Monday, August 17, 2015

Getting Rainier ready for his next convention

It's gotten to the point in my diary where titling the build entries by the number of days worked doesn't make much sense (at least sometimes), so this entry will be about his post-Anglicon/next con update.  I'll mainly cover the stuff I did to get Rainier ready for me to pilot him from the inside, but before any fancy remote-control stuff.

For Anglicon, Rainier's eyestalk light was a small flashlight mirror that was screwed onto the threaded lamp rod exposed inside the back of the eyepiece (as seen in a previous build entry).  My Neo-pixel LED ring was simply taped to it, and that was powered by a tiny 3.7v 150mAh li-poly battery.  For what it was, it worked, but I wanted something a little closer to how I have the end result pictured in my head.

This is still a bit of a messy hack—I'm still using wax paper to cover my lens to diffuse the light, and I'm still taping this inside the eyepiece front to secure it.  Then, sandwiched together, I've got a bigger parabolic flashlight mirror, a second acrylic disk on which the neo-pixel LED ring is taped, and then a spacer (simply a discarded chocolate truffle container lid, trimmed up a bit) to fill up the remaining space inside the eye, leaving little to no wiggle room.  In the future, I want to replace that spacer with a motorized remote-controlled iris, similar to Nzarra's build.

All of that is then connected to the wire leading to my 5-volt smartphone emergency battery (which gives me about eight hours of light), and now has a lovely, noticeably brighter, light.

Switching topics, I went ahead and let my Toyota dealership install the struts and shocks on my van because I really didn't have time to learn how to do all that myself.  Of course, we paid a premium for that, but now we have a much more road-worthy van.  Her name is Miss Cleo Van Gogh (which we pronounce "van go" here in the states—she's a van, and she goes).  To test her out, we packed Rainier's various components inside, seeing if we could get away with just taking the back-most seats out.  It worked great, so now we can pack Rainier, two passengers, and one driver.

I also wanted to get a test trundle in before his next con (to be reported on soon), as I didn't want to undertake my Daleking duties there under-rehearsed.  We drove around to try and find a park with some fairly flat areas.  Rainier's fender is so close to the ground that uneven terrain would likely get him stuck.  We eventually settled on Cal Anderson Park where there's a stretch of wide, level sidewalk.  As we were assembling Rainier, a family gathered close and were asking all sorts of questions, hardly believing their luck at witnessing such a strange sight at the park!  It was quite flattering.  They couldn't believe he was made entirely from scratch.

(Some shots and a quick video of Rainier interacting with the crowd are at the end of the entry.)

The following day (today), I took some of my lessons learned from the trundle and applied them, namely in the speaker department.

Nothing is really secured inside Rainier at the moment.  I basically have a box in my lap where I keep the jumpstarter battery, the MartMod voice modulator, and the piles of untrimmed wire—all of which will need a better, cleaner solution which I haven't got to yet.  When trundling, I have to hold the speaker in place with one hand, and steer the joystick with the other.  Only when I come to a full stop can I move the dome, which has invariably wandered around a bit on the lazy susan.  My arms were getting pretty tired doing this after awhile.  It stayed surprisingly mild inside, temperature-wise, but that was probably because I had fresh air from outside blowing in.

I decided to at least secure the speaker.  I had been trying to think of an elegant way of doing this, which involved taking apart my little 4-ohm speakers I picked up from Re-PC (two of which I got for $4.00 total), but I couldn't figure out how they were put together.  So, I decided to potentially sacrifice one by drilling exploratory mounting holes and attaching them to metal brackets that I had.  Once I put the screws in, I hooked it up to the MartMod for a quick voice test, and it passed; I had damaged nothing.

Now that that's taken care of, I can control the dome with one hand and the joystick with the other, which will make for a much more believable interaction with the crowd.

Next update will very likely be after this coming weekend, so see you soon!

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