Thursday, January 19, 2017

Gotham by Dice

We've been playing a certain amount of Steve Jackson Games's Batman dice game. It's an excellent game (any competitive game I can get my lovely and talented spouse to play is a good one), but a little sparse by our standards. What's the natural thing to do? How about a custom dice tower.


This is mostly bricolage, as we structuralists call it. About a third of the buildings around the dice area are from this skyscraper chess set. The remainder are from a Sim City play set and some Hong Kong apartment blocks. The manhole cover is...well, a manhole cover the Gotham City utilities people use. The dice tower proper is a model of the KOIN tower, significantly resized and hollowed out. I added a couple of ramps for the dice to bounce off of and an arch for them to roll out.


The only thing I really designed was a base for all the parts, basically the base of the main tower plus an 80mm diameter ring at the end of the ramp. All the towers got spritzed with stone texture spray paint, while the manhole cover got the Modern Masters iron paint and rust activator. I really like that stuff. A little cyanoacrylate to hold everything together and we're off to the races. And now we'll have something far more interesting to bounce our dice off of next time we play.







Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Friends, Romans, Countrymen

Last year, I used the CNC machine to build a knife block with an engraved marble face. And that was cool and all, but how to top that? I'd wanted to make a bust-of-Caesar knife block, but that didn't work out. But two things changed. First, I got the heated bed, which in turn gave me a larger print volume. Second, I found a bust of Caesar.

Design-wise, this was fairly easy, though I had to run it through a variety of tools to make it work. I started with 123D Design to scale it up to as big a footprint as my printer could handle, about 6" x 10", corresponding to a height of about 15". Then I did some boolean operations to "carve out" slots for the knives. Once I'd gotten the shape together, it was off to netfabb Basic to chop it into parts no taller than six inches. Alas, netfabb Basic is no longer available for download; happy I got it when I could.

And then it was off to the printing. I usually use a 0.4 mm nozzle. That's fine for the trinkets and game pieces I usually print, balancing fine detail with print speed. However, for this, I went with a full 1 mm nozzle. I didn't need nearly as much detail on a 15" bust as I would on, say, a 25mm orc figurine I'm printing for the Castle Panic set, and I didn't need it taking forever. As it was, the four pieces of the knife block/bust took five to six days of solid printing time, even at a rather low infill percentage and tweaked in various ways to minimize support material. Assembly took several hours but very little work time, sanding down some rough top surfaces and then giving the Gorilla Glue time to cure.

So, results:

 Not bad. Here's Caesar with a Chinese vegetable cleaver in his head.


Minus the cleaver, you can see the groove in his head. However, most of the knife slots are in back. It's big enough to hold four chef knives and four smaller ones; paring knives and such.


The join in the middle of the bust wasn't great; there was a bit of curling on of the pieces which even the heated bed didn't entirely prevent, or perhaps there were settings I could have changed. However, the others, like the neck here, worked very well indeed.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Question of Scale

So here's a neat thing you can do if you have multiple 3d making-stuff devices. I worked up a Wonder Woman logo based on the layered design they're using for the movies. Then I used it at one size as part of a pendant sort of thing printed on the 3d printer (the W itself is about an inch across) and another (almost exactly ten times as wide and tall, though only a millimeter deeper) for a carving job into some scrap plywood on the CNC machine.


The edges are a trifle rough, but it's remarkable how smooth the CNC's wood surface is. Almost feels sanded
.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Still more surfaces

I downloaded a design for a hall and tower atop a hill from Thingiverse, which unfortunately I can't find now to link to. It's a pity, since I can't illustrate how it's printed as a single piece, but it doesn't look like that in the painted version.


So, then: masked the base and roof, primed the rest and hit it with stone-textured paint. Painted the "rock" with moss-texture paints, filled the base with sparkly blue ink, and did the top with aged copper. The castle is hollow and sized quite comfortably for a battery-powered tea light.

And I'm acquiring quite the collection of nifty little experiments which I have nowhere to put and no clear thing to do with them. I don't have room for all this stuff!



Monday, October 3, 2016

More Surfaces

I loved the rust paint I did the dragon with that I set off for the same manufacturer's copper/verdigris treatment. Also very, very nifty.


While I was at it, I did some stuff with various paints on some gaming scenery (an OpenForge gatehouse):


And a new dice tower:


It'd be fun to print out a bunch more of the OpenForge scenery for actual gaming use, but since my system of choice uses hexagons instead of squares, that might get a bit awkward.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Iron Dragon

While getting some other things at a craft store, I came across a kit for providing an iron rust finish to any surface. Put on a layer of iron-bearing paint, then squirt on some kind of rapid oxidizer. I thought "Hey, I should print something out for this." And so I did. And this is what I got:




Not bad, I think. It's lightweight plastic, but I'm afraid to drop it on my foot.

The dragon-head door knocker I got off of Thingiverse was, in the event, really hard to treat. It's a very complicated shape, with lots of little nooks and crevices, and both the primer and the iron paint were quite thick, so it was difficult getting it completely covered. The "activator" sprays on, though, so that wasn't a problem.

There was also a problem with printing. The design is perfectly good, but my printer kicked out about an hour before finishing the job. I'm guessing a power fluctuation on our old wiring or something. Anyway, I was able to measure the height of the printed portion with the digital micrometer, fire up netfabb, slice off the unprinted section from the design, print that part off, and superglue it on. It went much better than I expected, and I can't find the seam even though I know exactly where it should be.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Burning Bed

...well, a bit warmish, anyway.

A persistent problem in 3d printing is warping, bowing, and curling. The first printed layers in a 3d printed item cool down sooner than the upper layers and shrink, pulling of the print bed and curling up. I've tried all the usual remedies: a combination of painter's tape and hairspray on the print bed to keep everything stuck down, printing with rafts and brims added by the printing software, and so on. And they never really worked out. Here's a typical example:



This is one of the walls from my beloved DIY Castle Panic set. It's lovely, but the bottom curls significantly. The wall portion is about 21mm thick in the middle, but around 19mm at the ends, leading it to rock and spin easily when placed on the board. And that's over a length of under 7cm.

Here it is compared with something I just printed out, the base for a dice tower.


I'd post some kind of comparison of how much it curls over that distance, but here's the thing: it doesn't. There's no notable curve over its 18cm longest dimension. The difference is in the hardware. I finally bit the bullet and got a heated bed for my Printrbot. While it took some work to get all the right settings dialed in (some fiddling to get the self-leveling bed recalibrated, bed temperature to 50C, a layer of glue stick on the kapton tape, and no brims or rafts; they just waste time and filament now), and it's not technically necessary for the PLA filament I usually use, the difference is quite stunning. Indeed, I'd basically recommend that anyone getting into 3d printing spring for the heated bed up front. It makes one of the most annoying problems in 3d printing go away instantly.