May 15, 2013, 1:19 PM - Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
I'm a big fan of "Firefly", and I've costumed as Jayne a couple of times at Phoenix Comic Con (I live in southern Arizona). Jayne's pretty awesome, and he does have one of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy weapons... his precious "Vera." I decided a while back that I'd build my own Vera, but using a method I hadn't tried yet... 3D printing (using ABS plastic). I have a MakerBot Replicator, and it's been handy making odds and ends I need for work and my other hobbies, but I've never undertaken quite a task before. I've been toiling away on and off for a few months on this project, and I'm almost done. I had better be done in less than a week, because Phoenix Con 2013 starts a week from tomorrow!
I've decided to proceed with sharing photos from my build process. Feel free to ask any questions you like, as I love talking about my hobbies and projects. This has been a fun build, and I can't wait to dress her up and take her out somewhere fun.
Without further yapping on my part, here are the photos...
I'll start with my 3D drawings.
I made these all in Google SketchUp (with the exception of the Suppressor part, which my friend made in AutoCAD).
Barrel Guard (complete)
Barrel Guard - hinged piece
Barrel Guard - wood grain piece
Bullet Tray (underside)
Mag Well Guard
Rear Optic on Riser
Rear Picatinny (on stock)
Rear Stock Guard
Swivel (for sling)
I had to start with a base, as I wanted a stable platform on which to anchor all my parts... just like the original was built around an existing gun, mine is built around a $15 Airsoft-style AK-47.
I chopped off all the unnecessary crap using a hacksaw and was left with this:
Then, I started printing my components...
Printed Barrel Guard component
Test Fit of Printed parts
Faux Wood Grain
"Hinged" Barrel Guard component
Finished Gold&Wood component
Then, I had to prepare the body of the rifle...
I sanded down all the cuts and filled the holes left by the grip and magazine with Apoxie, so I'd have a firm surface to which I could add my own grip and magazine.
Here are photos of the Rear Guard (goes on rear of rifle body, covers stock joint and provides hard point for sling)...
The Bullets were a combination of 12ga brass (purchased from sports store) and printed projectiles.
The grips were printed in halves (like many of the other components)
I used Bondo to even out the texture left from printing
Brown coat of paint (browncoat, lol)
The Magazine is a huge and iconic part of Vera... I think the Suppressor and Magazine are the most identifiable components of this prop.
From the size of the bullets, you can bet the magazine is HUGE... it's over a foot long, so I had to print it on pieces and assemble it. The process worked pretty well.
Main magazine part (all mag parts were printed in halves)
Assembled using Apoxie
Shells are visible through the mag window, so I arranged them on a rig prior to magazine assembly
More assembly with Apoxie
For size comparison, here's a Vera mag next to a 30-round AR magazine... it's HUGE!
Here are the plates that cover the union of the magazine and the rifle.
The Stock has many components. I decided to build mine around 2 bent straps of Stainless Steel for strength. The straps were anchored mechanically and with Apoxie to the rifle body... then the components were attached with either Apoxie or JB Weld (or both)
The rear of the Stock was put together in a "sandwich" style
The structure of the Stock will be hidden with cosmetic rails along the sides (my stock doesn't really articulate)
Okay, here's the section where it all comes together...
Grip assembly is attached with steel pins and JB Weld
Trigger Guard is attached with JB Weld in front of the Grip with JB Weld
Barrel assembly is put together with both JB Weld and Apoxie
You'll notice there is hardware running through the "gas block" portion of the barrel guard... this is for a sling
Collection of painted parts
The Rear Guard/Bracket also has hardware for a sling, so it must be mounted VERY securely
Barrel is mounted to the body with both Apoxie and JB Weld for a secure fit
Magazine is fitted with a steel pin and JB Weld
Final progress shots as of the last day or two (5/15/13)
Whew! That's quite a lot of posting (especially for my first thread).
All that's left now is to finish up assembly of the Stock and to complete painting and assembly of the Top Rail and Optics components. The Top Rail is printing right now, and the optics components are at home with paint curing.
Tonight, I'll aim to get the Stock done and possibly craft the sling.
I'll post updates as they come. Wish me luck!
May 15, 2013, 4:31 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
Wow! It looks like you put a tremendous amount of work into these and boy does it show. They look great! I want one lol!
May 15, 2013, 4:43 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
Thanks for the kind words.
I can't believe I forgot to mention that part of my inspiration was the aluminum replica build of "Alice" by RPF user "joatrash". His build is really, really nice.
(I didn't have time or money for really, really nice... but I had time and resources for the results you see here )
May 15, 2013, 5:14 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
Hey that's nothing to sneeze at! Congrats on this project. I know (of course) how hard (and daunting) these parts are to do and it's probably the reason no one has gotten anywhere with a scratch build besides the one I did. It takes a special kind of Browncoat to be crazy enough to do one of these!
Ironically, even with all the details the Vera parts ended up being rather suited to printing on your printer. There are very few tiny details and everything is nice and chunky. I've got a friend who has offered to print up parts from my old 3d files... guess I may have to take him up on that offer!
