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Thread: Cygnar Storm Strider Scratch Build

  1. #1

    Cygnar Storm Strider Scratch Build


    Hazard Factory:

    Privateer Press:

    Green Fairy Studios


    I am currently embroiled in an epic casemod project, the Cygnar Storm Strider! The Storm Strider is a model available in the Privateer Press game Warmachine. I've decided to make a case in the same vein as the minitature sculptors by casting the individual parts through the lost-foam process.

    My planning is ad hoc at best. I’ve got my sizes and plans all jotted out on paper and you’ll probably see my drunken scrawl on the large master documents I have hanging in my basement. But for now here are a few of the details:

    - Going to try to keep the case in scale with the dimensions provided in Privateer’s concept art.

    - I have to utilize some of the computer parts I already have in my current computer (screw you economy). With no sponsor, this all comes out of pocket and the bulk of my money is going to pay for the scrap aluminum. This means at a minimum I am using:
    o my current videocard (a Radeon)
    o a spare 500gb HDD
    o my current power supply (1000w)
    I will probably end up buying:
    o mobo - ASAS Maximus Gene-Z - Purchased
    o a I-7 2600k (LGA1155) - Purchased
    o memory - 16GB DDR3 1600

    - This case will stand about 33inches or 84cm tall
    - The legs, dome, and lightning coils will be made using the lost-foam casting process.
    - I will work this project as though I have a 80 (now 50) day deadline but will continue if I miss it.
    For the sake of your bandwidth, I will break up a couple of these posts so I'm not flooding this forum with large pictures.
    Now, onto the Creation and Progress!!!
    I decided to start with the biggest time sinks for this project... the foam prep for lost-foam casting. There are going to be 4 main part-areas that will be cast in aluminum using lost-foam casting: Legs, Shin plates, Lightning Coils, and the Dome. There might be other pieces and detail parts that I might cast but I'll be creating those as the need arises.

    First thing I did was take an image of the actual miniature for perspective shots and the concept art and crop and blow up the images for basic patterns to use. I'm using these as pattern for the shape and general idea of the parts. I did take some artistic liberties and changed some of the depths and design to work with casting and function. Next I started tracing the pattern shapes onto 2" (sorry I'm a backwards American and recorded everything in inches) blue closed cell foam. Then I sketched out and created the base plate onto .25" foam core.

    In the above image you can see my first attempt at creating the coils. I messed around with how I was going to create the coils. I knew I was going to have to create the coils in two parts so that I could properly core the coils for lighting. So I was going to have to have two equal and matching parts that have two unique sides. I originally cut the coil shapes directly out of the blue foam. Then I realized that it was going to be nearly impossible to make the two halves from a single pie. Then I realized it was going be equally difficult making each half match while carving each separately. Finally (and successfully) I was able to create a process for making both halves match by rounding two parts into cylinders at the maximum diameter of each coil. See the stages for both the coils and the legs below:

    I’ve been designing the enclosure under the idea that I’d be using a micro-ATX board with my current video card tilted horizontally with a flexible PCI express extender cable. I’ve arranged it so the motherboard location can be moved on the base plate if I go with a different model/brand. I’ve also designed the enclosure to work with any single graphics card that is no bigger than 11”x5”x3.5” and left the possibility to add a second videocard. If I can’t find a suitable/economic replacement, I’ll be using my own graphics card which easily fits within those dimensions. The globe will be cast and either welded or bonded to an aluminum plate cover. The base plate will be made from a single aluminum plate. There will be 4” walls separating the base plate from the cover. These walls are still being designed for their stylization. Here are the progress shots for the mobo plate and top plate:

    As mentioned before the lightning globe will be a cast piece. Basically, I simplified my workload by going to a local craft shop and picking up a 10” white foam flower arrangement globe (the elderly ladies always love it when visit the craft shop, they flirt mercilessly). I bisected the globe and then quartered one half. I cored out the quarters with a dremel trying to maintain a consistent .5” thickness through the wall. As you can see, I also measured and eye-balled the placement of the rings. After I felt comfortable with the look and feel of the ring placement I made basic port-holes in the globe. Next I took some smaller white foam balls and sliced them in half, cored them, then reduced the halves until they made nice little rings. I used regular wood glue (that burned off well in the materials test) to attach the rings to the globe.

    The lightning coils are the 3 coiled rods that sit on top of the Storm Strider. I spent time slowly carving and filing away at foam to get a decent shape. There are a couple of things that I’m taking into consideration when I’m sculpting these coils out:

    - They don’t need to be too detailed. Most of the details can be added once the coil is cast in aluminum. The aluminum is easier to work while doing minuscule details while the foam is more workable while removing large portions.

