately vertical.  At first, I used pliers to grip the base of the rod, but I found that just simply using my hands made a sharper 45° angle on the rods.

Again, following Adam's diary entry on the gun rods, I made a template to measure where the bends and hacksaw cuts should go, so that the interior distance between the gunbosses along the pipe retained their 23.5cm length.

I also took Adam's advice of sawing the ends of the rods parallel to the pipe, since the holes on my gun bosses go all the way through.  I accidentally didn't account for the width of the rods on the template, so the gun is slightly too fat.  If I want to make sure that there's a proper distance of 6.8cm across the gun, I'll need to trim more off each end of the rods.

The finished gun, I feel, is still a solid metal beauty to behold.  I'm very proud of it!  And, like the Dalek itself, I'm surprised by how big these things actually are!

P.S.  I would be completely remiss if I didn't mention that Kathy (ChristmasDalek) was a doll and bought for me the correctly-sized rings for my eventual plunger assembly.  Thanks, Kathy!  I owe you a beverage of your choice!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Day 62 - Rainier finds his voice

A lovely little parcel arrived on my doorstep this morning!  My MartMod voice modulator was delivered by the friendly UPS man (maybe not friendly ... maybe not a man!  No-one was there when I answered the door.  Well, no matter.)!

After unboxing and snapping a pic of it for Ferrain's benefit, I packed it back up and begrudgingly went to my job, wishing that time would move faster so that I could go home and play with it some more.  I brought it with me to show to my friend Jeff, and to ask him some electronics-related questions.

At lunch time, we hit up a local Radio Shack and bought in-line fuse holders, 5V fuses, and a 12V power adapter for testing the unit out.  He invited me over to his place after work so that I could use the soldering iron to connect the necessary bits together.

On the way to his place, I stopped by Staples and bought a headset with microphone to plug into the headphone and mic ports on the MartMod.

He had a spare set of 4-ohm speakers in a computer parts bin that we salvaged.  We stripped wires, soldered things together, covered it all up with electrical tape, and followed Ferrain's instructions to the letter, including testing everything on a multimeter.  Then, after hooking up the speaker to the unit, plugging the XLR cable into it, and finally plugging in the power adapter (making sure all dials were set at the 11 o'clock position), we switched the modulator on.

All that remained was to get into character.  And here are the first words I've ever spoken as a proper, modulated Dalek:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day 59 through 61 - Icing on the cake (errr, dome plug)

I am tickled pink as I sit here typing this entry (however, most of it's Bondo, so it will eventually chip off, har har)!  I have spend the last few days working on adding filler to the dome plug, and what a fun little bit of drama this has been!

Ah, but before I begin, I received a package on Friday ... my Plastruct parts had arrived!  Everything appears to be in order except for one thing—the small rings at the bottom of the image are wrong.  Indeed, a few entries back, I inadvertently put the wrong inner diameter part.  It should be this one:

  • RI-40 (Qty. 2) - 1-9/16" O.D. x 1-1/4" I.D. ABS RING $1.40@ ($2.80 total) - small ring behind plunger

I don't know why I thought it was RI-24.  What a silly bunt.  Anyway, I am very happy that these pieces came.

Okay, enough of that.  Onwards!

To aid in the curing of the fiberglass resin layer I had added earlier, I ran upstairs and got a hair dryer.  I'm glad I got the extra-long threaded post to clamp it to!  After about four hours of it being on the low warm setting, the resin had cured!

The following day after curing under the hair dryer, the resin'd dome plug was nice and strong.  It was time for the first layer of Bondo.  I finished up the one small can that I had, so I had to crack open the second small can.  After that first layer had cured a bit (it doesn't take too long), I took my sureform rasp to it and filed down the rough spots, preparing it for a second layer.  I wanted to keep adding layers until I got close to the edge of the wooden former.

I ran out of Bondo in short order, so I went to get some more.  As I was out on errands, I saw a VW with the simple word "exterminate" on its boot.  An auspicious sign, indeed.  More Bondo was procured forthwith.  (Starbucks venti iced mocha added for scale.)

More layers followed.  More curing.  More rasping.

