Friday, December 30, 2011

Foam cutting table overview and possible redesign

A couple of years ago I posted a video on my YouTube channel of a foam cutting table I built for some terrain projects. The design is pretty simple and there is nothing hidden in it. You could probably build one from just the pictures but I figure any help I can give with the details may help if you want to build your own. It will also give me a chance to give some suggestions on making it better.

The parts list:

  • 1/2 inch wide aluminum bar stock
  • wood battens, I used some scraps of 1x2 but anything up to 2x4 will work. The small stuff is just easier to work with.
  • laminate topped wooden board, mine is a counter top off cut. An old laminate shelf at least 12 inches deep would also work.
  • wood screws
  • eyelet screws and bolts
  • bolt, wing nut and washer long enough to go through your choice of wood battens
  • 22 gauge wire
  • toggle switch, I used a paddle with an LED "on" light
  • 12v 1.3a power supply
  • nichrome wire, got this from Woodland Scenic. You can also used some types of guitar or piano wire. You just may need a beefier power supply

The design:
If you have ever seen a scroll saw the design will look familiar. You are building the same thing just replacing the saw blade with a piece of wire. The second difference is in the tilting mechanism. In a scroll saw the base tilts to allow for angled cuts. For the foam cutter version it is easier to tile the wire than the base so the arm is designed to pivot giving the same effect. Lastly the base size is larger. This makes it easier to get the piece flat against the table for better cuts or working with large pieces of foam. The arm the wire attaches to is made of aluminum. This material was chosen because it is easy to work with and springy. This last feature simplifies the design by not requiring any extra pieces or springs to keep tension on the wire.

The electronics:
To keep things simple the power supply is one of those generic "wall wart" dc power supplies. The one I used is a 1.3amp 12 volt unit. Mine came form an old answering machine or something like it. I never throw these things out because they always can be used for other purposes. If you don't have they can be found all over the web or at Radio Shack. Really though if you are going to buy one check eBay for tattoo power supplies. They are under $20 and work great. They also have variable output voltage so you can adjust the wire temperature and in some cases foot pedal on/off switches. This is really nice because it allows for hand free operation.

The wiring is a basic circuit. It is a simple on/off circuit. The diagram below has a couple of optional features. First the pilot light. This can be bought as an assembly, part of the switch as I did or even built manually. The second is the push button/foot switch. If you went with a tattoo power supply this wiring is already built into the power supply. Otherwise you will have to make the switch yourself. I am not going into that here because I don't want to turn this into an circuits 101 course.

The improvements:
The basic table I built has a few issues. It works great for freehand cuts but for precise cuts I need to add a rip fence like the one on a table saw. Make the arm height shorter, maybe 3 or 3.5 inches. This allows for less flex in the wire and gives a cleaner cut. Finally add a stop the arm pivot at 90 and 45 degrees. Getting square or repeatable cuts is a problem without this. The final thing is moving to a thicker gauge wire. This again pulls some of the flex out of the wire giving better cuts.

That is it. Get to building.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Boltgun in the paint booth, Bolt Pistol on the bench

Since I still have allot of foam core left, my first boltgun is painting booth and the Thunder Hammer build is stalled so I needed something else to keep me busy. So time to build a bolt pistol.

This started out from a paper template as opposed to me drawing my own. This has its ups and downs though. The advantage of having someone else do all the work gets stripped away when you translate that same design to foam core. I ended up with several templates that gave me the basic shape. I am still in the process of working out the handle design. I am stuck with either going with a carved foam/resin piece or sticking with the paper/foam core from the template.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The project that was - Shoulder pads

Sometimes project die for the strangest reasons. In this case it is due to my ineptitude with fiberglass. After 3 attempts I am rethinking this project and will have to take it into a different direction. Oh well, I at least still have the paper template to design the new ones off of. I think I am going to switch to a wooden form to lay the fiberglass against instead of doing a hollow paper form.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book Review - Nocturne

'On the Anvil of War are the strong tempered and the weak made to perish, thus are men's souls tested as metal in the forge's fire.'

Nocturne is the final chapter in the Salamander trilogy and Nick saved the best for last. If you have been following along you remember the ending of the last book with Vulkan He'stan returning, Tsu Gan getting captured and Dak'ir's powers at question. This book answers the question of what happens next and goes even further. It is a true roller coaster ride. You have warp battles, planetary destruction, demonic possession, a trial and the Dark Mechanicus just to start things off.

This time out Kyme does a great job of pulling from all the other pieces of the series including the short stories and audio books. For example when they do the roll call for the dead before battle they mention one of the characters from  Fireborn. We also see the return of the child Bak'en saves in the Salamander book as a new scout going through the trials. This is a nice touch and goes a long way to leaving as few loose ends as possible.

One thing he does a little differently this time is he fleshes out characters that may have been missed or a little flat in previous books so you see them change over the roughly 3 or 5 years that pass from the beginning of the series. Unlike the Ultramarine series no character comes out of any of the books unchanged. Even the Salamader's famous pragmatism is tested against the anvil. In some cases even breaking the character under the  strain. This adds heavily to the body count but also shows how dire and bleak a world Nocturne is. It lives up to its death world status.

