Showing posts with label Build Log. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Build Log. Show all posts

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Combine Metro Cop (Half-Life 2) Part 3: Fabric Parts and Final Reveal

With the helmets, weapons, radios, and other props finished for the Metro Cops, the last thing we needed to put together was the flak jackets, the arm bands, and modifying the base garments. The flak jackets took by far the most work, but as they are one of the more immediately recognizable parts of the character, they had to look right.

Full disclosure: I had very little to do with this part of the build, as my sewing skills are near zero. Nearly all of this work was offloaded to my friends Jeanette at Cogdell Creations, and Julia at Crazy 8 Cosplay, and all of the embroidery work was done by my friend Liz at Myouri Cosplay.

The base of the flak jackets was a sleeveless winter vest, which was mocked up so that the quilting pattern could be drawn and stitched. After this mock up was modified, I took reference photos of it and digitized it so that we could make patterns from it. Because there was going to be 9 of us in these costumes and we ran the gamut of sizes, I made patterns in several sizes.

Finding the right fabric was a real chore, since the game texture is so low resolution that any pattern on it is nearly indecipherable. The color was also hard to pick, being somewhere between a dark blue and a bluish grey. I settled on this dark blue-grey upholstery fabric that had a coarse and visible pattern on it, that somewhat mimicked real world flak jackets. I also chose a bright white with a similar pattern for the chest detail, and the shoulder caps.

The base garments were off-the-rack police style shirts and pants. The shirt color was LAPD Navy, which complimented the blue of the flak jacket fabric nicely. The shirt had 2 white stripes added to the upper arms. The pants were olive green Dickies, which we modified by adding the thick white stripe down the side of the leg. The gloves were black airsoft gloves I found on Amazon that looked close enough and were cheap enough in bulk.

The flak jackets were quilted with a quilting batting, in a similar manner that the Colonial Marine abdomen pads were made. The back of the neck had a "C17" logo embroidered on it, and the arm bands were embroidered as well. These were fitted with velcro to make putting on and off easier, although in the future I may modify them to permanently attach as the velcro caused them to slide down often.

With the final parts done, and the checklist of everything gone through a dozen times to make sure nothing was forgotten, we headed off to Dragon Con where I revealed the group. It was a pretty big hit, especially with fans of the game series.

I liked watching people try to figure out what we were, and then their face light up as they recognized us. I also entered the Video Game Cosplay Contest last minute, and won the SFX category, which was neat and unexpected.

And then 2nd place in the Atlanta Maker Faire Cosplay contest, which was also neat.

I still need to finish the Solider and the Elites. But that will be a project for another day. Thank you for reading!

More from this build:
Part 1: Helmets
Part 2: Weapons and Accessories
Part 3: Fabric Parts and Final Reveal

Watch the build documentary on YouTube
Read More

Monday, February 11, 2019

Combine Metro Cop (Half-Life 2) Part 2: Weapons and Accessories

The Combine in Half-Life 2, and the Civil Protection especially, have some very distinct and iconic elements to them. During the build, I kept telling my team that the costume was basically three things - the helmet, the Stun Stick, and the voice, and that everything else was just window dressing. The helmets were already a slam dunk, so it was on to the rest of the parts.

One major component of the build was the voice modulated radios. The Combine have such an iconic sound to them that it was critical that it somehow be included. I didn't want to use a low quality voice modulator, because A.) they never sound "right" and because the sound is so distinct I know I'd never be able to actually get them sounding right. And B.) the Combine's voice modulators make them almost unintelligible, and I didn't want people confusing me asking them to move away or stand back as part of a performance.

Instead, I opted for the next best thing I could: I used the real game audio.

During the early "pre criminal" part of the game, the Civil Protection are docile and you can observe them walking around. They play random radio chatter throughout the game, but you get the clearest vision of it during this opening section of the game. They have these radios on their belt, and I decided to use them to house an Arduino and some audio components from Adafruit. The electronics build part of this is pretty straight forward - an Arduino Uno using an Adafruit Wave shield and a 3.7W amp, fitted on to a prototyping board for easy packaging.

