Friday, 22 June 2007

Building Material for the Body

What to make the body out of? That was a hard decision. Most people on the forums choose MDF, even though it does produce a lovely smooth finish with less sanding than other materials I dislike the material on the weight factor, not to mention the dust is highly toxic.

Fibreglass? Well, you need a good mould and I haven’t worked with it before so I am rather hesitant to start with such a major project when not having a proper workshop, and one with good ventilation.

Plywood? I was thinking seriously about this material. It is lighter than MDF but there is a lot mucking about with the finish. I have worked on a plywood model before, so at least I had the experience.

Then I came across a material on the Dalek Builders’ Guild, foamex, also known as sintra, and closed-cell PVC foamboard, amongst other things.

Dalek Builders' Guild post on foamex K-9

This material is lighter than MDF, but has that smooth exterior. It is easier to cut, and can be cut using a craft knife. The only problem was with the material, where to find it Tasmania!!? It took me three months, but I got there in the end, finding it from a company called Pool Signs from North Hobart.

Pool Signs & Designs
284A Argyle St
North Hobart TAS 7000
(03) 6234 4470

Pool Signs

I bought…

One sheet of 3mm Foamex board 2400 x 1200 @ $92.00 per sheet
Two sheets of 5mm Foamex board 2400 x 1200 @ $134.00 per sheet.

As the sheets were so huge, I had them cut in half (1200 x 1200) and delivered (another $20). It comes to $380 for the body material, but I don’t think I will use it all up. Actually I think I have enough for another project of some kind!!

There is a funny story when I was going to get the sheets… The Phil, the manager, asked me what I was going to do with it all. I said I was building a model over email and the phone and he wanted me to elaborate.

“Do you know the TV show Dr. Who?” I asked him

He beamed. He turned to his wife, also working at the firm. “Call my ‘phone.” He said to her. She did so, and it started up with the Dr. Who theme playing loudly.

Not only was there one excited Dr. Who fan there, but it seemed the whole team was interested in my project. I didn’t feel so geeky anymore. So once I am done I have promised to visit them to show it off. Later they helped me take the sheets to my office where I am doing most of the work.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Acrylic Sheet

This week I have been hunting down for acrylic sheet (perspex or similar) for K-9's eye's and also side panel. So I needed a transparent red material (3mm/ 1/8") for the eyes, preferably a deep red, and a clear for the side panel. I tried looking on the online directory for where to go... I swear it is getting worse by the day to find something! Supposedly there was nothing in Tasmania that sold the material. This was suspicious to me. I tried just a general web search... Same thing. Instead I came across a couple of companies that sold to the public and I inquired tentatively how much would it be to get the stuff to Tasmania. The reply was...

"Minimum order: $50 + GST + Freight"

!!! I wasn't expecting it to be that much. On the forum they recommend to use a red acrylic clipboard. Unfortunately, the fashion is not for red but for fluro pink and orange, so that was out.

A friend of mine at work knows a lot of industrial type places recommended to me a local place, Eagle Plastics in North Hobart. In the evening, the same place was recommended by an art friend of mine. So today at lunch I drove through the icy streets of Hobart to get to the place and was rewarded by a very friendly man with just the right sort of acrylic sheet I was after. He even gave me advice on how to join two faces together. And the price... Only $10 for both the transparent red and clear! Just goes to show it is so much better to ask around and to shop locally :-)

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

The Background

It is over a year now since I committed myself to building a full-sized replica of K-9 from Dr.Who and it has been a slow process and a big learning curve for me. I have been reading up lots on robotics, materials, and also the history of K-9. I now have a large folio of material, together with some books, at home that helps guide me and I still don't have a dog to show for it. However, I do have a lot of parts and knowledge. I hope to put down some of what I have done so far here for people to access in the future if the want to build a K-9 too. I will also list how much things have been costing along the way... I know it will be scary in the end, but it will be a good thing for people to know if they want to get into a project like this one.

A major site that I have been visiting over this last year is The Doctor Who Prop Builder's Club, and a must for anyone to join if they want to start this project.

For the best plans of K-9 around: