Sunday, October 5, 2014

Evolution Of A Replacement Hockey Player

While taking my Mini Cooper out on it's first real road trip last week I visited a couple of sisters of mine in Tennessee. It was a great chance to do some real traveling with my new car and catch up with some of my family once again.  While I was there my sister Velma had a project for me to work on for her grandson Briar.  The project looked to be doable so I brought it home with me and I have been working on it for the past couple of days. 

 Velma had a hockey game that Briar wanted to play with but the problem was that one of the players for the game was missing.  This is a plastic injection molded figure like the one you see above.  The two inch tall figure has a square cavity in the right leg so that it can be mounted to the control shaft and spin with hand controls.  Now the trick was to figure out how to duplicate this little guy to make the hockey game playable again. 

I started with the idea of using Blender 3D to create a new player.  The image above is what I was able to put together with my favorite 3D modeling software.  Blender is a great 3D modeling and animation software that you can download for free online. I have been using it for many years now and so I used it try and model the new player. To make all of the players look like this guy would have been great.  I like liked the look of the new player and with a bit of paint it would have looked even better.  Boy was I wrong in thinking this. Very Wrong!  I tried to copy the Blender file and convert it to an STL file which is needed for the 3D printer to make the part.  My first attempt at this conversion failed in a big way and so I was forced to remodel the figure over and over to see if I could get the conversion to work properly.  Nothing worked.  Even when I tried to open up the STL file in my CAD software (Inventor 2014) it caused this software to crash in a big way.  So I had to scrap that idea after a days worth of work and try something else.

 Having regrouped on the following day I decided to try and duplicate the hockey player once again only using Inventor to do so.  This software is my main source for designing and building everything that I have posted over the years on this blog.  It is a professional CAD software that I am fortunate enough to have a copy of to make the things I do.  So I started once again with this little project.  Or should I say now big little project. The first piece that I printed was nothing more than a side profile of the player.  The new player only needed to be a replacement and did not have to be a full 3D part to be usable while playing the hockey game.  This looked good so far but the player seemed to be to thick so I thinned the part a bit and moved forward with the design.

 In this next version I added detail for the hockey stick and more material to the right foot to allow the mounting of the player to the square shaft on the game. This was a good start and so I continued to refine the part.

 In this photo you can see more detail of the part with the left arm being added to the hockey stick and the addition of a helmet for the head with a face mask.  I also beefed up the thickness of the hockey stick and gave a little more detail to the players right hand.  The mounting bulge on the right foot also needed to be increased to allow enough support material for the mounting shaft to make the player spin on the game while being played with. 

With a steady hand and a very small paint brush I was able to paint the new player with the colors that matched very well with the original player.  The new player will make a suitable replacement for the lost player for the game.  This little project came together quicker and easier than I had hoped and imagined when I first saw what needed to be put together to make the hockey game playable once again. All that is needed now is to insert the player on to his mounting post, choose sides and let the games begin. 

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