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    Model Behavior: Groot in Carbonite Garage Kit!

    Time to put together another garage kit! Bill brings a kit featuring a pretty sweet mash-up: baby Groot at 1:1 scale frozen in carbonite. We use this kit as an opportunity to practice some oil washes, as well as install a lighting kit. This was the project that put us in contact with VoodoFX!

    Model Behavior: Making a Set for Toy Photography

    Kayte and Norm work with styrene this week to build out a backdrop for sixth-scale toy photography. Specifically, we're going to making a photo-ready approximation of an Imperial wall from Star Wars for use with a K-2SO figure. Follow along as we cut stencils out by hand and then also experiment with the Cricut vinyl cutter to automate some of the processes!

    Hobby RC: Analyzing LiPo Battery Discharge Rates

    The Lithium-Polymer (LiPo) batteries that we use in RC vehicles have evolved tremendously since they were first introduced to the hobby about 15 years ago. Most of that progress can be traced though ever-higher rapid discharge capabilities. Early users had to link multiple cells in parallel just to have enough juice to get airborne. Now there are LiPo cells that can safely deliver hundreds of amps! But is there a downside to using the latest high-discharge lithium batteries? In this article, I'll cover some LiPo basics and then analyze the pros and cons of using rapid-discharge cells.

    Understanding the LiPo Lingo

    I wrote an article a few years ago that covered the basics of LiPo batteries. You may want to review it if you're totally new to the LiPo world. But I'll be recycling some of the high points from that piece into this article as well.

    When talking about a LiPo, the primary characteristics to understand are the battery's voltage and capacity. This is typically noted in a shorthand such as "4S-2200". "4S" denotes that the battery has four cells in series. The nominal voltage of each cell is 3.7 volts (4.2v fully-charged), so the total pack voltage is: 4 cells x 3.7v = 14.8v.

    The second number denotes the capacity of the battery in milliamp-hours (mAh). A fully-charged 2200mAh pack is rated to provide a current of 2200 milliamps (2.2 amps) for one hour before it is completely discharged. This capacity value is totally independent of how many cells are in series. In simple terms, the capacity value allows you to estimate how long a battery will provide useful power in a given application. In practical terms for RC use, the capacity rating is typically only helpful for rough comparisons of different batteries. i.e. a 2S-5000 battery will provide about double the run time of a 2S-2500 LiPo in the same RC car.

    Shop Tip: Collect Material Samples for Your Workshop

    Sean shares his collection of material samples that he uses for his workspace and Tested's workshop. These samples become invaluable when figuring out what kind of resins to use for casting, material for laser cutting, and even fabric for cut and sew work. What kind of material samples do you have in your shop?

    Model Behavior: Acrylic vs. Oil Washes

    Bill and Norm experiment with different kinds of paint washes for model figurines. We examine the differences in application and results between using a water-based acrylic washe and an oil wash for weathering. What kind of paint wash do you use for your projects?

    Custom Model Paint Racks for the Tested Workshop!

    Sean's latest project with our Universal Laser Systems laser cutter is an improvement to our workshop's model paint storage. Sean designs a stackable storage system that can work with different sized bottles, properly labeled. We assemble one of these storage racks and show off the design details.

    Model Behavior: Vinyl-Cutting Figure Decals

    We're back with more episodes of Model Behavior! Bill comes by the studio to help us experiment with a new vinyl cutter, the Cricut Maker. While we cut tiny decals to deck out a sixth-scale figure, we chat about the uses of vinyl decals and stencils for propmaking and modelmaking, and Bill gives some great advice about how to make the most out of the material.

    Model Behavior: Making Custom Wood Blaster Grips!

    Bill's back for another Fusion 360 tutorial in our shop! This week, we step up to modeling more complex shapes with the making of wooden grips for the Dave Goldberg snub-nosed Blade Runner blaster prop. And these grips are going to be milled in a CNC machine instead of 3D-printed!

    How to Make a Laser-Cut Prop Stand!

    Inspired by a Blade Runner blaster stand that came with a kit, Bill Doran walks us through the simple process of designing and laser-cutting an acrylic stand for your hand props. In this case, a lightsaber! We take our quick design to our shop's Universal Laser Systems laser cutter and piece together a stand in less than 10 minutes.

    Model Behavior: Weathering a Model (Space)Ship!

