Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Qui-Gon Jinn's Holoprojector and you...

As a prop junkie, I feel that I really should own as much as I can while not making my wife want to divorce me, lol.  So for those that want to add more to that Jedi collection or to your costume, here is how to make a Jedi holoprojector.

First, you will need to pick up 2 packs of oven-bake clay, such as sculpey

Now, take the sculpey and open up both packs and knead them for about 2 mins to make the clay workable.  Take about 1/2 of the clay and roll it out in to a nice smooth sheet about 1/4" or a little less.  Now cut a circle in it about 1 3/4" in diameter.  remove the clay from around it and set the circle aside for now.

Now take the other half of the clay and roll it back and forth in your hands to make a snake like length.  lay it down now and keep lightly rolling it out to a nice long snake about 7/16" in diameter.

Now take the snake and gently roll it around the outside edge of the circle you cut earlier.  As you get around to the starting end, just cut off the extra length and smooth the 2 ends together.  Take your time as this won't harden until you bake it.  You can take your time smoothing it to look right.

Now take some of the clay left after cutting the circle (if you didn't leave it smoothed out, no worries, just roll it out again) and lets cut 3 triangle shapes.  These will be detail items for inside the top.  Gently place them in the inner circle and make sure they are spaced evenly.  Once they are spaced, use a pen, pencil or your exacto knife end to smooth the back edge against the outer circle.  

Now take it and bake it in the over as the clays instructions state.  Once it is done, we will start on the next part. 

NOTE: Never work on other parts of the project while your clay is baking.  If it over bakes even a little, it will blacken and bubble and be ruined.

Ok, now that the first part is out of the over and cooling, let make the last part.  The antennas that are around the outside of the Holoprojector.  Take some of the left over clay and roll it out to about 1/4" think.  Now cut your antennas out slowly as to not mess them up.  Now remove the extra clay from the antennas

and smooth them out so that are more rounded then squared off. (See finished picture).  Gently pick them up and move them to your baking pan.  Take a moment to smooth them out and make sure they are in the correct shape.  Bake them as before, making sure you do not burn them.

Now comes the long part, attaching the antennas.  Use your 5 mins, high strength epoxy here.  Mix up a very small batch, enough to glue 1 of the antenna on, and hold them together for the 5 mins.  After that, it will not be going anywhere so just repeat the process 2 more times, making sure that you space them evenly around the outside edge.

Now to paint your Holoprojector.  Here is a picture of one of my Holoprojectors that you can use as sort of a color key as to what should be what color.  Remember, this is YOUR Holoprojector so you can actually make it any color you wish.  If you want it purple with pink antenna, then go for it!
Note: see how the antenna have been smoothed our to be more round looking.

You now have your very own Jedi Holoprojector, use it and display it well!

I hope this was helpful and I hope you enjoyed this blog.  If you have any questions or comments, please comment here and I will reply quickly!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

You too can be cool like Han!

Today’s project is a really cool one.  Ever watch Star Wars, the cantina scene where Han Solo shoots Greedo (yes, Han shoots first!  Worst thing they ever did was change that epic scene.) and think to yourself, “Man, if I had a gun like that, I could be as cool as him.”?  Well, today in my blog, I’m going to tell you how to go about doing just that, getting yourself a gun just like that (sorry, it won’t really fire, so no taking it to a bar, lol).

The best thing is to find a really nice gun to start with.  Some people are all about metal, everything has to be metal.  This is fine, if you have a large budget since metal stuff costs a lot more.  I like to start with an Airsoft spring firing plastic BB gun.  It comes with a short clip (which we will use) and a long clip which we do not need.

You can pick them up at flea markets sometimes or you can find them on website businesses that sell BB and pellet guns. Hobbytron.com has been a good source for me over time for these guns.  They are a plastic version of a broomhandel mauser which is the gun they used for the original props.  You will also need to pick up some 3/8’ basswood in a small sheet, a 1" diameter wooden dowel rod,

an exacto knife, 2 packs of even-bake clay such as sculpey,

 high strength epoxy and black paint which you can get at any craft store.

You will also need a funnel and a simple straight scope which are available at any multipurpose store such as Walmart or even a sporting goods store.

