Inc Project

A little while back, I put the Ferrari Enzo project aside so that I could try something new.

A good friend of mine, Neil Blevins, along with Bill Zahn, Stephan Bugaj, and a collection of concept art all-stars, have been working on an ‘art of’ book of sorts. For those unfamiliar, an ‘art of’ book is usually a book that contains the concept art for a film, television series, or something similar, i.e. ‘The Art of Inside Out’ or ‘The Art of Game of Thrones.’ The big difference here is that this book is full of art for a production that has not yet been made. They’ve been painting images and writing a story for a few years and this presented an opportunity for me to add my own bit of flavor to the mix.

I’d been interested in trying my hand at producing a garage resin model kit for a while, so that I could learn a bit more about the process. I talked to Neil about such a project and we decided that I would take his digital 3d model of the main character, who is a can-shaped robot, and see if I could turn it into a model kit. This blog post is about some of that process.

First off, I received a 3d file from Neil, which was the version of the main character that he was using to digitally render images from. It was set up to look good in pictures, but had lots of fine detail and various features that would be tricky to turn into physical object. Neil and I had agreed that we’d like to aim for a completed model that was 8-10 inches tall, which meant roughly 1/18 scale for this character (it was meant to be a pretty large robot). So, it fell to me to take his digital 3d model and figure out how to shrink it down, alter it and cut it up so that it could both be 3d printed and then replicated in resin, and then actually print it, clean up the prints, make molds of the parts, make castings from those molds and finally put at least one kit together so that Neil could put images of it into the book that they were working on.

Here are a few views of the digital model that I was working from.

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Before jumping into the bulk of the work, I did a bit of a test. The robot had a weapon of sorts that was part gun and part spot welder. It was a fairly complex shape, with both thick and thin areas and would make a decent trial for the printing, clean up and mold making. After a few additions in the 3d file, to bridge some gaps, add some support and make it a little more mold friendly (less undercuts), I had the gun printed at Shapeways. Below you can see the print I got back, sprayed with an initial coat of primer.

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The print itself was a little rough in a few areas, so it required a few cycles of priming and sanding, in order to fill in and smooth out the striations that the printing left behind. Below you can see a close up of one such area and the ridges on the flat surfaces that should be smooth.

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With that test done, and a few lessons learned (how to keep print costs down, basic mold pouring techniques learned, etc), I moved on to a few more pieces. Below you can see the head, split into three parts, as they arrived from the printer. They come in a clear plastic that makes it difficult to see the texture from the printing process. This is why I primed the parts before sanding, as otherwise it was nearly impossible to see if the surface was smooth or not.

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Here is how they go together, just press-fit in this photo:

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Once the long and dull process of prepping all of the parts for mold making was complete, I split the mold making process into two main groups: single-piece molds and two-piece molds. The single-piece molds are for relatively flat parts, that only have detail on one side. The parts can be attached to a board, have a little box built around them and the silicon poured over them. The two-piece molds are for parts that have detail all around them. Those are more complicated to make molds for and require a form be built up around them with something like clay, defining where the mold seam will be. A pour spout and registration indentations need to be added so that the mold halves align and there is a place to pour in the resin in the finished mold.

First though, a bit about this process: Since the intent here is to make resin castings, using silicon rubber as the mold material, the requirements are a little different than if I were making molds for something like injection molded plastic kits. The silicon has a great deal of flexibility, so there can be some undercuts on the piece to be cast, and you don’t have to worry about the piece getting stuck in the mold. Also, basic molding and casting with these materials don’t strictly require any special equipment, although the addition of a few small machines can help the quality level a great deal.

In my case, I opted to supplement my process with the addition of a vacuum pump, a vacuum chamber, a pressure vessel and air compressor. I’ll go into more detail on those a bit later.

