Saturday, May 28, 2016

Captain America Ball Chair Pt. 20.....Paint...Foam...and Upholstery

Slow but steady progress has been the best terms I can come up with this week for the Captain America ball chair project.  With this progress has come the completion of the housing for the amplifier that will be installed into the chair for the sound system, new foam glued to the six interior wedges and the start of installing the upholstery to cover the interior.  First the amp housing.

The photos above show the amp housing after a lot of sanding and priming had been done.  Three coats of Navy blue paint later gave me this nice looking housing that I am proud to say "I made this with my own hands from scratch".

I then installed the Captain America shield emblem that I had completed weeks ago.  This really sets off the housing nicely and will be a nice feature that will look good once it is installed into the ball chair.

The next order of business was installing the foam on to the six fiber glass wedge shaped interior panels that will be put into the chair.  This was a fairly simple process of using a spray on contact cement to attach the foam to the panels.  In the upper photo you can see three panels.  The first one on the left is a panel without foam.  The second panel has the foam glued into place and the third panel foam has been trimmed to size.  I cut the foam using an electric bread knife.  I picked up a used one on eBay for $10 and it worked perfectly to cut the foam like a hot knife through butter.  Well worth the ten bucks to get a nice clean cut on the foam.

Next came the hard part. At least at first.  Again with this project I am learning something new.  I glued the upholstery on to the inner curved foam and it looked just "ok".  At this point I was not even sure I would get a half way nice looking covering so I talked to a professional upholsterer (is that spelled right?)  and he looked at my simple first feeble attempt at covering just the inner curved face of the first wedge and said I was on the right track.  I asked him if he could do the job and what it would cost.  He told me it would be September before he could even look at it and then he would have to charge me by the hour to get each of the six pieces done.  He didn't even know how much it would cost simply because he had never tried to cover something like this.  So I took some advise from him, kept my cash and headed back to the workshop.  The photos above shows the first wedge being covered with gray vinyl.

  I learned from the upholsterer that I should take things slow plus a couple more tips and what I had already done was a good start.  I wrapped the vinyl around the outer edge of the wedge and clamped and glued it into place about six inches at a time on to the outer flange.  I left each section clamped up for at least a half hour and then moved on to the next section.  Slowly...SLOWLY... progress and my confidence in getting this portion of the job done has improved.

This is what the panel looks like this morning.  Yes I still have some wrinkles in the top surface at this point but compared with the way it looked yesterday morning this is a pro looking job.  I still have to glue and wrap the lower portion without the wrinkles in it but I am confident that I will be able to get 90 - 95 percent of these out when the job is done.  The plus side to this first panel is that this will be the one that I will actually sit on when I am in the chair.  It will be covered by another cushion so it will be buried when the chair is completed.  It is a good panel to start on to get the upholstery process down when I have the other five panels to work on.  I hope to have this panel completed some time today and so far I am happy with my efforts. 

  The last portion of the chair project will be to get all the exterior parts primed and painted.  Then final assembly will begin.  Total hours at this point since I started work on the chair last November has now risen to 411 hours.  Needless to say this has been a very big project.  But each sub-assembly that I complete makes the smile on my face that much bigger.  Have a good holiday weekend and good luck with your big project.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Low Tech - High Tech Toy Car

In the coming weeks I expect to be getting a new title.  This being "Grandpa"!  It is a great thing to expect the first grand child so with that on my mind over the past few months I've started looking at toys that I expect that I will be building for some time to come. 
  One of these toys that has been on my mind I had when I was a small boy many years ago.  At that time there was no Internet, video games, cell phones or even hand held calculators.  The stone ages compared to today with all the high tech toys and gadgets that we now commonly use today including the computer that sits on my desk to help me put out this blog.
  The toy I have been redesigning from what I remember as a kid was a simple little rubber band powered wind up car.  It came as a plastic kit that needed to be assembled and once having done so you could wind it up and race it across the floor.  I was pretty young at the time I received this little car but it still has stuck in my head after all these years. 

