Sunday, April 27, 2014

More Priming, Sanding and Repriming

The weather has been most cooperative the past few days so it has afforded me the chance to get more work done outside on my velomobile project.  As most of you have already seen the prep work for the painting of the velomobile has begun in a big way.  I started with the hood of the body, then the body itself and now am back to the hood once again.  This time around I have been using a finer grade of sand paper to get the outer surface smoother and smoother with each coat of primer.  Here is how the progress is going.

After the first coat of primer had dried I started once again using my orbital sander using 150 grit sandpaper.  The grit is just slightly finer than the first pass before any primer was laid down but already the top surface of the hood has improved greatly.  The picture above is how the hood looked just after sanding.  It looks terrible but in actuality it is very smooth to the touch.

This photo is just after the second coat of primer had been sprayed on.  It looks very similar to the first coat of paint if you compared it to the an earlier photo but it actually has fewer flaws in it when you look at it with the naked eye.  This is a good thing as I know that I am making real progress with each coat of primer. 

I like this shot of the hood as it shows you just how smooth the surface is already just after two rounds of sanding.  The gloss on the primer can still be seen as it is still wet from putting the new coat on the part.  But it also gives me a good preview as to how it will look once I finally paint the part with a good gloss paint. I especially like the look of the hood in this shot with the opening for the headlight and the "V" shaped contour of the hood leading up to the windshield mount.  It will be really impressive once I get it painted and trimmed with a good color scheme that I have in mind.
  Over the past couple of years after working on painting and priming various project here at the Tinker's Workshop I've learned a lot about getting a professional looking part.  I always thought that all you needed to do was spray a coat or two of primer on a part and then just paint it.  Boy was I wrong!   As you can already see it pays to prime, sand, prime and sand over and over again to get a nice smooth surface for paint.  The pay off with this amount of effort is a really great looking paint job when you are done which in turn will make your project really stand out from the rest of the crowd.  I'm looking forward to getting the rest of the body as smooth as this hood so it should be interesting to see how it all turns out.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Velomobile Body Looks Great In Primer!

After having spent the last week or better prepping the body of the velomobile for painting, I finally completed the first round of applying primer to the body.  I was so amazed how just this step in the project had changed the look of the velo that I had to take these photos to show the world how it turned out. 

The body at this point looks absolutely perfect.  But I will do a lot more prep work to get it as close to perfection as I can before laying down the final paint.  Lots of hidden flaws yet to correct to get to that point.

The distance from the camera to the velo here is around eight feet or more so the little imperfections are hidden from view.  I would have to be really close up at this point to show you all that needs to be corrected to get the body where I want it to be for paint. 

I still have a lot of prep work to do to finish the inside of the velo yet so I will leave the body in primer for now until this work has been completed.  Then I will paint the interior gray just to finish it off and it will not as likely show the dirt as bad as say being painted white.  The interior will not be near as smooth as the exterior as there is really no need.  Just as long as I don't have any really rough edges in the interior I will be happy with that part of the project.

I am still trying to figure out the final paint scheme for the velo and am still working on the final colors that I will use for it.  I want it as bright as possible so that I will be seen easily going down the road.  Even in primer it will stand out pretty much just due to it's different shape compared to a car.  But a nice bright color will help it not blend into the background and make it that much safer to go riding in it.

The wheels have been completed and mounted to the main frame of the velo.  The silver paint stands out nicely even in these photos so once I have color on the body they will really look good.

Here's a good close look at what the windshield will look like once it has been installed.  I slid my temporary windshield in place just for these photos and saved the good windshield for the final assembly.  The look is the same but at least this windshield will not take any hurt if it is scratched or scuffed.  
  Lots of work still ahead for this project but this step in the process has really boosted the look of the velo at this point for sure.  I'll keep you all up to date as things progress as usual.  Enjoy the photos.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Interesting Things At The Cedar Rapids Mini Maker Faire

This past weekend I was asked once again by the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Science Center to show some of the projects that I have been working at their third annual Mini Maker Fair. I  attended the maker fair last year and was thrilled to be asked by Nora Hammond and Jim Jacobmeyer who run the Science Center to come back again this year to show some of my 3D printed projects that I have blogged about over the past couple of years.   This year the maker fair was bigger and better than last year as the Science Center now has their own building complete with their own maker space.  A beautiful building which puts the old location they had in a shopping mall to shame in a big way.  So while I had a little time I was able to get just a few photos of the maker fair to show you today.

