I built the Imperial Melody Discharger, an articulated Stormtrooper helmet music box, for the Star Wars Day (“May the 4th be with you”) vinyl Stormtrooper helmet art show . For the event, artists across the Walt Disney Company, including DisneyToon Studios where I work, were invited to participate by using a blank 6″ helmet as the canvas for their work. What follows are my build notes and work in progress images.
My intention for the piece was to provide a view behind the mask of the anonymous Stormtrooper, while creating a fun, interactive moment for the person experiencing it. I wasn’t sure exactly how to get there, but I was certain I’d need to cut the vinyl helmet open. You only have one shot at that, so I decided to first cut apart a CG model inside Maya, and rig it with pivot points that could be used in the real world for the facial articulation.
Mostly satisfied that I knew where to separate the parts of the helmet, I grabbed an X-acto knife, took a breath, and began the incision. (Note: It smelled really foul in there. Also note: I have no way to compare the smell to that of the insides of a tauntaun.)
Once splayed out I wasn’t too surprised to see that the “pelt” of the helmet was darned floppy. I needed to build an armature to keep the structure solid, and to support the articulation of the two halves of the face mask.
With very little time to get fancy building parts from scratch, I rummaged around my workshop, closets, and shamefully disorganized garage, until I came upon an old spider Babyface homage to Toy Story I’d build back in ’95 out of Erector sets. Sorry, Spider Baby, I needed your body parts.
I repurposed a scrap of 1939 4×4 beam from my house remodel to build a lamp base. I have a couple of these black metal gooseneck lamps in my garage with no bases — they broke years ago, some kind of cement in the base that crumbled, taking the threaded mount with it.
So, I drilled a hole in the 4×4, mounted the lamp post in there, and added bent nail to hold the cord. I love the result!
We just got this excellent folding schoolhouse bench/desk at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. It’ll be going inside the house, and I’m considering screwing it into the floor rather than mounting it on a finished piece of wood (to replace the 2x4s).
Not sure about its history (seller had gotten it at an estate sale). The iron legs have this to say:
No 1 PAT FEB 3 1868 FEB 20 1872
If you have any guesses at its origin, I’d love to know more.
I’m designing a rack to store my collection of bitters and tinctures bottles. I’m using the beta of the OS X version of Rhino, the nurbs modeling program I’ve used on Windows since around 1996. It’s pretty groovy seeing it come on over to Mac!
I’m laser cutting a wood veneer to apply to the back of my slightly cracked iPhone back. The starting point for me is the dimension drawings from Apple. You can get them here.
Rather conveniently, the drawing pdf imports into Rhino (the NURBS modeling/drafting application I use) as curves, so I don’t need to trace and redraw the dimensions.
I’m only using the inner curve from the camera back and the camera keep out guide, which recommends the distance from camera lens and flash hole to avoid vignetting or tinting your photos.
Next step was to apply 3M adhesive to a sheet of wood veneer.
- This is the back of my phone — notice the hairline cracks in the glass from dropping it a couple of weeks ago.
Always use a wrench to weigh down your wood veneer sheet in the laser cutter bed.
I decided not to etch an image on this first try, so I only vector cut the veneer and adhesive. On an Epilog Zing 16 this is 80% speed, 40% power.
Once cut out, I peeled off the backing.
I think I’ll adjust the camera/flash cutout in a little bit, this is crazy thin at the edge (due to kerf). This is the adhesive side, not sure what that straight line is all about, it’s not in the wood.
Applied to the phone back.
Very stylish self portrait of my iPhone with its new wooden back.
My daughter decided we should build her an iPod charger to use on the go. I had a spare Adafruit Industries MintyBoost 2.0 kit. We soldered it up together, and then she picked an Altoids tin to encase it. She plans to use the extra space to store an iPod cable or perhaps a small toy animal nest.
I just backed this nifty looking project on Kickstarter for an RGB status light that plugs into a USB port on your computer. My friend Tod Kurt is the one making it, so it has to be good!