For the mold making, I started by ordering a box of corrugated plastic sheet. This stuff is commonly used for signs, but it is easy to cut, reasonably strong and inexpensive. For the one-part molds, I simply put a sheet down, hot-glued my parts to the sheet, and then built little walls around each part that would hold in the silicon. Those walls were hot-glued to the base and any gaps sealed up with more hot glue.

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From what I had read, the mold should be at least 3/4” thick from the highest bit of the part being cast. I measured and marked on the walls of each box so I knew where to pour to. Now, when pouring a silicon mold, you’ll get the best mold quality if you eliminate bubbles from the silicon. Additionally, if you would like to pressure cast later on, you MUST get rid of the air bubbles in the silicon or they will give you a bumpy surface on your casting. There are a few ways to eliminate or minimize bubbles: pouring slowly into one corner of the mold (easy way, but not good for pressure casting), and vacuum degassing (harder, requires equipment, but good for pressure casting).

There is lots of information out there about mold making with silicon and casting with resin, so I’ll gloss over most of this. See the end of this post for links to various information sources to learn more.

The executive summary is that pouring your silicon from a little bit of a height (maybe 6 inches) and fairly slowly prevents bubbles from forming around your object, so you get good fidelity, but it does not prevent bubbles from forming in the silicon itself. So, if you are going to just pour resin into your mold and let it cure, this works just fine. If you are intending to pressure cast, you’ll need to get all the bubbles out of the silicon as well, so that requires another step: vacuum degassing. This is the technique of putting your mixed silicon under vacuum so that all the air bubbles expand and rise to the top, leaving your silicon bubble-free. If you skip this step, and pressure cast later, you’ll get what are commonly called ‘measles’ on the casting. These are when the bubbles in the silicon shrink under the pressure, and make little bumps on the casting, which you have to clean up later.

Since my goal was to be able to make the highest quality parts possible, I decided to invest in a bit of new equipment. This consisted of a vacuum chamber and a vacuum pump. This allows me to mix up a batch of silicon, put it into the vacuum chamber, place it under vacuum for a few minutes, watch all the air bubble out, and THEN pour it into my mold forms. Below you can see my setup and a batch of silicon bubbling away under vacuum.

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After the single-piece molds were poured and cured, and a test casting or two had been done, it was time to move on to the larger and more complex multi-piece molds. For these, I got a box of water-based clay to use to build up half of each mold. Below you can see the arms and legs in their molds, ready for the first part to be poured. You can see how there are a few divots and grooves to be used for registration as well as little lumps that will be the pour spouts at the top of each part. You can also see the final state of the 3d printed parts, after they had been sanded and primed a few times and then finally had a gloss clear coat sprayed onto them, in order to get a smoother finish on the cast parts.

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After pouring the first half, the molds are pulled off of their bases (but the sides left in place), the water-based clay washed away, some mold release agent sprayed on, and the other half of the mold poured. Below you can see a bunch of the other pieces ready for their second mold halves to be poured. On the lower left you can see the feet and their pour spouts that are plastic instead of clay, and the face plate and mouth in the center lower row, where I’m connecting two parts in one mold for faster casting later.

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For the largest parts, including the two halves of the body and the head dome, the molds were still just two parts, but they required a bit more engineering in order to be sure that they could support their own weight later on. My fear was that if they were not thick enough, they would sag and close off the narrow space between the two halves of the mold, thinning the final part. For a few of the halves, I ended up enclosing a few scrap metal rods inside the mold in order to add support, which seemed to work decently.

Below you can see the head dome, getting prepped for pouring the first half of the mold.

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Similarly, one of the body halves, on its little bed of clay, ready for mold walls and some silicon.

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Once the molds were made, I did a bit of testing with casting. First off, I tried to pour some resin into my new molds to see how it turned out without using any fancy tricks. Below you can see some freshly-poured resin, which pours clear and turns opaque white as it cures.