    Plastic model kits often need finishing work to make the models look as good as their source material. This week, Kayte and Norm take on the task of painting a Space Battleship Yamato 2199 snap fit kit, using washes and rust effects to make the spaceship look old and battle-worn. The result is a striking transformation!

    Model Behavior: Bug Boy Model Kit!

    This week, Kayte and Norm put together a model kit purchased at this year's Monsterpalooza convention, and attempt to replicate a paint finish of the kit we saw at the show. This delightfully unsettling bug boy kit was sculpted by Andrew Martin (Monster Caesar Studios), and we loved putting it together and experimenting with painting it!

    Model Behavior: Creating a Bronze Finish

    We've used Rub 'n Buff on Tested before to give objects metallic finishes, and this week, Bill Doran takes us through the process of turning two garage kits to bronze. We chose these two kits for the differences in their sculpts: one an organic skull and the other a piece of armor. Here's how a wax metallic finish can bring out the details in your paint work.

    Paint Masking Using a Laser Cutter!

    Tested contributor Bill Doran (aka Punished Props) is in our shop this week and experiments using our Universal Laser Systems laser cutter to make a quick paint mask for a helmet. This can be done with standard painter's tape or a large sheet of masking tape, and we learn some lessons about masking complex curves.

    Tested: Photographing a NASA Rocket Launch!

    While attending the NASA Insight rocket launch recently, we have our first opportunity to set up a remote camera to photograph the nighttime launch. Norm goes over his gear used for his setup and the excitement of leaving that gear so close to a rocket in hopes to capturing a photo of the blast off!

    Building a Hobby RC Plane with Balsa Wood

    The vast majority of modern RC airplanes are factory-built to some degree. It is no longer mandatory to spend long hours cutting, gluing, and sanding pieces of balsa wood to create a flying model. But for many, the process of transforming lightweight lumber into a flying machine is their favorite aspect of the RC hobby. There is certainly an enhanced sense of pride when your hand-built creation takes to the skies.

    Building from kits is now a niche segment of aeromodeling. It was still the norm, however, when I got into the hobby as a kid in the 1980s. So, I learned basic building skills by necessity. I still use those skills today when building a modern kit or repairing a factory-built ship.

    Some aspects of building balsa models can appear rather intimidating. But don't worry. It's all pretty easy once you break it down. In this article, I will walk you through the basic elements of what is involved.

    About the ElectriCub II

    Like so many other aspects of RC, balsa kits have benefitted from new technologies. Most new airplane kits are designed with CAD software and manufactured by laser cutting. This produces clean, sharp edges and parts that fit together perfectly (well, usually).

    Not so long ago, kit components were produced by die-cutting. A cookie cutter-like tool would stamp the parts from balsa sheets. This process works fine so long as the die is sharp. But it was not uncommon to find parts with crushed or unfinished edges.

    Flying any RC airplane is fun. But there is a heightened sense of pride when you've built it yourself.

    The example kit here, a Great Planes ElectriCub II ($100), is a bit of a hybrid. The design dates back to the 1990s and it was originally produced as a die-cut kit. The version you can buy today has most of the legacy die-cut parts, along with some updated pieces that are laser-cut.

    Electric-powered models from the 90s are my favorite genre of airplanes to build. Power systems of the time used brushed motors and Ni-Cad batteries. The brushless motors and LiPo batteries of today can output significantly more power at far less weight. Upgrading to a modern power system often requires a few airframe modifications, but the performance boost makes it worthwhile.

    Model Behavior: Patina and Polish

    We can't get enough of Bill's Skyrim-inspired prop builds, and this week we assemble a cold-cast dagger kit from the Punished Props archive. Bill shows us how you can get a metallic finish by polishing cold cast parts, and then add real patina weathering without any paint!

    Model Behavior: Miniature Wood Flooring

    Fabricator and modelmaker Kayte Sabicer shows us a technique for making simulated wood flooring using simple gatorboard and shellac sealer! This is an effective technique she's used many times in making miniature sets, and can be use for miniature displays. The finished effect is so cool!

    Model Behavior: Fusion 360 Basics!

    Bill designs many of his props for 3D printing using Fusion 360, so it's about time we get acquainted with the modeling software. Using one of Adam's spacesuit parts as reference, we go through some modeling basics in Fusion to replicate a piece of Apollo A7L hardware!

    Model Behavior: Rusted Patina Effects

    Fabricator Kayte Sabicer shows us how to make plastic models and miniatures look like they've rusted with age, using real chemical patinas. The transformation happens before our eyes and the results look awesome!