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    Modeling a Judge Dredd Helmet for 3D Printing!

    This week, Darrell walks us through his process for 3D modeling a helmet replica using photo reference. We've shown how he preps models for 3D printing, but much of the work happens on the computer screen. Follow along as Darrell explains how he approaches creating digital forms to exacting detail.

    Hobby RC: Upgrading a Third Hand Tool

    I'm sure that most of us have some variation of a Third Hand (aka Helping Hand) in our workshop. If you're not familiar with this particular tool, it's basically a pair of alligator clips that are attached to articulating arms with a weighted base. The mechanical "hands" will securely hold whatever small widget you're working on, while leaving your actuals hands free to do the work. The utility of these simple tools for outweighs their meager cost (usually $5-$10).

    I have several Third Hands that I employ for a variety of tasks. The one I use most often is at my soldering station. I use it to hold wires, connectors, circuit boards, motors, or whatever else I need to solder. While I love this tool, I do have to concede that it has limitations. You can certainly buy nicer and more elaborate Third Hand tools. But there is often a significant bump in price for the upgrade. Second-tier units typically sell in the $30-$50 range.

    There's nothing wrong with spending $50 on a high-quality tool that fits your needs. The problem was that I didn't see any off-the-shelf models that had everything I wanted for soldering tasks. So I decided to try upgrading my base model Third Hand. This was actually my second round of modifying the Third Hand I use for soldering. I previously adapted an aluminum heatsink that makes it easier to solder battery connectors.

    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!