So, your shopping list should look like this:

BB gun…………………………………………………..…........…..$7.00
Basswood sheet …………………………………………..….....….$3.00
Wooden dowel rod……………………………………………....…..$0.50
Exacto blade…………………………………………………......…..$3.00
2 packs of oven-bake clay…………………………………........….$2.00
High strength epoxy………………………………………….....…..$4.00
Black paint (brush on craft paint)……………………………....…..$1.00
Paint brush (something that is cheap but won’t fall apart)….......$1.00
Total cost of parts (on average)...…………………………………..$32.50

After you have your gun, there are a few steps in order to make it look like the one on screen.  First, the long plastic barrel extension has to go!  Next, cut off the small part of the barrel that is still sticking out with either a handsaw or dremel tool with a cutting wheel.

Ok, the gun is now prepped for us to start adding things to it. 

The first, and most inportant thing to remember is that if you have never done one before, is to relax and take your time.  This is not a race and there is no prize for finishing everything in 20 mins (which is actually not even possible, lol.).  All you will end up with is a product you will look at and see every single place you rushed and think about how you wish you had taken your time.

ok, now, lets make the flash hider. This is the item that sits at the from of the barrel and gives it that old school "lazer gun" kind of look that it has.  You will need to take your dowel rod that you bought about measure out  about 1 3/4" and make a nice straight cut at the line with either a saw or you can use a dremel like tool to do it.  Once you have that, lets grab the sculpey and open up the package.  You will need to knead it for about 2 mins to make is nice and workable.  Now take about 1/2 of the sculpey and you can take the remaining dowel rod and use it as a rolling pin to roll it our in a flat sheet about 1/8" - 1/16" think.

Now you are going to take the rolling out clay and wrap the piece of dowel you cut off.  as you wrap it, cut it to fit with your exacto knife and trim off the extra that hangs off both ends.  Take your time and smooth it out by hand and make it so you don't see any seam lines.

Now you can make any kind of markings you want to on here.  You can go with the original Han Solo look, or you can choose the one from Empire or even make one totally custom, it is totally up to you here.  Just take your exact or the back of your paint brush and make marks in the sculpey GENTLY!  If you push too hard or too fast you will over stretch the clay and end up with a warp you have to fix.

Ok, now lets make the piece for the front of the blaster.  Take the other pack of sculpey and knead it together with what was left of the first pack.  Roll it out to about a 1/4" think sheet.  set it on the front of the blaster and then trim it to the shape you want.  

Take a pencil or pen and use the tip to score line lines across the clay while it is on the gun, but don't push too hard since you will need to be able to pull it back off.  Now gently pull it back off, use your knife to get under the edges and slowly peel it back, trying to keep the basic shape it was just in.

Now take both your clay items and place them on a foil pan (standing up and make sure that the item you just finished making is standing up and in shape) and place them in the oven for the recommended baking times and temperatures.  There is will an odd smell while baking, but it will not cause any harm to anything or anyone so do not be alarmed or worry.  Take them out after baking and let them cool.  You can take the piece for the from of the gun and fit it to the gun at this point if you are worried about it fitting right.  It will be very hot, but you can hold it on with a pot holder of towel and hold it in shape on the gun and run it under cold water to harden it faster to the shape you want.

Next we work on the scope mounting bracket.  Take your sheet of basswood and we will mark it for out cuts.  Mark will give us a 4" x 5/8" area and the other we'll mark a 2" x 1 3/4" area.  Take your exact and gently cut these out of the sheet.  Now, lets take your epoxy and glue them together.  Let the epoxy sit for about 30 mins before we do any painting to it.

Lets grab the funnel we bought and finish the flash hider.  Take your funnel and measure 1 1/2" from the bottom and the cut it with your dremel or exacto since we need a nice smooth cut.  But be careful not to cut yourself.  Now take that piece and lets epoxy it to the end of the dowel we wrapped in clay and baked.  Once the epoxy sets and is cured, let take the black craft paint and paint that, the piece for the front of the gun and the scope bracket all black so they will now match the rest of the gun.  Now take your epoxy and lets glue on the part in front and the scope bracket.  These items will have no problem staying on by themselves so now you can just go watch a Star Wars flick while you wait for this to cure.

