Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Falling out of Fall-In

  Wow, is it that time already?

  I just want to inform folks I will not be at Fall-In chatting with all the good folks. I work weekends now so attending shows is out for a while.  There has been little of interest to report, other than a few odds and ends;

 1. Widget manufacturing has continued, but I am souring on this prospect very rapidly. It prevents me from releasing anything new and can be a HUGE waste of time if the deal falls through....... Right now about half the deals fall through and the other half pay off nicely.  I got to sort this one out.

2. Having said that, there are some new things in the works. The 28mm building if I ever get around to it, and some other odds and ends. Widgets are wrapping up so hoping to knock out some more parts to it. I finally had an inspiration for a 28mm tanks kit design. I was drawing a blank on this and even posted on Craigslist to no avail. Finally I thought about my days in the Air Cav and the classic image of a Huey helicopter with door gunners hanging out and blasting away. So it occured to me that in the future what used to be the cav, then became the air cav, would evolve into the Space Cav.  And they would need a utility vehicle to transport them.  I will post some pics when I get some design done in CAD.

3. I am more determined than ever to move into 28mm scale. I have been informed by some smart people that 28mm is about 90% of the hobby.  There are a lot of other things I found out that push me to think it is true.  Scale creep is a very real issue with the hobby, as evidenced by this model kit;
  Seriously, where does this end?

4. A freak storm blew up and knocked out my electricity for a while.  I have grown fond of electric in spite of my usual dislike of modernization.  Maybe some things are better than the old days. It was nice to have power again and I was lucky compared to many.  I signed up for rescue work at church and eagerly awaited a call. I was expecting some serious, "Timmy fell down the well" heroics but got nothing of the sort.  It would have been too much to hope for something like, " Genestealers are using the storm to cover an invasion. Grab all your guns and ammo and hold the corner of 3rd and Main at all costs."   The reality was they sent out e-mail requests and my power was out so I did not even get to suck water out of people's basements. If I had one of those smart phones I would have gotten the requests. Instead I look like some slacker who refused the urgent call for sandwiches down at the fire station. I might have to explain myself this Sunday........

5.  I am voting in the morning because I will be out of town on election day. Seems like folks are really taking this whole election thing to heart.

No matter who wins life will go on pretty much the same, so maybe we should lighten up and roll some dice or paint some minis.

6. I found this guy hangin on the side of the shop. A marbled orbweaver, which sounds like a Magic the Gathering card instead of a spider. Nice camo, for a pile of leaves. Not so good for the side of a building. You can see him from all the way across the yard. 

7: I have about 3 weeks to get the new store site up and running. It is half the price of the old stire and allows unlimited products. There may be some down time but I am trying to keep that to a minimum.

8: And finally another pic of a regiment from my dusty pile of minis. I picked these up at a con years ago to use as Norse mercenaries. They are Brittania minis and chunky like GW figs are. The sculpts are nice but my painting was table top quality. I like the extras they included of guys carrying off prisoners.

  Have a nice time at the con. It seems to be plagued by bad weather the past few years, but it is always fun to go to.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I hope no engineers stop by......

   Well, I have chased the gremlins back to the pit from whence they came for the time being and running full ahead full.  Who knows for how long, so I got to work while things are working.
     I sent out a couple of widget samples and found myself with a little time to kill waiting to see if I get the Ok to produce. I took the time to play around with the grey plastic and see if that grossly oversized mold would work.

     As visible in this picture the mold plate extends past the backing die plate and sort of floats in mid air.  This seemed like a good idea at the time, and it does sort of work. It allows me to make one object and avoid the central injection point problem.  It does decrease the strength of the clamping force but as described in an earlier post this can be effectively surpassed by making the parts thicker and sturdier. The pressure required to inject into a thin narrow passageway is what blows the mold open.   I like the parts sturdier anyway. I mean, my minis look a little "fluffy" so why have thin buildings?

  The point is that this extra bit allows me to make a nice single large part, even if my plastic machine  looks a bit like this guy's car.