I was able to only get a few photos from the maker fair and am sorry to say did not get the names of the owners of these creations.  So if you own what I have pictured in this post please contact me and I will be more than happy to pass along any information that you can give me about your amazing items.  This clock being one of those items. To say amazing is an understatement.  

This item was done by the same person as the clock and was hand cut using a jig saw.  Nice detail work in this piece as well. The sign was 12 - 15 inches tall to give you and idea of scale.

 This portrait of Robert E. Lee was very impressive and a novel idea to bring woodworking to portraits.  Again the artist that had created this had also made a portrait of General Grant but did not have it at the show.  I would have liked to have seen that portrait as well.  Lots of time and effort was put into these creations and it looks to be worth the effort. 

The photo of the upside down bicycle looked interesting with the shape of the frame.  The owner was working on the bike before the show and so I had to take a closer look.  Believe it or not the frame was made like the second photo using only cardboard!  I could not believe my eyes when the owner took the bike out for a spin after make some routine adjustments to the  bike.  Another amazing thing to see at the maker fair. 

The gentleman that you see in the top photo designed and built his own 3D printer.  This printer was big compared to my Makerbot Replicator.  It had to be one and a half times larger in size than the Makerbot.  He was printing parts during the fair to show everyone there what a 3D printer was and how it looked when it was making parts.  I did not take my Makerbot to the fair simply because of the distance I have to travel to even show up.  So I bring what I can and let someone else print who can make that happen easier than I can.

This creation was very near my booth at the fair and I just could not resist getting a photo of it.  It was created by one of the members of the QC-CoLab maker space in Davenport Iowa.  I was a member of this space for a couple of years and so it was nice to be able to meet up with distant friends that were also at the fair.  This skeleton was made completely out of aluminum and is the height of a full sized man.  The plan for the project is to have him (the skeleton) be fully animated.  I hope I will get a chance to see this project once it has been completed.  Way to go Co-Lab!

These two photos were taken just minutes before the maker fair started.  The room we were showing in is the Science Center's maker space.  It as you can see is very well lit up and all of the coils near the ceiling are electrical power for anyone working in the space anywhere in the room.  I could park a dozen cars in the room along and that is only a small portion of the Science Center.  

This was my table at the maker fair set up on a large work bench.  Again this photo was taken just before the fair started.  It would have been impossible to get this photo while the fair was running as I had many many visitors that kept me talking for six hours straight during the day.  Everyone from toddlers to senior citizens had a million questions about the projects that I was displaying.

 On the table were many 3D printed projects such as my Lego gyrocopter and pilot, a walking machine, a Lego jet pack man, a three foot long semi-tractor and trailer hauling a 50's style flying saucer, a 1/6th scale electric car model with working suspension, rack and pinon steering, disc brakes and fold down seats just to name a few of the items that I took to the maker fair.

  The big black draped item on a camera tripod was my 3D printed video teleprompter.  I had this running using my IPad to reverse the display so it could be read correctly and also a lap top showing my progress with my velomobile human powered vehicle. 
  With the velomobile not being completed yet I was not able to take it to the maker fair.  I plan on having it finished in the next couple of months and the organizers of the maker fair and the people that run the Science Center want me to bring it to next years fair and give a presentation about how it was built.  So I have next year to plan and get ready for already. 

  The maker fair was a huge success with over 50 different makers showing off their creations and over 1500 visitors to the fair showing up during the day.  If you are in the Cedar Rapids area next year around this time come to the fair and you will have a great day seeing what other builders and tinkers like myself are making.   Also for more information about the Cedar Rapids Science Center here is a link to their site.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Velomobile Parts Are Being Primed And Painted!