At around layer four, the Bondo had started to creep up to the edge of the former.  I decided to take a page out of ccain's build diary and add a 45° angle to the former.  This would allow me to drag the remaining Bondo layers across the surface of the dome plug instead of using my knife spreader.  I used my hand router (which still had the correct bit in it) to accomplish the angle.  I didn't want the MDF to get all gunked up with Bondo as I was doing this, so I added some painter's tape to the edge.

The first pass was a bit rough; I mixed up an extra big portion of Bondo and added it as fast as I could whilst spinning the plug base (not countersinking the t-nut underneath the platform turned out to be a blessing in disguise; I was able to spin the whole thing like a lazy susan while I held the former steady).  There was some drag because I think the Bondo started to go off a little early.  This was, I believe, the fifth layer of Bondo so far.

I waited for that to cure a bit, and then mixed up more filler for layer six.  Having learned how to pace myself better, I took this one a little bit slower and more deliberate.  I needed to just get a bit more of a defined angle between the dome's chamfered lower portion and where it started to curve upward.  I think I did a job well done, and only just need to sand it smooth and fill any remaining pockmarks.  I'll be unscrewing the rod and filling up the top part, as well.

All in all, I am extremely pleased with how this all went.  It really is a shame that, once the GRP mold is made from this part, all this will be going in the trash!  Michelangelo wept.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Day 58 - Newspapering and fiberglassing the dome plug

The next steps for my polystyrene dome plug was to prepare it for being covered in strips of newspaper.  This is per AdamSt's post on Avonlea22's diary about how he made sections for his B9 robot, suggesting that this might be a faster way of making a dome plug.

I had to clean my sureform rasp by soaking it in rubbing alcohol overnight and then taking a BBQ wire brush to it.  It was gunged up with a mixture of foam and semi-dried wood glue, which, after being soaked in the isopropyl, came off of it in little balls in a consistency not unlike a dog's eye bogies.  Ick.

Once the rasp was clean, I trimmed the dome to be about 1/4" away from the edge of the wooden dome former.  Then I took the paint brush and started glazing sections of the dome with wood glue, applying torn-up strips of newspaper as I went.  Pretty soon, this was done, and I let it all sit to dry.

I went out and got a few yards of fiberglass tissue (also known as surfacing mat) and started to tear it up to layer it on top of the newspaper.  This will provide a thin layer of strength to the dome plug, on which I will later apply layers of Bondo.  I rubbed out the bubbles as best I could; the newspaper was already fairly bumpy.

It took me a long while to get the resin to react to the catalyst, probably because the garage is cold.  I hope that this stuff cures... it's been about an hour since I applied it, and the remnant that's in the jar is still fairly runny.  I wonder if I should buy a space heater for the garage to maybe speed up the curing process.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Day 57 - Sculpting the styrofoam dome plug

This morning, I finished cutting the rest of the styrofoam.  The Seattle-ite in me is satisfied that I got to recycle styrofoam that I already had for the creation of this dome.  After the final piece was cut, I started sticking the layers together with some of my Titebond III wood glue.

Looking back, I should have used some other kind of adhesive, because even after a significant amount of drying time, the glue was still wet when I came back later.  Ah well, it still did the job, mostly.  I have to sand down my dome former piece again, however, since some of the wood glue dried to the profile edge.  I need it to be smooth for when I eventually start applying Bondo to this thing.

Using a combination of sureform rasp, sandpaper, hacksaw, and a wire BBQ grill brush, I sculpted and shaped the dome per the former's outline, until it eventually looked as pictured.  This took a couple of hours, with a couple of breaks thrown in for good measure.

More of Rainier's personality is starting to peering through the layers of MDF and plywood ...

... however, many pieces of styrofoam were lost in the line of duty tonight.

Next steps are to:

  • continue shaving the styrofoam to reduce the profile of the dome about 1/4" from the edge of the former
  • glue on newspaper to strengthen the overall shape of the dome plug
  • varnish the outside with fiberglass mat and resin (the glued newspaper will prevent the resin from melting the styrofoam)
  • Bondo/sand/Bondo/sand/Bondo/sand etc.