Monday, December 30, 2013

A New Project For The New Year...... Giant Gyrocopter Lego Man

Now in the deep freeze here in the Midwest with temperatures well below zero today I find that I need to start another new project for the coming new year. This new project is similar to one that I completed some time back.  It has been on my mind and so now is the time to start making it happen.  I originally designed and built a large scale Lego man with a jet pack on his back.

This little or should I say big guy has gotten a great response from my readers here on the blog and from those people who have been lucky enough to see the model first hand.  To give you an idea of scale a regular size Lego man is standing next to my version of "Jet Man" in the photo above.  The big model is around eleven inches tall.  The only drawback to this guy is that I did not allow him to be removed from the jet pack.  So that has led me to version two of this guy.

Here is the next project that I will be starting to print parts for using my 3D printer today.  I have it 99.99% designed and only have one little tweak to lock the design down.  This is Gyrocopter Man and it is a BIG model.  The dimensions of the entire model are impressive to say the least.  The gyrocopter will be 23 inches long, 14 inches tall (top of rotor mast) and 9 inches wide.  

The man sitting in the seat will be removable this time around with an improved helmet design which includes goggles.  He will be fully pose able and is the same scale as the jet pack Lego man. The gyro will have a full compliment of instruments with each gauge being 3/4 of an inch in diameter.  The wheels will be mounted with 1/4 inch aluminum rod shafts. The propeller and the main rotor will even spin if I choose to make it happen.

The engine for the gyrocopter is also impressive in size as it is 5 1/4 wide  and nearly four inches tall by four inches long.  I especially like the velocity stacks on the top of the engine as well as the exhaust headers on both sides.  
  All parts for the model will be made using my 3D printer except for the axle shafts and the decals for the instruments.  It will be another nice addition to the other models that I have put together over the years.  Check out the completed projects link at the top of the page to see these models for yourself. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nicely Fitted Hood For The TerraTrike Velomobile

The past couple of days have been pretty cold here in the Midwest and so I was happy to get back to the garage and do some more work on the velomobile project.  I had did some tweaking of the fit up of the hood and I wanted to check it all out to see how it all turned out.  Here is what it looks like now.

With the work I had been able to do in the workshop on the hood it was nice to see it back in place on the velomobile.  With different lighting I was able to see more tweaking that will be needed before I can complete the finishing work on the hood.  All part of the process but progress is progress.

I finally have the hood dialed in where it closes up nicely without fussing with it to get it lined up correctly.  With the hood fully fiber glassed now it was an easy task to match up the body seam to the edge of the hood.

Nice straight lines are always a good thing to see.  I have a little more work to do yet to make this portion of the hood mounting process complete so that I can move on to the rest of the body.  I am very happy at this point that the hood is lining up properly and looks as good as it does.  The rest of the body work will be a snap compared to the constant fussing that needed to be done to get the hood where you see it now.  But there is a lot that needs to be done to get the body smoothed out for paint.  Luckily I am still able to heat the garage up to a comfortable level to get some work done during the cold winter days.  Check back to see further developments on this project as I will post more info when I can get more accomplished.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Quick Update On TerraTrike Velomobile Progress

With Christmas fast approaching I have been doing all the usual things to get ready for the big day.  Wrapping presents, putting up the tree and not so much fun..... shoveling snow.  So my progress on the velomobile project has slowed down a bit but I wanted to show you some of the progress that I have been making just the same. 

This is a good shot of the front of the hood for the velomobile after it has been fiber glassed and  puttied out with a micro-balloon and resin mixture.  This putty mixture is used to fill the weave of the fiberglass cloth.  Once this had cured for a couple of days I was able to start sanding on it.  I am more than happy to get the hood glassed as the Styrofoam is very easy to dent or damage before fiber glassing.

 Another view of the hood with the second coat of resin mixture freshly applied.  Several coats of the resin mixture are needed to fill the little voids and pits in the surface that I found after sanding the first coat.  But with each new coat less and less is needed to cover the surface of the hood.  Another thing that is nice now is that the part is getting more and more of the pink covered up.  Makes me feel like I am accomplishing something at least.     
  I will be happy to go to the next step of putting primer on the hood and then more sanding. This is where the imperfections really show up and I can start working on making it as smooth as glass. Like I said in an earlier post. I see lots and lots of sanding in my future but the work will be worth the effort when it comes time to prime and paint the velombile.

