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    Building Fallout 4 T-60 Power Armor, Part 3

    For the parts of the Fallout 4 power armor we aren't 3D printing, we'll be creating them with the CNC router. A CNC router is effectively a 3D printer in reverse; instead of an empty build platform that material gets deposited onto, with a CNC router you start out with a large piece of material stock and the router cuts away everything to make the relief of your part. The CNC is a tool that's new to me and one I wanted to really fully utilize on this build. Full disclosure, I am admittedly taking a lot of lessons from I've followed builds from Shawn Thorsson who does a lot of CNC routing for his large scale costumes and props.

    The digital workflow is similar to 3D printing, but still something I am working on really getting solid. You still need to split your model up into sections that will fit within your stock - in my case, sheets of 2" polystyrene insulation board found at the local big box hardware store - while being mindful of any undercuts or concave sections. As I only have a 3-axis CNC, if a part has any concave sections, those areas will not get cut away and my CNC routed part will not come out correctly. For example, this forearm part was cut into several sections, but the gentle concave slope along the back wasn't able to be removed, leaving me with these "steps" that I would have to manually trim or sand away.

    The CNC software I am using is MeshCam which is simple and very effective. MeshCam is used to generate Gcode for the CNC, the same way Cura or Simplify3D creates Gcode for your 3D printer. My only complaint about it is that it doesn't visualize the undercuts so I can't know what parts won't be fabricated correctly. Its built in slicing tools leave a lot to be desired, so I have been using Netfabb to create my 2" slices off of the main model and arranging them so that several slices will be cut at a time. This is still cumbersome and time consuming so eventually I'll be looking for a better toolchain for this step. After I run my slice through MeshCam and send the Gcode to the CNC router for each cutting job, the forearm is ready to assemble and sculpt.

    I used some medium duty spray adhesive to attach the parts together, clamped them together and let the whole thing sit for a couple of hours before moving on to sealing. The polystyrene board I am using is very soft and easy to damage and I wanted to coat it in something rigid so that I can more easily sculpt on it and to make it nice and smooth. It also reacts poorly to just about everything you might normally do this with, including most spray paints, so I need to coat the part in a sealant.. After giving everything a quick sand with some high grit sandpaper to get rid of any remaining CNC artifacts, I coated everything in a couple coats of wood glue. This would not only provide a surface that is non-reactive to the fiberglass and bondo I would be coating it with, but it also gives the part a lot more strength against bumps and scratches.

    Ironhead Studio's Incredible Movie Costumes

    This is a rare treat: we get up close with the helmets and armor made by Ironhead Studio for films like Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War, and Tron: Legacy. Ironhead Studio founder Jose Fernandez, who has been designing and making film costumes for decades, chats with us about how superhero costume fabrication has evolved over the years.

    The Amazing Art of Akihito

    Frank chats with Akihito, a special effects and makeup artist whose work floored us at this year's Monsterpalooza. Akihito talks about the influences for his personal projects, how he casts his sculptures using multiple resins, and a striking makeup he demoed at the show!

    Monsters vs. Zombies Sculptures at Monsterpalooza 2016!

    At this year's Monsterpalooza, we met artist Vin Teng, the co-creator of the comic series Monsters vs. Zombies. What struck us was Vin's sculpture work--he designed the characters in the comic by building out a beautiful diorama scene in incredible detail.

    The Creatures and Creations at Monsterpalooza 2016!

    We return to Monsterpalooza, one of favorite conventions to meet sculptors, painters, and makeup effects artists who share our love of creatures. Frank and Norm walk through the convention floor, catch up with friends, and share some of the awesome art on display at this year's show!

    Hands-On with NASA's HoloLens Mars Demo

    NASA has been working with Microsoft's HoloLens technology to allow its Mars Curiosity rover engineers to visualize Mars and plan missions for the robot. We try a version of this OnSight application and chat with NASA's Dave Lavery about the potential of this kind of mobile virtual reality.

    Airplane Origami: How Folding Wings Work

    I recently found myself with a few hours to kill while in the Dallas, Texas area. On the advice of a Tested reader, I made my way to the Cavanaugh Flight Museum, and I'm glad I did. Cavanaugh is my favorite kind of aviation museum to visit. It has a very eclectic mix of static and airworthy aircraft that spans from WWI to the modern era. Several of the airplanes in the museum's collection are combat veterans as well.

    Of all the various aircraft vying for my attention, the one that I spent the most time with was a humble-looking former navy machine, the Grumman S-2F Tracker. While I had seen various versions of the cold-war-era S-2 at airshows, this was the first opportunity I'd had to get a good up-close look at its wing folding mechanism.

    The many components that are visible in the wing fold of the Grumman S-2F Tracker piqued my interest in the intricacies of folding wing design and operation.

    The S-2F was parked outdoors with its wings folded as if it were on an aircraft carrier. I spent several minutes analyzing the various parts that were visible at the wing folds while trying to figure out the purpose of each. The functions of some components seemed obvious, but most remained a mystery. I walked away utterly fascinated by the intricacies of folding wings and determined to learn more.

    It's All About Elbow Room

    The concept of folding wings is nearly as old as aviation itself. Irish airplane company, Short Brothers, developed a series of biplanes with folding wings prior to the start of WWI. The idea has persevered with most modern naval aircraft, and even the Boeing 777X passenger jet. The goal of folding wings in every instance is to give the airplane a smaller storage footprint when not in use.

    The F4F Wildcat was the first airplane to use Grumman's Sto-Wing hinge design, which mimics how birds rest their wings.

