Tuesday, February 26, 2013

He's the one eye love

ClapTrap has one "eye" and I spent some time working on that while waiting for some paint on another sign to dry (more on that sign coming soon).

I used my router to add some grooves to an appropriate piece of pvc pipe...then added the other details.  I had a fun idea while working on it- I decided that I could use one of those "push button lights" some people use in their closet for his eye.  It fit perfectly inside the pvc pipe and looks great lit up.  The thing is, his eye is blue.  How to get the light to glow blue was a  challenge. Even more- it's not a deep blue, but a kind of teal.  I finally solved it. Can you guess how?

I also had a chance to modify, connect and assemble some pvc pipes of different diameters to make his arms.  While I did that, the cnc was carving his hands for me.  There are a top and bottom for each set.  I carved them in 1/2" Azek pvc.

I have some more work to do on the wheel and arms, and then I'll be able to start painting before I finally assemble it all.  I also will create a base for his one wheel to attach to .

It's a quick, fun little side project!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Case Of The Clap.....Trap

As 2013 continues, I have begun to work on my own 3D designs and am trying to build my skills with the cnc.  I believe it's easy to get locked into doing things a particular way, and not pushing to do more complex things.  I'm still in the process of tackling 3D modeling, so I thought I'd rather focus on the carving.  There are some great, reasonably priced models at GrabCad.

One hold-up for many of us is budget.  Materials are expensive, and it's scary to invest money in a risky experiment or a learning experience that doesn't work out.  It's one of the reasons I don't mind learning by carving low density foam.  Foam is not a great choice for things you want to keep around, unless it's a dense foam like HDU.  Once I'm confident about a process I move on to excellent materials for my samples and clients.

I've noticed the white foam at stores like Menard's (1 and 2" thick).  It's even less expensive than the pink and blue insulation foam found there.  A 4' x 8' sheet that's 2" thick is under 12 dollars.  That's not a bad cost for having that much material to try things out.

I picked up a sheet last week because I knew I wanted to try carving something that would require a large sheet.  I wanted to see what the amount of time to carve would be, and once again experiment.  In particular, I have been reading up on cnc ramping values.  The material being used impacts what you can do and shouldn't do, and I'm building an understanding of how to tweak my machine to run the best it can while not sacrificing speed.  Experimentation is really the only way I trust.

So- I thought another small, easy to dissect robot would be fun.  This little guy is called Clap Trap.

  He's a robot from the fantastic Borderlands video games by GearBox.  They've been suffering under a poorly received Aliens: Colonial Marines game.  I haven't played the game, but know how hard it can be to have something you've done be received poorly.  Deserved or not, the last week or so has been hard on them.  I'd rather spend time on something fun. ClapTrap is exactly that.

The 3D model comes from a man named Mesut Ak├žay via GrabCAD. At 5$ is was a bargain.

I spent some time working out how to break him into pieces (I will soon do a full explanation of how I do this) and then to set up my carving...while playing with some speed values.

I wanted to do a little test on the foam, so I started off by working on the wheel.  These two halves represent the outer portions.  I decided that to give him a little strength when he's put together, I'd make the center portions out of Azek pvc.

Once I got the pvc cut, I glued them together and then started work on priming and coating them to be a little tougher.  I was really impressed with how well the foam carved.  I had little expectation, and it came out well.  The speed wasn't bad, but I had additional modifications to try on the big carve.

Next up was the big carve.  I seperated the model in to multiple components  and set up the 4' x 8' sheet on the Bot.  The expected time to carve it all was about 15 hours.  With additional modifications, the actual carve turned out to be about 6 1/2 hours.

 Additionally, I decided to experiment with something else. I have been trying out a 2 stage approach where I carve in 2 stages. The first is an overall carve with a larger bit (faster) and then specific areas are carved for the second run..at a higher resolution with a smaller bit.  I picked out key areas and only recarved those. That took less then 2 hours.

Next, I glued all the pieces together.

Make no mistake, the foam has some drawbacks other than being flimsy.  If you want a decent finish, there will be work.  I've cleaned the body up, and have spent a little time this morning getting it smooth and a harder finish on it as well.

Now...how many minutes before someone points out that the wheel is upside down?

Next?  Continued work on the body and work on the big "lens".

Stay Tuned!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Rough Weather

Before I move on to other things:

I think R2 is just too clean.  I appreciate a sparkling new droid- but I prefer mine to look like he just got back from Tatooine for a vist.  Some dirt, sand....he's been doing something.

