Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Days 125 through 130 - Getting Rainier ready for Anglicon 2015

After getting back home to Seattle from our holiday in England, Wales, and France (and re-adjusting to our local time zone!), I was left with about two weeks to get Rainier ready.  In the mad rush, the days sort of ran together.  I'm estimating I put in about a week's worth of time, so I've bumped up the counter to 130 full days working on him since July of 2013.

First and foremost was addressing the eyestalk tragedy.  I mixed up some more ABS glue (ABS plastic melted in acetone), cut a new interior tube piece to attach to the cone front part of the eye.  I sanded flat both the new edge of the tube and the damaged edge of the cone piece and glued them together.  This I let sit until it was cured, and then sanded back as much of the clear sealer, black topcoat, and primer as I could, along with the glue seam.  Then I re-primed and re-painted the pieces.  Not perfect, but it'll do.

While on the subject of the eye, I decided it was high time to put in his light.  I got a cheap flashlight and magnifying glass from a great Japanese dollar store called Daiso in Seattle's International District.  I removed the parabolic mirror and the lens (also pictured is an iris from a microscope that Nzarra used in his build that I've yet to install).

Without easy access to a laser cutter, I decided to cut out some acrylic disks using my scroll saw from an acrylic sheet that I had laying around.  I cut four of these (one each for the mirror, iris, lens, and potential small servo down the line).  I sanded the edges smooth until they fit comfortably into the smaller of the two eye sections.  So far, the only one I've used was to house the lens.  I cut a hole in the center of one of the disks, and then sealed the lens using the same caulking that I used to secure my dome light ping-ping balls.

For the eye light, I used a Neopixel ring driven by a Trinket microcontroller that I got from an Adafruit kaleidoscope goggles kit.  These can be powered via USB or battery, but for the sake of Anglicon, I just used the included 3.7v LiPo battery.  Later on, I bought a 12v car jumpstart battery that has a USB port, so I'll likely use that next time.  I did a bit of surface-mounting soldering to attach the JST battery connector.

I've done programming before, so I'm pretty familiar with the syntax of both Java and C++, so I downloaded the Arduino IDE onto my computer, connected the board via USB, and started tweaking a sample block of code to get the LEDs to light up.  Although I intend to use another acrylic disk to attach the Neopixel ring and mirror to, I just simple taped the two together, and uploaded the program to the board.  And there was light!

(Later on, I spent some time programming an automated light sequence that utilized the LEDs brightness settings to simulate a random iris-like movement.  It was subtle, but noticeable; the eye would dim or brighten a random amount, at random intervals.  With the 3.7v battery, this effect lasted about 2.5 to 3 hours before depleting.)

Switching gears yet again, one other important physical aspect of Rainier that I hadn't done was attaching the neck to the shoulders.  I once again took a page from AdamSt's brilliant diary (though, not exactly the same way, as he's more skilled with wood chisels than I am), and placed four keyhole hangers on the surface of the shoulder top.  Once these were screwed in, I temporarily removed them to drill out some extra space under the holes for the eventual screws.

In the exact corresponding locations on the underside of the neck (and offset by about 1/4" for the locking "twist" action), I screwed in button head wood screws, being careful not to buy ones that exceeded the thickness of the neck rings (3/4"), and that would fit into the holes of the keyhole hangers.  Placing the neck on the shoulders, I lined up the screw heads to the keyholes, then twisted the neck into place with a firm jerk.  It worked really well!  The neck stays in place nicely, and can be attached from the inside as well.  There's a gap in between the neck and shoulders, but I can either tighten the screws a bit more into the neck ring, or I can add weatherstripping for cushioning and filling.

That was all I got done before Anglicon.  His debut was a huge success, and he was used for several of the group photo sessions with Colin Baker, Sophie Aldred, Katy Manning, and Jon Davey.  It was more than I ever could have expected, and Sophie stated something to the effect of "These Daleks look so much better than what we worked with on the show!"  Jon Davey hung around Rainier a lot and asked several questions, even having me open Rainier up so that he could take a peek inside.  He was also amused that we saw the very same Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular in Cardiff, where he played a Dalek on stage.  Great times.

After Anglicon, I finally cut out access holes in the rotation plates (to make life so much easier).  I didn't use any template, just chose the pattern that I've seen in countless build diaries.  I am not giving Rainier 360° rotation, so the lower plate has a wedge where movement can physically stop (if I use a manual rod control before adding remote control and servos later).  The top plate has three potential locations for installing a servo and additional battery, if needed.  Then I sprayed the bottom of the lower plate black, as well as the inside edges of the eyestalk pivot jig.

And now for the final bit.  I was determined to give Rainier his voice.  I had tested the voice modulator much earlier in this build, but I hadn't connected it to the newly-installed dome lights.  Taking Rainier's dome and neck to my friend Jeff's house, we worked in his shop connecting everything together and testing it against his heavy-duty gigantic 12v jumpstarter battery instead of the AC adapter we used before.  Once it was all connected and tested, I took it home, hooked it up to my own jumpstarter battery and gave Rainier a little test.  Enjoy!