    Wide-spread implementation of folding wings came about during WWII with the emergence of the aircraft carrier as the prime offensive naval weapon. Folding wings allowed up to 50% more aircraft to be stored aboard these ships. By the end of the war, folding wings were standard equipment on nearly every carrier-based aircraft. There have been very few exceptions in the decades since.

    Building Fallout 4 T-60 Power Armor, Part 2

    Last time, I shared how we tackled the digital design planning for the Fallout 4 Power Armor build. We extracted the game models using NifSkope, prepared them for our build by increasing their detail in Blender, then finally cut them into sections that would fit on our 3D printers in NetFabb. With our first batch of models are ready to produce, it's time to send them to the machines to create and get them looking nice.

    I'll be using the helmet and the large shoulders to demonstrate the techniques I use to go from raw 3D print to finished master ready for molding. But same process is used whether I'm making something small like a detail piece or a weapon, or the big printed sections of armor. For this build, we'll be using the 3D printer for the interior "frame" pieces, the large shoulders, and the back armor as well as some of the smaller detail bits throughout the armor like the oversized bolts on the knees and the oil filters under the chest.

    I print exclusively in ABS plastic because of some interesting post processing methods available, specifically being able to use acetone to smooth your prints to reduce or eliminate the print "grain" visible at each layer in the printing process. This is not acetone vapor smoothing, which looks really pretty but softens up all of the hard edges we worked to preserve, but rather a solution mixed up and painted directly on to the part. I'll create a batch of "ABS juice" to paint the surface with a brush that both fills in the valleys of the print lines like a body filler, and also acts to soften up and smooth down the high points.

    Show and Tell: Rey's Blaster Replica Kit!

    Prop maker Bill Doran (aka Punished Props) visits our office this week to share one of his recent builds: a replica of Rey's blaster from Star Wars: The Force Awakens! Bill shows how he designed the blaster to be assembled as a kit, and we put one together! (Find Bill's blueprints and other fabrication guides here!)

    Testing: ProDRENALIN Video Stabilization

    Shaky video is a fact of life when you work with small cameras. Whether you're using a handheld camcorder or an action camera mounted to some sort of vehicle, getting a steady picture is often challenging. Even using a brushless gimbal will not guarantee smooth video. While it certainly pays to make your raw footage as stable as possible, there are also ways to iron out rough spots in post-processing. I recently spent some time evaluating ProDRENALIN ($50), a budget software package with video stabilization features.

    ProDRENALIN (PD) is not a full-blown video editing program. Rather, it provides a few different methods to optimize your raw footage before importing it into your usual video editor. The primary functions of PD are image stabilization and fisheye removal. There are also basic features for image orientation and color correction. PD is available for PC or Mac (using Wine virtual machine). I performed my testing on an aging Sony Vaio laptop (1.6GHz i7 CPU, 6GB RAM, integrated video) running Windows 7.

    ProDRENALIN does a great job of removing camera shake from many types of video footage.

    Using ProDRENALIN

    With only a handful of specialized functions, PD is not a complex program to use. I watched a 15-minute tutorial video and it covered everything I've needed thus far. It is very straightforward. For instance, stabilization is either on or off. There are no adjustments to futz with. If your only goal is to stabilize a complete video, you simply load the video (drag and drop), enable stabilization, and then export the result.

    There are options to work with only a selected time portion of a video if you want to chop up the raw footage into smaller clips or apply different effects to varied sections. As you're working with a video, you can choose to view the raw file, the modified file, or a split screen that allows you to compare both files. The split screen option can be divided vertically or horizontally.

    Tested Visits the Shenzhen Electronics Market!

    Our very own Simone Giertz recently went on a trip to China, and reports on her visit from the famous Shenzhen electronics market! Simone explains what she found interesting about the marketplace, and shows off some of her finds from the trip!

    Simple Feats of Science: Liquid Nitrogen Experiments!

    In this episode of Simple Feats of Science, we're joined by Zeke Kossover from The Exploratorium to demonstrate an unconventional experiment with liquid nitrogen. Kishore and Zeke discuss some liquid nitrogen basics, and then show how you can use it to illuminate a broken light bulb!

    Tested Builds: Perfect Grade Gundam, Part 6

    Norm, Frank, Sean, and Danica finally complete the Gundam! There's plastic everywhere in the office, but the effort was worth it--and now we just want to build more of these kits. Thanks to everyone who watched this week of build! We'll be back next month with another project and special guest!

    Tested: Driving the Tesla Model X with Autopilot

    We take the newly-released Tesla Model X for a test drive, courtesy of a friend of Tested. Here's how the Model X compares with the Model S, how the gull wing doors work, and what it's like to drive with Tesla's Autopilot mode on the freeway. It's exciting and terrifying at the same time!

    Tested In-Depth: Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive

    We've now reviewed both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but after spending more time with both virtual reality headsets, we're able to do more direct comparisons between them. Jeremy and Norm discuss in-depth the differences in lenses, display quality, ergonomics, tracking, and software. Do we have to pick a side?

    Tested Builds: Perfect Grade Gundam, Part 1

    Welcome to another week of builds! We're tackling a new type of kit this week: gunpla! And for our first Gundam build, we're going big with a Perfect Grade Zeta Gundam at 1/60 scale. Norm is joined by Sean Charlesworth, Frank Ippolito, and special guest Danica Johnson to work together and build this mecha! (This first video is available for everyone--watch the rest of the build by signing up with the Tested Premium member community!)