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Good things are happening in my corner of the world today - Tactical Ninja

Oct. 16th, 2013

09:52 am - Good things are happening in my corner of the world today

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So you remember back ages ago I sent a bunch of pics of my Dad and his mate with their experimental SCUBA equipment back in the 1950s to the York Sub Aqua club, thinking they might like them? Well it turns out that the British Sub Aqua Club got their hands on them, and because the photos are kind of historic (as in, they depict the very first SCUBA apparatus being used), they have decided to use some of them on the cover of the 60th anniversary issue of SCUBA magazine.

My Dad, he was pretty cool. And he's still getting little snippets of fame, even posthumously. He would be pleased. ;-)


My samples of PVC expanded foam board (known as Palight here, Sintra in the US) arrived yesterday. This stuff is normally used for making signs, but it has thermal moulding properties which makes it of interest to me. It's $40 cheaper by the sheet than Wonderflex and the sheets are roughly twice the size. Thus, it's worth my while to investigate it for making armour with. So I emailed the manufacturers and they sent me three A4 sized sheets. Given that I'd asked for a 15 x 20cm sheet, I was stoked to get so much.



I had four tests in mind - curves, folds, darts, and joins. Doing these also allowed me to test things like how easy it is to cut, and free moulding. So anyway, I cut a bunch of bits from the first sheet for testing. A couple of them were using templates for the under-pauldrons because if I'm going to mess around I might as well be making progress at the same time, right?



Turns out you can draw on it in biro and cut it with a craft knife. Scissors would work but they are difficult on this 4mm thick stuff (they might be easier on the thinner sizes - it comes in 2mm and 3mm as well). The craft knife took 3-4 passes with a bit of kaha behind them, but once the first cut was made, the knife naturally followed the groove so it wasn't hard to stay on the line. I'm told you can also cut it with a coping saw. Anyway, then I started my experiments.

Bending:



I applied the heat gun for maybe 20 seconds and I could see the surface of the material change a little bit. It was cool enough to pick up and only slightly flexible. I first tried bending it around a jar, but found that holding it and just using my fingers to form it worked better. It was easily cool enough to hold (not a heat conductor then). It started to set within 10 seconds and after 30ish seconds was stiff enough so I couldn't mould it any more.

Folding:



For this I gave it a little longer with the heat gun and focused it on the centre, then used a ruler to fold it along a straight line. After 10 seconds it was holding the fold without support but I could still mould it if necessary.

Darts:



I was really impressed with how it deals with darts. The way it maintains its rigidity while still being mouldable allows you to really get into that corner bit that can be troublesome when trying to make a smooth dart. And even though the sides didn't quite meet, the stiffness of the material holds the shape anyway so you could fill the gap with hot glue or modelling clay to smooth it out.

I wasn't really happy with the fold test because it hadn't come out as sharp as I'd hoped, so I tried another dart and this time scored along the back of the bit that would be folded, to try and create a sharp fold similar to those on Cullen's breastplate and leg armour.



This time my attempt to get the dart sides to join led to a bit of burning and curling of the edges of the plastic, but the fold is much sharper and I'm very happy with that result. Turns out it's very easy to shave the ridges from those curled-up edges with a craft knife, too.

Joins:



This is two triangular bits joined together at roughly right angles. As you can see, heating it enough to melt and create a join tends to lead to wobbly curled edges. However, they are easy to shave off. Also, it occurs to me that it'd be pretty easy to form Wonderflex over a join like that and cover all manner of evils.

So then I thought I'd try something a bit harder - a curve and a fold with darts on the same piece:





This is the bit that goes around the corner of the shoulder on the under-pauldrons. I am very pleased with the way it came out, particularly the fact that it'll only take the addition of some smoothing clay to the join and it's 'done'.

Pros:

-The biggest pro I think is that it retains some structural rigidity even when it's hot enough to mould. With Wonderflex, it gets hot and melty very quickly and becomes floppy, which makes it quite hard to do hand-moulding or reshaping without having a jig to place your piece on to keep the rest in shape while you work on one bit. With this stuff you can fiddle with one part and the rest will hold together while you do it.
- It's already thick enough to make convincing armour so I won't have to sandwich it with craft foam to get bulk.
- It's easily shaveable, carvable and cuttable even after being thermoformed.
- If you make a mistake you can just heat it up again and fix it.
- Won't need much prep before painting.
- Durable. I think I could stand on that pauldron bit and it'd be fine.

Cons:

- Hard work to cut - I suspect I'll wreck a couple of craft knives per costume using it.
- Edges tend to curl if you heat it enough to stick to itself.
- Not really any lighter than Wonderflex.
- It's a bit fumey so air circulation will be important when working with it.


So the verdict is that I'm very excited about this stuff and will be getting a large sheet of it to use for the larger and stiffer parts of Cullen's armour and shield.

Other snippets of happycool things:

- We rented the house out. This means our financial stranglehold will end this week. Yay! I can get on with the things I've been putting off.
- Dr Wheel received two boxes in the mail yesterday, which are full of componentry and THINGS! Things which will make his art project!
- The YoT is out of his fire at will government bollocks 90 day trial period at his job. This means he now has actual employment rights!
- I redid the ring for Yorick and I like it a lot better now. All I need now is a good drying day and it'll be ready to bring for you on Friday, pombagira.

And it's only Wednesday! I got a call from my client with the sheep yesterday and she had been without power for a day at that point. Her sheep, her yards and the ground are all sopping. It'll take some special weather to dry them before the weekend, so we're trying for maybe Thursday night, then maybe Saturday. One day those sheep will get shorn!