Ok, now that you have finshed what was supposed to be a 1 movie waiting period that turned in to a marathon, lets attach the flash hider.  This the tricky part, after you epoxy the flash hider to the end of the barrel, you will need to prop it up on its end and make sure it is level.  Now, this is one of the reasons we choose the 5 min epoxy.  You only need to worry about this for 5 mins which means you can even just sit there and hold it for 5 mins.  After that, it's not going anywhere so you can just set it down on it's side and let is cure.

Ok, all that is left is to attach the scope to the bracket we made.  Now if you fine that the bracket is too narrow for the scope to grab on to, you can always just add little shims cut from the basswood to widen it right where the clamp is and epoxy it on and paint it black.  Now sit back and take a look....

Now, as promise, you too can now be as cool as Han Solo!

I hope this helped and if you have any question or comments about this project, please comment on it and I will reply quickly!  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Making your own lightsaber blade

After making lightsabers for a few years, I had been trying to find a ways to make them just a little better, add some flare or something to them.  After doing to surfing on the web, I came across some pictures of people making light up blades for their lightsabers.  They were using stuff called EL wire (electroluminescent wire) wrapped in a hollow clear plastic tube.  I thought the pictures looked great, so I bought everything I needed to make a blade for one of my sabers.  Got it all constructed, hooked up, looking good, turned it on and….well, it was a nice glow, but a far cry from the light blade that I was hoping for.  I had even purchased the brightest stuff I could find.  I was so disappointed that I gave up the project….until…..

One day I was introduced to the wonderful world of Luxeon LEDs after checking out some online auctions.  And being a single LED that uses 4 AAA batteries, it puts off enough power to blind a person if you look in to it, literally.  And with a low power drain, the batteries last a very long time.  So I decided to give the lightsaber blade a second try…SUCCESS!!!  It worked and it looked great.  The blade was so bright you could light up a room with it, and the colors were perfect.  So, here is a way for you to make your own lightsaber blade for a very inexpensive price compared to the ones you can buy already made and still have the same quality. 

First, this is just for the blade itself.  No lighting or electronics information in this blog, you’ll have to wait for a later blog for that info, which I will be doing very soon.  You need a hollow Polycarbonate tube about 40” or so.  Longer is fine as you can cut it down to size very easy with a hand saw or mototool with cutting disc do be the perfect size for you.  You can fine these on the internet for about $7.00 from saber supply sites all the way to plumbing, electronics and plastics suppliers.  Shipping is usually about $3.00 - $5.00 depending on where it’s from since they are very lightweight.  Next you need a rounded tip for one end as well as a little round mirror for the end (the mirror will make sense later).  You can get these kinds of things at any local craft store.  The rounded tip could be a full ball shape which you can cut in half or a half circle, which would be easier and both are gonna run you around $1.00 - $2.00 each.  The mirror pieces will come in a multi pack, which is good so you can get the perfect size, and cost about $2.00.  Last you will need clear cellophane wrapping paper and a wooden dowel rod.  You can also buy the roll of the wrap and a long dowel rod, about half the diameter of the tube, from the same craft store.  The Wrap should be about $4.00 and the rod will be about $.80.  Ok, now lets take these home and make a blade….

Tools you will need are a cutting tool such as a handsaw or a mototool (dremel type) with a cutting wheel, scissors and some epoxy.

Take your Polycarbonate tube and cut it to the length you wish to have your blade.  Try to keep the cut as straight as possible, but it does not have to be perfect. 

Next, take the pack of mirrors and find one that will just fit inside the tube with a little wiggle room.

Now, take your half round plastic ball (or cut a whole round one in half) and glue the mirror on to the flat side of it, making sure you center it and then set it aside for now. 

Now for the inside of the tube.  Take the cellophane and roll out a large section of it.  Line it up with the length of the blade and cut a piece off that is the full length of the blade and about 6’ long.  Take the dowel rod and begin to roll the wrap on to the rod, keeping it centered and lined up.  Now holding on to the wrap on the rod, slide the rod in to the blade and when it is lined up with the other side, let it go.  The wrap will unravel and lessen up and you can then slide the rod out (if you find that you don’t get quite the right look, you can always add not wrap to the inside of the first section you put in). 