  Seriously-this guy takes pushing the limit to a whole new extreme.  And if that super charger can fit in that Camaro, a slightly larger plate can fit in my die assembly. The main issue is that the ejector plate now only pushes on the top half of the part and I got to keep the bottom smoothed out so it does not stick because there are no pins reaching the hanging down area.

  And this is why I hope no "real" engineers ever stop by. They will blow a gasket looking at this junk yard mess. It is best to avoid smart people, that way you do not get told about your mistakes.

   So then I mixed up some of the neutral plastic. You have to mix the color in a 50-1 ratio.  I swirled it around and all it looked like was a few grey pellets in an ocean of white pellets. After running it though the machine the parts started changing color as the black got worked out and the grey came through.

 Looking at the bottom left one it shows the injection point which is in the center of the die. By hanging to one side it allowed the plastic to come in from the side and me to make a nice chunky bit.

   This shows how big the part is next to a 28mm fig.  This is the reversible roof/floor part..  I was going to make the sides the same dimensions and have them 2 stories, but maybe I will make them one story and stackable.  This is some day going to be part of a generic pre-fab set of parts for futuristic gaming.  A future without skulls.  I like finally seeing grey parts, even thought they will be getting primered black someday anyhow. 

  I also made a few packs of DBA bases because they had run out and were off the store. They are back in now. I am going to the new server in December and will be able to have more stuff.

  Finally, let's take a moment and look back in gaming history to the early days of fantasy wargaming.  This is one of my first regiments for WFB.

   Sold for about $20 for the entire regiment of metal figures. Named "Ruglud's Armored Orcs" on the package, I personalized these lads and morphed them into the infamous "Stormtroopers of Death".  They had a theme song.  "March of the S.O.D." of course.

  That lad in the front waving 2 crazy swords is the nefarious Sgt D.  A shield would only protect the hapless foe from his left hand, and who would want that. This regiment would often brutally attack their own line of goblin skirmishers just to get in the mood before a scrap. 

  This was before the tournament movement swept through gaming and made silly little regiments like this obsolete.  I kind of enjoy the story telling aspect of gaming more so than the tourney part.

  In case you could not bear the thrashing or understand the words, here are the lyrics to "March of the S.O.D."   


Ruthless and vicious, he'll stomp on your face
Deadly, malicious, stay outta his space
He'll rip your eyes out, dont you look the wrong way
And once you meet him, there's no time to pray

   He'll rip your heart out, make you eat your own lips
   He'll crack your elbows, and crush fingertips

Cause Sargent D is coming, and you're on his list

Don't cut the line, cause he'll cut off your legs
Don't waste your time or you'll spend time with the dead.
Don't try to trick him cause he'll fill you with lead
Don't beg for mercy, he'll piss on your head.

   He'll kill your sister, then mail back the tits

   He'll beat you senseless, then break out the whips

       Cause Sargent D is coming, and you're on his list

He'll pour gas on your kids, then throw 'em a match
He'll back the car over grandma, the dissect her cat
With his Stormtroopers of Death, they will come to your town
Their Uzi's rip through flesh, then it's time to chow down

   Their cause is justified, their reason is clear
   The word 'revenge' is all that they hear

       Cause Sargent D is coming, and you're on his list


  Have a great day and enjoy the hobby. It really can be a lot of fun.

Monday, October 1, 2012

More Equipment Reviews

  Today, I took a minute to be calm. I needed it.

  I get a lot of questions from people who want to do the same thing and make their own stuff.   It is in the spirit of consumer reports that I continue with another report on the tools needed to do this, and how it helps to be immune to frustration.  It is also useful to have an extensive vocabulary of words to use in special situations.  My vocabulary was really enhanced thanks to my drill instructor, and I needed every thing he had to deal with this crap.

  This is a Novakon mill.  I picked this up at a show and got the show demo unit.  The company is in Canada and I like Canada.  I might even be a Canadian someday if they would just lower their immigration standards, but that is another subject.....

   First of all, it really looks the part. When someone comes into the shop it sort of gives the impression that this place might be legit.  It is big and heavy, and when it is working it is accurate enough to safely perform a vasectomy or whatever it is they use that "Da Vinci" machine to do.