Three of them isn't necessary for the build, but I wanted three of us to have radios for some fun sounding cross chatter, so I bought three of everything.

I used Fusion 360 to build a case for the electronics and made it look as close to the game radio as possible, although it did wind up being a bit larger than I would have liked. The real workhorse is the code that I wrote; in the game, the Combine radios use randomly generated "sentences" based off of rules in a sentences file and words and sentence fragment sound files. My code emulates that radio logic, building a sentences and playing the sound files extracted from the game.

The result is as authentic of a Combine radio as you can get.

Then it was time to build the weapons. The Stun Stick was a deceptively simple part of the build. Early in the game the Metro Cops you meet use these electrified billy clubs to keep the local population in line, and assist in local aluminum can cleanup.

As with most parts of this build, I started by extracting the game model to use as a reference - only this time, there was a bit of a snag. The player never actually gets a hold of the Stun Stick, so all that exists is a very low resolution "world model".

After digging deeper, I actually found 2 useable "view models" of the Stun Stick - one from Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, wherein some players play as the Combine and use the Stun Stick in lieu of the crowbar. And another in the game files of a cut weapon. The next problem is that these 2 view models were very different from one another. With the only definitive version being the low resolution world model, I decided to create an idealized version of the Stun Stick using elements from all 3 versions.

This was designed in Fusion 360 and printed on my fleet of 3D printers. It was designed to fit around a 3/4" PVC pipe, so that the only parts that needed to be molded and cast were the head with the flanges, the cross guard, and the pommel. This helped keep the weight and the cost of making them down, since I didn't need a large mold or a lot of resin. The Stun Stick heads were molded in a 2 part block mold, and the pommels and cross guards were molded in an open block mold together.

Once all of the Stun Stick parts were cast up, they were primed and painted in a base coat of dark metallic paint, and then the flanges were masked off and painted bright "safety orange". The bright color really made them pop.

The Metro Cops also carry pistols on them, which are nothing more than an H&K USP Match with a giant compensator on the end of it. Rather than spend a ton of time 3D modeling, printing, and sanding and finishing one of these, instead I opted to find a low cost 1:1 scale airsoft replica and use that as a base. The only thing I needed to fabricate was the compensator, and after a day's work the pistol was ready to mold.

The pistols were also molded in a 2 part mold. The pistols are a matte black with a bright metallic slide, so like the helmets I decided to cold cast the pistols. I wound up cold casting the entire weapon, which made weathering it as easy as gently scraping, scratching, and sanding away the paint to reveal the metallic under layer. Painting and weathering was as easy as masking off the slide, painting the rest of the gun matte black, then scuffing and scraping away the paint where I wanted obvious signs of wear.

A last minute detail I added was the big metallic belt buckles. These were thrown together in Fusion 360, then printed, cleaned, molded, and cold cast just like the pistols. Unfortunately this was such a last minute detail that I failed to get any pictures of the entire process.

All that's left after this is the flak jackets and putting the costumes all together.

More from this build:
Part 1: Helmets
Part 2: Weapons and Accessories
Part 3: Fabric Parts and Final Reveal

Watch the build documentary on YouTube
Read More

Monday, February 4, 2019

Combine Metro Cop (Half-Life 2) Part 1: Helmets

The Half-Life series has always been one of my favorite game series, and Half-Life 2 in particular has a special place in my heart. After all, it's the reason the first prop I ever built was the Gravity Gun. From the beginning I knew I wanted to some day do a group of Combine from Half-Life 2, and I knew I wanted to do them the right way.

Nine months later, I feel like I succeeded. Well, on the first group of Combine at least.

