Monday, 29 September 2008

Face Detail

Here are more stills from Invasion of Time, showing head, mouth and gun detail.


I have noticed that the collar tartan does change between stories, but using stills from the story, Invasion of Time, I have been able to match at least one collar tartan to the Buchanan Modern Tartan. I have, however, noticed that the Ancient version of the tartan is used in several other versions of the collar. I am not sure if other tartans are used, people with a Scottish/ Celtic background could tell me better, but that is what I have noticed. Also sometimes the collars look faded on the outside, but you can tell the original tartan must have been brighter by looking at the rim and inner part of the collar.
With that information, and tracking down a little shop in NSW (Scottish Accessories Shop, Croydon) that sells tartans, I bought a tartan scarf that I will use for the collar. The scarf is such a lovely woolen fabric I dread to cut it!!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

SportBEC Switch-mode Battery Eliminator Circuit

I have a battery, I have the motors, I have a speed controller, but I need something that can get power to the the servos efficiently and without frying them. I have chosen to go with the SportBEC option. Here is a little about it... And it is a tiny part, I must say!!!

SportBEC (Battery Eliminator Circuit) powers your receiver and servos much more efficiently than a standard BEC. As many as 8 servos can be powered without worrying about an overheating BEC. SportBEC works great up to very high voltages, and is especially suited for "sport" aircraft and glow conversions. SportBEC is usually a necessity at 4s and above when running high torque or digital servos.

SportBEC's output is selectable between 5V/6V using a small slide switch. The 6V setting gives more speed and torque to the servos, and is especially useful for helicopter flyers. A red LED indicates when 6V is selected.

We use these BECs in our robots for powering our control systems that have high current demands. We will hook up IP cameras, wireless bridges, microcontrollers, etc. and the BEC has no problem with the current demand. Great source for servos too. Since its a switching supply we eliminate the need for multiple batteries, we run everything off of a single 24V source using the BECs for the control and servos instead of having a separate battery or batteries.

Because it is an efficient switching regulator, SportBEC can supply its full rated current of 3.5A all the way up to 33.6VDC.

Many design hours were spent on SportBEC to ensure it does not create radio interference. It uses a shielded inductor and optimized layout, so you can use it without fear of glitching.

SportBEC installs between your ESC and receiver, so you don't have to modify your speed control to disable its internal BEC.

For best results, ensure that the SportBEC is installed at least 2 inches away from your receiver and antenna.

Additional notes: If you are using small servos make sure they can run at 6v. Some sub-micros, notably the Hitec HS-50 and Futaba S3154, can be damaged by a 6v supply.

For even more information about the SportBEC go here or here...

I have uploaded some information about the SportBEC, including the manuals, so it doesn't vanish like so many things on the web do...

A Beginners Guide to Switching Regulators.doc

A Beginners Guide to Switching Regulators.pdf

SportBEC FAQ.doc

SportBEC FAQ.pdf

SportBEC Manual.doc

SportBEC Manual.pdf

Using an External BEC on multiple models.pdf

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Neck Tube

The neck has been a bit of a problem for me for a while, and reading the forums I knew that it would be an issue. The original diameter was 5 1/4". There is a couple of stories of what the neck material is on the hero prop...

The usual one the you hear is that is a style of ducting tubing.

The second, and more recent that I have heard, is that it was a rubber gaiter from a tractor. This is a quote from a recent post on the Doctor Who Prop Builder Guild... Thanks Phil!

"I was talking to Matt Irvine at the NSC a couple of months ago and he said the original prop used a gaiter from an old tractor or bit of agricultural equipment - he wasn't sure which as he didn't build the original prop." - Phil

Knowing that they used a Mini steering boot for the tail bushing, it is very possible that the latter is true. However, the former is easier to get hold of... At least for now...
I headed off to the Purple Pig (a place in Hobart that probably sells the largest range of hoses) and bought a half meter length of rubberised ducting tubing that the guy at the shop thought was the closest to my reference images.
Sadly it is only 5" in diameter because they have stopped making the 5 1/4" ones many years ago, but that 1/4" shouldn't make too much difference. The chap ended up giving my a trade discount because he liked the idea of the build so much! :-D
A big thanks to Sarah for holding the tube during the photos!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Let There Be Light

