Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lots of interesting developments, and more DIY madness.

  Hi again folks.
  Today I am going to explain some things that are going on and that should be having an impact on future projects.
  First, I have been looking into resin casting some things. It seems to be a better medium for some items. So I have constructed a vacuum chamber to de-gas the rubber mold material.

  This is a weak $15 vacuum pump from harbor freight and a couple of 4" PVC pipe sections from Home Depot.  The top gets a piece of thick plexiglas covering the hole so I can look in and see if the silicone is bubbling up or not.

  The end simply unscrews and allows you to place a container holding your silicone for de-gassing.

  Next I needed a pressurized container to reduce air bubbles in the resin while pouring a model. So this time I went to Lowes and they have 6" sections of PVC. I picked up a union and 2 screw cap adapters and made this.

  You can see on the back an air fitting to connect to the air compressor.

  Now, when I was at the store all of these PVC pipes say in large letters-  "NOT FOR PRESSURE".  I am sure this is more of a guideline than a rule. I filled this with 60 PSI and the glue held. However, as a disclaimer I must insist that no one else try this at home. And if you do make sure you have a good regulator on your air supply. It would sting a bit to have this thing explode and impale plastic bits into my body.
  So for less than $100 I am ready to look into resin casting.
  Now I need to play around and make some masters too. For this I was counting on 3d printing.

  I told you before about my problems with shapeways and the lumpy stuff they ship you.  I actually see people selling stuff direct from shapeways and this amazes me. First of all it is REALLY costly and on top of that it is super crappy.
  This tank was printed out by another company-and it is very smooth and ready to use. It was Vision Proto in Texas that did it. The owner called and talked to me and we worked out any problems. This tank however is too big. And that is the real problem I keep running into. Something looks good on screen and it turns out to be quite different when you hold it in your hands. And this is what keeps me from making some of the molds I want in plastic. It is a waste to run 200 hours of machining and then find out the women are too thin.  So I want to get most things printed first to determine suitability for production.
  And here is another problem. Getting a tank like this printed is going to run $60-90 depending on how hollow you make it and how big it is. And then it turns out to be not what you expected. So I have to re-size and re-spend. Not what I was planning.
  And that brings me to my ultimate solution. I have ordered a 3D printer. It is one of the budget models but it will allow me to check for fitment and scale on everything before I commit to machining any molds and it will possibly allow me to make masters for resin casting. If my budget machine is too rough for this I will have to spend for the better quality out put, but I think I can play around and get something usable. It has a 6" square build platform so that will be the limitation.  I ordered the Solidoodle machine. At $500 it is the lowest priced 3d printer I have found. There is an 8 week waiting period.  I will offer a full review and pics of what I print out after I get it.
   I have to thank my friend Chris who has explained all about resin casting to me. He has made these hay barriers and I am adding them to the store to sell for him. I painted up a batch and they look quite nice. They will be made by him but stocked in my little warehouse. (OK, it is a shelf from Ace Hardware, but it works)

  Which brings me to the last bit of news. I have been looking for some die cast vehicles to steal parts off of. As I explored it occurred to me that a lot of these would look great for 28mm wargame scenery. I have always thought that every urban battlefield would be littered with wrecks.  I looked at Lucky Joes blog and he is making use of them quite nicely.

  As soon as I get them in I will be adding some 1/43 scale vehicles to the store. I plan to order a few to see how they go. Mostly I am looking for older vehicles that would look good in a WW2 or sci-fi "grimdark" world. Or maybe post zombie uprising.  There are a couple of diorama pieces I am going to sell also. 
  This is more of my not very smart way of doing business. If I think it is cool I make it or sell it. No market research here!

   Wow, that was a lot of typing. I am going to take a rest and will post more if anything happens.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

The West Coast discount

  OK, I most likely messed this up somehow, but here goes.

  On my generic template web-store I set up some shipping costs that have been as low as I could make them. Well, it turns out that is not the case with locations further away from the east coast. In particular the west coast buyers have been losing me a few bucks each package. I did not want to raise costs across the board because then the nearby folks lose money. So I got a little scale and weighed each item. Added a small  amount for the box and tried to get my web store to automatically calculate shipping based on zip code and weight.

  Right now I have no idea if it will work and how it might affect overseas buyers.  (the west coast dicsount was one thing, but the overseas discount is really extreme)  If there is any problem please let me know and I am going to keep a close eye on how much it charges and how much it actually costs to ship.

  Thanks for your patience in this. Shipping costs are really a lot.   I really wish there was a way to save this money for people but I have not figured this out.

  I have to ship a 20 pound box to the UK and the post office wants $107 for this. I went to UPS and they want $311. For that amount I could almost buy a budget plane ticket from price line and fly it there in my carry on luggage!

  I will be keeping an eye on this and please complain loudly if a problem arises. I need to get this sorted.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another post already.

 Ok, this is not an attempt to bombard you with marketing.  But there are a couple of questions I have neglected to answer and this might be a good time to explain.

First off- the comparison pics-

This is a pic of my friend Sam Colechio's infantry next to the new building flat.

  As you can see, Sam is planning a scenario that occurs within a mini-storage complex.

  Here is Sam's blasted Cathedral with some 15mm guys sneaking past.