   But it is not made in Canada, it is made in China as are all of the components. The guys in Canada are trying to do the best they can, but there is a whole web-site devoted to this machine.

  I mean this is one pissed off consumer to actually register a domain name and spend so much time keeping it running and all.  I have not had that bad of a time, and the guys have been pretty suportive. Still I can not really suggest you buy this.

  First thing, it started missing steps. And when you are spending hours making a mold and the CNC decides to start cutting 1/4"  away from where it is supposed to it will ruin your day.  I fixed this by cleaning and lubricating the slides. They rusted within a few weeks, and there is no way to grease them.

  Next thing, it had all the wrong parameters. Luckily there was a forum that had some helpful steps and I changed all the inputs. It seemed fine for a while.  The coolant tank leaked and still does.

  Next it caught on fire. The limit switches were not sealed and were right in the path of the coolant. It was only a matter of time before something bad happened there. Not really a fire, just a lot of smoke and melting wires and fumes. That was the eaiest thing to fix, as all safety items are oprional and I removed the limit switches and it worked fine. The guys from Canada mailed me some new ones.

  Then the power unit to the PC died. I scrounged one out of an old PC and fixed that. Then the graphics card died too. Back to the pile of old computers and back in business.

    But 2 weeks ago the spindle finally died. It had been stalling and surging, but now it quit. The spindle is matched to this thing.



  Now, figure this crap out if you can. This thing converts electricity into some type of 3 phase DC pulses. The pulses are modulated in such a way as to vary the spindle RPM's. And this board is made in China by a company that no longer is in business. OK.  Message boards are full of folks complaining about it too.  This is pretty complex. What is wrong with a belt and pulley system to change speeds?  Nothing. It has worked fine for years. New stuff sucks in a lot of ways. 

   BTW.  The 1973 plastic machine is still chugging along and this Pontiac is still trying to single handedly destroy the ozone layer. It has one engine warning light and if it comes on it means " My engine has run completely out of oil and needs replaced."

  All of the newer cars I have ever owned are always complaining about something and wanting some high priced sensor replaced.  The old ones just broke without warning, as it should be.

 But I am off topic again.  As luck would have it the fine folks in Canada directed me to a fellow tinker in New Jersey. This man, like every American, decided to solve the problem by tearing shit apart.

Here is the table showing the crap......

   I took out of the back of this cabinet. None of it went back in.

  I have no idea what the hell any of this stuff is. The HUGE power coil on the left has "OUCH"  written all over it though.  Even I can figure that one out.

  And check this out.  The freaking Hindenburg had less warning lights after the explosion for crying out loud.

  But with the other tinker's advice I got it put together.  I really like his plan in figuring out how to make this thing usable. The components came in boxes with very explicit warning labels regarding rating, and he ignored them and over powered everything! What a guy. Check out the old motor in my hand and the new one mounted on the machine. It had to be bolted to the outside with a  special adapter. Talk about an upgrade. 460 volt, 3 phase is not stopping for nothing. I have to make sure to keep loose clothing out of the way.

   I even like the name "Iron Horse".  I spent some time in the field with a brigade named Iron Horse.

  So it is working again, with a few quirks. But working at least. My advice is to shop around a little before you make the investment. They have a new model that is supposed to be a lot better, so maybe your results may vary.

  In other news;

  I made the second part to the 28mm pre-fab buildings.  This is a basic piece of sheet steel with the linking rivets. Not sure how many different ones I want to make to put in the pack, but it is going to take a while to get them squeezed in between other projects.  ( and maintenance)

     Also, I got an e-mail from Reaper and they are planning on bringing production back to Texas. I should not have jumped to conlusions about them. I had heard that it is easier to talk Smeagol out of his favorite jewelry than it is to get molds back out of China.  I hope they can pull this off.
  I wish them luck.

  And with that I am back to work. I got to see how the new "Iron Horse" is running.

  Have a great week folks.

EDIT;  While I was writing the review posted above, the machine in question must have somehow learned of my harsh words. It made a 1" move to the left (for no reason) and proceeded to destroy a mold I spent a considerable amount of hours on. This is not the first time it has done this, and I am guessing it will not be the last.  Oh well, time to place a new block on and start over..................