Another thing I bought recently was the Knight Rider LED kit that came in a little while ago, well actually two kits from Active Electronics. I have also bought the coloured high bright LEDs from Oatley Electronics to replace the dimmer red ones that come in the kit. From Jaycar I bought LED mounts for 5mm LEDs. I have started building one already...
As mentioned before, one kit is destined to light up the control panel, the other one will light up the false panel that I am planning.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

New bits

Over the last few months I have been hunting for parts for K-9 and here is what I have found…
A few posts ago I mentioned that I had bought some windscreen wiper motors. Here they are cleaned and stripped next to a 12V sealed motor cycle battery.
The steel turn arm was removed by clamping tightly the turn arm in a vice, getting a friend to help hold onto the motor to prevent it turning as I undid the nut. They are well fixed on!! The brass mounting was removed by removing the small nuts using socket spanner.
A bit of CRC was used to ease the nuts off as they had welded on over time. All nuts and bots were retained for future mounting. Then with some more CRC the motor was thoroughly cleaned up.
Just for all you car boffins out there... Here is a photo of what they would have looked like in the original car...
And this is what I sort of hope to achieve with them, like Robert's K-9.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Totem in The Age

As mentioned in the last post, I have put a piece for Totem. Well, The Age newspaper has written an article about it... It can be found directly on their site...

Oh, you inscrutable doll

September 20, 2008

More than 120 artists' dolls will soon be on display at Federation Square, writes Frances Atkinson.

Sayraphim Lothian with Rachel Hughes' bald calico dolls that are part of the Totem installation.
Photo: Roger Cummins

THERE ARE TWO Sayraphim Lothians. One has pale skin, shiny hair and large eyes, the other has shiny hair, large eyes and pale green fur. "I'm so happy with it," the real Lothian says, gently stroking the little monster's hair.

The creature sitting quietly in the corner represents a part of Lothian she'd rather not talk about in detail. "I suppose she represents my own insecurities. She's a monster who is trying to fit into human society. She's wearing a handmade dress and has jewellery that doesn't quite match."

The furry doll is part of Totem, an installation made up of more than 120 dolls that will fill the hollow walls of the atrium at Federation Square as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Lothian approached artists from Australia and around the world and asked them to create a doll with soul - a piece that "reflected their inner identities". A few found the question so personal they couldn't commit to the project, but many others found the idea of creating a doll that embodies some aspect of themselves an irresistible challenge.

Lothian describes herself as an art mercenary who works in television, film and theatre. She's also a graphic and web designer who is happy to do anything artistic, providing she's paid for it:

"Which is basically what most artists do to prevent working in call centres." Lothian also worked as a puppet technician on Spike Jonze's yet-to-be-released film Where the Wild Things Are, based on Maurice Sendak's classic children's book of the same name.

At her headquarters, the Auspicious Arts Incubator in Southbank, Lothian's studio resembles a surreal mail centre where packages in brown paper and bubble wrap of assorted sizes take up every inch of space. There's a Frida Kahlo-inspired skeleton, a traditional-looking doll with a fabric cigarette hanging from its mouth, a brightly coloured, papier-mache doll featuring Andy Warhol's face.

The latest arrivals are on the desk. One is a small sculpture of a rabbit with large belly, protruding front teeth and what Lothian suspects are real whiskers. It hangs on to a smaller bunny doll, in the same manner a toddler might grasp a favourite toy: upside down, by one leg.

Lothian said the artist, American Carisa Swenson, was initially worried Australian audiences might not like the doll because of our prejudice against rabbits and the damage they can do to the environment. Lothian doesn't really know what Swenson is trying to convey with her doll, but adds, "I'm fine with that. I don't try and interpret them too much." But, she adds, "all art is personal because it comes through this filter of their own experiences".

Of course, dolls don't always equate with sweet. In his book A Room Full of Toys, Alberto Manguel observes, "The body of a doll is always slightly disturbing." He might well be talking about a piece submitted for the project by Melbourne artist Jon Beinart entitled bubbapilla - a stack of five headless baby dolls which are connected with only one head at the top.

With each set of arms and legs pointing to the front, it does resemble a bizarre baby/caterpillar hybrid that is undeniably strange and beautiful. In contrast, artist Madeleine Hoxley drew on her science background to create a free-form quilted skeleton that's anatomically correct. Black stitching provides the shading while caffeine-coloured fabric helps promote a creamy, bone-like pallor.

