Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Captain America Ball Chair Progress

With Christmas come and gone I have gotten back to my ball chair project that I last posted about.  It is getting more interesting by the hour as I continue with the third section of the ball construction.

In this photo like the other sections that I have already completed I am assembling the spacers into the third section of the ball portion of the build.  This section as you can see has a much steeper angle for each of the spacers which is interesting in itself though no different in the procedure to build it than the first two sections.

I cut the sixth ring for the third section but before I set this up on the hotwire ring jig I laid it on top of the newly assembled third section spacers just to double check that I had things fitting right.  This shot looked kind of interesting as it could be a body for a rather fat looking robot or a section of one anyway.  Just a thought I will have to remember if I ever want to put together something similar to it someday.

Here's the third section after I had cut the final ring for the top as you see it here. I was really pleased with the fit of this section and I am feeling more confidant that the last ring that I will need for this project will be just as easy to create with the hotwire table setup.
With this section I had to do something different with how I put the Styrofoam strips on it.  The curvature of this section is much steeper than the other two sections I had already built so I could not lay the strips horizontally as I had before and still get a nice smooth surface.  The strips now needed to be hot glued on at a diagonal as you see in the photo above.  This slowed my progress down considerably as each piece being around eight inches long now needed to be placed on the new section at an angle, then marked for cutting.  Then glued into place one by one. 
Once I had laid down a dozen or so pieces the angle reduced as I progressed.  I suspect the curvature of the assembly plus some other variables from foam strip to foam strip causes this to happen.  So when one of the last pieces in the first set of foam strips landed on a spacer and was near vertical I needed to start the process over again with a new set at an angle once again.  Here you can see the first two foam strips of the next set after they were glued onto the third section of the assembly.
It was just a simple matter of filling in the gap with additional foam strips to get this portion of the assembly set up for longer strips as I continued around this section of the ball assembly.
This process continued on for seven hours yesterday. I finally set my tools down and called it a day and this is as far as I got.  I had taken a stop watch and timed myself in putting the foam strips on this section of the ball.  I was only averaging one strip every five minutes.  Slow work to be sure with all the cutting, marking and fitting of these strips to get a nice even outer surface.  Not hard to do but very time consuming.
When I had gotten all the way around this section to my starting point I simply  had to start filling in the final gap from the slanted pieces moving toward the vertical strip where I had ended up. 
Here you can see the final layout of the foam strips for this section.  The difference in the direction of these strips really does not matter in the construction as long as I get the nice flowing curvature that I need for the each section of the ball.  Once I sand everything smooth and glass over these strips it will all work out perfectly and never be seen in the process.
With the three sections stacked up on the work table you can see the ball shape coming together nicely.  The only reason I am now using blue Styrofoam instead of the pink is because I simply ran out of pink.  I like the blue better anyway but it really does not make a difference in the construction one way or another.
I had to take this shot as I thought it was rather interesting to see all the spacers in these first three section of the project.  It's a shame that they will not be seen once the chair is completed.  Most if not all of the spacers as well as the rings will be removed from the assembly once I have these sections fiber glassed. The foam is only there to give me the shape that I want in this project.
Here is a shot of the work table with the ball chair under construction along with the hotwire table and the ring/wheel jig attached to it.  The hotwire table is tilted at the correct angle that I needed for the last ring in the third section of the project.  This is where this setup has really paid off already to make this project possible.  You can see under the table more pieces of pink foam that I saved from a previous project.  Some of this probably will be cut up for parts that will need to be made for the ball chair.  The first two sections of the ball portion of the project took me 15 hours to construct.  With the third section it has taken me another 11 hours just to complete.  This being because of the different way the foam strips needed to be added to that section. 
I suspect that the last section that will cap off the ball portion of this project will also take quite some time to lay the foam strip down to get it looking and working right too.  Really no problem as I don't suspect that I will be done with this project until sometime in the spring.  I'll keep you up to date with further construction as I keep plugging along and making more progress. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Construction Has Started On The Captain America Ball Chair!