One return we see is the Marines Malevolent. Seeing how they crossed paths the first time it was unique to seen them again. Kyme really doesn't like loose ends. I wont spoil what happens with them but a little taste can't hurt.
' "What is the fate for the Marines Malevolent now?" he mused. "What fate for the dammed?" One of the wounded stirring caught Lorkar's attention. ... Lorkar leaned in close. "Tell me, brother. I will answer if I can." He heard the tension in a gun trigger being slowly squeezed and whet he realized what the wounded warrior was saying, knew his critical error.'

This is a section you will just have to read to get the full effect. Trust me you will like the outcome.

Over all the story holds up well and has enough twist and turns that had me not wanting to stop reading a few times. The big thing is everyone is expendable. None of the we need him later to push the story stuff. As I said the body count is high but with a purpose. Every death furthers the story or is used to end story line. It may be a little hard to follow if you missed the other 2 books because there is no back tracking about the characters. This is a solid ending to the series.

I give this one 5 drake heads out of 5! Read it and be tested at the Anvil.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fire on my mark! 3...2...1...

Progress is moving forward on my bolter project. I decided to simplify the handle and go with a flat one instead for a couple of reasons. First up, complexity. The original plan was to build it out of a block of foam but the strength just wasn't there and it would likely break before I got it mounted. The second was to build it up with several pieces of foam core then cover it with air hardening clay. Problem here is I am out of clay. Since this is more of a test build than a replica the flat handle will work out fine.

The project is now read to be gesso coated and lightly sanded. Once that is done the painting and final details can be added. I am still trying to decide what chapter to paint it for. Thinking about Salamanders, but the Soul Drinkers are really calling my name. Something about a chapter that split from the corrupt Empire and pulled itself back form the gates of Chaos to forge its own path seems like the perfect candidate.

Onward to the pictures.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book review - Fall of Damnos

When Damnos is hit by cataclysmic earthquakes, an ancient force is awakened. Deep beneath the earth, the necrons rise from their slumber to decimate the human populace. All appears lost until salvation comes from the heavens – the Ultramarines brave an orbital bombardment to deploy their forces on Damnos, led by two legendary warriors – Captain Cato Sicarius and Chief Librarian Tigurius.

They are the planet's last, great hope against the remorseless alien foes, but tensions within their ranks threaten to derail victory. As battle rages on Damnos, and the Ultramarines seek to defeat their soulless enemies, Tigurius receives a terrible vision – a vision telling of the death of a hero...

Finally made it through the book and I am somewhat unimpressed with the ending. The anticlimax at the end was weak. You have to major battles that get the standard last minute save by blindsiding an enemy. At least this time there is no "Ultramarine utility belt" solution to any problems. Also the infighting on both sides felt petty. Instead of being aged soldiers they come off as new recruits. The 2 worst offenders of this are Sicarius and the Necron leader. It is shocking that both characters lived as long as they have. Neither expressing the basest concept of military tactics beyond march forward and shoot anything that moves. I know the boys in blue are shock troops but even shock troops go in with a plan. The thing that I really like and hate most about the book is the open ended part. I just wish they wouldn't have wrapped it up in under a paragraph of text. It feels like all the build up for the architect is wasted in a few sentences. They introduce him as a key character only to waste his potential. The Necrons destroy stars and assimilate entire planets. I expected much more from them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Using foam core to get out of cleaning the house

Hey guys,

I have been insanely busy of the last few months so updates have been really slow to make it up. Sorry but life happens. Fear not, I have been busy with the hobby and have a few book reviews coming up. Stay tuned for those.

Anyway the title of this post is a little strange even for me. Being a guy I tend to go out of my way to avoid housework. Well when Hobby Lobby decided to put foam core on sale for 30% off I figured I would get a little. Ok not a little, a lot. 20 2'x3' sheets and 10 4'x3' sheets. When you get to load the hump you load the hump. With this much obtainium to work with all kind of projects pop into your head. This time it was this one.

We all want one even if you don't play marines. The trusty bolter is as iconic as '80s era shoulder-pads. Why GW hasn't release a life sized model still defies logic so if you want one you have to build it yourself. So that is exactly what I did. My original plan was to build it as a paper model but that changed to foam core thanks to the sale. A couple of hours of CAD work and the plans were set and the cutting began. I still need to attach the barrel but that will wait until I coat the whole thing in paper mache to smooth out the seams. 

On to the pictures.

Almost forgot, the dimensions, 24" long with barrel attached. 4 inches wide and 12 inches tall. I decided to glue in the magazine as opposed to making it removable. I was being lazy and didn't want to model the shells. There is still allot of detail work to add. I am thinking on doing a brass devotional plate and inscription  on one side and adding texture to the grip.

That should be enough for now. I have to get back at it. A Thunder Hammer / Crozius Arcanum have been calling my name.


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