  Sam is the GM of our role play group. In spite of the fact that my character lost a leg, hand, eye, and arm he is still OK since he likes building stuff for me to show you. Some might say he was a bit harsh but I would never suggest that.  (because I like my remaining leg and eye)

  The other question I get is about stuff I am out of. Let me try to explain that. As I work on things it tends to illustrate how badly some of my earlier ideas really were. And the thick models are one of the worst. They take a long time to run due to increased cooling time. This actually decreases the amount of parts I can make at a time because my barrel of water gets hot and has to be allowed to cool. I plan on adding some sort of radiator to the garden hose but have not gotten around to it.  And the thicker molds take nitrogen, which is another variable to play with.  Add to that the increased shipping cost for a heavy pack or 2 and making thinner parts seems to be the way to go.  So, since they sell very slowly I tend to put them way down on the to-do list.  I will have to re-visit them again,  but it is always more exciting to plot something else to make.
  Also, the main things I sell are bases. It seems every time I turn around I am out of bases and have to make more. So it pushes the problematic molds further down on the to-do list.  I do have plans to remake a lot of things in the future but the old 24 hours in a day limitation keeps holding me back.  The timber frame house will be a lot thinner someday, that is for sure.

   I hope this explains things a bit and I will make every effort to replace the missing items with a newer version or a reprint.

Thanks for the questions.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hope springs eternal

  Hello again folks.  The weather is finally starting to cooperate a little bit and that means we all wake up from our winter time slump.  I have long advocated for human hibernation, with continuous eating of fattening foods starting on Thanksgiving and ending with the Super Bowl. Then, we simply roll over on the couch and awaken in mid April about 100 pounds lighter and ready for fishing season. Sadly, science has failed to work on this brilliant idea.

  I want to give some tips for other people trying to make their own molds out there, but first I would like to get atop a soap box and explain the type of mindset one has to have to tackle this. You have to be an old timer. Let's face it, people today are usually not equipped to deal with things the way they did 40 years ago. We went to the moon in 1969 or crying out loud. How did we do it? By saying "What the Hell?,  Let's go for it."  The people of that era were notorious risk takers compared to today's safety obsessed crowd. A 1968 Road Runner could be purchased with a 425 horse power Hemi and DRUM BRAKES.  Running on bias ply tires and wearing a lap belt. World War One pilots had a longer life expectancy.  Today the typical car is packed with a mighty 100 horse power 4 cylinder and has 11 dozen air bags. This is getting out of control. I am no longer allowed to use DDT on these blasted mosquitoes flying around.  Why? Because we are all brainwashed to be afraid of things. Not to take risks and fail. Well failure ain't so bad. Trust me, I have a lot of experience with it and after a while it sort of loses its sting. Your first couple of tries are going to be crap, and I still take a pretty high failure rate after doing this for over a year. I just had a whole lot of time and bits go down the drain in a failed mold, but it is part of the terrain out here in budget land. Setting here kicking myself is not going to get me too far.

  So, after the last post I have some advice. Find a place called Fastenal. There is one around the corner from me and I am sure they have online sales. They sell pre-hardened 1/8 drill rod for about $2.75 for a 3 foot section. Cut into 4 inch pieces that makes a lot of ejectors and keeps the fire trucks away.  They have lots of other goodies too, like brass fittings for the cooling lines. The 1/8 rod from Lowe's has too much variation in diameter and this causes problems.

  Most of the stuff I use I pick up at Harbor Freight, but there are sometimes some issues with it. For example, the 1/8 drill bit they sell can go from .120 up to .128 in size. Does not seem important but it is.  Get a micrometer and check the drill bit diameter and the rod diameter. They should be tight so plastic does not ooze around the rod and grip it causing the part to stick.  I am going to make another video soon I think showing the steps more closely.

  And now for some pics of things I am working on-

  This is a conversion part and marks my first use of clear plastic. The inside is able to take LED lights. Have a little refinement to do on this one. Will allow space ship modelers to recreate variations of a popular sci-fi series ship.

  This is a custom base mold made for a client. Little sockets were tricky. It is for 6mm scale stuff. I can send you a link to the guy to buy them from if anyone wants them.

  Here is the next mold up for a client. I am programing this one and going to run it soon.

  Here are some terrain pieces that are being done in resin. It is going to be an experiment to see how resin works out. Going to look into this as far as I can, as it seems interesting.

  And this is my attempt to make my women warriors more "heroic" scale.  She has had a steady diet of vitamin "S".  (sugar)  This has got be be close and I want to cut these out someday. Notice how the gun requires a forklift. Perfect fit for the industry standard.
  Finally getting the replacement for the billboard designed. A simple little piece that adds to the table because you can glue on business cards from your local businesses and make your battle field look familiar.

  The pond has new goldfish so I hired these duckling mercenaries to stand watch. Here they are alertly on patrol. They ran screaming from a frog so I am not too confident right now.

  And finally, the next picture is proof that I am not as bad as some when it comes to deciding what to make. Seriously, how did no one question this before it went to market?

    Have a nice week and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Link to video

  I posted to tabletop gaming news and realized the video was in the old stuff section. So here is another link to the how to video for any newcomers who might not want to read all the old stuff.