Several weeks ago I posted about the Captain America ball chair that I had planned to build.  Well over the past couple of days I finally started the construction of this great project and during the winter months hopefully will have ready for painting in the spring. 

These images I put together that I had posted about gives you a good idea of what the chair hopefully will end up looking like when the project is completed.  That's the plan anyway.

Since the time that these images were created the ball chair has been updated further to refine the construction and overall look of the chair. It is an ongoing process that will continue until I am happy that this project will be successful to the end.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed as I usually do when I create something new for the first time.  It's all a  learning process to be sure and a lot of fun along the way rolled all together.
To more easily explain how this chair will go together and show the first steps I have taken in it's construction I managed to put together this short video. In the video you will see some of the tools that I used to cut and shape the Styrofoam for the chair and start putting the first two sections of the chair together.  One tool that I have used a great deal while building Styrofoam fiberglass composite projects that you will see in the video is called a Hot Knife.  This tool is produced by a company named Hot Wire Foam Factory.  For more information about this tool and the company I have listed a link to their site below.  Enjoy the video.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Back To Work On My Blender 3D VW Bus Project Part 8

It's been around four months since I last worked on my Blender 3D VW Bus project that has been sitting idle in my computer. I thought now was the right time to get back to it since I have been waiting for various materials for other projects that are currently in the workshop.  That and the fact that I do most of my Blender modeling during the winter months when the weather is just plain crappy to be outside anyway.

The exterior of the VW bus was completed when I last left it and so now the logical next step is to get the interior modeled as correctly as I can.  This is no small task as a lot of reference photos needed to be collected from the Internet in order to have any hope of getting things to look right.

The most complicated parts of the interior is of course the dash.  It has gauges, buttons, handles and of course the steering wheel just to name a few things.  A lot of detail is needed in many little things that make up the look of the dash and then to get it to correct or near correct scale is always a must.  It's like painting a picture really.  You put something in like the steering wheel which you think looks good until you add gauges or something else and find out the scale of one or both is way off.  So lots of fussing and cross referencing of photos help to keep things in check. 

To get a closer look at the dash click on any of the photos in this post and a larger view will pop up on your computer.

As with my other vehicles that I have modeled in Blender 3D I get a lesson in history as to what these vehicle look like and a real feeling of why people like to own them.  Each model I complete gives me that same sense of wanting the vehicle so it's a good and a  bad feeling at the same time.  Good because I'm able to create a good looking computer image and bad because I know that I will probably never own the real thing.  Nice to dream at least.

In this posting I wanted to only show the current work that I've managed to create in only around 10 hours or so.  Pretty fast if I do say so myself.  I was able to steal some of the components from my WV Bug Blender model for this dash so it did speed up work a fair bit.  The radio, speedometer, fuel gauge, and various knobs again reduced the amount of time it took to get the dash into this shape.  But saying that it was easy is totally not the case.  For me it's kind of like a puzzle.  I look at various pieces of the entire dash layout and have to figure out how to make it all work and look right.  This dash is far different than what the VW Bug has in it so it is a real challenge at times to say the least.  Good fun all at the same time.

  I'll post more about this project during the coming weeks/months which ever comes first.  I just thought I would bring you all up to date on my latest Blender 3D creation and let you see how it is all coming together. Total hours on the project has risen now to 110 and still counting.  

Merry Christmas From The Tinker's Workshp

Well another year has nearly come and gone and Christmas is rapidly approaching.  The Christmas tree is up, shopping is done, and  the presents are wrapped sitting under the tree.  It doesn't look like we will have a white Christmas here in the Midwest but that still does not diminish the feeling of joy I have during this time of the  season. A lot of this warm holiday cheer is because of people like you that have taken the time throughout the year to read my blog and keep up with all of the projects that I take on week after week.
   So with you in mind I wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May Santa show up at your house with a load of Christmas cheer, new tools for your workshop, and a list of new plans and projects that will fill your heart with joy throughout the coming year. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

250,000 Vistors And Counting!