This is an upgrade to that toy that I remember as a kid.  I can only hope that my toy will look as good as this computer image that I created in Fusion 360 that you see here.  The body will either have to be made out of fiberglass or better still vacuum formed to make it even lighter. (Gives me another reason to add the vacuum former to my list of tools for the workshop.) The windows would be painted on again to save weight. Dimensions of the finished toy car would be 3.75" tall, 4.25" wide and 12.8" long.  So it would be a very nice size to play with.

All of the components that make the toy car actually work would be 3D printed.  In this  shot you can see the rear of the chassis sticking out with a small crank to wind up the car to make it move across the floor.

This is a good view of the toy car without the body so that I can show you in more detail how it all should work. Starting with the 8.5" long  green frame as the base everything else  from the wheels to the actual drive mechanism to make the toy move would be assembled to it. 

At the front of the car you can see two white gears.  One on the front axle and another on the red front drive shaft. This drive shaft is held in place with two mounting parts that sandwich the shaft and allow it to rotate smoothly when assembled.  Attached to this shaft is a yellow rubber band that leads back to a white rear crank shaft.

At the rear of the car is the white rear crank where you wind up the car to make it go.  The crank needs to be pulled to the rear to wind it up and then released to make the car go.  The yellow tab shown covering the top of the crank in the photo above stops the crank from unwinding so the power of the wound up rubber band is transferred to the front wheels of the car.

This is a little better view of the rear  crank assembly and how it will work.  The wheels as I said earlier are 3-D printed along with everything else in the chassis for the toy car.  The 2" wheels have blue rubber bands around their outer perimeters so that the car will have some traction when running across a hard floor.
  All the components of the chassis assembly are held together using 6mm nuts and bolts.  The nuts are held inside mating components of the car through a series of  receiving slots which keep them in place and stop them from spinning when assembling the car.  You can see two of these slots at the rear of the car in the green lower crank mount in the image above.

At each of the wheels is a skateboard bearing to have a perfect friction free rolling chassis.  The axles are 1/4 diameter aluminum rod so it will be easy to make and find at my local hardware store.  The gears at the front of the car I found online at McMaster-Carr for around $10.  I suspect that I could get the same thing on Ebay for less so I will have to do some checking before I buy them. 
  I will get the gears and the bearings first before I start making the 3-D printed parts.  This way I can make sure everything fits right first with some test parts and these components. The frame as I said is 8.5" long which is the limit of my Makerbot 3-D printer and will take at least a couple of hours to print. 

The body could be any design I want to come up with. The images above are another design I came up with that uses the same chassis but has a much racier looking body.  Plus the fact that I worked this one up so that it could be vacuum formed.  So it's a good possibility that this will be the one I will shoot for.
  I have plenty of time before my new grandson arrives and will be old enough to even be able to play with such a toy but this will be on my to do list of toys that I will seriously look at and work the bugs out of until that time. This along with a few other ideas that I have in mind for my new grandson that I am sure will be as fun to build as it is for him to play with when they are completed.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Captain America Ball Chair Part # 19.......Priming Parts..... Finally.

Hello Everyone!  The past couple of days finally has give me good weather to get at the sanding that I needed to do on the main parts of the Captain America ball chair.  I wanted to keep this portion of the work for the project out of my shop simply because it is a lot easier to deal with all of the dust and dirt that goes along with it.  This plus the fact that it's great to be working outside one again after a long cold winter. So this is my post today just to show you what I have been up to on this big project.

I am more than happy to be at this point with the project.  Today was close to 70 degrees or so and  doing the major sanding on the five main parts of the chair plus get them primed is a big plus.  I laid out a large plastic tarp in my back yard and sprayed the parts with gray primer.  After an hour of so I flipped the parts over and sprayed the sections of the parts that needed to be painted and I could not paint on the first pass. 