One of the most captivating pieces is by American artist Beth Robinson. Her doll, about 45 centimetres tall, is a woman wearing a dress made from vintage fabric. She has long, dark hair, a hank of Robinson's own locks, and four arms. One set reaches up to her head in despair or frustration, the other holds tiny dressmaker's pins and a black voodoo doll. Her eyes are entirely silver - sightless and watchful at the same time.

Via email, Robinson says, "I spent a lot of time thinking about who I am as an artist and a person and how the two work together to create me."

No less curious are five large bald dolls made out of simple calico by Melbourne artist Rachel Hughes. Delivered in a woven basket, each face is delicately painted in muted colours. Lothian suspects they are partly a self-portrait of Hughes and each of her four sisters. "I think they're incredible," says Lothian. "Every choice an artist makes tells you something about them."

While some of the pieces are as far removed from a prosthesis-coloured Barbie or pimped-up Bratz doll that you can get, many are influenced by traditional doll-makers. Lothian said she was inspired to create Totem partly because of her own childhood connections with dolls.

Her grandmother Marj was a member of the CWA and spent a lifetime creating dolls for Lothian and her sister. "She knew about the project but developed dementia and died early this year, so I've dedicated Totem to her memory."

Melbourne artist Jade Burstall is making a documentary about Totem that will run on a large screen during the exhibition. "'I'm not a crafty person but I got on board because I was drawn to the idea of dolls with souls. The installation process will take Lothian two days to complete and Burstall plans to capture much of it on film.

The project has also inspired debate between artists about the nature and craft of making dolls, and the process of transformation that turns a doll into a work of art. Lothian believes environment has a lot do with it.

"Some dolls are clearly not playthings. Most of the dolls in Totem are one-of-a-kind art dolls." However, Lothian hopes audiences will connect with the installation. "Totem is not just about self-identity, it's like a vox pop of how a section of society see themselves. Each doll has been created using a wide range of techniques that showcase how varied the craft can be."

Totem will be on exhibition at the Fracture Galleries, the atrium, Federation Square, city, September 25-October 12.

The Age is a sponsor of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

This story was found at:


I haven't posted for a while now, not because I haven't done anything to my K-9, or done anything Dr.Whoey, but I have been distracted by other things that have taken some time from the build and posting... Here are some of the works that have distracted me...

My doll is made of copper wire, piano wire and clay for the
Totem exhibition 24 Sep - 13 Nov at the Fractures Gallery, Federations Square, Melbourne.

I also have a couple pieces in the GLC exhibition 19 Sep - 2 Oct at the Moonah Arts Centre. I managed to sell the photo on opening night :-)

Touching the Well

Image Details:
Digital photograph (Sony α 100, f/5.0, ISO 400, focal length: 30.0mm, hand-held, unflashed), printed on archival professional photographic paper, digitally laminated and block-mounted.

Artist’s Statement:
In this image, a smooth, delicate and feminie hand reaches out, seeking something within the moving, dark water. Hands are important in the sharing of love: literally, in terms of sensuality and touch and symbolically, in the display of commitment and marriage (i do).
Hands are also used to worship, to pray and to display reverence. People raise their hands to God and count beads with their fingers as they pray. Holding the hand of a loved one can be a type of worship (idol).
Hands have always been, like faces, an important way to identify someone. We each have unique handprints, handwriting and artistic/creative style (i.d.).

Homo gynoides sp.

Artist’s Statement:
Technology is a mask that veils our true selves from the modern world. Though technology is meant to help us in our every day lives, increase our senses and stimulate us, instead it forms a barrier reducing our social interaction and awareness of our surroundings.

The mask has had putty to reshape it, an additional head section put in using card and papier-mâché, it has been strengthened using papier-mâché, had electronic components (mostly from old hard-drives and CD drives) glued, screwed and hacked into her face, and some wire added. The black is a back gesso primer.

Dry brushed. This is a two coat dry brush, the first is using Jo Sonja's Rose Gold metallic paint, and then the second is the Rose Gold mixed with equal parts with Chroma Cadmium Red to produce a more vivid red.

Varnished using a satin artist's varnish and wires added. The eyes have been fixed in and battery pack soldered. The front of the battery pack has got a layer of red holographic tape over it that shines through the mouth to create "teeth".

And finally... The mask with its lights on!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008


Here is a little about the Sabertooth 25A system I am getting. A bit of overkill, but I have read in a few places that under stress that wiper motors can produce 30A peak current! So I don't want to take any risks.