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What I discovered is that while this lazy casting works pretty well for the larger, thicker parts, it doesn’t work as well for the smaller thinner things. Air bubbles tended to get trapped in the thinner parts, resulting in unusable castings. So, the next step was to move on to pressure casting. This entails pouring resin into the molds and then putting those molds into a pressure chamber and cranking up the pressure. This both pushes the resin down into the molds and also compresses any bubbles down to tiny sizes, making them much less of an issue. If this is combined with vacuum degassing of the resin, you get the best of both worlds, with nearly bubble-free resin squished down into the molds.

While I don’t have any good pictures of my pressure casting setup, it was decidedly DIY. I purchased an inexpensive pressure chamber (from Harbor Freight) that is intended for painting and then did all the things that the warning labels tell you not to do. I took most all of the fittings off of it, plugged up most of the holes, and removed the paint intake tube. The end result being a pressure pot that has a fitting to attach an air hose, a pressure gauge, and a valve that can vent the chamber. Combine this with an average-power air compressor and I’ve got a pressure casting setup!

The tricky part here was that the resin I was using has a pot life (time between mixing and curing) of about 7 minutes, during which I needed to vacuum degas the resin, pour it into the molds (which was complicated in a few cases), and then get it into the pressure chamber and under pressure, all before it starts to thicken. To help pack the most into the pressure chamber (which wasn’t very large), I built a little shelf that I could load up and drop into the pot. It was just a couple round pieces of wood held apart by long threaded rods with some nuts on them. Below you can see the shelf (with the top shelf removed), and various molds, after removal from the pressure pot.

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This allowed me, if everything went perfectly, to make one kit worth of parts in three cycles of the pressure chamber. Unfortunately, there are a few parts that are tricky to get good castings of (like the hands), so often I’ve got to try those a couple of times in order to get a set of good parts.

That’s the basics of my adventure in building up a model kit on my own. Keep an eye out for a near-future blog post with a bit about the finished parts, some casting tricks and photos of the first finished model in grey primer.

Thanks for reading!

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Visiting Tamiya Headquarters!

Earlier this year, I spent two weeks visiting Japan. As part of that trip, my wife and I visited her brother, who was studying in Shizuoka, a medium sized city about an hour and a half bullet train ride south-west of Tokyo. When looking into what to do for the couple of days that we would be in Shizuoka, I discovered that it was home to the headquarters of the Tamiya corporation! After a little research, I discovered that a) At the headquarters, there was a museum that was open to the public. b) The headquarters was a 20 minute walk from where we were staying.

My wife and I walked across town and arrived there around 11am. We signed in at the front desk and were left to our own devices to wander about the first floor, which had a few galleries of models and full size cars. There is a showroom of their full size car collection, a room full of their current model releases and a room that is full of various models of historic significance to the company. There are also a few areas that have original box artwork on display and a few miscellaneous displays scattered about. After we wandered around for a few minutes, the receptionist called us over to a corner of the room that had some seating and a television. Through her broken English and out terrible Japanese, we determined that we should watch whatever she was about to show us. So, we sat and watched a 15 minute video about the Tamiya corporation and their model making process from start to finish, which was actually very interesting (and in English!). We were there on a weekday, and it was pretty much empty, so should you be in the neighborhood, I highly recommend stopping by!

What you see below are some of the photos I took there, along with some descriptions where relevant.

Here’s the view after passing through the main gates:

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Right outside the front doors:

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Over the years, Tamiya has purchased various vehicles as reference (or maybe just because they wanted to drive them around for fun). As a result they have a bit of a car collection, much of which is on display on the ground floor of their headquarters.

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More of their car collection:

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I’m sure this was totally for reference and definitely not driven around by the boss at any point ;)

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Who knew that Isuzu made a V12 engine? Definitely not me!

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Some of the original paintings for box art:

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Here are a few photos from the gallery of current plastic models:

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I built that Bimota model about 10 years ago!

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The whole Calsonic collection:

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The wall cases in the background are all of their R/C releases.

