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Scratch Build – Complete Project: Star Wars Sandcrawler

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by artoodeeto, 30 May 2010.

  1. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    I'm making a lot of progress on the bigger details. I've also given myself about a week and a half deadline to get it done. At the very least I want the construction done, and hopefully the painting too.

    Beginning work on the platforms to go above the conveyor belts:
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    As you can see, it's a really weird shape, and since I'm having to stick a ruler, tape measure, and/or foldable "stick" of paper inside the model to take measurements, these platforms took a LOT of test fits before I'd shaved enough off in the right places so they fit correctly. They're also not quite the same as each other. I discovered when I added the windowed walls in the upper section that one wall was angled in slightly more than the other. This had the direct result that one platform needs to be about 1.5cm deeper than the other to fit properly. It shouldn't be very noticeable - after all you can't see both sides at the same time.

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    I decided, both for visual effect and so light would still illuminate the conveyors, to use screen mesh for the floor of the platform, and to make it recessed. I didn't just cut out the whole middle of the floor though - this is, to a certain extent, wedged in place, and I didn't want that tension to break the platform.

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    Oh, the power switch for the motor that runs the conveyors. I had to run a 5V wire up from the molex connector that runs the lights, and then I soldered on a 10 ohm resistor. Given that the motor now runs more or less as fast as it did on a 3V connection, I'm guessing its current draw is about 0.33A. Happily, with the soldering of this the electrical part of the build is FINALLY DONE!!!! I keep thinking of things to add, but I'm drawing the line. Enough is enough. In this case it's more than enough LOL.

    Anyway. This is switch #2. Switch #1 succumbed to the heat of my soldering gun. I wasn't paying enough attention and the gun heated up the metal lead on the switch so much that the hot lead melted the plastic, and it lost contact inside with the switch itself. It might have been fixable, but it was easier to run to Radio Shack and spend a couple bucks on a new one. Lesson learned....I was a little afraid to solder on switch #2 but I was a LOT more careful. While I haven't plugged it back in yet to verify it's working, flipping the toggle back and forth feels normal, whereas with the first one it felt super loose after I messed it up. So it should be fine.

    Funny thing - my fiancee came home after I'd soldered switch #2 and said it smelled really good inside the apartment. I looked at her and was like...really??? I told her what she was smelling was slightly melted plastic and solder, and it was anything BUT good. She didn't believe me til I said it *did* have a slightly sweet aroma. I suppose as far as corrosive awful smells go it really was quite good LOL.

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    And now for the engines! This may seem a somewhat simple arrangement of PVC back there, but it was somewhat of a challenge to figure out how to fit what I had in the space available, and make the top portion of it duplicatable for the other side. You may remember that the other side's opening panel is much smaller, due to my original design which had the PSU box sitting back there. By the time I rearranged things, the exterior was finished and there's no way I'm cutting a larger hole back there now, even though I've got the space to duplicate the bigger engine room. So yeah, the engine needed to be something I could easily duplicate the top portion of. To get it all to fit the way I wanted, rather than partially screwing on the cap on the smaller PVC, I flipped the cap upside down and glued it on. You'll notice some large capacitors arranged around the upper section, and some thingies that look like reddish color springs, but are maybe small transformers? I dunno. They look cool, which is all that mattered to me. :D

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    Lastly, this conveyor closeup shows my solution for tension in the belt dragging the axle around side to side, which resulted in the wheel derailing the belt. I just stuck 2 extra wheels on each side of the main wheel, which should provide more than enough resistance and prevent that axle from moving.

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    More tomorrow! My goals are to get the platforms glued in place, add at least large details that should go in before the platforms do, finish up the engines and other large details in the engine rooms, add a floor back into the top-only engine room (I removed the original floor back when I had mounted my pump up there. I had to move the pump because it wasn't secure there and ended up being really noisy), and use up as much of the electrical junk as I can before switching over to my bag of old model pieces for final detailing. I can tell you this - my table's slowly but surely getting cleaner!
     
    Last edited: 14 Nov 2010
  2. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Some more progress...I'm reasonably sure that at least 95% of the larger interior parts are now done. I can really only think of one more major bit to go in (on top of the platforms in the upper sections along the sides) but even that isn't a big thing. Otherwise, I'm at the same point with the inside now as I was with the outside when I started kitbashing. Note how clean my table is now :D incidentally, for scale reference, the table is 6 feet long and 3 feet wide.