This photo of the velomobile is new though it looks very similar to previous photos that I have had on the blog over the past few months.  The big difference is that the cowling or blister behind the cockpit has now been fiber glassed. YAY!  I was happy to be able to get the garage warmed up enough to get just this portion of the velo body glassed and looking like something.  You can see that this part of the body now is starting to be transformed into a white color similar to how the hood looks. 

The body looks kind of strange without the hood in place but it is necessary for now while I am working on the hood to get it into shape for the next step in the build.  Once I have the hood the way I like it I can start doing the body work on the velo to match up the body to the hood and continue working on the fiber glassing on the body.  

I also took this shot a couple of days ago to show everyone how the front headlight assembly looks mounted to the underside of the hood.  This is the correct orientation that the hood would be in once it is remounted to the velomobile body.  Kind of looks like some kind of space gun but the light worked out very well no matter what it looks like and that is a good thing. 
  So that is where I am at today on the project.  It is slow going at times. But like anything that is this big as far as projects are concerned is better to take it slow and steady than try and rush.  Besides there is way to much snow outside my house now to even think about driving it so slow and steady is the plan of action at this point.   Have a good one, keep tinkering, and stay warm!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Headlight Mounting, Wheel Caps And Hood Lock

Great progress over the past couple of days with all that I want to show you today.  I have managed to install the new headlight assembly into the front hood of the velomobile, work out the locking setup for the hood and create new wheel cover center caps!  Now I can catch my breath and show you what I've put together for this post.  We'll start with the mounting of the new headlight assembly into the hood of the velomobile.

 This is a photo of the front hood for the velomobile.  I took a piece of painters tape and marked off where the underside of the bracing is in the assembly.   The oval circle is where I needed to cut and I did not want to end up cutting through the front cross brace.

Here you can see where the tape is in relation to the cross brace. 

 Using a Dremel tool with a carbide blade and a sanding drum it was an easy task to cut the hole to match my drawing. 

 The underside of the hood took a bit longer as I needed to cut through the next cross brace and two sections of the center brace to allow room for the headlight enclosure.  I had to be extra careful not to grind to deep into the area where the center brace was as there is no fiber glass covering the outer skin yet.  It would have been a pain to have to patch a hole I never wanted in the first place with this part of the job.

Here I'm test fitting the new headlight assembly.  I wanted to make sure that I had no fit up problems and that there would be no interference with being able to remove the headlight from the outer housing when I needed to recharge it.

 A triangular piece of Styrofoam was added next to keep the headlight in the proper orientation for fiber glassing. 

 I also had to fill the void that now appeared beneath the headlight enclosure at the center brace.  I added two smaller pieces of Styrofoam to cradle the headlight housing to keep it from moving from side to side.  Once I was happy with the fit up off all of this I hot glued the parts into place to secure them into position.

 I then hot glued the headlight housing into place on to the foam triangle.  This held it secure so that I could put a fillet of epoxy micro-balloon mixture around all of the mating edges of the assembly.  Then all of the parts were fiber glassed with several layers of three ounce fiber glass cloth.  

 After the fiber glassing had cured overnight I inserted the headlight assembly back into the newly mounted housing.

 Here is how the light looks switched on with the assembly retracted inside the housing.

Another shot with the light extended out through the outer opening. 

 This gives you a good idea of how it will look during the night time.  The light pattern is now unobstructed and it will give me the light I will need to see the way down the street easily. 

 With the completion of the new wheel covers for the velomobile I originally was going to leave an opening in the cover to access the center wheel mount.  The look was ok but I thought why not make a removable center cap.  

This is what I came up with.  The cap could be printed on my 3D printer.  I originally thought I would like it in red and white but this turned out to be a bit more complicated to make than just printing the parts.  As it turns out the red plastic over time will fade with age, sunlight, weather etc. So I decided to make the parts in black and white plastic that holds up better over time. 