Break out the champagne once again! Today the Tinker's Workshop has hit another major milestone in the history of the blog.  Today I am proud to say that the quarter millionth visitor to the blog has checked out my latest posting!  Two hundred and fifty thousand visitors and still counting is amazing to me to say the least.
 When I started this blog I had to think for a couple of weeks about what I was going to write about in the blog and see if anyone would even be interested in what I had to talk about.  I thought if somebody out in this big world reads it..... then great!  If not then I'd move on to other interests and just skip the whole idea all together.  So to reach this many readers over the relative short time that the blog has been up and running has been nothing short of incredible. 
  To all of you I must say "Thank You!"  To have reached this many visitors in over 90 countries from around the world has been a real ego boost for me to say the least. In reaching this milestone it gives me great encouragement to continue on with the blog and the projects that I design, build and talk about.

I also find it interesting to  personally be in contact with so many people like you through comments and emails concerning what I have put together in the workshop and posted about on the blog. Again "Thank you for taking time out of your day to share what I love to do!"  You've made this tinker very happy with all of your visits and I look forward to hearing about your projects from many more of you in the future.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Ball Chair Project Wheel Jig Is Completed!

It seems like a never ending procession of projects that pass through the workshop from one day to the next.  I finish one and another three show up at my door.  Not that I am complaining..... I love it!  That's what keeps me going and gives me more to write about here on the blog so it's a win for both you and I when I can keep moving forward with the projects that you see here. 
  Yesterday I was able to put the finishing touches on the jig that I will need for the Captain America ball chair project that I posted about recently.  This jig is a vital piece of equipment that I will need to create the chair and having figured out all of the pieces that I needed to create this jig was another feather in my design cap on top of it all.