Back when George Lucas began the Star Wars movies he said he wanted his universe to "look lived in".  I think that's important. So many science fiction movies, robots and movie sets looked shiny new and plastic.  So...once I got unpacked this morning, I decided to give the little guy some weathering.  If it's not your taste, I understand. That's ok.

Now, on to other things!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

R2D2 It Is You!!!

The last couple of days have shot by in a blur.  I worked as quickly as possible to finish my little side project so that I could take it to a show near St. Louis with some other pieces of my work.  The bulk of the work on the dome began with: coating the foam with a couple coats of primer and then bondo. It was a bit like being "cake boss"

This was sanded (shhh...Dan...sometime I have to sand) and then spot filled, and then sanded again..and then primed

In the meantime, I also completed some work on other parts needed:

Azek pvc to the rescue!
Eventually, I moved to painting the dome, and then making sure everything was secure.  On friday morning, I took him outside for the first time to take a few pictures.  Isn't it amazing what some scrap pieces of HDU, wood, pvc and glue can become in such a short time? 
I had a couple minutes to look at him, then loaded him up to head to the show.  He was instantly a "photo opportunity" at our booth and led to much discussion about the other work I do. It was a great time and thanks to Jason Allen for inviting me.  Enjoyed meeting some new people and generally getting to talk shop.  I love my CarveWright and have quickly become a fan of ShopBot.  I'm just at the beginning of this journey, and feel very fortunate to have met so many great people in such a short time. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Up Top

Today I had to do some cleanup in the shop. Things had gotten pretty crazy, and I have to work on some signs soon, and prefer to do it in a clean shop.  While I was cleaning, the carving machine was busy. 

The dome was carved in 6 pieces, each 2" thick.  It's looking good, so next I'll give it a hard coat.

I also carved up lots of pieces for the dome. There are 3 "eyes" and one large thing called the holographic projector.  Lastly a long "window".

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Time to get a head

Just a quick update.
I did a test fit of everything this morning. It's looking pretty good.  I still need to hook up the battery boxes and attach the hoses on the feet...but now it's time to start on the dome.

Here he is with battery boxes and hoses...

Monday, February 4, 2013


I made some good progress over the weekend.
I created a piece that R2D2 fans call his "skirt" on the bottom of the body.  In this picture I have his body turned up side down in order to put the piece in place.

I also worked on a couple other parts that go near the feet called the "battery boxes". I still need to put skin on them, but the structure is complete. Here it is next to the foot shell...the battery box is on the left.  The open hole on the bottom will be covered and have two holes for the hoses to enter from the feet.

Lastly, I had to make the internal portion of the foot that holds the wheels, and all of the weight of the little fella.  This was made from a multi-layer plywood for strength.  Aluminum would have been great, but I'm keeping the cost reasonable on this little guy, so wood it is.  I put the foot shell next to it, just so you could get an idea of how that fits.

I need to pick up a couple bolts that are the right size to connect the foot to the leg permanently, then I can add the shells and put it all together once I have the skin on the battery boxes.  Sometime tomorrow I hope to be able to show the whole thing minus the dome on top! It's exciting to see it come all together!

Friday, February 1, 2013

It's Only Fitting.

On R2's feet, there are 4 hoses.  They are connected to the feet with these little knurled connectors.  They are not things you can get off the shelf.  So, I could either try to buy a set from other R2 builders who've had them made, or figure out something on my own.

I spent a little time at the hardware store getting some bolts- and while there I was looking at these nifty air hose connectors that swivel:

The piece in the middle, I realized, was very very close to what I needed. Unfortunately, they are not knurled.  What the heck is knurling? Good question. It's the pattern on the left that you see here:

I quickly realized that I could make it work.  The diameter of the center piece was a little small, but my solution would fix both issues.  I disconnected the center piece from the other parts, and then mixed up a very small amount of Magic Sculpt epoxy putty.  I rolled it very thin, and then wrapped the base of the connector.  Next, I pulled out my Torque wrench. Torque Wrench? Yes.  It has a large knurled handle.  I rolled the magic sculpt covered piece carefully around the handle...transferring the knurled texture to the putty.

Once it was dry, I beveled the edge on top, and primed and painted it.  3 more to go!  To attach it, I'll simply use the original piece from the bottom, screwed in through the hole in the foot cover, with the hose running through it.