It's nice to see the parts in at least primer at this point.  Just a bit different than the foam an fiberglass that I have been looking at over the past number of months.  The primer I feel is the first step to getting a nice surface for paint.  Once I get the first coat on then I can start wet sanding the pieces.  The primer helps me see the flaws on the surface.  This helps a lot and I will have to sand and prime the parts over and over again until I am content with the prep work and finally declare them ready for a nice glossy coat of paint. So the work continues just like the other large projects that I've worked on over the years.  It's fun, frustrating, challenging, and satisfying all at the same time.

Along with this project another smaller project has been hatched in my brain.  This being a matching stool that will go along with the chair.  The image above is what I put together in Fusion 360 and plan on having the stool look like. It will be a nice addition to the chair and will be much simpler to build than the chair so that will be a really good thing after all the work that has gone into this project.
  But I will not start the Captain America foot stool until the chair is completed and sitting in my living room.  Something simpler for another day in the shop.  Once I do get all the chair parts painted all I'll post it and the final construction of the chair.  I'm at the point now of changing the parts from looking kind of ugly to making them look pretty.  A lot of work is between those two descriptions of the same parts.  All part of the process.  Stay tuned for more pretty pictures.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Still A Learning Experience With The Captain America Ball Chair Project Pt. 18

I got a chuckle over this past week while continuing work on the Captain America ball chair project.  I will get into this in a little bit but first a few stats on where I am on the project.  Currently the hours have risen to 381 total hours on the project.  The good news is that I am nearing or at least seeing the end coming near with each phase of the construction being completed.   
  This post is about the installation of the ventilation system for the chair and how that all went.  With that sorted out I am only looking at getting the wiring for this system, the lights and the speaker system installed.  I think this will go pretty smoothly but I thought the same thing about installing the ventilation system so what do I know?   Let me explain and get on with that now.

Here is a shot of one of the fittings mounted to the underside of one of the interior wedges for the ball chair.  On the left side of the picture you can see the cut-out that I needed to make so that the hose for this vent would fit nicely underneath of the next wedge in the assembly.

A couple more shots of the same vent setup.  The top photo show you what the vent will look like once it is mounted into the chair.  The vent works like what you find in an average automobile.  The air flows out of the vent and it can be turned so that you can direct the flow in any direction you desire.   All the parts for the vent were 3D printed and it went together very smoothly and should do the job nicely.  The bottom photo is the vent again at another angle on the back side of the mount.

In these next shots you can see a few more accessories that are mounted into the left most upper wedge for the chair.  The black circular shape is an 8" speaker for the sound system. Below that is the vent that I just described and to the right of the vent is the control panel for the lights that will be in the chair along with the on-off switch for the ventilation system. 

Here is how the wedges will look once mounted into the ball chair.  Now about the chuckle I mentioned earlier .   In the photo above everything looks great..... almost.  After taking this shot I had to laugh because I had accidentally placed the opening for the vent system on this side of the chair in a spot that simply will not work.  The vent tube that I showed you earlier is connect to the vent and then moves downward as you see it in this photo..... right through the amplifier for the sound system.  So modifications needed to be made immediately to eliminate this problem.  Something I missed on my computer layout.

In this photo you can see the ventilation assembly mounted into the ball chair now in it's proper location.  Just below the inner vent on the right of the picture you can see the original mounting location.   The new location runs the tube under the adjacent wedges and finally ends up with the fan assembly located just underneath the center seat wedge.  I still will need to cut a large hole in the base of the chair to allow fresh air to be drawn into the chair and have a power cord coming in to run all the accessories.  But as I said I just had to laugh at seeing the vent in the wrong location and since it was a quick and easy fix to relocate the vent and re-glass the unused mounting holes I was happy to have it all work out. 

So with this all sorted out the tasks that need to be completed to finish the Captain America ball chair project comes down to setting up the wiring, padding and covering all of the wedges for the finished interior and sanding and painting of the exterior.  Then finally put it all together one more time and calling it done.  The light at the end of this project is getting closer and looking a lot brighter.  I'll keep you up to date on all of this so stay tuned for more posts about this big fun project.