Now epoxy the end with the mirror to the opposite end that you cut since it will still be perfectly flat.  Let the epoxy set and BOOM!!!!, you have a lightsaber blade! 

This is exactly how I made my blades you see in some of the videos you see here on my blog.  If you are in to making blades for more then one lightsaber, the cost will be even less per saber since some of the stuff comes in multi packs such as the mirrors and the roll of wrap (one roll of wrap should make about 10 lightsaber blades at the minimum).

I hope this has been helpful and if you have any questions or would like more information, please post a comment and I will reply to it quickly.

My wifes lightsaber.

I was sitting at my workbench the other day and my wife, who is very blog savvy walks past me, stops, turns to me and says, "You should write a blog about this stuff you make.  I bet people would be interested in what you make and some of the ideas you have when making them."  As I had no idea where to even start, I asked her since she knows all about blogs, why not set that up for me.  I was then informed that she could not do this as, in her eyes, I perform some kind of voodoo magic that she does not understand to make these props and collectables I make.  After laughing for about 5 mins, I figured, why not.  This could be a lot of fun.  Or...at the very least could be just a new experience.

So here is the basis for my new blog.  I make sci-fi (mainly Star Wars) props and custom designed collectables.  I started out by wanting a lightsaber.  Since Master Replicas was not in that line yet, and even if they were I could not have afforded them, I took it upon myself to make one.  I looked at my finished product and was very happy...at the time. lol.  It was a very rough designed that resembled a lightsaber and yet just didn't have enough of that proper look to it yet.  But now, 10 years later, I've gotten to the point where I can make a very respectable replica lightsaber that anyone can afford.  I don't believe in things of this nature being priced out of peoples price range.  Even the replica blasters I make are very, very affordable (about $50.00 for my blasters as compared to about $200 min for a master replicas blasters).

One of my creations was a lightsaber with a luxeon blade.  But not just any lightsaber, but one for my wife.  She is not really that big in to Star Wars, but does like it.  After watching me make lightsaber after lightsaber, she asked one day if I could make her one since she thought they looked cool.  I jumped on that full force!  I showed her a few different lightsaber design pictures to get an idea of what she liked in a design.  So after getting ideas, I sat down and made a shopping list of what I was gonna need and where to get it.  My lightsabers are all primarily made of parts you can get almost anywhere.  I use hardware store parts for the body (metal pipe for the body, PVC for any raised areas, knobs and what not for added features), and the LEDs on the outside of looks from places like Radio Shack.  I took the pipe I bought at the local hardware store and cut it to length and then took some thin walled PvC pipe and cut it in to strips for grips and a larger area for a nice upper grip.  I affixed all the PVC grips with a high strength 5 min epoxy and drilled holes toward the top for the LEDs to fit in to.  To add a touch of flare, in the upper half of the pipe, I took my Dremel and a sanding drum and sanded off the chrome finish to show the brass underneath.  The I took the larger piece of PVC and with a cutting disc, cut in some slots, sanded them and placed it over the brass area of the pipe so that you would see a brass look through the slots of the plastic.  I found some Darth Vader shrouds on ebay that someone was selling for a very cheap price, so I picked 2 of them up for $10 for both and added one to her lightsaber.

Now that the body was made, I needed to give it life!  I picked up a luxeon III white LED and all the electronics I needed from thecustomsabershop.com, mounted in the light, focusing lense and switch as well as added the battery pack.  I made it so that a simple pipe cap covered the bottom of the lightsaber and could be pulled off to get to the batteries.  With the lightsaber now having the look and power, I went to my wife and asked her about a color for it.  I was very surprised to find she had put a lot of thought in to this.  She wanted a nice orange colored blade for her lightsaber.  So I took 1 yellow and amber color disc and placed them in front of the white LED, it was perfect.  When I handed her her lightsaber, she was very happy with it.

Total cost was about $60.00 for complete lightsaber and blade.  If you have any questions about what I did or would like more information, please leave a comment and I will reply to them as quickly as possible.

Feel free to check out a short video of it I posted on youtube.