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    Engine rooms – pretty much complete now, except for maybe adding some smaller model pieces:
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    Remember those gray pipes that used to be where my Danger Dan Rad Res’s are now? For awhile I’d thought I wouldn’t be able to reuse the pipes, but I found some spots that they fit after a date with my hacksaw. The last photo in this set is taken with the roof removed, looking toward the rear of the model. With everything put together you don’t really get this view – the roof and cooling system are in the way. Anyway, that cut gray pipe quite nicely fills in what would have been a rather large empty spot in the upper engine room.
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    Back on March 8, 2010:
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    November 16, 2010:
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  3. Blooddrunken

    Blooddrunken In Flames we Trust

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    I don't know how it will look at the end but it's definitely an interesting build, so I'm looking forward on moar updates. :thumb:
     
  4. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    LOL...you know, I didn't really know how it would look either :) I've been completely making this up as I go along. In many ways it's been a good thing to not have a plan set in stone; after all, if I wasn't willing to modify my design I never could have put water cooling in it. Still, in some ways it's worse to not have a plan because it means it takes longer. I have to figure out what I'm going to do, how I'm going to get it in there, then make the parts, put them in, pull them out and adjust or remake them when they don't fit the first time, then stick them back in and try and avoid smearing glue everywhere. :D It's quite the process. But yeah, I sure don't know what it'll look like beforehand LOL.

    So today I … ok really it’s been the last couple days. Anyway. Today I made a connecting walkway that goes around the motor driving the upper conveyor belts, connecting the above-the-conveyor platforms on each side of the model. The walkway came out a bit crooked – it looks more crooked in the photo than it does in real life, probably partly because it’s *really* tough to see up in there where it is. Even looking through the side opening panels it’s hard to see that walkway. Eh well. I didn’t exactly spend gobs of time on it either.
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    I also decided I didn’t like the way one of the main support braces kinda cuts off the rear of the upper platform from its front, so I decided to turn that brace into a wall with a permanently closed door. There isn’t a lot of physical depth, but when it’s painted and with the lights on it should look fine. I did add a recessed model part on one side to give it *some* extra depth…I think the part is a car radiator from an early model Ford or something. First photo below is the test-fit of the template piece I made; because of the brace I had to make sets for each side, so that template piece you see, I had to make 4 of those. Amazingly enough, I had to make only super minor modifications to the template to get it to fit in the other 3 places.
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    I also added elevators to access the platforms. I was initially going to make them either permanently up or permanently down, but then I thought of a way I could use some scrap styrene and make them moveable. Granted you have to move them manually, but they move. :) First pic is of the drawn not-yet-cut-out T-shaped pieces that are glued under the elevator platform and go through the support wall. I’ve only glued in the elevator on one side so far, but the other one is done too. Just haven’t put it in yet.
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    Lastly, I got the final horrifically tedious part of the build out of the way at long last. I covered the insides of all 10 opening flaps with paneling same as I did on the outside. Took me quite awhile to do it, and I went slower because I hated every second of it. But it’s done now, which makes me happy. As you can see in the photo below, though the white looks a little odd, it’s definitely a step up from fiberboard with sharpie all over it.
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    So what’s left? Well, the cargo bay is currently devoid of one rather important piece of equipment. And…that’s it. Aside from adding a TON of detail pieces, control panels, pipes, etc etc. And painting of course. Anyway, that thing going into the cargo bay, I gotta figure out how I’m going to make it. I have the design, just not sure how to build it.

    It’s getting close, after almost 4 years and so many revisions and reworkings it’s almost a completely different model than what I started with. (wow…4 years. April 2008 was when I started designing it, although I don’t think I started building til May or June 2008.)
     
  5. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    I’ve finally gotten my act together after being out of town for a week, then sick for a week, and resumed finishing this thing. It’s getting VERY close now – just some more detail parts to glue on (necessitating yet another trip to the hardware store today for yet another tube of glue), then masking and painting. The first few photos are from about a month ago, when I built the loading crane inside the front bay. I cut a slot in the ceiling of the bay, and used a washer and screw through that slot into the dowel of the crane so it can slide back and forth. It sort of works. I used square dowels to line the slot, mostly to hide the rough edge. And I used a magnet at the base of the crane so that metal necklace chain you see is held entirely by magnetic force. :D

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    Next was the loading door – I wanted to hide the back ends of the LED “headlights” so when the door was open, it would look like machinery or some such there. So I made simple boxes to cover up the lamps, then surrounded them with electronics bits (and I’ll likely add some model bits too).