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These were some models and dioramas that were on display out with the full size cars:

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Here are a few from the gallery of models of historical significance (to the Tamiya company). The below ship appeared to be made entirely of paper!

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This ship had to be five or six feet long!

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I guess the beginnings of Tamiya were in the wooden ship kit business:

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This was a pretty nice display of all the parts in a motorcycle kit, put together like this to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tamiya:

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Finally, here’s a photo of the 1/12 scale Ferrari Enzo kit, assembled by their master builders. Hopefully mine will look half as good as theirs does when I’m done:

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Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think in the comment section below!
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Tamiya Ferrari Enzo

After over a year of slacking on my blog, I’m back! Coinciding with a re-work of my web site and a move over from the blogspot location, I’m getting this blog moving again with a few new projects. I’ll touch on the second project in later posts, but for now, let’s have a look at…

The 1/12 Tamiya Ferrari Enzo!

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This kit is a monster, at 1/12 scale, with tons of detail and construction methods that mirror how the car is built at full scale. It’s got working, spring loaded doors, fully detailed engine and front trunk, working suspension and the molding is all top notch. Tamiya always does a great job with their kits and this one is no exception.

I also am calling upon some great resources from Scale Motorsport on this project. They offer a handy dvd full of reference photos of the Enzo, which allow me to pick through photos of the real thing and see which things the kit is missing and what details should be added.

But, as anyone who has followed a few of my projects knows, I’m never one to leave well enough alone. I couldn’t help but try to make this great kit even better. Scale Motorsport makes a few sets of extra parts for this kit that make it even more detailed.

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They offer a giant set of photo etch parts that add detail in some places, replace molded details in other places and generally make things look nicer. They also offer some great carbon fiber decal sets that are designed for this kit. I purchased the kit that covers the interior surfaces of the car that are unpainted carbon fiber on the real car.

Below you can see the photo etch sheets, which are quite large.

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Below you can see the sheets of composite decals. On the back of each sheet are the cut lines for each piece along with the part number that they are to go on to.

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The first step in construction is the engine. At 1/12 scale, the engine is pretty huge. The big benefit here is that the parts are large, easy to work with and the detail well defined. This also presented the first opportunity to use some of the photo etch parts.

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Below you can see the painted engine block with a quick dirt wash on it to help pick out the details.

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In picking through the reference photos, I noticed that the headers didn’t end in a flat plate like the plastic parts do, but had smooth 3-to-1 collectors. I decided that this was something that I needed to change. Using some Milliput epoxy putty, I formed some transitions, let them harden and then ground them into final shape. Below you can see the headers with and without the putty in place.

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Part of the photo etch upgrade kit are these little plates that attach to the headers and catalytic converter.

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Below you can see the engine coming together and starting to look more engine-y. The valve cover piece was not part of the composite decal kit, but I order a few extra sheets of the decal so that I could add it in a few places. This one took quite a bit of fitting, cutting and adjusting to get it mostly conformed to the part. A healthy dose of decal softener and some clear coat got it looking pretty good.

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I noticed in the reference photos that on the real car, there was a heat shield underneath the headers, presumably to help keep heat away from the oil pan (?). Whatever they are for, there was no corresponding part either in the kit or in the additional photo etch, so I made something out of some things I had in my extras drawer. I had some of the thin aluminum that was left over from the Curtiss Jenny model, cut out a piece of the appropriate size and then, because the real part has some pattern stamped into it, I used a little piece of screen (from a faucet) to hammer some pattern into my piece.

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Below you can see the part installed.

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Next, construction moved to the drive train that is connected directly to the engine. This began with the brake assemblies. The photo etch kit had some replacement parts here. It had me sand the kit discs smooth and then put an outer disc, hub and bolts on in order to better represent the multi-piece rotors on the real car.