The Sabertooth 2X25 is one of the most versatile, efficient and easy to use dual motor drivers on the market. It is suitable for high powered robots - up to 100lbs in combat or 300lbs for general purpose robotics.

Out of the box, the Sabertooth can supply two DC brushed motors with up to 25A each. Peak currents of 50A per channel are achievable for a few seconds.

Overcurrent and thermal protection means you'll never have to worry about killing the driver with accidental stalls or by hooking up too big a motor.

Sabertooth allows you to control two motors with: analog voltage, radio control, serial and packetized serial. You can build many different robots of increasing complexity for years to come with a Sabertooth. Sabertooth has independent and speed + direction operating modes, making it the ideal driver for differential drive (tank style) robots and more.

The operating mode is set with the onboard DIP switches so there are no jumpers to lose. Sabertooth features screw terminal connectors - making it possible for you to build a robot without even soldering.

Sabertooth is the first synchronous regenerative motor driver in its class. The regenerative topology means that your batteries get recharged whenever you command your robot to slow down or reverse. Sabertooth also allows you to make very fast stops and reverses - giving your robot a quick and nimble edge.

Sabertooth has a built in 5V BEC that can provide power to a microcontroller or R/C receiver. The lithium cutoff mode allows Sabertooth to operate safely with lithium ion and lithium polymer battery packs - the highest energy density batteries available.

Sabertooth's transistors are switched at ultrasonic speeds (32kHz) for silent operation.

Sabertooth 2X25 uses 1.3 milliohm MOSFETs in its bridge. Going by other's ridiculous rating schemes this would make it a dual 190A motor driver!

Model: Sabertooth 2X25
Specifications: 25A continuous, 50A peak per channel.

Synchronous regenerative drive
Ultra-sonic switching frequency
Thermal and overcurrent protection
Lithium protection mode

Input modes: Analog, R/C, simplified serial, packetized serial

Size: 2.6” x 3.2” x .8”
65 x 80 x 20 mm

Weight: 96g / 3.5oz

Applications: Combat robots up to 100lb
Normal and hobby robots up to 300lb
Differential drive robots
Electric vehicles, ride-on toys, scooters
Easy speed/direction control for pumps, conveyors, automation and any application that uses two brushed DC motors

For more even more about the Sabertooth, you can go here and here

I have uploaded some information about the Sabertooth, including the manuals, so it doesn't vanish like so many things on the web do...

Sabertooth 2x25 QuickStart.doc
Sabertooth 2x25 QuickStart.pdf
Sabertooth 2x25 Manual.doc
Sabertooth 2x25 Manual.pdf
Motor Drive Efficiency Comparison Test.pdf

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Knight Rider

I have received a message that the "Knight Rider" LED kits are ready for me to pick up. I am going to that today at lunch from Active Electronics in town.

This morning I ordered my motor controller. There will probably be a customs delay of a weeks or two, but shouldn't be too much longer than that. I am getting a Sabertooth dual 25A motor driver from Robot Parts, an Australian online store for robot parts funnily enough.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Wiper motors

I finally found a place that sells wiper motors in Hobart that have a long shaft! Yeah! :-) Sadly though I couldn't find a left and right motor and will have to flip one over and reverse the polarity to make one run.
I found the motors at a wreckers - Moonah Auto Salvage, and they are a pair of KF Ford Laser wiper motors, all rather greasy and muddy. If you had to pay for plastic bags, you would with these motors!! I need to clean them up at least a little before even testing them. In the photo I have already wiped them down a bit. Still, they were only $44 for the pair, so I shan't complain!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Push buttons

I looked near and far, but I seemed to have run out of luck with finding the push buttons. Either they were really expensive (about $20 each) or that they had run out of the lens colours that I needed. So I have decided to go for cutting the "buttons" out myself out of acrylic sheet using a laser cutter that I have access to.
As I have translucent red for the eyes, I did not need that, I just needed a translucent yellow, blue, and green. I also wanted a translucent white, which in the plastics industry they cal "Pearl" and is commonly used in shower screens. Yesterday I went to Eagle Plastics and gave a lovely gentleman my order, and today I have four sheets of acrylic of various colours 15x15 cm for only $5!