This interesting part was one of the vital pieces that I needed to make for my drill press in order to start building the wheel jig.  It's a drill guide jig in itself that I 3D printed so that I could get perfectly center drilled holes through one inch wooden dowels. 
I printed two of these drill guides so that I could get the wooden dowel aligned properly with the 3/8th inch drill bit in my drill press.  Once I had drilled through one end of the dowel I placed a bolt through the guide and the new hole so that I could align another hole at the opposite end of the 40 inch dowel.  It was just a matter of taping the drill guide in place for the second hole and then placing it again on my drill press. It worked out perfectly to get the holes I needed for the mounting of the two dowels for the wheel jig.
Here are all of the parts that needed to be assembled and put together for the wheel jig.  The orange pieces that you see in the photo above took 16 hours to 3D print.  The black assembly that you will get a closer look at in this post is the roller assembly that I also designed and 3D printed for this portion of the project.  This added an additional eight hours to the 3D printing.  So the hours already have added up quickly and I haven't even started to putting the assembly together yet.
I did refine the design quite a bit when I figured out the mounting parts that I needed for the two one inch dowels for the assembly.  Originally I was going to have two solid 3D printed bars that would hold both dowels in place until I figured out that these would add an additional nine or ten hours of print time to the project and a whole lot of ABS plastic in the process.  As you can see I trimmed that way down to simple circular dowel mounts.  I only need eight of these small parts that only took around an hour to make.  A big savings in cost and time so it was well worth the effort to get this part of the assembly looking and working this good.
Once I had all of the dowel  and 3D printed parts for the base aligned and mounted properly I could breath a sigh of relief.  I had to take extra care not to mess up with the drilled holes for the large base and the smaller spacer boards that are just underneath of the orange 3D printed parts for the dowels.  Also the holes for the dowels needed to be aligned to everything as well so when it all dropped into place I just had to say " Man! It's like I knew what I was doing or something!"  Anyway the workshop gods were on my side yesterday when this part of the project worked out just as I had planned.
Next came the roller assembly that needed to be mounted to the wooden dowels.  These rollers will help with the rotation of the foam rings that I will be cutting or any circular wheel that I want to cut in foam in the future.  The wheels are some left over skateboard wheels that I had in the shop and they fit the bill nicely for the jig.  On the side of each of the mounts for the wheels is a small wheel to rotate a bolt to create a friction point for the roller assembly.  This was done so that when the entire assembly is tipped at different angles this roller assembly will not move out of position while creating a cut with the hot wire table.  The bar between the two roller mounts is just there to keep the mounts from rotating out of position around the shaft of the wooden dowels.
I had to take apart the dowel assembly in order to get the roller assembly mounted to the wheel jig. But this was just a simple matter of removing the end bolts from each of the dowels and then sliding the roller assembly into place. Once I was happy with that being done I reassembled the mounting bolts for the dowels.
Next came the lower mounts for the wheel jig platform assembly.  The large slot that runs down the center of the base of the jig assembly was made this way for easier mounting to the hot wire table.  This also provided easy access to installing the bolts for the lower mounts.  The bolts needed to be mounted with the heads being on the bottom of the assembly for clearance purposes when in use.
The upper mounts for the jig platform were slid into place next with perfect alignment to the lower mounts.  These parts I tried to created in wood but could not get the accuracy that I needed for the assembly so 3D printing them took a bit longer to create them but it saved me a lot of problems in the process. Plus the look and fit was perfect as usual.
Lastly the wheel jig platform is mounted to the upper and lower mount assembly using wing nuts.  This portion of the assembly is designed so that the platform can be loosened and tightened into position to get any size diameter Styrofoam wheel that I want to cut.  This along with the capability of being able to have this assembly mounted to my tilt bed hot wire table will also allow me to create any sort of angle I need on the outer and inner faces of the rings I need for the ball chair project.
Here is a computer image of how the wheel jig assembly will look once it is mated to my tilt bed hot wire table.  The blue arms of the table allow me to tip the hot wire table to any angle from zero to forty-five degrees.  I used this table extensively when I built my three section kayak and my motorcycle cargo trailer projects.
   When I use the wheel jig assembly it is just a matter of measuring the distance from the center pivot point of the wheel jig dowel to the hot wire and then rotating the Styrofoam to create the wheel or ring that I need for the project.  With the ball chair project there are six different rings that need to be cut ranging in size from 40.27" to 30.16" in diameter. So this jig will help me accomplish this task with the accuracy that I will need for the project and also give me another good accessory for my hot wire table for use in future projects.
The next step in the ball chair project will be to cut out the rings for the first section of the chair. Once again I will have to take great care in this process to get it right the first time. I have the materials on hand now and will have to check and recheck my setting on this wheel jig/hot wire table setup to get it all dialed in correctly.  I'll just have to take my time and hope the workshop gods are on my side once again.  Have a good one and stay tuned for further developments on this and other projects.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mini Cooper Logo Sign Upgrade!

Ten months ago I completed my Mini Cooper logo sign.  Hard to believe that I put the finishing touches to that great project that long ago already.  After having admired the sign in my living room I always wanted to do  just one more thing to it.  Today was the day that I finally can say I have put the finishing touches to this project by lighting the back of the sign with LED's to make it stand out even more than it already does!
 I knew that the easiest way to light the back of the sign would be to use an LED light strip so that when it was lit up the light would wrap around the outer perimeter of the sign to show it off in various colors.  But in order to have enough room for the space between the sign and the wall I first needed spacers to get that room.  I thought first of 3D printing the spacers and before I even got that far a light bulb came on with an inspiration to just us 1 1/2" PVC pipe.  I cut eight spacers an inch long using my miter saw and presto I had my spacers ready made.

 I then mixed up a batch of fiber glass resin and micro-balloons to make a thick putty that I know would be plenty strong enough for this part of the job.  Then I started gluing the spacers one by one on to the back of the sign.

In order to protect the sign from getting scratched while doing this work I laid it down on a soft blanket on my couch.  This worked out perfectly and made a simple work area to mount the spacers.  After about six hours or so the epoxy had cured enough that I did not have to worry about disturbing the spacers while I continued on to the next step of this project.