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Looking at the reference, I thought that the brake calipers could be improved upon a bit, since the little tube that connects the two calipers was molded onto the plastic and wasn’t very convincing. I sanded that one off and replaced it with a bit of solder, in order to better mimic the real car.

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As the hubs and rear suspension came together, I tried to add in some of the plumbing that wasn’t added by the kit. In some cases, the kit did supply some plastic tubing to be used for brake lines. Those that have put together a Tamiya kit before will be familiar with the hollow tubing that they generally supply. It usually looks very nice, but can be tricky to work with, since it is very light weight and a bit springy. This just makes it difficult to get the tubes to stay right where you want them to be. My trick with these tubes is to carefully run a bit of solder through the tube that is just small enough to fit through. The weight of the solder helps the tubes act a little more like the real things and the solder also allows me to bend and shape the tube as I see fit. Below you can see the solder sticking out of the end of the tubes before I added them to the model.

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Below you can see the rear assembly and some of the tubes that have been added.

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Next, assembly moved to the front trunk area. The kit includes the visible parts of the trunk, as well as the various electronics that go underneath the trunk. The trunk itself is removable, should you want to show off the details. After checking the reference, I decided I wanted some more wires under there, so I put together a simple wiring harness to tie into the various boxes. Below you can see the wires before they are installed.

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Here they are in place. I also used some black tissue paper, dampened with a white glue and water mixture, to simulate the cloth wrap that is used around the real wires.

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The battery didn’t have any decals with the kit, so I tracked down the brand that the car uses, and made a few decals of my own. I also fabricated an approximation of the little bracket that holds the battery in place.

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Here you can see everything in place in between where the front wheels will be.

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That’s all for now. Construction has moved on a bit further, so look for another post soon, with the front suspension construction and some difficulties with the photo etch on the muffler. Thanks for reading!

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Walking Tanks Are Done!

Another project wrapped up! Unfortunately I was super lazy when it came to taking progress photos of the rest of the build. But, rest assured that it was more of the same. The MIG tank (older looking one) was sprayed with red, stippled with rust colors, sprayed with hairspray, and then over-coated with a cream color and some orange stripes. The same chipping technique was used there as on the Rook (futuristic one). Lots of pigment was added to both in order to dirty them up, as well as a wash or two of dark, in order to bring out the details.

On the diorama, I added a bit of dirt and some sprigs of longer grass between the rocks. The figures were painted and added in there as well.

With all that said, let's get on to the photos! Click on the image below to get to the gallery, or click on the menu on the side bar.

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Hairspray and High Voltage!

In this post, I'm going to cover just two things: a new (to me) weathering technique that uses hairspray and the construction of a DIY electrostatic grass tool. Both of these things were totally new to me, although I had read a good bit about the hairspray use and had watched a video about the grass tool.

First, the hairspray: The basic premise of hairspray weathering is to spray a base coat of paint in a color that you want to see when the top coat chips away. Then, once that is dry, you give your model a few coats of the cheapest hairspray you can find. Once that is totally dry, you spray on a your top coats. Then, you can wet areas of the model, the water will soak right through your top coat (I think this only works with acrylics) and will soften the hairspray. You can then poke at your paint with a toothpick, cotton swap, etc and the top coat will chip off, revealing the under coat. Magical paint chips!!

To start with, I sprayed my model with Tamiya Hull Red as the base coat. Next, to break up the paint, and add some dirt/rust details, I mixed up a batch of paint that consisted of mostly Vallejo Flat Earth, with some MIG pigment in Light Rust. In order to keep it from getting too thick and to keep with workable for longer, I added a small amount of Vallejo Retarder Medium (slows drying) and Thinner Medium (reduces thickness).

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I used a small piece of natural sponge to dab it all over the model. After the first pass, I added a bit of Standard Rust pigment to the paint mix to get a redder shade and went back over the model again. Below you can see the model after all the under coat was applied.

