Sunday, September 26, 2010

Entry Three: A Day at the Workshop

A Gunslinger update!

So we screwed the top and bottom together, sanded the forearm piece, then puttied up a few rough areas. After that, we took them apart again to see how the electronics would fit. This would determine where we put the hole.

 By the way...I realized after we made the full octogon that only 5 sides were actually on the arm; the rest was held on by a belt. Oops!

We realized we'd need a lathe for the wrist piece. Nagle, my handy but skeptical roommate, didn't have a lathe in his garage, so we went out to his dad's workshop to use his.

It was really cool out there; tons of tools and giant machines that did who knows what, along with scattered computer parts, scrap wood and metal...I felt like I was in Engie's workshop! He even had a welder's mask with flames on it and a pair of ear defenders just like the Safe n' Sound(red team, fuck yeah!). It was outdoors, and thankfully it was a nice, cool day, perfect for solving practical problems!

 So Nagle Sr. had all ready started rounding the block; this is how it looked when I arrived. After tapering it, we put it on this big machine that I think was called a "mill"...Nagle Jr. told me it was meant for metalwork, and was generally overkill.
We put as big a hole in it as we could, then tried to put it back on the lathe and scrape out the rest of the inside.

It wasn't bad, but we realized it wasn't going to go as deep as we needed it to. Nagle Sr. put together an impromtu L-shaped sort of drill, but unfortunately, the base wasn't stabilized enough for the weird kind of pressure it put on the piece, and it popped a piece out.

 Thankfully it was a pretty clean break, so it glued up pretty good; Nagle and I went to Home Depot to grab a better tool for the job while the glue dried.
We got one of these suckers, at just the right size for my hand to fit, then used that mill thing again, this time stabilizing it with an extra piece of metal that had a v cut out, for extra points of hold. It went through great this time around, and so we put it on the lathe for the last time, and I cut some details and sanded it. When I was satisfied with the work, we popped it off!

After that, we checked how much room we needed for the electronics, then use the same tool to cut the hole for the forearm piece. It turned out we needed a lot of room for the button, leaving it uneven and hence cartoonishly big on my tiny wrists.

 Not sure I'm down, but it's too late to back out now! If anything, I'll grab a smaller button sometime and re-make the forearm piece again after EXP con but (hopefully)before Halloween. Even so, it's looking pretty freakin' awesome so far, and being in the workshop all day was a lot of fun(even if I didn't know much of what I was doing).

Oh, one more thing; I ditched the idea of having the fingers over my real fingers. I thought it would be too much effort and just not look as good. So instead, I bought one of these things to build the fingers around.
My hand will go in the wrist piece, and my fingers'll stick out the front and underneath some of the detailing. More on that in another update!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Entry Two: The Gunslinger

All my friends know there's two things I really love in this world: Robot Arms and Team Fortress 2.

So when they heard that my favorite class, the Engineer, was getting a robot arm for his update, they called me immediately to tell me the news. It was pretty much the best day of my life.
Well, after many hours of being an extra-dick offensive engineer on LOLCANO, I realized Halloween was approaching, and I felt it was high time I added another robot arm to my collection.

I'll be posting periodic updates on this robot arm project; it's got to be a lot tighter than the last since I'm replicating something all ready in existence. The first thing I did was stop by Skycraft Parts and Surplus for my birthday to pick up some of the odds and ends I needed for the arm, then I drew this vague mock-up.
As you can see from this images, I'm unsure what the three circular pieces on the wrist friend Scott told me to email Gabe Newell or Robin Walker and see if they can ask the artist about it, but I'm way too nervous!

Anyways, after that, I headed out to a flea market to find a lawnmower handle. We couldn't find the lawnmower parts stand, but I did find this old clacky keyboard that would work perfectly for the numpad on his forearm!

I love clacky keyboards, and I had really wanted to keep it as the keyboard for my computer; I was only completely devastated to find out the old port was waaaay too big for the keyboard port my computer has. It's okay, though, because engie robot arm really deserves the clacky keypad more!

Taking the keyboard apart was a lot of general, I like getting a look at the guts of electronic stuff ever since I customized a rock band guitar a while back.

 Anyway! So my always skeptical but very handy roommate, Nagle, and I began working on the forearm piece. We want it to be hollow so it's lighter weight, and we leave room for the electronics that will make the button and the tiny red LED light up.
Then I cut the numpad out of the keyboard with a dremel, and cut a wood piece to be inset slightly; we'll screw the plastic numpad onto that wood piece, then add the keys once they're painted.
The next step is to glue and screw the wood pieces together. I'm going to spec out the wrist piece and then Nagle's going to take it over to his Pop's workshop and use a lathe. As far as the fingers go, I'm going to try and work those with plastic. I've never worked with plastic before, so I don't really know where to begin. I might email some of my favorite prop-makers ans ask their advice. More Robot Arm adventures to come!

Edit: Oh yeah, another's how much I've spent so far:
Rubber tubing(not shown): 2.50
Orange Wire: .90
Big Red Button: 5.00
Gauge: 3.00
LED's: 1.00
Clacky Keyboard: 5.00
Primer Spraypaint: 3.10
RED Spraypaint: 4.24
Gunmetal Spraypaint: 5.99
Wood Glue: 2.97
Screws: 3.77

Too lazy to total, but it's around $40 so far, and that's a lot to do with the fact that I'm just starting out and don't have a lot of this stuff lying around.

Entry One: The U.B.R.A

Hello, all! My name's Ingrid, and welcome to Robot Arms Incorporated, your one-stop-shop for enhancing your lifestyle--cybernetically!

The story of Robot Arms Inc. started like any other; just a small-town girl with a dream. A dream of passion. A dream of adventure. A dream...of a Robot Arm.

This is the initial sketch I did of the original U.ltra B.itchin' R.obot A.rm. The details were a little fuzzy; all I knew is I wanted a wide, cannon-like forearm.

After initial runs to both home depot and an awesome local shop called "Skycraft Parts and Surplus Inc.," I got myself a couple floodlight casings, a rubber glove, and some aluminum tape, coming up with the aforementioned forearm.
I also knew the shoulder piece would be a big part of the arm; I would need something major to help hold it up. I all ready had a harness in the works, but it really needed a badass mech shoulder piece. With the help of my very handy roommate, Nagle, and his equally handy collection of tools, we cut and bent out the pieces for a 3-layered metal shoulder. With a few metal wings for robo chic, I laid out the basic parts to see how the arm would eventually come together.

With the deadline of a dress-up day at my office quickly approaching, I sewed together the harness from heavy-duty nylon straps(be sure to get a heavy needle and watch your fingers!), then sewed that to the sleeve cut from a classy Salvation Army leotard(complete with snaps on the crotch--nice to see you again, 1986!). With the help of three cans of Full Throttle and lots and lots of duct tape, the UBRA prototype was completed.

It was a big hit, but wearing it that day provided me with a lot of insight. The first was that rubber gloves, while awesome, get really sweaty when you're just wearing them around. The second was the loose wires weren't as neat a concept as I'd thought in my head. Lastly, the upper arm just wasn't robot-y enough. It looked empty.

After another trip to Skycraft and more help from that crafty Nagle, I got ride of the duct tape, tightened the wires, replaced the glove with something a little more breathable, and added a perforated metal upper-arm piece, complete with some sweet exposed circuitry!

But a cyborg's work is never done; I'm constantly on the prowl for ways to improve the UBRA. I plan on doing some more surgery to incorporate a better glove, and a new flexy elbow piece made from an accordioned rubber boot and a dryer vent. Stay tuned for UBRA updates and even more robot arms!