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    The engine rooms are done. The lower cutaways are pretty much done too. What remains to be finished are pipe and little detail bits under the walkways and on the walls of the upper sections. Also, I’ll probably add some more bits inside the loading bay. I *should* have enough random pieces left over so I can do some junk piles, to be added in a few spots after I paint the inside.

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  6. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Whew! I’ve gotten all parts glued in that I wanted in there prior to painting, and I got the outside of the model masked off. I must say, this was the mother of all masking jobs – I came away from it with a new appreciation for those artists who wrap buildings. My own efforts look a bit like a Christmas present wrapped by a blind one-handed elf, but hey, who cares. :D First off, though, the pre-wrapping pics. These detail shots will look substantially different (and better) once it’s all painted.

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    Is that a B-wing cockpit back there? Hmmm….how’d THAT get there?
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    Capacitors? CAPACITORS??? I don’ gotta show you no stinkin’ capacitors…
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    Remember this room from way back when? A blue and white R2D2 will be going in here, along with some other homemade “junk” robots.
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    Inner doors closed…
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    And open…
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    Now on to the masking. First off, the lights. How to deal with those? The vast majority of them are in the ceilings inside. I could have, but REALLY didn’t want to, use brushable latex and “paint” each LED with latex that could be pulled off after airbrushing. But the tediousness of that (not to mention the painful positions I’d have had to sit in to get my hand and brush in at the right angles) would have defied all reasonable belief. So…all that painstaking work to glue each light down was for naught, as I popped most of them out, then covered the holes with tape on the top to prevent paint from spraying through. At this point in the afternoon I still had hopes of painting today. Silly me…
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    I saved the vellum cutouts from when I cut the window openings inside to use as masks for protecting those windows.
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    This spot on the inside of the rear engine door needed to be covered, as it’s visible from the rear when the door is shut.
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    I tried to show the tape covering a couple LEDs in this shot. They’re hard to see, so you can imagine how hard it was to get the tape in there.
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    And voila! I know, it’s bloody insane, but I covered the whole $%$$@$#%% thing with tape and newspaper. The good news is I can spray paint away, worry free. The bad news is though I used low-tack painters tape, I’ll still need to be fairly careful when removing it all. It’s rather like a scab…I can’t wait to peel it off. :p
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    And lastly, the inside of the loading door. I really only needed to cover the inside bottom of the door, since that’s all that will be exposed inside with the door shut when I spray paint the innermost parts black. By innermost I mean the walls lining the computer chamber.
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    And there you have it. Next update…painting! (and then *gasp* it’s done!)
     
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  7. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    I’m either hardcore, obsessed, or nuts. That’s the only explanation I can think of for being outside in 52 degree, rainy weather, painting under a dripping tarp.

    See? 52 degrees! (I should add that I’m in southern California and it NEVER gets that cold here. I don’t wanna hear any comments about other much colder areas. I grew up in a chillier climate than I live in now. :D )
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    That was the tarp setup. A previous tenant in my apartment thoughtfully put those hooks up, just for me to use to hang my tarp. Yep. I periodically had to unhook it on one end and carefully prop it up so as to drain the water out of it. Did I mention it was cold? Someday I’ll have a house and a garage for this sort of stuff.

    Before I painted the inside black (again) :
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    And after:
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    Getting going with the gray primer:
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    And some black streakiness.
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    And after I airbrushed a lighter gray over most of the black to fade it a bit, brought everything back inside, removed the tape and newspaper masking (took about 10 minutes, whereas putting it on took HOURS), glued back on a few panels that came off with the tape, and promptly discovered that due to very poor/dim lighting conditions outside because of the rain, I couldn’t really see what I was doing inside this thing as I painted and the gray tone is quite a lot darker than I meant it to be. Oh well. I ain’t tapin’ it all back up again and re-spraying it.
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    Tomorrow or Sunday will be detail painting, and I plan on hitting it with a generous coating of a similar powder pastel that I used on the outside, to give it a nice dusty beat up appearance. I’m hoping that’ll lighten it up a bit, and it should really help blend everything together. Prior to that powder coat I’ll add some junk piles and a couple other little surprises.
     
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  8. Blooddrunken

    Blooddrunken In Flames we Trust

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    The capacators look nice after the paint job. :thumb:
    One nice build you have there. :)
     
  9. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Ok guys…the moment long awaited (mostly by me)…. It. Is. …. DONE!!!!! (don’t move it to the done section just yet though…still another update or two to come).

    Almost 4 years. Except for the outer frame, I built nearly everything at least twice. And in keeping with how things have gone on this build, there’s still 2 problems to fix, and one more thing to make.

