Want some fancy ice for your next cocktail party? You can try to find spherical ice-cube trays but you won’t get the kind of results seen here. It turns out the trick to this isn’t how you freeze the water, it’s how you melt the ice.
[Brendan O’Connor] started this project after seeing an ice mold that could make beautiful shapes rather than just cubes. But the price tag was $1400. If he could make his own at a hackerspace we’d bet that would pay his membership for an entire year!
The concept is pretty simple. The video after the break shows the mold he was trying to recreate. It’s two hunks of metal with a shape milled into them. The mold is pre-heated, then an oversized hunk of ice is placed between the blocks. The heat melts away the parts you don’t want, and leaves a perfectly shaped ice orb in between. Gravity is responsible for pulling the mold halves together as they slide along some machined rods.
With a big hunk of scrap aluminum he milled two halves of a sphere. They can be sufficiently heated if held under running water, and a some leftover printer rails keep the two parts aligned as the ice orb is formed. Now [Brendan] just needs to work on his method of creating a crystal-clear ice block as a starter and he’ll have achieved total win.
Continue reading “Milling ice molds for craft cocktails”
What happens when an unemployed sailor has a ton of time on his hands? Well, evidently they become an extremely skilled prop builder. Then again our only reference point is [Throssoli]’s excellent Dead Space suit build.
[Throssoli] started this ambitious project by setting a months deadline for the helmet. Although he did not meet the dead line the results were fantastic and very true to the game models. Noting the reaction people had to the helmet out in the wild, and giving in to the fact that he really wanted the full engineering suit as seen in game, [Throssoli] set off to reproduce the entire RIG down to the illuminated face mask and back mounted spine-like health and stasis indicators. All it really needs are lead weights in the boots to give it that signature stompy Isaac feel. The build incorporates a lot of techniques we typically see in other game related prop builds, such as the black-washing and weathering effects seen in the wheatley puppet and mold making as seen in this Portal Turret build and even daft punk helmets. Keep in mind [Throssoli] is no stranger to prop or suit building, his portfolio of finished projects include halo armor and props, various Star Wars costumes, Mass Effect stuff, a Predator outfit you name it. We could easily loose half a day just perusing all the builds at the site so check it out for yourself!
[Andrew Ainsworth] has been making and selling costumes based on Star Wars character (some original, and some of his own creation) for several years. Lucasfilm sued him for $20 million back in 2004 claiming infringement of intellectual property rights. He stopped selling them in the US (as it was a US copyright) but now the UK Supreme Court has ruled in his favor, siding with his claim that the costumes are functional items and not works of art.
Good for him, but copyright issues aren’t what interests us here. The BBC clip showing him using a vacuum former to make the Stormtrooper helmet really caught our attention. A bit of further searching led us to find the thirteen minute video after the break showing the entire process, from sculpting the mold by hand, to forming the components, and the final assembly seen above. It’s a fascinating process that makes use want to build our own vacuum former (preferably on a larger scale than this one). It would come in handy whether it’s Star Wars, Daft Punk, or any number of other projects you’ve got in mind.
Continue reading “Making and selling Star Wars costumes ruled to be legal”
Finally, there’s a way you can feel like a real bad-ass while you’re formatting those TPS reports. It’s all thanks to this computer mouse built inside the skull of a dog. [Shannon Larratt] dug through his collection of skulls and came up with this one because it fits nicely in the palm of your hand.
Before you get too grossed out, this is not actually part of an animal’s body like another notable mouse hack that comes to mind. [Shannon] started with the skull of a small dog, making a mold for the pieces used in the finished version above. He was quite creative when fitting the electronic parts inside of his reproduction. He pulled the PCB from a $10 Logitech mouse and had no trouble getting it to fit into the base of the skull. But when it came to the buttons he ended up engineering a couple of rockers and used a belt to reposition the scroll-wheel. Not wanting to lose the middle-click feature there’s an additional lever for that functionality. We’d also like to compliment him on the quality of his write-up. Fantastic!
This set of white RepRap parts were created in molds, instead of being printed by another RepRap. [Mark A. Ganter] of the University of Washington admits that this breaks the idea of a 3D printer that is self-replicating. But the molds – which were created by tweaking Prusa Mendel parts to be mold friendly – have the ability to produce every plastic part necessary to build your own RepRap and they can do it much faster. Once the molds were completed [Mark] and his students were able to produce a full set of parts in just 30 minutes, cutting as much as 14 hours off of the time it would have taken to print the parts. Still not convinced? How about this: the molds can be created by a 3D printer or by using a high-resolution power printing method like they have here.
The process starts by printing master parts, then creating a silicone RTV mold from them. Once the molds are ready, [Mark’s] team pours polyurethane into them and waits for it to harden. They plan to share the STL files in less than a week so that you can make your own molds to use to build your RepRap army.
If you’re thinking of working with carbon fiber this guide should be a big help. The example is aimed at the automotive crowd but the principles transfer quite easily. Carbon fiber parts are constructed in a similar manner as fiberglass parts. A mold is covered in a release agent, the fibers are put in place and covered in epoxy. With fiberglass the fibers are often sprayed on but carbon fiber components use woven mats of the material to build up multiple layers. Vacuum bags are used to hold the layers together, removing air and impregnating the fibers with the epoxy. This guide even outlines the construction of a vacuum pump needed for that step.
The benefits of carbon fiber are many, including strength and weight reduction. This makes it a great material for adding parts to weight-sensitive hacks such as quadcopters. But the mesh also has an interesting look which is why it shows up in custom electronics cases. The one real drawback is that when this material fails it is a catastrophic failure, tending to crumble across the entire structure rather than limiting damage to a small area. That means that a rough landing might be the end of your new parts.
If you follow Instructables.com, it might seem like every third article lately is about Sugru, the nifty air-drying silicone putty that’s good for all manner of repairs and custom parts. It’s fantastic stuff (and we love their slogan, “Hack things better”), but one can’t (yet!) just drop in on any local hardware store to buy a quick fix…so [mikey77] has cooked up a recipe for a basic Sugru work-alike. His “Oogoo” (a name likely inspired by oobleck) is a simple mix of corn starch and silicone caulk.
A two-ingredient recipe would hardly seem adequate material for an article, but [mikey77]’s left no stone unturned, providing an extensive tutorial not only on mixing the compound, but how to add colors, cast and carve custom shapes, and how his home-made recipe compares to the name brand product. As a bonus, the article then drifts into a little Halloween project where he demonstrates etching conductive cloth, how to make conductive glue, and other hands-on shenanigans.