Let's go back to the beginning. Early in 2018, I contact a friend of mine Alex Winslow to see about getting some high quality 3D models made of the various Combine helmets - the Civil Protection (AKA the Metro Cops), the Combine Soldier, and the Combine Elite. After taking a ton of references from the game, pulling the game model and materials, and throwing in some of my own personal design ideas, Alex delivered these models to me.

They were perfect.

I immediately set out 3D printing the Civil Protection helmet, using a combination on FDM and SLA printing. For those of you who aren't familiar with those terms, FDM is the typical plastic printing that you see most people have in their homes or workshops. SLA printers are less common, although they are certainly gaining popularity. They use a UV curing liquid resin to print parts and the print quality is exponentially higher.

I used SLA printing on some of the incredibly fine details for the Metro Cop helmet, specifically the "ears" as well as the gas mask parts. The rest of the helmet was printed in ABS on my fleet of FDM printers. A couple days later, and I had the base helmet finished.

From here it was a typical round of body shop work on the helmet - sand the base print, apply filler primer to fill any remaining print lines, sand the primer down smooth, add spot putty to any left over imperfections. I knew I wanted to cold cast these helmets to give them a realistic metallic luster, so I also went ahead and applied a wet sandable automotive primer and wet sanded the helmet to a glossy finish.

Having gotten familiar with the limitations of FDM printing, I had planned from the beginning to use model making techniques to add in additional details, and use the 3D print as a base form. On the back of the helmet are these rib and dome detail sections. Rather than 3D model and print them, I used thin pieces of styrene tube and some half dome scrapbooking accents to add the details I needed. The result was exactly what I had hoped.

After several rounds of priming, sanding, and filling, the helmet was ready to mold. Having just one Metro Cop would be fun, but having a whole squadron of us would be even better. Molding and casting the helmet presented some challenges, since again I knew I wanted to cold cast the final helmets, which would limit where I could have seam lines. The helmet also has a very pronounced "duck bill", so the mold would be very deep and difficult to pull out from.

In the end, I opted to create a 2 part brushed on mold, with a 3 part mother mold. The 2 part mold would hide the seam between the 2 halves of the cast, and the 3 part mother mold would allow me to more easily remove the "duck bill" from the mother and the cast from the mold.

Several days later, the mold was finished and the first test cast came out flawlessly, I started production on the run of the helmets. The helmets were made by first brushing in a coat of aluminum powder to give the cold cast metallic effect, and then by mixing and pouring several small batches of roto casting resin (Smooth Cast 65D from Smooth-On). A final coat of more rigid resin (Smooth Cast Onyx from Smooth-On) was applied last, to help the helmets avoid warping over time as 65D has a tendency to do.

The detail parts that were printed on the SLA printers needed nearly no cleanup, and so went straight to silicone. These were created using simple 2 part block molds, and would be cast solid. The ears were cast in a semi-translucent resin (Smooth Cast 326 from Smooth-On) with a small amount of green tint added. The ears in the game give off a faint glow, so I wanted these to be translucent so that I could back light them once installed in the final helmets. The gas mask details were also cold cast with aluminum powder and a regular casting resin (Smooth Cast 300 from Smooth-On).

With all of the casting was complete, the set of them were cleaned of their flashing and excess resin (such as where the lenses needed to go) using a rotary tool. The "neck seal" of the helmets were masked off using masking tape and plastic wrap, then painted in a flat black. The lenses were created using some smoked acrylic that I had on hand in the shop, cut in to shape and glued in to place using cyanoacrylate glue. The gas mask and ear details were fitted and glued in to place using epoxy. The helmet fronts and backs were attached together using velcro along the ridge line, where the front seats underneath the back.

Lastly, the helmets were given a wash in watered down black and brown acrylic paint, which was then quickly wiped away, leaving grime and dirt in the recessed areas. Then the helmets were polished using #000 steel wool, which brought the metallic luster of the helmets to life. It's actually incredible how different lighting conditions can make the helmets look completely different from one photo to another.

I was very happy with how they turned out, and I really felt like I had brought the Civil Protection to life with this build.