Yesterday I also went to the neighbouring store, which is a specialise electronics store called Active Electronics. They are a dealer for Altronics based in Perth. I bought 6m of rainbow 16 strand cable for $8.10 for the 6m and also ordered two "Knight Rider" LED kits to illuminate the buttons on the back of K-9's panel and also a false panel I am planning on making.This is what they say about it:

(SC May ’02) This little LED chaser kit is super easy to build and provides a bright addition to any shop display or vehicle. It features 32 bright LED’s which glow red. Built into it’s PIC micro controller are 12 patterns which can be selected at the press of a button. Speed is adjustable via an on board trimpot.

Requires 12VDC supply

• 12 switch selectable light patterns
• Adjustable pattern speed
• Adjustable LED brightness
• 2 pattern medleys

Thursday, 5 June 2008

The K-9 Poll

By popular demand, the K-9 poll is back! :-) So for all those people who wanted to vote, now you can.

Oh, and by the way, the John Leeson photo has arrived in all it's glory! The gold pen of the signature looks great, I have to get it framed now! The postage was shocking, but I am very happy to have it :-)

Friday, 16 May 2008

A little bit nerdy!

I came across a signed photo by John Leeson of K-9 on eBay and very late last night I won it! With a little help from a friend, Niall, it will be sent from the UK, and I can't wait.
It is very nerdy, I know, but John Leeson was my favourite voice actor of K-9. He sort of was K-9.The photo is 6 by 8" and has a COA. I have included the image from eBay.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The Comparison

These RS handles pictured here are now the closest match to the K-9 prop available now, or so I have found in my research. The original handles use to be sold as "Industrial Unit" handles by RS. The current ones available are very similar, but not quite the same. Sadly the RS websites no longer carry an image of the handles or additional data on them, which makes me wonder if they are reducing their stock. However, there is an image in their paper catalogue.

RS Australia

RS Stock No.: 221-320
Manufacturer's part number: MG.01.99.01
Page : 1 - 1632


Attribute TypeAttribute Value
External Length98mm
External Width12mm
External Height28mm

This is an image of the handle from the the TV prop of the rusty version of K-9. I am still hunting for a good image of an early version of the prop to post, but when I do I will add it too so you can see it. The front seems to be a bit flatter and squarer than the current RS handle, as if the face has been ground off slightly. Not sure what it is like in real life, if the angles are as sharp. It is one of the reasons why I went for the handle I did, it is angular like this one, but without the expense of the current RS handles ($AU28.20 plus shipping!). I know mine are a little more rounded internally but I don't think it will matter that much once painted. I hope!

Thursday, 10 April 2008


As the RS handles are very expensive and hard to get hold of if you don't own a credit card, I am going to be using the following handles on my K-9. I have noticed that several other people have used very similar ones too. These ones were from Mitre 10. They look very close to the RS ones. I will post an image and specs of the RS shortly.

The clear plastic bag that the handles come in have a white sticker on the outside with a barcode and description: "Handle brush nickel 96 mm 9995483R" and they are by Hettich International.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Bad Back

Unfortunately, at the start of March, I slipped a disk in my back, which was rather painful. Not only physically, but mentally as it stopped my doing so many things I loved, like building my K-9. I was forced to down my tools and take up lighter activities for a while, like knitting and reading. Sadly my knitting isn't good enough to knit a K-9, but I did think about it!! I knitted little egg beanies instead and the start of a scarf. Hmm... I could knit K-9 a scarf...? No that might be a bit silly.

Feeling quite a bit better now, I am going to start tinkering again in my spare time, which I have been itching to do so. So you might see some action on this blog again soon (finally!) ;-)

Wednesday, 2 January 2008


As I have been slowly gathering parts and also tools (as I few tools to start off with), I have come to the stage that I have had to get a multimeter. I asked my sister who works for Disk Smith Electronics what would be best to get, and she actually recommended that it would be better to go to Jaycar Electronics, the rival electronics company! That made me laugh.

I should have known thought that as soon as I mentioned my K-9 build to her my sister would relay it to my mum and then my mum would relay it to my dad. I was worried that they would think it was a waste of time and money. Perhaps they do, but they didn't mention it, instead my dad said that he had a professional multimeter that I could have! It will cover all my needs, and even if I would want to test my house electrical supply -- not that I do (and all you kids out there, don't you go trying it either! Electrocution isn't fun!).

It will be arriving in the post this Friday, together with a poppy seed cake :-) Yummy!