    - The coil will be hollowed out to be lit up by LED. Because it’s a casemod and what’s the fun of having a case without the lightshow?

    - A small bridge might have to be added after the sculpting to allow the molten aluminum to reach all of the points in the mold.

    The tools I used to create these foam coils:
    - Compass
    - Sharpees
    - Exacto Blade
    - Drywall sanding blocks (2 different grains, fine and very fine)
    - Various files
    - Dremel
    - Foam Magic Wand (a variation of the hot wire, pictured in a previous update)
    - Plenty of Painter’s Tape

    As stated in the previous update, each Lightning Coil will casted in 2 halves to allow access to the center for lighting. To simplify this process, I took 2 pieces with a center line drawn on both halves and pressed them together over some toothpicks. The toothpicks will give the model a little support when I’m working with them. I draw the maximum radius on both the top and both. Then I trace the outline of the lightning coil on both sides and set latitudes for each peak on the pattern. Next I begin carving down from the highest point trying to keep the circles symmetrical. After the general shapes begin to look right, I start planning out the coils. As you can see below, I’ve had to try several times to make sure the coils lined up and stay in proportion. Eventually I have to brave the point of no return and begin carving out the coil portion.

    This process has taken a bit of time as you have to be careful when sanding and filing foam. If you tear the foam with a file, the foam pieces will cause you to tear more sections of foam. You also have to watch out with the pressure of your hands while hold the foam as that pressure can misshape the model. But the end product is worth it assuming the casting goes well.

    Let’s talk about the shin guards. Like I stated before, the shin guards are going to be separately casted pieces from the legs. I’m doing it this way to allow the shin guard to have lighting and to provide hidden wiring access to the shins.

    ds/stormstrider/update12/shin20.jpg" alt="" />

    The next step is to prepare some of the foam pieces for casting. To do this I need to attach sprues and vents to the pieces to facilitate the casting process.

  2. #2

    Cygnar Storm Strider Scratch Build


    I’d like to start this by thanking Rusty Oliver for both teaching me how to cast aluminum and allowing me access to his shop and tools to cast the aluminum. Rusty teaches metal working classes for South Seattle Community College and one of those classes is a casting class. You can also check out Rusty’s work at HazardFactory’s or see him on[/video]]the TV show Weaponizer.

    I’ve broken this process down to three sections; preparing the sand, setting the mould and pouring the metal (aluminum). The pictures and descriptions are from two different casting sessions. We did an initial casting session as a materials test and to test the process. The second session was to make some of the useable parts.

    First we had to prepare the sand. When I get into the shop, chances are the sand has been used by a previous class and so I have to break it down the old fashion way with sifter and an old spaghetti strainer.

    Next I toss all of the sand into an old cement mixer and slowly add water. This makes it so that the sand binds together after it has been placed into a mould and allows it to keep its shape. Unfortunately (or fortunately for your attention span) I don’t have many pictures of me preparing the sand because it’s fairly simplistic manual labor.

    The second part of this process is preparing the moulds. Rusty and I spend some time putting together several boxes to hold the sand and the mould for the casting process.

    After the boxes are ready I place the foam parts in the boxes and begin setting sand in and around the pieces to fully enclose the parts. You have to make sure that the sand is packed in fairly tight but not tight enough to distort or damage the foam.

    After it’s all packed in, you need to uncover the sprues, the vents and make a little trough for the molten aluminum to be poured into.

    Here’s that same process with the large half dome piece:

    While we’re preparing the moulds, we are also preheating the furnace and melting aluminum." alt="" />

    Eventually we get ready to pour…


    The first pour:

    Any extra aluminum is poured into ingots to be used later.

    Before we put the crucible back in the furnace to melt more aluminum we toss in a piece of cardboard to put a little layer of carbon between the furnace and the crucible. This is to prevent the crucible from sticking to the furnace.

    The second pour:

    This shows the foam burning off. You can also see a little bit of over-run from one of the molds.

    This is me scrambling to keep the molten aluminum moving off of the concrete floor and cooling it with some sand. Rusty continues pouring more aluminum into the other molds.

    And for your viewing pleasure, here’s 3 videos covering our pouring experience: us waiting for the aluminum to be ready, pouring, and post pour jitters and conversation.