The new name for the TerraTrike Velomobile will be called the Radius T-T.  Radius for all the curves that are in the body and a T-T designation for TerraTrike.  I thought it sounded good and so the name is born.  The first cap on the left I printed just using white plastic.  Again I was going to paint this part red and show the white lettering.  Just got more complicated just thinking about it.  So I set up my Makerbot 3D printer with the dual extrusion heads and printed the center cap in black and white all at the same time.  Fast, simple, and best of all easy to do.  Looks great and it's ready to use.  The last part on the right is the mounting ring that fits into the center cap to hold it on to the wheel cover.  This last part will friction fit with the center cap and keep everything in place. The center cap can easily be removed with a screw driver if need be.

 Here's a closer look at how the center wheel caps look side by side.  Both would be good but the black and white cap stands out much better than the white one does so it's go my vote.

 The last assembly that I want to show you today is the simple locking mechanism that I set up for the hood assembly.  This strap assembly is exactly how a motorcycle helmet is held on to someones head while driving a motorcycle.  A strap of nylon webbing is looped through two "D" rings so that when it is pulled tight it stays put and does not move until you move the strap in the opposite direction and it loosens the strap that was originally pinched between the two rings. 

 Here is a good view of just the smaller "D" ring strap mounted to the underside of the hood. 

 A small wooden block is mounted into one of the cross braces of the hood. Inside the block is a threaded rod connector that has been inserted into a hole and bonded into place using my favorite material..... epoxy micro-balloon mixture.  This is used for one of the mounting points for the hood strap assembly.

 Here are all of the pieces for the two strap assemblies for the hood lock.  I had my sister Rose do the sewing needed to hold the two "D" ring straps together.  A nice job of sewing that I simply do not have a sewing machine for nor intend to buy one for such a little job. 
  So that's about it for this post.  At this point it looks like the building of parts and assembling them on to the velomobile is done!  Next I will be working at getting the body of the velomobile into shape to get the outer skin finally fiber glassed and ready for paint.   Total hours now on the project have risen up to 480 hours.  I suspect there will be many more hours to go before I am ready to drive my creation down the street.  Lots and lots of sanding and puttying is in my future but the more time I take with this portion of  the project better the body will look once I am done.  All part of the plan. Enjoy the photos!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Finally Photos Of Me In My TerraTrike Velomobile

With the Thanksgiving holiday I was happy to spend some time with my son who I rarely get to see and show off the progress of my TerraTrike velomobile project.  Eric (my son) was quite impressed by my handiwork and so I finally had a camera at the ready to shoot some photos of me in the drivers seat.

 Here I am in the drivers seat.  I haven't even gotten the velomobile down the road yet and already I have a big smile on my face.

With me in the drivers seat you get a much better idea of the scale of the vehicle.  I am only 5'8 and of average build and I fill the cockpit just about right.  Just enough room for my shoulders to fit inside.  Eric who is closer to six foot tall and a weight and size to match had a hard time sitting in this obvious custom build vehicle.  I'd have to design a large vehicle for him if he ever wanted one.

This shot gives you a good view of the placement of the speedometer and the leg room that is inside the vehicle.  I was also able to take a look at some possible problem areas that I need to address before I actually take it out on the street.  One of the front wheels has a clearance issue that I will eliminate in the next day or so.

This is a good shot of me sitting inside the vehicle and the tight quarters that make up the interior.  All in all I am happy with how it is all coming together and what little I have to do to fix the minor issues that showed up today while I was inspecting the fit up of me in the drivers seat.  This is all expected so it really is no surprise to me at all.  The sweat shirt says it all and as usual it puts a smile on my face with this project. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Retractable Headlight

The dust has settled once again here at the Tinker's workshop this week with the completion of the retractable headlight assembly for the TerraTrike velomobile project.  I've put together a good video of the assembly and how it all goes together which you will find below in this post.  For now here are a few photos of the newly created assembly.

I started the assembly with the purchase of the light that you see here from a company named Cygolite.  It is a 420 lumen LED light that has a rechargeable battery that will be good for 25 hours of use.  This along with five different functions makes this little 4 inch by 1.5 diameter light really stand out.  