After the helmets, it was on to all of the weapons and accessories.

More from this build:
Part 1: Helmets
Part 2: Weapons and Accessories
Part 3: Fabric Parts and Final Reveal

Watch the build documentary on YouTube
Read More

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Building a RepRap Wilson

I really love 3D printing. I enjoy the end results as much as I am interested in the technology behind the machines themselves. Having a background in 3D design, it was obvious to me that 3D printing was something I was going to get interested and involved in. But had you told me 5 years ago that I would be building them from scratch, I'd have a hard time believing you. Unfortunately for past me, I've done just that - since November, I have built three printers from nothing.

My journey of self built printers began last year when I started researching various Prusa i3 designs. I had a few things I needed from a printer - it had to be reliable, it had to be sturdy, and it had to have high print fidelity. For these reasons, I wanted a printer frame built from aluminum extrusion (and it didn't hurt that I had a bunch on hand already). I also wanted it to be as close to a full RepRap as possible - no acrylic or machined parts. Some people might consider this a negative, but don't forget I am an enthusiast in the tech as much as I am the finished results.

After doing some research, I settled on an Adapto printer - it had a large build volume, it was built entirely from 2020 aluminum extrusion, and all of the parts were printed. I put together the aluminum bits and started printing things, and I ran into a few snags. The first of which is that the threaded rod I had on hand was larger than what the design called for. While that isn't a big problem - it's simple enough to modify the designs - the new printed parts began having problems where the captured nut would physically intersect where the linear bearings would be. Or in simpler terms - I would have to start majorly redesigning the printer, or buy all new parts, if I wanted to use it.

I was a little frustrated with the process, and around this time, the Colonial Marines group build at Freeside began to consume all of my free time. I had set the Adapto on the shelf to pick back up, where it was untouched for most of last year. Once the group project and the various events for the year was over, I started researching some other RepRap designs. I was planning on rebuilding one of Freeside Atlanta's printers into a new usable design, and came across the Wilson TS. I did an inventory of all of the parts I had on hand, and it turns out I had everything I needed to convert my Adapto to a Wilson.

I was building The Kraken and my Wilson in tandem and the build was a breeze. The instructions online from mjrice are pretty good - his videos are for the 10mm smooth rod version instead of the 8mm ones I was building, so parts differ a bit - but having put together both my Folger Tech 2020 i3 and doing a lot of work on my LulzBot AO-101 and Freeside's AO-100, I knew my way around how to put a printer together.

I did decide to make a few modifications right away. The first of which is to help the structural support of the machine by adding in some hidden corner braces in all of the 2020 corners, and L brackets where the X-axis and Y-axis frames meet. This helps make the printer be extremely rigid and the prints that come off of it look amazing. I also added in an inductive sensor for the Z probe to enable auto bed tramming, a feature on the LulzBot Mini that I am totally in love with. Having your first layer always be perfect without much interaction is a real dream come true, even if the initial setup is a bit of a hassle.

I purchased an LCD screen with SD card support so that I can run the printer without having my laptop connected. This is an important feature for me since I am often running all of my machines simultaneously, and I don't want to have my laptop permanently attached to them. On my Wilson I am using a RAMBo board, and setting up the LCD had some pitfalls. The Arduino board library has to be modified in order for the RAMBo to properly output to the LCD. Here's the article I found on doing just that.

I added a top-mount for my filament spool, but I may actually take this off as it seems to have created a really unbalanced load. Running the printer at the speeds I had while the spool was on the table causes it to vibrate and move around a lot. I'm going to slow down the printing a bit and try to tune the feedrate, jerk, and acceleration settings. But having a really slow printing machine isn't a lot of benefit to me so hopefully I don't have to slow it down too much.

I've only been printing on the Wilson for a couple of weeks and I'm really happy with both my Wilson and Freeside's "The Kraken". For my next printer I am going to look into the Wilson 2 which improves on the current design, and given how great of a machine this already is, I think the Wilson 2 could be an outstanding machine.