In this photo you can see the LED light strip that I needed to mount on the back of the sign. This and all the rest of the hardware that I used came in a LEG RGB kit from Zilotek that I purchased at Menards. This kit has a 16.4 feet flexible LED strip, RGB light control with battery, RGB receiver, power supply, mounting clips and linking cables.  So everything I could hope for was ready to be mounted. In the lower right of the photo you can see the remote receiver that was also mounted using small screws.  This turned out to be a very simple task also as it was just a matter of drilling a small pilot hole and then installing the screws to hold the control box that had been set up with mounting holes for that purpose.

The LED light kit had the mounting brackets for the LED strip that were made of a flexible translucent white material.  These worked out very well but like any kit there simple was not enough of them for this project as the LED light strip needed to be routed around the outer perimeter of this strangely shaped sign, so I ran out of brackets before I was even half way around the back of the sign.
So once again my 3D printer was pressed into service and in short order I had printed up 20 new brackets that actually worked out better than the ones that the LED kit had in them. 
I used #6 1/2" metal screws for the 3D printed brackets.  After drilling a pilot hole for the screws they went right in as easy as could be.  The plus side to my brackets were that they were not flexible and so I was able to hold the LED strip tighter and still not pinch or crush the strip.  With this fix I was able to continue on with the installation of the LED strip. Once the light strip was mounted and tested it was just a matter of hanging up the sign once again in the living room.  Fortunately the cord from the power supply to the sign is small an unobtrusive and could easily be plugged into the power strip just behind my TV set.  
Here's a short video that I put together showing you how the sign looks when it is lit.   Also for those who have not seen the sign under construction I also have video of that entire process that I posted in January of this year.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Step By Step Blender 3D Staircase Tutorial

While waiting for parts for various projects that I have going on here at the workshop I have no problem finding other things to fill my time.  This is the case with the work I need to get done for my Blender class I will be teaching next March.  So with all of this in mind I have put together this new in depth tutorial on how to model a staircase in Blender 3D.  It will help anyone wanting to learn something new in Blender how to work with Bezier Curves and Arrays. Check it out and let me know what you thoughts are on my latest effort using this great free software.

Blender Staircase Step By Step Instructions......
 no pun intended.

1. Start Blender with standard layout.... Cube, Light, Camera.
2. Press "T" key to turn off Tools Window as it will not be needed just yet.

3. Press Z key to go to wire frame view.
4. Enter "Shift C" to get cursor to center of view window. Then Add an Empty (plain axis) (Shift A) to the center of the layout.
5. Select Cube and add Modifier Array.

6. Set Fixed Count to 22
7. Deselect Relative Offset
8. Check Object Offset, Select Empty
9. Press Tab to go to Edit Mode
10. Go to front view (1 on keypad) and move selected Cube 4 squares to the right on X axis
11. Shrink the height of the Cube down to 10 squares  by entering "SZ.5".
12. Press Tab again to go back to Object Mode

13. Select Empty and set Z rotation to 27.5 degrees.
14. Set Transform Z location to 1.0
15. Press "7" on keypad for top view
16. Press "A" key to deselect vertices of the selected cube.
17. Select both right side vertices of Cube (C key) and move them to the right four squares to make a Step (G key).
18. Press the "A" key again to deselect all vertices on the cube.
19. Select upper right corner vertices of Step (C key) and move to lower right corner of second Step (G key).
20. Press the "A" key again to deselect all vertices on the cube.
21. Rotate view to an isometric view and press "Z" key to view in Solid Mode.
22. Press "7" on keypad for top view.
23. Press "Z" key to view in wireframe.

24. Press Ctrl R to create Edge Loop and move to left side of step as shown.
25. Press Ctrl R again to create another edge loop to right side of step as shown.

26. Create a horizontal edge loop and drag it near the front edge of the step.
27. Select all vertices on last edge loop and press S-Y-0 (Size Y Zero) to get all vertices in single line.
28. Adjust vertices in corners to form squares as shown in image.