Comments:

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From:didotwite
Date:October 15th, 2013 09:13 pm (UTC)
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is it sturdy enough to use something like a dremel tool?
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From:tatjna
Date:October 15th, 2013 09:16 pm (UTC)
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Sturdy enough, yes, but I suspect the heat from the high-speed dremel would melt it quite quickly. Which might be a novel way of joining the edges! ;-)
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From:didotwite
Date:October 15th, 2013 09:27 pm (UTC)
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...and of gumming up the dremel. point taken :)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 15th, 2013 09:28 pm (UTC)
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True. But an old heated hacksaw blade might do the same melty/joiny thing, and it wouldn't matter if it got gummed up. Hmm..
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From:springheel_jack
Date:October 16th, 2013 12:50 am (UTC)
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I cut plastic with my dremel a lot, and it usually doesn't gum up the dremel. But even strong high density thermoplastic will melt easily under the onslaught of one of those high-speed blades. You know what might be better is their oscillating tool. You can get a wire saw blade for that. I'm not sure how much it would heat the plastic.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 16th, 2013 12:53 am (UTC)
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Hmm.. I was thinking of something I could apply to just the edges of a cut, to melt the plastic enough to join it without warping it. I can remember doing things like that with a heated butter knife, but I reckon one of those little mini blowtorches might end up being ideal.
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From:pombagira
Date:October 15th, 2013 11:14 pm (UTC)
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yay stuff!! *skips*

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From:russiandolls
Date:October 16th, 2013 01:01 am (UTC)
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Is your Dad sharing a magazine cover with a young Prince Charles?!
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From:tatjna
Date:October 16th, 2013 01:02 am (UTC)
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It seems he might be. I'm not sure what Charlie has to do with SCUBA, but he's in good company on that cover. ;-)
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From:zoefruitcake
Date:October 16th, 2013 06:03 am (UTC)
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that's pretty cool, the photos, I mean. My father was a diver in the 70s and used to teach for the British Sub Aqua Club. He used to start the guys off in a local swimming pool of an evening and I went along to play in the baby pool on my own
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From:tatjna
Date:October 16th, 2013 06:26 am (UTC)
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Gosh - my Dad used to teach for the York Sub Aqua Club in the 60s - that's how he met Mum actually, although she always claimed he tried to drown her..

They even had little divers on their wedding cake instead of a bride and groom. ;-)

But my folks moved to NZ in the early 70s so chances are my Dad and your Dad didn't work together.
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From:zoefruitcake
Date:October 16th, 2013 07:54 am (UTC)
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cute wedding cake!
My father moved away from diving in the 80s to windsurfing, then eventually to kitesurfing. Sadly he was killed 2 years ago in February whilst kitesurfing in Australia, a week after his 69th birthday. I think he would have chosen to go that way
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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:October 16th, 2013 08:04 am (UTC)
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Your Dad is ubercool! And considering how faulty and hazardous the first scuba equipment was and how little was known about heath issues and pressure, he was also lucky to survive with all his body parts intact :-)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 16th, 2013 07:14 pm (UTC)
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He used to do underwater welding work back in the days when they had those big suits with helmets and an airline. I expect he thought the new apparatus was quite safe by comparison! ;-)

But yes, we once calculated how many times he'd beaten the odds of survival, and it was a frighteningly large number.
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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:October 17th, 2013 08:26 am (UTC)
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I started my diving on a low budget and it was quite common back then that you had a tank and ONE regulator and you learned to share that with your buddy for minutes on end. I had a vest that was nothing more than a ring around my neck, to be blown up with my mouth. That's now considered highly hazardous but it worked for me. :-)

I guess it's a matter of how you take care of yourself rather than relying on equipment that makes the difference. He seems quite the adventurer though :-)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 17th, 2013 07:12 pm (UTC)
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He certainly was. Luckily he wrote a lot of it down before he died, so there's an enduring record. And of course he didn't embellish it at all, noooooo...
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From:meathiel
Date:October 16th, 2013 10:38 am (UTC)
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Yay for finally renting out the old place ...

Interesting about the pic of your dad - kinda cool.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 16th, 2013 07:14 pm (UTC)
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It's such a relief to have it finally sorted. ;-)
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From:kehleyr
Date:October 16th, 2013 06:52 pm (UTC)
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That's so cool about the cover :-)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 16th, 2013 07:14 pm (UTC)
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It made me go *squee*
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From:rivet
Date:October 16th, 2013 09:15 pm (UTC)
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This post makes me happy on several levels <3
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From:tatjna
Date:October 16th, 2013 09:16 pm (UTC)
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Me too. ;-) The financial thing was more stressful than I admitted to myself, so it's especially nice to have that sorted.
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From:heathersmoo
Date:October 16th, 2013 11:30 pm (UTC)
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I had a dream about sheep last night and thought of you when I woke up from it this morning :)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 16th, 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
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Mwuahahahaaa.. slowly I am infiltrating the whole world with my sheepiness.
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From:heathersmoo
Date:October 16th, 2013 11:37 pm (UTC)
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The world totes needs more sheepiness so carry on with your good work, my captain :)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 17th, 2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
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Your wish is my command! Sheep photos will be forthcoming.
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From:adam_0oo
Date:October 17th, 2013 09:36 pm (UTC)
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So cool for the magazine!
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From:zhelana
Date:October 18th, 2013 03:43 am (UTC)
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You're making armor. Is this for SCA or Halloween purposes?
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From:tatjna
Date:October 18th, 2013 10:18 am (UTC)
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It's mostly for cosplay, although the opportunities here are rare. I just like making them, and I have a friend who likes taking pictures. ;-)

Halloween isn't really a thing here. Instead we have The Sevens as the main thing where people dress up in costumes. Because we're that bogan.
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From:pundigrion
Date:October 25th, 2013 04:07 pm (UTC)
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Perfect tribute for his photos!

Also, must be a great relief indeed with the rental. Yay, for less loose ends!
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