Here are some links to the parts and designs used for my Wilson builds:
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Furiosa's Bionic Arm (Mad Max: Fury Road)

This post originally featured at

Last year, I was talking with a friend of mine about some of our "holy grail" projects. I told him that it was one of my dream builds to make a T-800 Endo Arm, as an actual prosthetic for an amputee. You know the scene: in Terminator 2, Arnold cuts off the skin of his left arm to expose his robotic endoskeleton.

I told him how it would be a dream project to build an Endo Arm like in this scene, for someone who is missing a limb. I've met or been made aware of a few people over the years who used their unique body attributes in their costumes, but I never had the chance to connect with someone.
He said he wanted to introduce me to someone. This is Laura.

Laura is a left arm transradial amputee, meaning that she is missing her left arm below the elbow since birth. She's also really into cosplay, and living in Atlanta, she has been a "featured zombie" on The Walking Dead. You've probably seen her in the shambling hordes.

We met and I told her about my idea and what we could do, and she was enthusiastic. I felt really lucky because this really was one of my dream projects! She said she had done a few costumes in the past that incorporated her arm, but nothing really to the scale of what we planned. The idea was to 3D print a CAD design for the Endo Arm and possibly wire it up to an Arduino and some sensors and servos to make the fingers open and close. It was going to be a fun and really challenging build, and I was really looking forward to getting it started.

And then, Mad Max: Fury Road came out and changed everything.

You might have read Laura's blog post on her Tumblr that went viral a couple weeks after Fury Road hit theaters. To quote Laura's blog post, "If I don't cosplay this character immediately I'm pretty sure all my friends will riot."

We had a short conversation at MomoCon here in Atlanta and I asked her permission to build her the Furiosa arm as a real actual prosthetic, much like we were going to do for the T-800 Endo Arm and she couldn't have been more thrilled. Our plan was to finish it for Dragon*Con 2015, and we both couldn't wait to get started.

During our planning for the Terminator Endo Arm project, I took a 3D scan of her using an Xbox Kinnect and a software called Skanect. It allows you to easily get a rough 3D scan of a person or an object. It's not high enough detail to look photo realistic, but it's enough to get basic proportions. I use this myself to scale Pepakura files and do other digital sculpting where I need to have the proportions of a person or a thing. We tried getting a 3D scan of Laura's arm and the results were all right. It was just enough to use for scaling and "subtracting" her arm from the Endo Arm model.

When we shifted gears to Furiosa, I decided the first thing to do was to get a plaster cast of her arm, because the prosthetic would have to actually fit her, and there was no way for me to "try on" the prop myself while building it. After an afternoon at the shop, I had one of the weirdest casts I've ever made, but it was exactly what we needed!

At this point I got a lot of help from Adam Greene of Pixelbash Props, who took a higher detail 3D scan of the plaster cast, and assisted by creating the 3D model used for the build. Laura and I agreed that we should 3D print the arm to cut down on as much weight as possible. I was worried that if it was too heavy that she wouldn't be able to lift it, or she would become fatigued after wearing it for a short period.

The pieces were 3D printed on my home 3D printer, as well as the printers at Freeside Atlanta, the non-profit hackerspace that I work from. After a few long prints--a total of about 30 hours print time--everything was ready to be cleaned up and assembled.

The process of cleaning up a 3D printed prop is pretty simple: Rough sand the surface to get rid of some of the print lines, then (in the case of an ABS print) use "ABS sludge"--a thick mixture of acetone and ABS--to coat the surface. This acts like a body filler and will help fill in the remaining gaps, but as the acetone evaporates, the ABS bonds to itself, so you have a single rigid object. The part is then sanded again with a finer grit sandpaper, and coated in a thin layer of spot putty to fill in any remaining pits or print lines. After that dries, the excess is sanded off, and then primed for painting.