Today has been a good day at the Tinker's Workshop with the first coat of primer and paint finally being applied to some of the parts for the velomobile project.  I like this part of any fiber glassing project as it will help me get even closer to a nice smooth surface for final paint after I sand on it a bit more.

Here once again is a photo of the hood for the velomobile before primer is applied.  It looks nice and smooth but in actuality it has many flaws yet which the primer will reveal when I start sanding on the part again.  

Here the hood has the first coat of primer sprayed on it.  Already the look is a vast improvement over what it looked like before it was sprayed.  The shiny spot that you see on the right side of the part is only that way because the primer was still wet when I shot this photo.   More sanding and primer will be done next until I am happy with the result and I can start putting on the final coats of paint.

The next parts that were on my list for primer and paint today was the fiber glass wheel covers that will be on the velomobile.  These will cover up the wheel openings and make the  velomobile that much more streamlined.   Here is a shot of one of the covers on one of the front wheels to show you how it will look when mounted.   The shape is exactly what I want for the velomobile but in this shot has not been primed or painted yet.  

Here is one of the wheel covers after a couple of coats of primer and bright silver paint have been applied.  This will make a really nice looking wheel cover when mounted on the velomobile.  The texture of the fiber glass cloth is a nice touch that I had not even considered when I was making the part. 
  I have the body of the velomoile just about ready for primer and will post updates on it's progress when I get that far along with it.  Check back again soon as I hope this portion of the project will be ready in the next week or so.  Happy Tinkering!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

3D Printed Futuristic Motorcycle Model

I have always had a fascination with anything futuristic or Scifi related.   Be it photos, movies, models or what have you.  Last fall I had an idea for a model of a futuristic motorcycle bouncing around in my head and so I designed the model in my computer. Then I 3D printed the parts expecting to finish the model in short order.  That is about as far as I got and so it set on my work bench waiting to be completed all this time.  With all the other projects that have passed over my work bench over the past months I was surprised to even find time to work this overdue project.  So that is the subject for today.  

Here is what I came up with.  I wanted this computer model to become something real I could hold in my hands and still be able to be printed on my 3D printer. I like the idea of an enclosed motorcycle and also to be able to once again use skateboard wheels for the model. Like the Indy car racer I had completed some time back shown above.

The front and rear forks of the model are exactly the same so making them would be an easy thing to do. I knew that I also wanted to make a streamlined body that would be easy enough to 3D print.

In this computer image you can see an exploded view of the model and all of it's components.  The only thing that is not correct in this image is the fact that the red body is actually in two pieces..split down the middle.  This was designed this way so that I could easily print the body on my 3D printer and then join them when the model was assembled.

Here is a photo of almost all of the 3D printed components that make up the model.  In the upper left corner of the photo is the windshield before it has been painted.  The rear window is just below the windshield smoothed and painted black.  A big difference to be sure. 

This is a good shot of the right side of the body just after it was 3D printed.  As you can see the shape is what I was after but it is far from being ready for paint.  A lot of sanding and priming of these parts were needed to be done next to get to the smooth finish I was after.  Just to print one half of the body took around four hours of print time.

Here once again is the windshield and now both sides of the body after they have been sanded and primed for the first time.  They look a lot better but still have a little ways to go yet to be ready for paint.  I wet sanded these parts again several times using 220 grit sand paper and priming them over and over until I was happy with the parts.

This is how the model turned out after many hours of 3D printing, sanding, priming and painting.  As you can see my time prepping the model has paid off with a very smooth looking paint job on all of the components.

The model stand 4 inches tall, 8.5 inches long and 2 inches wide. 

This will make a nice addition to my collection of models and matches perfectly with the computer model that I started with.  Would make one heck of a vehicle if it were for real.  With no exhaust pipe it would have to be.... electric?  Another project idea for another day. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Proper Place For The Tinker's Workshop Spade Bits

As with most workshops there are always tools that are laying around that get moved from place to place and they never quite find a home.  The Tinker's Workshop is no different other than the fact that now I have the capability and space to equip the shop with some unique tools to remedy this problem.  Point in case here has been my collection of spade bits that I have acquired one by one over the years and have stored in of all worse things...... a plastic bag.  I finally got fed up with this arrangement and designed a proper storage box for these invaluable bits.

