Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Well, this is both incredibly frustrating and extremely satisfying, all at the same time.

I have been working on Project W somewhat, although I've hit a bit of a snag in the surface finishing.  The acetone works, but I don't like the look of what it leaves behind.  The sandpaper also works, but it is a ton of manual effort. I also don't like the way it leaves the surface and there are locations that are nearly impossible to reach.  I'm working on a possible dremel solution for the hidden spots, but I need to pick up a different mount for it, which can happen later this week.  For everything, the right tool.

So, while I work on figuring that out, I continued to work a bit here and there on Project A.  I have the mold rubber and casting plastic coming, so I'll be able to cast the foots.  The right and left shins are basically done except for scribing in the plate lines and detailing.  I started on the thighs tonight.  If the dimensions work out right, this thing should stand about 10 1/2 " at the shoulders, maybe a little bit more, and that should be just about right.

I'm working to follow the basic lines and layout of the MWO Atlas, but I'm leaving some room for creative license and "I just don't know how to do that .."  But, I'm trying to keep it as close to what I see in my mechLab as I can.  This is, as I mentioned, a very challenging project.  It's the first time I've tried to build something up from scratch, more than a kit-bash to get "something" and it's pushing some of my engineer buttons.  The dynamics of the joints, the layout and dimensions are interesting.  I find that I spend a lot of time sketching and looking at the thing from various angles, just to see what I have to work with.  At first, I was concerned that my measurements for the foot were off, but now that I'm seeing the way those base measurements are scaling up, I'm less worried. 

To be honest, it's frustrating, but more than that, it's pretty rewarding.  I'm seeing this thing come together in layers, piece by piece and it's really making me smile.  Every little success is one more challenge overcome and one more bit of encouragement to keep on going.  I *have* to be patient while I work it, and that's taking some effort.  I keep wanting to move to the next phase, and the next, and the next, but I have to work this thing in order, and take it step by step. 

Once I have the lower half worked up, I might just put a pic or two out for show. 

Until then, keepin' on, keepin' on.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I decided, in typical Mal fashion:

So, I chose "let's try two projects at once, for $1000, Alex." 

I managed to acquire the foundation for Project W.  The raw material for this one requires far more surface prep and work to finish than most that I've worked with.  Of course, I also have to do my typical customization and personalization to it, which means there is a ton of work to do here.  But, that's what I signed up for.

The parts are 3-d printed.  This means that there are a couple of challenges.  First, they have this very fine but distinct line pattern on them.  It's actually an interesting effect but it does take away from the ferro-fibrous look to the armor plates, so it has to go.  I might leave it on a couple of pieces, just for the look.  There are a couple of things I can do here.  I'm told that acetone works to help smooth them out, but the only acetone I have here in the house is nail polish remover.  It didn't do such a good job.  I can pick up a tin of full-strength acetone at Hell's Depot, and if I get out there today, I will.   The other option is the typical sand, prime, sand, prime routine.  I tested that out on a section of the back and that seems to work just fine. The catch is; OMFG TEDIOUS!!!1!!ELEVENTY.  That process is definitely going to be one of those "how many movies does it take to get THIS to work?  There are lots of interesting angles and tiny spaces that will be difficult to get into.  We'll see how it goes.  But If I want it to look good, there you go. 

A second challenge is the null-space.  The printing process means that in many of the negative spaces, there is this latticework of material.  I have found that it's not entirely difficult to remove, but you do have to be careful about how you cut it away, so as not to slice into the surface of the model or into your own fingers.  I haven't bled that's good.  However, when it's done, you're left with an even more rough surface that needs to be cleaned, and typically THAT surface is in a quite difficult place to reach.   We'll see how the acetone works, else I'll just get comfortable in a chair with a dropcloth and listen to some movies for a few weeks. 

The second Project is Project A. 

I had an opportunity to find one of the old Armorcast Atlas models on EvilBay.  Unfortunately, this guy has a reserve, and he has a good idea of just what the market will bear on this kind of kit, if his past auctions are any indicator.  I don't bid on reserve auctions as a rule anyway, and as I watched the price climb, and indeed it's still out there as I type, I got into looking at it and found I really don't like the look of Armorcast's sculpt.  It looked decent when it was the only incarnation out there, but now, I compare it against the MWO Atlas and I find that the MWO design just looks much more..  Rarr.  It has a heavier, meaner, more thunderous look to me, and it has more of the feel of the 100-ton behemoth it's supposed to be.  So, I decided that I'd rather  not pursue a model that is very expensive and only has a "meh" design. 

Here's a pic of the two designs side-by-side. 

Last night I reached over and grabbed some of the grey firm sculpey off my desk and figured, what the heck.  Let's start from the bottom up.  I pulled up the image I have of the Atlas, and started to make stuff.  I probaby worked on this thing for a couple of hours, off and on.  I took breaks when I got to a point where I was ready to just chuck it all in and went back at it later.  As it is now, I have a very rough approximation of about 85% of a foot. I'm reminded of the Foxtrot cartoon where Jason is building a colossal snowman, one giant molecule at a time.  I'm actually pretty happy with it, especially considering the fact that I don't sculpt.  Sure sure, I see a lot of things that can be improved on it and I'll do some more work before I actually put out a pic of THAT piece. 

I'm learning a great deal about my skills and techniques while doing this.  I suspect that when I do finish, IF I finish, I'll feel as rewarded by this one as I was about the Serenity.