Once the 3D printed parts were cleaned and roughed together, I designed and laser cut the mesh screen for the fingers. It was cut out of 3mm acrylic and heated with a heat gun, and then bent to shape around the fingers. Since building this I've discovered the actual prop likely used a motorcycle exhaust baffle, but the acrylic worked out great for us as it was lightweight and readily accessible.

There are two wrenches in the arm, one attached to the "pinky" finger and one lashed to one of the forearm pistons, that needed to be fabricated. I rummaged through the autobay in the shop to find a couple of wrenches that were of suitable size, and then molded them in Mold Max 30, one of the molding silicones that Smooth-On produces. I wound up casting these out of Smooth Cast 320, but my original plan was to use a light and flexible foam. That turned out to be unnecessary since the resin ones were small and light enough to not cause issues.

The hand and the finger grilles were hit with a primer, and then a base coat of matte silver. I then did a light dusting with a darker metallic paint for the the lowlights and to bring down the "shiny and chrome" factor. After all, Furiosa's arm is a functional piece of equipment and has a lot of wear and tear from being out in the Wastelands!

Laura came in for a test fitting, and for us to size and finish the strapping system for the arm. Scrap leather and spare belts were cut down to size and riveted together for the harness. Laura sewed the shoulder pad which goes underneath the pauldron, and we attached those together.

For the support pistons, I used some 6mm fiberglass rod laying around the shop, and 3D printed connecting joints for them. Those were then bolted on to the 3D printed arm, giving the wrist a range of motion. In other words, Laura will be able to pose the wrist.

The two wrenches came out really well. The small one was attached to the pinky finger, and the other was wrapped tightly to one of the support rods with some leather cord. Fun fact: I believe the leather cord is there to cover up the manufacturer of whatever wrench the prop crew cast off of, because it's placement is exactly where you would expect to read "SNAP-ON" or something. So, I followed suit and covered up the name with the leather.

Then it was on to weathering, which is my favorite part of any project. I did a few light washes in black and various tones of yellow, orange, and brown, but I wiped most of it away to keep it looking metallic. The movie has an orange filter applied to most of it, so I relied on B-roll and behind the scenes photos for true to life colors. The arm isn't rusted as much as it is worn down and dirty, but I did apply some light rust around the bolts that connect the finger grilles and the other hardware attachments.

The shoulder was designed in CAD from looking at stills from the film, then laser cut out of EVA foam. There is what appears to be a model plane engine on the front, so I grabbed a random DC motor from the shelf and glued that in. The pull strap I quickly 3D printed based off of product photos for a weed wacker. Then the whole pauldron was weathered as well.

There are three cables connecting the shoulder to the arm: a braided metal hose, a clear/yellow tinted tube, and a brake cable. I got similar looking things of each and bolted them on to the arm, and attached them on to the shoulder end.

She also wanted me to make the belt buckle emblem, which I quickly 3D printed up, and cleaned and weathered. I grabbed this model off of Thingiverse, which you can download here.

I met up with Laura at Dragon*Con and delivered the prop to her in her hotel room. We did some final fitting of the prop on Saturday so she could wear it to the costume contest, and to make sure everything was 100% for the big Fury Road photo shoot on Sunday afternoon.

That about wraps it up! It was an incredibly fun and rewarding build and I'm happy I can scratch one of my dream projects off of my list.
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Monday, July 6, 2015

Group Project: Colonial Marines (Aliens)

Alternate title: What I Learned While Managing A Group Cosplay

A few weeks after Dragon Con 2014, I was talking with Adam Greene of Pixelbash Props about what the "cosplay community" really was, and how people connected - or didn't connect - outside of conventions. Specifically, we got on the subject of how Dragon Con can attract tens of thousands of people - many from the Atlanta area - and yet there doesn't seem to be any large group or gathering of cosplayers out in the real world. I assumed that either A.) there was an existing group / meetup and we weren't aware of it, or B.) it didn't exist. Being optimistic, I believed the second option and we created a monthly social event at Freeside, creatively called the Atlanta Cosplay Meetup.