    Convo & jitters:[/video]]

  3. #3

    Cygnar Storm Strider Scratch Build

    After each pour was done (we did three pours that day), we’d have to let the aluminum cool for at least 10-15 minutes before breaking them out of the moulds.

    Cooling pictures:

    I’ll start with the dome. I was worried about this casting. Making the dome took the most effort and will probably need the most work after a casting. It was important to me that these parts came out as good as possible. Here are the results:

    These parts were still extremely hot but very solid. Fortunately, I had the foresight to invest these parts. When the aluminum went outside of the mould, it settled ON TOP of the investment layer. This means that I can remove the extra aluminum and still retain the shape of the intended part (see the last picture).

    The dome halves still retained that white foam texture but I think I can smooth things out with Bondo.

    Next we cracked into the small coils:

    Sorry, all of the medium coil pictures ended up being blurry. I was just so excited at the results.

    Here are the small and medium coils together:

    The large coil picture was nice and clear.

    And now for the disappointment… Every project has its failures. The first attempt at the leg was one of these ‘learning lessons’. When we went to pour for the third time, apparently we ran the furnace too hot for too long. Melt, just like your food, can be over cooked. Over cooking your metal causes funny reactions with other substances, faster oxidation and can cause weird pressure issues inside of the mould. Without being able to see into the mould while we’re pouring I can only assume all of those things happened. You could see the disappointment in my sullen poking of the aluminum corpse. This was the failed results for the leg:

    Overall, I learned a little more that Sunday and was very happy with the successful results:

  4. #4

    Cygnar Storm Strider Scratch Build

    More progression:

    As you can see here, I’ve drawn a bunch of meaningless stuff on my base plate. Just kidding, I’ve taken my pattern and drawn the respective parts like the motherboard placement, the case walls and posts on the painter’s tape.

    Then I cut a bunch of .5” thick aluminum into the same height but varying widths according to what they need to support.

    I also started working on the walls. I am going to try annealing the aluminum walls to bend and create the desired curve in the front of the case. I spent most of yesterday carving out a block of wood to the correct curve for both sides.

    Finally, here’s a picture of the design for the lightning coil spine. It will house all of the wiring and the cathode inverter.

    These last few days I have been a slave to the file. I have been filing on the dome to even out some of its pocks and patches. I have been filing on the lightning coils to provide some additional detailing. But this update is about the filing on the spine. I’ve been working on giving my case some tangible shape. Last update I posted the pattern I was working on, now I’ll show it in action. First I cut out 2 pieces of aluminum (1/8” or 4mm thick) using the pattern

    I keyed the two pieces with 2 separate holes and screwed the two pieces together.

    Then, I began filing.

    And filing.

    And filing until the two pieces matched up exactly. Because that’s how we do it when you don’t have a CNC machine to perfectly replicate pieces.

    Next, I took a ½” thick 3” wide bar of aluminum and sliced off pieces for the frame of the spine. The front piece will be filed to fit exactly in the front.

    Since the 4” Cold Cathode Ray tubes are being shipped to my location, I did some more clean-up work on the lightning coils themselves. The tubes will be inserted inside of the coils. For the clean-up work, I utilized my trusty Dremel.

    But sometimes, the little Dremel just won’t cut it and I have to break out with the Roto-Zip.

    Assuming the 4” Cold Cathode Ray tubes and not 4.5” or 4.8” I verify that I’ll be able to fit the tubes and their wiring inside of the spine.

    Once I make sure, the tubes fit in both the coils and the spine, I’ll seal the coils and make sure they have enough space to shine and there’s no pressure on the tubes from the aluminum. The last thing I want is a cathode tube bursting in transport or setup.

  5. #5

    Cygnar Storm Strider Scratch Build

    In other news, here’s the motherboard and processor I’ll be using in this mod:
    Asus Maximus IV Gene-Z
    Intel i7-2600k 8M cache 3.4GHz Quad core processor

    Arrived last night!:

    1 White Illuminated Bulgin Style "Latching" Vandal Switch - 16mm - Black Housing - Ring Illumination
    2 White Illuminated Bulgin Style "Latching" Vandal Switch - 16mm - Black Housing - Dot Illumination
    with Optional Cable Harness used to control any 4-pin molex powered devices.

    4 Logisys 4" Cold Cathode Kit (Dual Ready) - Blue
    1 4-Channel Inverter-Black4-Channel Inverter-Black

    Picking up today:

    16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
    Dremel EZ-lock Wheels
    Plumber's Torch
    Cold Weld stuff

    Arriving later this week:
    PCI-Express 2.0 x16 Flex Riser 5"

    Only thing left on my shopping list:

    35 5mm Blue LED
    8 100 Ohm resistors
    5 220 Ohm resistors

    & Paints!