    Problem 1 – one of the PVC “engines” in the rear engine room is currently resting on one of the heatsinks in the PSU (and thus slightly elevating the rear of the case). I need to use a heated knife to slice out a chunk of the pipe to make room for the heatsink. Annoying, but not too hard to take care of.

    Problem 2 – the conveyors don’t really work. I’m not sure why, it could be that when I painted the conveyor belts some of the links are sticking now, or it could be that some of the junk piles I added are interfering with the belt motion. It might be hard to figure out the exact cause, since I have to have the computer pulled out from the wall to see the other side of the case. All I know is, before I added all the detail and painted, it worked just fine.

    Item to make: the “sand” – covered base. Next week when I have time, I’ll get a piece of fiberboard or thin plywood, and use newspaper-covered cardboard to create a slightly contoured landscape. Then I’ll sift my powdered walnut shells over it using a spray glue formulated for model train diorama scenery, and viola! Instant sandiness.

    Now for the pics! The first shot is after painting, before junk piles:
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    And a wide shot with some junk piles added:
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    A series of shots showing the various junk piles. Pay attention to the left side of the loading bay. If you’ve ever wondered what happened with Sputnik that is. :D
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    And now, with the “dirt” added. The dirt is a darker powder pastel than I used on the outside, and I dusted most of the lower horizontal interior surfaces with it. I used the lighter toned dust in a few spots just to create a little more color variation.
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    R2D2!
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    Remember that bit about Sputnik?
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    And now a few shots showing the lighting. Sorry if they’re a little blurry – I didn’t feel like digging the tripod out of the closet.
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    Remember that pipe that’s sitting on the heatsink? This is it:
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    And taken with the flash:
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    And lastly…
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    That’s it! Look for one or two more updates next week to fix the issues described above…
     
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  10. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Well, at least I can say I finished the crawler itself before 2010 ended. Maybe I should retitle this thread “How to Build Your Very Own Sandcrawler in LESS THAN 4 Years!”.

    Unfortunately, in my zeal to cut out a chunk of that PVC pipe, I used my soldering gun (the hot knife blade initially pictured just wasn’t…er…cutting it if you’ll pardon the pun). While the chunk of plastic, mostly melted, came out eventually, and the remaining bits from the viewable angle looks decent, my computer room now smells strongly of melted ABS. ugh. Hopefully the smell will fade in a day or two.

    The pipe prior to the exercise in mutilation.
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    The initial mutilating equipment: old X-Acto knife to be heated with the candle.
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    After the knife failed (it was working but probably would have taken the whole afternoon), I pulled out my 2,000 degree soldering gun. This pic was after I started melting the pipe with it.
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    Unfortunately it’s hard to see in this pic the amount of smoke coming out of this thing. It definitely looked to be on fire.
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    The melted chunk after removal. It took a good half hour to get this thing out of there.
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    The rest of the pipe:
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    And with the top of the case on the computer again:
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    Incidentally, I examined the conveyor belt, and it doesn’t appear that anything is blocking it. But for some reason I can’t figure out, the motor won’t turn on, and before I did all my detailing it worked just fine, switch included. It could be a problem with the power switch, I just don’t know. I’ll probably revisit it eventually.

    And, I got started on the base! It’s a sheet of ¼” pine plywood, cut to fit on the tabletop where my sandcrawler sits. I had to cut out notches in the corners since the legs of the table stick up slightly. I also made an extension piece to go on the front, so the loading door isn’t just hanging off the edge when open. However, since there’s a cross-piece on the table between the two legs that also sticks up slightly over the top, I’m not sure yet how I’ll attach the extension piece…
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    This is what the front extension piece is supposed to fix, if I can figure out how to mount it onto the rest and still fit correctly on the table.
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    I ran out of daylight today to work more on the base, so I’ll finish it up this weekend. But the official build dates on the crawler are April 27, 2007 to December 31, 2010.
     
  11. ringo

    ringo New Member

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    I like the Star Wars theme. I following your project for a while and you did a good job. I like it.
     
  12. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Thanks!! :D

    LAST SANDCRAWLER UPDATE! It is officially done; nothing else *needs* to be added to complete it. I may still add things like sculpted jawas at some point, but not right away. The base is done, although I’m not 100% happy with how it came out. It sorta looks like sand, but I lack the space for a larger base that would have room to add the surrounding stuff I’d wanted. There are some things like tracks behind the treads, slightly mounded sand in front of the treads, etc., that I *could* do on this base that might improve it, but I’ll need to get more “Scenic Cement” glue as I went through a whole bottle making this base today. I just don’t know if it’s really worth it to make those additions on this base, since someday I hope to have the space for a much larger one that can be much more detailed. I certainly have plenty of powdered walnut shells left, I maybe used a pound from the 10lb bag today.