After over 40 hours of design time I came up with this assembly.  The light is mounted in the inside of the cylindrical body of the assembly to hide the light when it is not being used.  This assembly will be mounted to the inside of the hood on the velomobile and only the opening for the light will be visible from the outside once it is mounted in place. 

Inside of the enclosure you can see the LED headlight tucked into the back of the assembly.  

The rear of the assembly has a removable cover so the LED light can be taken out so that it can be recharged when need be.  This cover is held in place using a Velcro strip that is fed through the enclosure and the cap to hold it all into place. 

To move the light into position for use all you need to do is remove another Velcro strip from the rear tabs in the assembly, slid the center tab forward and  reattach the Velcro strip once again to lock the light into position. 

The light is activated from a switch on the underside of the assembly through a hole in the white outer enclosure.  Once you have turned the light on the inner light assembly is moved forward to bring the light out into the open for an unobstructed beam of light.  
  The retractable headlight assembly only weighs 11 ounces and is  10.5 inches long, 2.5 inches wide, and 4.5 inches tall. The large white outer tube assembly was 3D printed in two sections and then bonded together using a fiberglass resin and micro-balloon mixture. Total print time for all of the 3D parts came to 14 1/4 hours.  I think the wait was worth it.  Check out the video below to see the entire assembly in pieces and an animation below of how the assembly is put together along with further information about why it was designed an built.  

Click the YouTube link for a larger view of the video.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

TerraTrike Velomobile Wheel Covers Second Time Around

Yesterday I posted info about my first attempt at making wheel covers for the TerraTrike velomobile project.  I learned a few things from my first effort.  Some good and some not so good.  So today I am happy to show you my second and final results at making this portion of the project.

I started once again cutting out a new foam blank for the second attempt for the wheel cover using my hot wire table and some additional jigs to get the correct shape. (See yesterdays post for more info on what this all looked like.)

 The new wheel cover male mold had to be a bit larger and have less of a conical shape to it.  I sanded the second disk into shape and puttied and sanded further until I was happy with the new shape. The new disk is the one on the left in the photo above.
 I then masked off the blank with blue painters tape.  One strip at a time.  Luckily I was using two inch tape so this was an easy task.

Here the disk is completely taped off.  Already it looks very smooth which is a good sign.  I used the masking tape instead of plastic wrap to get a smoother inside surface on the finished part.  You'll see the difference in photos as you read farther in this post. 

Here the male mold has been fiber glassed with two layers of eight ounce cloth and of course the resin.  

Once the fiber glass had cured over night I was able to remove the new part from the mold this morning. This took a bit of effort but the end result of how the part turned out was worth it.

Here the new wheel cover has been marked with the center hole and the outer diameter using a Sharpie pen.

The difference between the first wheel cover and the second you can see in this photo.  The second cover is much flatter than the first one and just a little larger in diameter. The wheel cover was cut out using my band saw and a Dremel tool for the center hole each of which took very little time.

Here is where the big difference is between the first and second wheel covers.  The first cover (on the right) was made using plastic wrap over the male mold.  It worked ok and was easy to remove from the mold but has a very wrinkly appearance.  The second wheel cover on the left is very smooth and much more finished looking.  Again worth the little bit of effort to pull off of the male mold. 

Here is the end result.  A newly created seamless wheel cover for one of the front wheels.  It has a nice fit and will look really good once I do a bit more smoothing on the outside surface and paint it with some glossy silver paint.  The center of the disk will have a ring that I will fit into the opening in the cover that I will make with my 3D printer to give it a nice finished look. 
   I wanted to keep the center of the wheel cover open should I ever need to take the front wheel off to change a tire.  This way the cover would not have to be removed.  Holes will still need to me drilled into the cover for the zip ties that will hold it on to the spokes of the wheel.  I also think I will not have to cut an opening for the valve stem as the wheel can be turned out away from the body of the velomobile enough for me to attach the air pump and fill the tires.  I will double check this though before I go to much further. 
   All in all I am very happy with the second try at making the wheel covers.  All I need to do now is repeat the process for the other front wheel and I can call it good. Another part of the project that I can mark off of my check list.