    Ok! All caught up!
    Count Down: Only 34 more days until PAX 2011.

  6. #6

    Cygnar Storm Strider Scratch Build

    Very cool stuff as well. I've done lost form casting using wax, but never lost foam casting. I always thought because of the fumes, being toxic, might not be the best thing in the world. But this is great.
    Your modeling skills are fantastic as well. I really respect going with a metal case there.

  7. #7

    Cygnar Storm Strider Scratch Build

    Update: Still alive and working!
    Count Down: Only 31 more days until PAX 2011.

    In the back of my mind, there is a certain amount of panic setting in… I only have 31 more days and I’m still making parts. I think many of my fears will be alleviated when I’m actually assembling the case rather than devilling the details.

    But I got toys!!!!

    I am now able to proceed with the lightning coil creation!

    And the PCI Express x16 Flexible riser has arrived!!! I can now proceed with the video card placement.

    I borrowed an idea from something I saw on Nhenhophach’s ROG Rampage scratch build. I’ll be utilizing the motherboard’s mounting screw holes to create a platform to hold my video card. I’ll post more on this process and implementation later for now all you get is the plate I cut for it.

    Next, I began working on the main two walls of the main enclosure. I started by making a minor cut in the aluminum to help fold wall. This helps you bend the aluminum to the desired angel.

    Next, I decided I didn’t want to wait to get access to the machine shop to anneal the aluminum. So, I went down to the local hardware store and picked up a plumber’s torch. The packaging says the temperature can reach up to 2100 degrees Fahrenheit which is more than adequate for annealing the aluminum. (Annealing the aluminum makes the aluminum soft so it can be bent over a curved shape and retain that shape.)

    Unfortunately, the torch is too small. Every time I’d start to heat up one part of the aluminum the torch would run out of butane. I was defeated.
    I will have to wait until I can get into the shop. So I traded the plumber’s torch for a different toy!

    I have also worked on the framing for the case. I started off with an shape… and then relented to simpler C shape.

    I’ve made some progress with the coils. Since I received the cathode tubes I was able to test-fit the tubes to the coils. With that completed, I started cleaning up and assembling the coils. First I broke them down to their parts by removing any excess aluminum sprues. As you can see each coil broke down into 4 parts… except for the smallest coil because I didn’t notice one coil not completely attached to either coil cap or the base.

    Fortunately, I’m just working with a giant miniature and I can use the same techniques used for modeling those figures. I can ‘pin’ the pieces together to give it stability. Matter of fact, I even use Privateer Press’s P3 model glue to do the trick. For pins, I’ve simply snipped up an old wire hanger.

    That’s all for now. Soon I’ll be working completing the coils, removing the part separation lines, annealing the case walls, and casting the legs. So much to do… so little time.

  8. #8

    Cygnar Storm Strider Scratch Build

    Holy cow that's a lot of work but it's starting to come together nicely. If you can pull this one off you may as well do a Bioshock mod next .

  9. #9
    Sanded svengeance's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Northern Arizona

    Cygnar Storm Strider Scratch Build

    You sir,are awesome.Not only is it a Warhammer mod,but you're casting all your parts.I'll be awaiting updates for sure.

  10. #10

    Cygnar Storm Strider Scratch Build

    Update #17: Kerfing works!
    Count Down: Only 28 more days until PAX 2011.

    In exactly 4 weeks at the time I’m writing this (7am local time), I will be standing in a line waiting for my coffee so I’ll have something to drink while I’m standing in line waiting to set up my computer so I can stand in line later in an exhibition hall at PAX.

    Standing in line, it’s a hobby.

    My impatience decided that waiting for shop access wasn’t conducive to forum update and my sanity. I decided to give kerfing a try. I started off with marking off all of the cut lines.

    Then I simply used my dremel to my small groves in the metal. With the assistance of a rubber mallet, I bent the metal into a curve.

    My curve is a little off. But I will re-work it to a better curve. I set up the wall with the posts.

    The second wall turned out MUCH better. Fortunately, this is metal and you get second chances as long as you’re not cutting things out.

    Next I set up a couple of the pieces to get an idea of how it is all coming together. I’m feeling pretty good about the case so far.

    The lightning coils are ready for their putting and clean up. I’ve tested the tubes inside of the coils and they look awesome… of course, you’ll have to wait to see that.

    That’s it for now! I should have some more pictures and updates after the weekend.

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