29. Press the "A" key again to deselect all vertices on the step.
30. Rotate view to an isometric view and press "Z" key to view in Solid shading.
31. Select the four top vertices on the top left front of the step. (C key)
32. Press "3" on keypad to go to side view and extrude highlighted vertices to the fifth square from center line.
33. Press the "A" key to deselect vertices again.
34. Rotate view to an isometric view to select the four top vertices on the top right front of the step.
35. Press "3" on keypad to go to side view and extrude highlighted vertices to the fifth square from center line.
36. Press the "A" key to deselect vertices again.
37. Rotate view to an isometric view to see all the posts now in place on the steps.
38. Press "Tab" key to switch to Object Mode.
39. Press "7" key on keypad to go to top view.
40. Press "Shift C"  to get cursor at center of model.
41. Press "Shift A" to add Mesh Plane.
42. Enter "S 30" to scale plane up to 30.
43. Press "Z" key to view wireframe shading.
44. Press "3" on keypad to see side view.
45. Press "Tab" key to go to Edit Mode.
46. Press "Z" key to see Solid shading

47. Select first two vertices on bottom left edge of step.
48. Move "Z" axis arrow (blue arrow) down so that the front bottom edge of the second step lines up with the back bottom edge of the first step as pictured.

49. Select the Mesh plane that will become the floor for the staircase.

50. Move the Mesh plane down to match the front bottom edge of the second step of the staircase using the "Z" axis arrow.
51. Steps and posts are now done.
Staircase Rail Instructions

1. Select Layer two.  Layer one will disappear for now.
2. Enter "Shift C" to get cursor to center of model.
3. Enter "Shift A" Add Curve, Bezier.
4. Press "Tab" to go to Edit Mode.


5. Press "7" on keypad to go to top view.
6. Enter "R 90" to rotate Bezier Curve 90 degrees.


7. Enter "A" to deselect all vertices on Bezier Curve.
8. Enter "C" and select only the top vertices and handles.  Rotate these so they are aligned vertically with bottom vertices and handles.

9. Enter "A" key twice to select all vertices on Bezier Curve.
10. Move the Bezier Curve using the "G" key to the top of the outer bottom most post.
11. Enter "A" key to deselect vertices again. 
12. Enter "C" key to select each vertices and handles at a time to positions shown in image. Vertices should be centered on front edge of each post.


13. Enter "W" and subdivide the Bezier Curve to create an additional Vertices and set of handles.
14. Press "Tab" key to go to Object Mode.

15. Enter "Shift A" to create "Bezier Circle" by selecting "Curve" "Circle".
16. Resize new "Bezier Circle" by pressing "S.30"
17. Select "Bezier Curve"
18. Select "Object Data" from right menu.
19. Select "Bezier Curve" in "Bevel Object" window.  This will create the first portion of the railing for the staircase.

20. Select "Modifiers" icon, Select "Array".
21. Set "Fit Count" number to 21.
22. Select "Object Offset"
23. Select "Empty.


24. Press "Tab" key to go to Edit Mode.
25. Press "A" key  to deselect all vertices in Bezier Curve.
26. Press "C" key and select center vertices and handles on Bezier Curve

27. Select red arrow (X Axis).
28. Move center vertices in direction of arrow slightly to smooth out curve in railing.


29. Adjust vertices and handles to create a smooth transition from one section of railing to the next in the model.
30. The outer rail is complete at this point.

31. To create the inner rail repeat steps one through thirty in this procedure.

32. Press "T" key to show Tools window.
33. Press "Shift A" to add mesh UV Sphere.
34. In the Tools window select "Smooth" under "Transform", "Shading" to give the UV Sphere smooth surface.
35. Scale the UV Sphere down to fit the end of one of the hand rails as shown in the image.  Repeat steps for both lower and upper ends of the hand rails.
36. Once both railings have been modeled set up lighting, colors, and or materials of your choice for your completed staircase.
I hope you find this tutorial helpful in your efforts to learn Blender 3D.  If you should have any problems with the steps I have here or I have missed something please let me know as I would very much like to make this as simple as possible for everyone. When I get another tutorial put together I'll be sure to post it again so check back soon on this and other projects that I'm working on.  Have a good one!