After meeting for a few months and making a lot of new friends, we started talking about the possibility of doing a group cosplay. A project we could all work on together! I'd never done a large scale group project like that before and it seemed like a great challenge and a lot of fun. After some debate, we settled on what seems like an obvious choice - Colonial Marines from the Aliens franchise.

The plan was to break the costume down into manageable chunks and spread the work out amongst the group. We decided to use Pepakura for the majority of the armor segments, with some sections 3D printed to be molded and cast. There is an open door policy at the public events at Freeside, so we anticipated a lot of people who would come to learn who would have little or no experience using these techniques. It would take us a while to really form a core group of people who were apart of the project, but we quickly moved right into building.

In order to speed up the tedious pep process, we utilized Freeside's laser cutter and went with cardboard rather than card stock. This made it a lot easier to get the basic shapes down and assembled, which was good because at the start of this project, no one had ever used Pepakura before! The first few build sessions consisted of cutting out the cardboard pep pieces, gluing them together with hot glue, then coating them with fiberglass resin for strength. Once everyone got their hands dirty putting together the Pepakura pieces, the process went really quickly.

From here we applied bondo body filler to the surface of the parts to smooth them out and sculpt them into shape. This is by far the most tedious part of the build, and we spent most of our build days working the bondo into the correct shapes. The "bondo minions" made quick work of everything and the armor masters looked really great.

One of the machinists at Freeside helped by lathing up some grenades. We'll eventually mold these and pour cast copies.

Meanwhile, Adam was working on 3D printing the Pulse Rifle and some of the armor bits. The Pulse Rifle was taken from the Aliens: Colonial Marines game and put through a process (which I will detail more soon!) to increase the detail level. It was then sliced into sections to fit into the various 3D printers we have access to, and printed in parts. Once it was fully printed out, it was assembled and several work days spent cleaning up the print lines so it wouldn't look like a 3D printed gun.

We were also working on a couple Xeno costumes as well. Kevin was working on the Xeno head sculpt.

Valentin worked on a mechanism to make the Xeno tongue action work in a really dynamic way. The tongue mechanisms were laser cut out of acrylic with a few 3D printed bits, all driven by a geared DC motor and controlled by an Arduino.

Going back to the Marine armor, once we had our masters finished and ready, we were going to vacuum form several of them and slush cast others in resin. Molds were made of all of the parts, and for the vacuum forming we poured plaster into the molds to create the forming bucks. Here, Adam is working on pulling copies of a few parts of armor.

Other molds had Smooth Cast 65D resin slush cast in them in several coats, to create the armor bits. We had a few duds due to some incorrect resin measuring, but that's the price of learning!

Meanwhile we cleaned up the vacformed parts. We had to cut off the flashing and trim up the edges, and set them all aside to get ready for paint.

The Pulse Rifle was also molded up in probably the biggest 2 piece block mold I've ever seen. This was used to rotocast and back fill with expanding foam to create a light weight, rigid prop. We actually wound up taking the mold to MomoCon and did a live casting demo at the booth!


We were down to the wire building and painting armor. About a dozen of us worked in teams painting on base coats, then doing the camo patterns. Each set of armor consists of about 15 pieces and each had to be painted.

The last 2 days before the con, we got very little sleep! Here, Adam and Elliott passed out in the living room.

Wednesday came and went, and unfortunately we simply ran out of both time and steam. There were some issues with the Xeno head sculpt as well, causing it to crack before we could get it molded. Thankfully this was found before we spent the time (and materials!) molding it.

The good news is that MomoCon was a huge success. We had a lot of fun at our booth and we met a ton of people. We got to show off our work and Freeside, and introduce a lot of people to the idea of a hackerspace!

It was a really long weekend.

As it stands, the project is nearly complete. We need to fabricate a few more sets of armor and do some painting, then put everything together. We'll be together at Dragon Con, so be sure to check back for photos in September!
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