Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Starcraft II Terran Command Center Part 3 of 5

With the bulk of the assembly mapped out, I could focus on refining the assemblies and doing general detailing/paneling. The only major construction left was the underside. This had to be left for last, as the plan was to have a panel that drops down from the bottom, for access to the custom mounted motherboard, power supply, etc.

I did a really lose fit to see how much room I had to play with.

If you look closely, you can see that this part has some really large corners sticking out. In the game model, they "clip" into the models of the individual feet. Instead of attempting the giant headache of how the corner of a rectangular prism (with a draft angle on it) would intersect the bottom of the corner assembly + the knee joint at a 45 degree angle, I decided to completely avoid the issue all together and leave a small space between the parts. I'll just call it artist's discretion.

It got refined a bit into this, but I couldn't lob off the corners until I knew exactly how far the feet spaced.

The front and rear slivers of MDF were glued to the frame of the command center to help frame the center part. The center part is the part that is removable and holds the motherboard, etc.

Next it came time to tidy it up. These panels proved quite difficult to measure with all of the angles going on. On the bright side, the ramp keyed up perfectly!

The tiny little underside areas were carefully filled with sheet styrene. This is near the thruster housing.

With the underside mostly sealed up, I could get back to some sub-assemblies. The thrusters are the defining part of the rear, so I wanted to get those done next.

Sort of like the feet, I went slice by slice, beveling and sanding before assembly. I did the main thruster first.

The lines were done with just an exacto and the folded edge of sandpaper. 

The rounded taper on the end was just done with a sanding drum on the dremel.

Some more progress on the housing, as well as trying out the new thruster! looks imposing. In game, the inside of the thruster tapers in and has some cool details, but since this is the port for the main exhaust fan, I did a straight cut to accommodate the largest amount of airflow possible.

The little guys were next.

Looks like cheesecake....

I used to use a drafting compass for this sort of thing, but realized a sheet metal one was much better as I could simply grind the line I wanted to cut. If I scribe it deep enough, it actually helps guide the scroll saw blade around the circle for a cleaner cut.

Cut and beveled.

Getting excited. Some bondo and filling the empty space should do the trick. There's so much chipping on the game model that I decided to avoid that entirely and thus made these stick out about .5"-.75" more than they should. Accuracy suffers a bit, but I avoided some huge headaches!

But, if you know me, then you should know that I hate Bondo. I use styrene to fill gaps instead. Its a bit tedious, but I absolutely hate sanding more than I need to, and this creates a much stronger bond between the parts than Bondo.

For the holes though, I have to take the plunge and get out the can, which brings me to the front. These little guys are some of the last cosmetic fabrication. I had to plane down the front panels first though.

The little brackets in the front were measured out before the sanding took place. This is just time management, I wanted the parts to bathe in primer while I did the sanding on the front. When you do this for a living, you'll be scrounging up ways to save time as often as possible!

since the corner assemblies are mirrored casts, it was only fitting that I mirrored these panels before finishing them off completely.

Measuring and getting the cuts this flush was work.

That's because every cut is beveled to some weird degree.

They were detailed with styrene, and slapped on there!

Getting close to done here. Time to cast the rest of the feet!

This pile was just begging to be put together. Its really rewarding seeing all of your casts come together for the first time, after hours of prep work. The thrusters were not cast, they were simply there for show.

Before Throwing everything together, there was some misc. detail here and there that needed attention.

The little slotted round parts above have a tiny blinking LED in them, so I needed room for that to show.

The detail on the right is cut out to have a small temperature screen that displays the general case temperature.

I think that's enough technical jargon, here's the result of all that hard work!

Scale insert sponsored by Coca-Cola. 

Here's a couple shots of the innards. While being in the early stages, the rig is actually quite stable and not a whole lot of changes will be made for the final version. The first picture is the MDF frame before it went in the case. It looks like a headache, but its actually not that bad.

The motherboard sits at about 110 degrees vertical, as it is too tall!

Video here! (Might want to turn your sound down, sorry 'bout that!)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Starcraft II Terran Command Center Part 2 of 5

Where were we....

The front door of the command center is the only part of the command center that actually "works" when it lifts off. By that I mean it is the only part that doesn't "clip" into the body or disappear/appear from nowhere. Originally, I wanted the option to go back and add a "partsforming" function to the command center by swapping the straight leg assemblies with an extra set of ones that are curved in for lift off. A functioning ramp was really all that survived of the liftoff idea, as the legs simply "clipped" into the body too far.