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Next I took it outside and gave it two or three coats of hairspray. Be generous, as it doesn't seem to bulk up and shouldn't add any strange texture. If you wanted to prevent some areas from chipping at all, I'm sure you could mask them. As far as what sort of hairspray to use, I don't think it matters much (I'm no hairspray expert), so I recommend just getting the biggest/cheapest can you can find. If there is such a thing as waterproof hairspray (Google says there is), you do NOT want that. The whole premise of this technique is that the water dissolves the hairspray later, so if you used waterproof hairspray, you'd be out of luck when it came time to chip the paint.

Below you can see my model with the hairspray applied and dry. It dried to a semigloss finish.

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Next came the top coat. In my case, I first put down a coat of light grey, with the thought that it would make for more interesting chipping later as well as give me a more neutral base to paint over. Next I used Tamiya Field Blue as the main color, and then went back and lightened the panel centers with the same color mixed with a bit of light grey.

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Then the fun began! For water application, I just used a cotton swab, and painted water on a small area at a time. I would swab on some water, wait a few minutes (the paint texture changes a bit once the water is soaked in) and then I scraped it a bit with a wooden toothpick that had been cut to a chisel point. I thought it worked great! In fact, I had to be careful not to take off too much of the top coat, as once the hairspray is wet, it is very easy to get the paint off.

Below you can see some finished chipping on the tank legs.

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Below you can see how the paint texture changes once the hairspray is wet and the paint is ready to scrape. Fortunately, the paint does flatten back out once things dry. The only catch is that the hairspray does mix in with the water during the process and once things dry, some of the semi-gloss finish that we saw earlier will be present on top of the flat paint. Nothing a bit of Testors Dullcoat won't fix later.

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Next we turn back to the base. Before I could get to grass application, I needed to paint it. I was going to follow the standard order of preshade-with-dark, main color coat, sponge to break up some areas and dry brush to pull out details.

Below you can see the first pass of pre-shading.

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Next was the various color passes. My idea was to try to make this look like an old unused road, so I masked the road lines off and just dry brushed the lines on, so they were old and faded looking. Everything will get a good deal more dust and weathering later on, in order to blend it all together.

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I was hoping to use electro static grass on this base, in order to get some nice grass on the upper area and in the nooks and crannies around the rocks. I knew there were various devices that one could buy in order to apply the grass and get it to stick up nicely. Once I actually went to BUY one of these tools, I was in for a bit of sticker shock. As much as I enjoy getting a good tool, I couldn't justify spending $150+ just to do my little diorama. With a bit of searching around, I ran across a video on youtube showing how to build your own grass applicator using a few cheap parts and a little bit of work. I decided to give it a try.

Here is the video I watched first, if you'd like to give it a try. Have a watch and then see what I did afterwards.



I'm no electrical engineer, but here's a little bit about how some of this stuff works, as I understand it. The bug zapper that I ended up with takes two AA batteries. If you touch both ends of a AA battery, you don't get shocked. The 1.5 volts that that battery puts out is not enough to get through your skin, bones, etc. Even stacking up the two batteries, giving you 3 volts, still doesn't result in a shock. So, in order to be able to zap bugs, the bug zapper has a small transformer in it that boosts that voltage up to something like 15000 volts. That ends up being enough to jump across small gaps and also fry bugs. The way the bug zapper works is that it then routes that current into the various layers of the racquet, which are spaced closely, but far enough apart that the current can't jump across. In the case of mine, the outer layers got the negative terminal and the inner layer got the positive. When you swing that thing as a bug, the bug passes through the holes and probably hits both layers or is close enough to both for the current to jump across the gap, through the bug, completing the circuit, and electrocuting the insect.

Our goal is not to electrocute anything, but instead use all the static electricity that is generated by that high voltage to make our grass all stand on end. With the ground of the zapper attached to the glue on the base of the diorama, and the positive current attached to the strainer, the static grass flocking should fall out of the strainer a few hairs at a time, stick to the glue on the base, and then stay standing up because they are attracted to the strainer's static charge, the same way your arm hairs stand up when you hold a statically charged balloon above them. So long as the glue is fairly thick and sticky, the hairs should just stay where ever they land, and you'll get a great looking patch of grass.

