About this Blog

This is about the combination of two interests, Radio Control vehicles and Science Fiction models. This blog documents my science fiction spaceship and radio controlled vehicle projects.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Moon Bug part 3

I have finished detailing the top surface and built a communications dish.
Just for a change I truncated the dish from the full circle. It is made as per usual from a small LED push light dome. The support arms are from a broken transformers toy. The signal sensor on the dish is also a transformers part.

The green sensor dome is from a baby's toy.
The black shape with the slot in the top is from the cover of the laser head from inside a CD Walkman.
The other black shape I think was out of a ink jet printer.

I also made an opening hatch which was pretty pointless as there is no hole underneath. I'll probably end up gluing it shut. The hatch dome was a cut down dial from an old washing machine.

The rest is the usual assortment of kit parts and styrene sheet panels.

I also added some half round ABS extrusions around the purple acrylic pot halves in the valleys. This gives the subtle impression of an underlying inflated shape which I quite like.

Thanks for looking.

More soon...

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Moon Bug part 2

I have been progressing on with the glass house cabin.
It has been fiddly to get the side mullions straight as they have to be curved to fit the curved bowl and end up looking straight.
The method to achieve this is to place some masking tape on the curved surface and then draw a line outlining the shape you want. When you peel of the tape and place it on some flat sheet you will hopefully have all the curvature in the right place so that it becomes straight again once cut out and glued back onto the curved surface.
The 2mm thick styrene has to be massaged into the required curve by hand first before cementing into position.
The other thing is to try and not get any cement onto the clear glass areas and fog them up. If any small bits of solvent do mar the clear areas you can usually polish it out with a plastic polishing compound.

All the power supply wiring has been installed and tested. I have a ubec providing 12 volts from the 14.4 volts delivered from two 7.2 volt Lipo batteries in series which power the vehicle.  12 volts is being provided to the cabin lighting and the two 10mm led tail lights which each have the required resistor to work with 12 volts. The head lights are two cheap LED torches which are supposed to run on 4.5 volts from three 1.5 volt dry cells. I found a small cheap DC to DC converter board which has an adjustable output voltage so I am down converting the 12 volt supply and providing 4 volts to run the headlights. I found the torches started to draw a lot more current at 4.5 volts so I dropped it to 4 volts which was about half the current and more or less the same brightness. Getting the torches to work took some fiddling about until I found the DC to DC down converter board and I burnt out a couple of torches in my attempts. Luckily they only cost a couple of dollars.

The is a tiny board stuck to the top of the UBEC in the picture below is a Pololu rc switch with small low side mosfet. It takes a signal from the third channel on the transmitter and switches the lighting on and off remotely. I believe you can find a similar thing on HobbyKing.com already wired up.

10mm Led tail Lights

Converter board providing 4 volts to the headlights.

I am using twin old school brushed motors in this vehicle which are more than capable of pushing this heavy beast around at a decent if not frightening speed given that this is a heavy custom made one off body shell. The electronic speed controller is a Hobbywing Quicrun WP 880 for dual brushed motors. This setup is also I might add considerably cheaper than a brushless system.

Thanks for looking.

More soon...

Friday, 17 July 2020

Moon Bus part 9 completed.

I had a bit of a disaster in the painting process which is something I always dread.
The big problem was the paint, top coat and primer just came straight off the black styrene as soon as any masking tape even low-tack got anywhere near it. It flaked off in sheets. It was very depressing.

It all had to be scraped off where the masking was eventually going to be placed, to be re-primed and top coated.  Strangely the dodgy primer stuck much better to the parts made from white styrene like the evergreen textured sheet, though small bits were still pulled off with any masking tape application. In these areas I did what I usually do and applied some hair dryer heat to the masking tape as I removed it which aids in softening the gum and preventing small chips coming off.

I did a bit of research to try and figure out why this occurred as it has happened to me randomly in the past. Sometimes the primer is absolutely perfectly fine and very occasionally I find it comes away with the masking. I found a very useful bit of information on you tube about the types of primer I usually use, namely car primer in an aerosol can.

Turns out there are two types available to me locally one good and one bad and I had three cans with both types represented. I sprayed the three different cans I had in sections over some black styrene and after it had dried applied some masking tape. Pulling the masking tape away was extremely revealing. The primer I had used came completely off and the other two had remained intact. The picture below shows the three cans I tested.

 The can on the left was the one I used on this model which failed miserably. The other two behaved as one would hope, they stayed on the surface. It turns out the cans that say Multi Surface work very well on plastic, they even state they work on fibreglass on the back. The one that is labelled acrylic primer appears to be absolutely useless on plastic and therefore I will not use it ever again.

Before this all happened I had decided on a predominantly white finish with some sort of red stripes to match the red on the chassis. Below is the model with the base colour applied which I took into photoshop and tried out a number of various versions of red accents finally deciding on the colour rough shown in the second picture which helped to highlight the shape left between the panels that flow around the windows.

This red motif was then masked up extremely gingerly and sprayed with a small can of Ford Blaze red. The white was actually a warm off white called Antarctic white. Once that was done I re-evaluated the front end and decided that maybe the front panel needed some colour as well. So back to photoshop just to check and the colour rough that resulted shown in the second photo below was more to my liking.