Instead of a conventional hinge, I decided to use a small brass rod that went through the door posts to allow them to swivel.

I then went about making the ramp itself, dry fitting some paneling to test the general size/spacing.

With the pattern decided upon, I dremeled tiny notches for the brass rods and glued them in. Afterwards, these rods would be sandwiched with more MDF to be very sturdy.

At this point, there was no going back as far as the hinge assembly goes.

The rest was just refining the ramp. There is a slight kink in the design, which is why I decided against laminating a munch of flat sheets. Also, with a hollow, lighter weight it will stay closed much easier.

I had to be sure the ramp wasn't too wide, to deep, etc. or it would interfere with other parts and have to be trimmed, or more importantly, wouldn't be able to close. Luckily, it all worked out perfectly in the end.

Until I had the bottom of this thing done, I couldn't go much further and started the next assembly.

I decided to start on what I ended up calling the "side modules". they protrude on each side of the command center and while having complex bevels and subtle tapering, don't really have as much detail as the rest of the command center until you get into the little channels on them. They are exactly the same on each side, and typically I would mold them so I didn't have to do it twice. However, I decided just to tough it out and make the two from scratch and save myself some silicone.

I made a template, and traced out the sets for both sides. These would get laminated together, and then cut since they had a pretty specific thickness.

You can see here how the outside layers are the larger, thinner layers while the inside layers are thicker but more minimal. I made considerations like this with anything I could that was MDF and wasn't going to end up being replaced with a plastic cast.

I started making the skin around the modules, with the "channel" already cut out. The module tapers in ever so slightly so I installed the spacers in the important areas first to gauge the size and angle of the taper.

The skins have recessed areas for the channel, but also two panels that have the Raynor logo on them and draw a lot of attention. therefore, I needed the beveling of said areas to be as clean as possible. I spent a lot of time drafting these out and calculating the taper as it wrapped around the module.

The skins were cut, re-glued, and beveled to match the frame.

Some times I use styrene for small bevels. The paneling was made to match, and comes off easily for painting and will also serve as an access panel later on.

I cut the logos out using the same method as before.

The details in the channel were drafted out on a piece of styrene, then it was lightly glued to another piece, then cut at the same time on a scroll saw.

The result is two perfectly symmetrical parts.

I decided to do the first pass of primer and a light sand before installing the modules.

The corners and feet needed to be completed before the thruster housings and underside paneling could be started. Reason being that I didn't expect perfect symmetry down to the hundredth of an inch when all of the cast parts came together! Im ambitious but lining all of these guys up one after another in XYZ space was nearly impossible to get perfect.

the knee was a pretty standard two part mold, utilizing and MDF jig method I've been tuning since early last year.

I throw in pieces from old/failed molds for box molds like these.

The corner assembly was pretty straight forward as an open face mold. Only problem was because it was a brush on mold, it would need a hard jacket. For this I used plasti-paste from smooth on. There are three massive undercuts, so a hard jacket would lock the part in. The part would then need to be destroyed to get it out of the mold. Then, the jacket could be taken off the silicone, and cut into sections as keys. Since I was in a hurry I didn't want to make a bunch of MDF dividers and do separate applications of plasti-paste.

This is unfortunately what had to happen to make the mold. Good thing it came out okay!

First two corner casts!

You may have noticed a lot more detail on the command module. All of that was just hand cut styrene.

Anyways, a lot of these were lightly glued in place to test fitment, then pulled apart. The little marks where the old super glue remained were what I used as reference to made adjustments.

This served as a very critical support piece, as these parts pulling on the MDF side modules aren't as strong as gluing resin to resin. It was also cut out later to support the graphics card sticking out of the top.

The command module has some strange intersections and it was a little tricky dremeling it to fit nice and flush and still be easily removed.

Being somewhat satisfied, I started playing with casting the feet.

I wasn't very happy with the lower halves of the foot castings, so I used to the top halves of the casts and mounted them to the bottom halves, which were hollow and completely scratch built. It took a good 2 days to fix that error, but the results are nice.

Now that the shell is mostly mapped out, I can close the gap by outlining the thruster housings, which also serve as frame support.

Simple, right?

Not as simple.

I hacked away all of the plastic back here except for a few slivers for the MDF frame to glue on. I needed to save weight as well as allow air flow from the fans. This is where the exhaust fans are going. We'll see those engines mounted up next time, with some electronics in there!