With that said, PLEASE BE CAREFUL. While I don't think this is strong enough to do any extreme damage, it is probably enough voltage to give you a good shock, a small burn, or some other unpleasant injury. If you decide to try this yourself, be very careful and don't leave any of this stuff laying about where a curious child could get ahold of it.

Okay, with the legal disclaimers out of the way, let's get down to business.

I was far lazier than the fellow in the video and just went to good ol Amazon for my parts. Since I've got Amazon Prime, I wasn't concerned about shipping cost, so I order up the following parts:

Zap Master Bug Zapper - $6.97
Stainless Steel Mesh Strainer - $6.71
Insulated Alligator Clips - $3.99
Insulated Solid Wire (lots) - $20

Obviously, I got way more wire than I needed, but it was time for me to stock up anyway, so you can ignore that one if you already have some wire laying about that you can use. Same with the alligator clips, as that $3.99 was for a pack of 10. Also, I bet you could find a cheaper mesh strainer at a local dollar store, if you were concerned about the budget or just wanted to keep it under $10. Below you can see the parts that I ended up with.

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Taking the bug zapper apart (be sure there are no batteries in there!), you can see the circuit board that does the current transformation and that has the activation button on it. Unlike the zapper in the video, all the components on mine are under the board, so harder to see. The first order of business was to get rid of the old wires that came off the board and replace them with tougher and longer ones. This requires desoldering the old wires, and in the case of my zapper, melting and soaking up some protective wax that was over the various contacts. Below you can see the board with my replacement red wire coming off the left side of the board. This will be the wire that will contact the metal strainer.

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Once the longer ground wire is attached (I made mine roughly a foot long), I had to figure out how to attach the strainer. I had a bit of scrap aluminum around (from my bag of scrap bits that I got at the hardware store ages ago), so I just made two little strips, and drilled holes in the strips and in the handle of the zapper. The strainer handle needed to be cut a bit shorter in order to fit, and then the whole thing could be bolted together. I was originally going to solder the red wire to the strainer handle, but it ended up being easier to just sandwich the wire between one of the plates and the handle.

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Next, I put the other side of the handle back on, and attached one of the alligator clips to the ground wire and I was ready to flock!

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How this works, step by step:

1) Mix up your flocking grass. I mixed roughly equal parts 'Medium Green' and 'Burnt Grass' from Woodland Scenics in order to get a more natural mix of color.

2) Spread some undiluted scenic cement (or maybe Elmers white glue, or PVA glue) on to whatever you want to flock. Apply it in such a way that all the glue is contiguous. The electrical current needs to be able to get to all the glue, so no glue islands!

3) Poke a small nail into the glue somewhere (preferably somewhere that the little hole won't be noticed) and clip your negative wire to the nail.

4) Put some of the grass mix into your strainer bowl.

5) Hold your strainer bowl over the glue (a couple inches above, don't let them touch!), press and hold the button on the zapper handle (red light should illuminate), and gently shake your strainer over the glue until it is all covered.

6) Err on the side of too much grass, as you can always shake off the stuff that doesn't stick later and it is really hard to put another coat of grass on later, since you'd have to paint the glue on over your first coat of grass.

Following those steps, here is what I ended up with on my test patch:

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As you can see, I left the glue off of the rock and the toe divots. I was pretty happy with how the grass stood up, but still felt fairly natural. If you wanted patchier grass colors, you could mix your grass colors a bit less that I did, so you got clumps in the strainer, which should give you areas with a bit more of one color or another as you go.

Below is a side view of the same area as above.

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And that is that! Next up for me is some weathering on the base, and painting on the other tank.

Thanks for reading!
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