My old weathering technique using a mix of Tamiya flat black and ethanol ( methylated spirits) as a dirty wash was employed. The surface is then cleaned off using a rag damp with ethanol leaving the grunge in the crevices. Dry brushing with a light grey students acrylic followed. Detailed scrapes were painted with acrylic hobby paints, a light grey surround with a dark grey core.

Another of the painting tasks was to paint the occupant figures, something I am pretty terrible at. In an attempt to try and improve in this area I watched a lot of You tube videos on figure painting in acrylics. Below is the result, still pretty poor but a lot better than my previous attempts.

The figures were superglued into their seats and the front panel screwed into position. To hide the screw heads I found a piece of red self adhesive vinyl and punched out some small circles that were pretty much the same diameter as the screw holes. The colour is not an exact match but I think it will do the job. I also used a few pieces of the red vinyl in other places on the model.

The solar panel cells on top were picked out with random squares in three shades of grey.

Finally here is the completed model.


Part 1 of this project was way back in October 2014. Part 2, 3 and 4 was a year later in October 2015. Then nothing until 2020. This project has been spread over nearly 6 years so it is satisfying to finally bring it to completion. It's also the third completed model for 2020 which as we all know has been and continues to be a very unusual and challenging year.

Thanks for looking.
More soon...

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Mad Space Crusher AKA Moon Bug part 1

Winter has set in here and its too wet to paint the Moon Bus and the charity stores have re-opened so I paid them a visit. I found some more acrylic wine glasses which will be good for the engine bells for a future project and I came a cross a large acrylic pot that I thought might be useful for a rainy day.
It so happened that a rainy day did come (I've already explained its winter) and I had an idea of what to do with this  shape. Once I get an idea everything else is instantly dropped and I feel compelled to follow it up. This is what I call the experimental phase of a project. I'm trying to see whether an idea has legs or wheels in this case. Sometimes the this phase comes to nothing, things don't work out as hoped and the idea is dropped and it never becomes a fully fledged and documented project.

After a rough thumbnail on some scrap paper at work while waiting for a CNC cycle to finish I came up with this tiny germ of an idea for an RC chassis I have on hand.

Initial rough thumbnail.

I had a scrounge through my boxes of shapes and came up with a the dome from a Crayola colour explosion toy. This is the third one of these I have picked up from charity shops. It had a matching diameter to the big acrylic pot. I also found a small acrylic bowl which matched the other end of the pot. A few days later I did some more thumbnails with the found shapes in mind.

About a year ago I picked up a chassis of a Kyosho Mad Crusher because it was relatively cheap and I always liked the big solid axles of that particular design. this old chassis design has been updated over the years and it now has a 5 link suspension system. The chassis I got didn't have any tyres or wheels or electronics but I had some Imex Jumbo max tyres and wheels from an abandoned project sitting in a box which I figured would fit the bill.

It turned out the old 14mm hex wheels didn't fit and fouled the axles even with the correct Kyosho 14mm adapters. So I had to find a set of Hobao 17mm monster pirate wheels which have been discontinued. Lucky for me I think I may have picked up one of the last remaining sets from Taiwan where they were originally made and they fitted perfectly.
The chassis has been sitting around for about a year and I did a number of designs for it but none of them got past the initial idea.

The big acrylic pot find was the catalyst to kick this project into go.

The Mad crusher is pretty wide especially with the wide wheels and tyres I have on it, so the body needs to be wide to suit. The first thing to do was to cut the shapes in half accurately. I marked out the centre line with masking tape and carefully cut along the edge with a zona saw. I bit of sanding on a flat sanding board and the edge is ready to be glued with methylene chloride to the  flat 2mm styrene sides of the centre section of the hull.
The bottom of the pot was about 10mm thick so I chain drilled it out and cleaned it up on the belt sander.  Chain drilling is where you drill a series of holes closely spaced and then follow up with a larger size drill which hopefully breaks through the web between each hole thus freeing the section you want to cut out. Removing the thick portion at the bottom was a vain attempt to reduce some weight of the body always necessary using an off the shelf RC vehicle which is only designed to hold up a lightweight Lexan shell.

acrylic pot cut in half.

Removing the thick bottom by chain drilling.

All the acrylic to styrene joints were reinforced with some baking soda ( sodium bicarbonate) and thin superglue.

 All the styrene joints were reinforced with a narrow strip or doubler.

I made some grills or vents to go inside the little acrylic bowl from 1mm styrene strips sandwiched together with a small evergreen strip spacer between the strips.

 Here is the rear section on the just sitting on the chassis.

I took this photo into photosop to try and come up with a cabin section but didn't have any inspiration so I went back to the shapes box for a further rummage. I tried out a few things, one of which was a hamster ball but ended up with another couple of small acrylic bowls and decided that arranging them in Princess Leia hairstyle like arrangement was the go. A couple of Bruder figures at 1/16 scale are placed in their eventual location in the cab. As seems to be my custom there is a central access to the rear of the vehicle. Here I would usually put a door but decided in this case on steps down to a short hallway behind which I will put a baffle or wall that suggests you can go either left or right justy to add a bit more interest.

The last photo I took into photoshop to try out some glazing ideas. I settled on a relatively simple glasshouse idea shown below.

On the model I have added a couple of recesses underneath at the front for some LED torch headlights and am starting to work on the curved glass house. I plan to use some thin sheet lexan for this if I can get it to curve without springing back. I want to be able to remove the front glass while for access to detailing and eventually painting the cabin.

Thanks for looking.

More soon.

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