Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Blimp, Some Rockets And A Gyrocopter!

The last six or seven weeks I have been doing work on my house which has not been a lot of fun.  Not  that I had major problems with the renovations that I had planned.  I just am not a big fan of painting, period.  Now that the three bedrooms are completely done I am more than happy to get back to projects that have been idle for a while and are way more fun to work on.  

The last post was about my new Makerbot Replicator 3D printer that I had just purchased for the workshop.  I printed off a couple of strange looking white block like parts.  Now you will see what these parts are for.

These mounting blocks are now part of a base for my Blimp project that I had built way back in November 2011.  The blimp was originally set up to be hung from a ceiling.  I did not want to do this at my house so I decided to make this simple mount for it instead.  The blimp easily slides into the mounting blocks and now can be put anywhere in the house that I wish to show it off.  I still want to paint the base parts but for now this will do to show you what the first parts from the Makerbot were made for.

  Along with these parts I was able to print some very small parts for my son Eric who is working on a project of his own.  Here is what I came up with for him.

Eric needed some very small rocket tokens for a board game he is creating.  With the new Makerbot Replicator I was able to print what you see here for his game.  All the parts were printed in white plastic to start and simply were painted various colors for each player.  I could have printed each rocket in different colors but being as he only needed so few it was just simpler to paint the parts instead. The quality of the prints as you can see turned out very well for being as small as they are.

  The next project that I have been working on is another rather large and complicated project that is as much of a challenge as it is a work of art.  I came across this old file online of a gyrocopter kite that was made in the 1960's.  This is my version of that project.
This gyrocopter was originally designed in 1962 by Roy Clough.  Here is the link to the free download of these plans.

I liked the idea but wanted to make a gyrocopter kite that was more modern looking with a fuselage that had a 3D shape to it instead of just a flat surface you see here.   

My Gyrokite is a bit more high tech than the original design as it is made with wood, fiberglass, and 3D printed parts.  I just will have to keep my fingers crossed that it will fly as well as it looks.  Here is my design and what I have done so far.

  The first attempt at building the fuselage started with this center spine that I cut on my CNC machine.  

I then cut styrofoam ribs that slid on to the spine.  It looks good and that was about as far as it goes with this idea.  It soon became apparent that the spine was more weight than I wanted and it would be difficult at best to cover the ribs with fiberglass. So this idea was discarded.

I next took the fuselage spine and used it as a template to cut a solid foam fuselage.

Careful cutting of the foam mast housing was done next with an Exacto blade and a steady hand. 

The edges of the fuselage is now hand sanded to make a nice smooth shape using sand paper.

Both sides of the fuselage is taped together and sanded smooth again.  This time attention was paid to the goal of getting both sides of the fuselage to be mirror images of one another.  I think my efforts here worked out very well.

Here the foam is fiberglassed with several layers of resin and cloth.

 Looks kind of fuzzy at this point but at least now it has a nice hard surface to make the fuselage with. The edges will be trimmed for the next step so that the edges are smooth and cleaned up.

Rough putty made from fiberglass resin and a micro balloon mixture is applied.  Kind of looks like frosting.

Fuselage parts are now ready for primer after the first session of sanding had been done.  Already starting to look a lot better.

Wet paint primer is applied.

More sanding and ready for more primer.

Now the fuselage sides are primed, sanded, primed, sanded, primed sanded...etc.  To make it short primer and a lot of wet sanding until the parts look this good.  The painting of the fuselage will not be done until all the internal mounting parts have been installed and all holes have been drilled.  I plan on painting the fuselage red with a black gloss windshield that will be painted on. So this is a very good start for the gyrokite project.   
  Coming up in the next posts will be photos and text about the making of the main rotor blades, tail section, landing skids, and internal Makerbot mounting parts that hold everything together.  Lots of great info on this project so check back soon and you'll see how this project is progressing.  

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