    So, on to the last 10 pics. I didn’t do any more detail shots of the model since it hasn’t changed from a few days ago when I posted all the detail photos.

    The pine plywood sheet, 10 pound bag of powdered walnut shells, spoon, glue, etc.
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    After spraying the sheet with glue and coating it with the powdered shells.
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    I then gave it a final, VERY generous coating of glue that finished off the bottle, but mostly ensured that the shells won’t come off the board.
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    And lastly, the crawler on its base. The blue light coming out the front isn’t nearly as bright in real life as it appears in the photo.
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  13. mnpctech

    mnpctech bit-tech sponsor

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  14. Mockingbird

    Mockingbird New Member

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    Ne-ne-ne-ne-ne-ne-NERCROTHREAD! (I'm actually glad though, as I'd not seen this before and it's ace).
     
  15. Bartacus

    Bartacus Member

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    Holy necro indeed! But that worked out well for me since I wasn't here 5 years ago. :)
     
  16. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Yep, I'm Necrothreading this again. This crawler case really is almost a living thing...I change stuff once in awhile. Next on my list, whenever I feel like getting around to it, is changing the LED lighting to light strips, which weren't really available back when I first built it. Running the wires will be a HUGE PITA, and consequently it's been pretty low on my priority list. But for now, here's what *has* changed since I posted the last photo of it...wow. 8 years ago.

    I added more "sand" (actually powdered walnut shell) to the base, and bunched it up around the tank treads so it looks like it's been driving in sand instead of sitting on top as though weightless. I added 9 Micro-Machines Jawas back in 2014, and then in 2018 I added a bunch more, plus some droids. Gives it a lot more life. I'm partially justifying this post because my motherboard died in late 2018 and I had to swap it out, which led to several other major changes/updates. Then in late 2018, I replaced initially 4, and eventually all 5, of the fans with AsiaHorse UFO II Rainbow fans. They're gorgeous...love 'em! And substantially quieter than the old fans I replaced.

    Replacement of the base plate to which the computer parts are attached - after 8 years, the old base made from MDF was badly warped, dusty, and in general looked like crap. I'd thought about replacing it for awhile, and I finally did something about it. I bought a sheet of 3/4" plywood; the weight of the removable top alone is over 20lbs. Add in the computer and the whole thing weighs well in excess of 30lbs, maybe close to 40. That MDF base never stood a chance holding up that kind of weight. I placed the old base on top of the new sheet of plywood, traced it out, marked all the screwholes (you'll notice on the old base on the black side, many holes are marked with white so I'd know which ones to keep), and cut the new base. It looks so small in this first photo...but it's not.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Man. All the old parts I pulled out. This mess is the PSU, and the old PSU fan which I've since gotten rid of.
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    Motherboard changeout - this is really what prompted the timing of my replacing the base. I figured since I had to take the entire thing apart to get the motherboard out of there, this was about the only time I'd be willing to do the extra work to make a new base plate. Old board, which I took to be recycled, is in the anti-static bag. The new board, which is a slightly newer revision of the old board, is on the right. I didn't want to have to reinstall Windows, and felt lucky I was able to find a version of the board that's close enough to the old one that Windows wouldn't notice.
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    The 20+lb top, and the radiator and pump. Those blue fans and the black one have since been replaced with much nicer ones.
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    Test fit of the top on the new base, prior to painting and reassembly:
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  17. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    These walk ramp bays, I never painted the insides of them. Turns out they were a little more visible than I thought they'd be, so since I had it all dismantled I decided to at least put some paint in there.
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    Old base next to the new one. Old one looks like crap. 8 years' worth of dust and dirt...yuck.
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    My mess sorta took over my wife's desk too...
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    The brown paint on the new underside isn't a match for the old paint (which was rust spray primer and then airbrushed Testors Model Master Italian Brown). But it's no matter - you can't see it anyway.
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  18. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    And all put back together!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Had to use a rock to prop up the suction tube while the glue dried...
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    All the micromachines droids I bought:
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  19. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    And here's with the new fans:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And some more recent detail shots of the whole thing, with all the lights on this time. I *think* we can call it done at this point :D
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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    That's the PSU down there...
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    So there you have it. The Sandcrawler is done. Just potentially will change out all the LEDs in the future. Maybe. If I ever feel like torturing myself. :D
     

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