The box I designed I knew would be put into the workshop and did not have to be a work of art.  But I could not resist the temptation to design a few features into the box that would make it easier to find and give it a little style at the same time. 

The box needed to hold eight bits ranging in size from 1 1/4 down to 5/16 inch.  This presented some interesting design problems as not all of the bits were the same length and definitely not the same width for the holes they are made to cut.  I originally was going to lay the bits out flat as shown in the photo above but this only made the box even larger and more difficult to design and make. So I placed the bits on edge to reduce the size of the box needed for the project. Along with the bits being placed on their side I made a recessed area that ran across the width of the box to make it easier to get my fingers between the bits to select which one I needed when I was using them.  

As you can see the bits slid nicely into the 7 1/4 x 4 1/4 inch enclosure.  Like almost all of my projects, I had to make some test parts to make sure the bits would slide in and out of their respective slots easily.  Everything looks to be a perfect fit. 

One last thing that was needed in the box was a simple display to help me figure out what bit was what while they were placed on edge inside the box.  I solved this problem by printing a bit size chart inside the lid of the box in the order that the bits are lined up in the container.  The bars that run vertically in the lid  are there to hold the bits in place while the lid is on the base.  The box can then be rotated in any direction (upside down and side ways) without having the bits fall out of their assigned recessed slots.  

The lid for the spade bit box fits firmly in place and with the black painted base stands only 2 1/4 inches high.  The embossed lettering on the lid will make it easy for me to identify what is in this little case when I need the bits for the next project that comes along.  Far better than trying to find that awful little plastic bag these bits have hidden in all these years.  Score another one for my Makerbot 3D printer!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Velomobile Body Sees The Light Of Day!

  Spring has shown up bright and warm today so with the newly created larger wheeled cart for the velomobile I was easily able to work outside today on the project.  The winter has been nothing less than depressing here in the Midwest so to see a warm bright sunny day is a welcome sight to be sure.  

The cart as you can see from the photo above helps hold the velomobile securely and with the larger wheels can easily traverse my grass lawn.  So with the velo out in the bright sun light I pulled out my trusty orbital sander and started the first pass of smoothing out the body.  With the body completely fiber glassed now all of the inner foam has been sealed up and is quite protected from damage in just moving the velo around while working on it.  If you have been following the progress of this project you surely must have noticed that now the velo is loosing it's pink color.  YEAH!  I'm glad to see that it is finally turning white with each coat of micro-balloon mixture that I apply to the outer skin.  This coating of resin and micro-balloons fills the weave of the fiber glass cloth when applied and left to cure.  Once it has dried than the sanding process begins to get a nice smooth finish for priming and painting.

With the orbital sander I was able to smooth out the outer body in a couple of hours.  This was great progress today.  The only problem with sanding on the body with the orbital is the sound that it generates when it is running.  It's like sanding on a big drum.  WAAAAAAHHHHHH!  I think I woke up the entire neighborhood with all the noise I was making.  I didn't have anyone come into the yard to see what I was up to so the vehicle will still be a big surprise once I get it completed and rolling down the street.  Also with doing all of the sanding outside I was able to keep my garage a lot cleaner and not have to worry about all of the dust floating around.  So it is all good.  
  I'll have to start putting on the second coat of micro-balloon mixture on the body next which will make the body even whiter and smoother once it has been sanded out.  There is some hand sanding that will need to be done around the signal lights and the tail light assembly but this should not take a great deal of time.  After the second coat of putty has been sanded smooth I will start priming the body with gray primer.  This will really make the flaws in the body show up which is good so that I can continue sanding and priming to make the body as smooth as possible for painting.  So check back again and hopefully you'll see a lot more progress.  One last thing.... I  have been keeping track of the hours that I have spent on this project so far.  The grand total now has risen to 529 hours.  I figure it will be around another 100 hours before I am done.  Maybe less if I am lucky.  Either way I am having fun with this project and that is what really matters. Have a good day tinkering!