May 15, 2013, 5:22 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
OMG !!! dude I have to be honest.....I am so jealous....I WISH I HAD ONE ....DAMN.....Congrats on a job well done....my hats off to you sir.....
May 15, 2013, 5:23 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
If you have a printer with higher resolution than a MakerBot Replicator, the results would be really nice. I'd love to make a set of my pieces on a nicer printer (or have the time to clean them up really nice) so that I could cast them. That would be the bee's knees.
May 15, 2013, 8:35 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
Great work. Wow!! I've been waiting for somebody to put something like this together.
May 15, 2013, 8:41 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
I hate being the one to ask this, but any chance of posting your models online/making them for sale? My brother is a Jayne cosplayer/superfan and I'd love to print one out for him. Also, I love what you did for the bullets with the brass casings. Nothing looks as good as the real thing! This build is crazy high quality.
May 15, 2013, 8:43 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
Jeez dude! REALLY amazing work! Thank you so much for documenting your process so thoroughly, and for sharing it with the forum. If this is one of the first projects you're posting about, I can't wait to see what the future brings from you.
And yes, seeing your work REALLY makes me want to get a makerbot also. Prices are coming down so fast now, ti's almost criminal NOT to have one.
Congrats again man. Great build.
May 16, 2013, 10:22 AM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
I'm blushing, stop it.
I'm not sure I'll be posting my models. I don't blame you for asking, because I asked joatrash if he'd be willing to share his 3D files for his "Alice" build, before I made my own. Protecting one's work is totally understandable. Maybe someday, I'll make some parts for sale... we'll see.
Here's the progress I made last night...
Cosmetic Trim added to the Stock
Top Rail and Optics are painted and ready for install tonight
Sling fabricated and installed... I'm very happy with this, as it looks good and it means I don't have to carry her in my hands for 3 days at Con
As for other builds... yeah, I've built a few things in the past. I have a couple of Proton Packs and a full-scale Ecto Containment Unit. I might put up an album of my Containment Unit next (built last year for our Arizona Ghostbusters booth at Phoenix Comic Con). It was built to be accurate, and portable... so some minor sacrifices had to be made, but it works great... it even captures the Matty Trap, just like in the film. Good times.
May 16, 2013, 11:51 AM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
To sell one to ME.
I'm gonna' faint. That thing is glorious.
May 16, 2013, 11:56 AM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
Honestly, I'm taking my own advice for the first time with this build... I always think to myself, "Building two (or more) of the same prop at the same time wouldn't be much more work than building just one. Plus, if you built more than one, you could sell the extra(s) and easily cover your building costs."
Mike J. said:
I'm not saying my second one is for sale, because it's not (currently). I'm actually taking both of them to Phoenix Comicon... in case one of them gets damaged, I've got a backup Vera... something Jayne never had.
May 16, 2013, 12:32 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
You my friend have done an amzing job on this! I would love to have a 3d printer, the things i could make with one..are the pieces easy to design?
May 16, 2013, 12:56 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
Vera was pretty simple. So many of the components are chunky and consist of basic, geometrical shapes. I used Google SketchUp! (which is free) for most of my work... only the Suppressor portion of my Vera was made in AutoCAD. Once you draw something in SketchUp!, you just have to export to .STL (there's a free plug-in for that), then compile the GCode in ReplicatorG, then print... it's that easy.
Drawing can take many, many hours. Exporting to .STL takes seconds. Compiling to GCode can take several minutes to an hour or more, depending on how complex the model is. Printing can take many, many hours... and it often does. Just for example, one half of the lower portion of Vera's magazine (the part with the window) is about a 4 hour print... and it's not even that thick on the build platform. I've printed items on my Replicator that take 18 hours to print. Patience and preparation are key. Measure twice, print once.
I've made lots of things with my printer. The only other prop-related item I made that comes right to mind is a scaled-down version of the Ecto Containment Unit from Ghostbusters. I made it with the intention of making magnetic fridge/file cabinet decorations I could use as raffle prizes with my charity group. I only printed a few, and they're scaled properly for the 12" tall GB figures... but I've only given one away (scaled down even further for use with the 6" figures).
The best thing about a 3D printer is the ability to draw something, then hold it in your hand a few hours later. The ABS plastic is pretty easy to work with using Bondo and Apoxie. It sands pretty well, but it leaves fibers if you don't fine sand your pieces. A spray or quick dunk in acetone can smooth the surface, but leaves it soft and sometimes irregular. I found that setting the machine to print extra outer "shells" when printing leaves plenty of meat to sand and work with.
The printed pieces can be married to many other materials (metal barrel, stainless flat bar for the stock, and much more)... so you don't have to print a whole prop... you can use printed pieces along with kit bashing to make wild items. I've only begun to explore making props with mine, but I'll definitely keep going.
May 16, 2013, 1:34 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
That thing is absolutely gorgeous....cant quit looking at "Vera" ......my wife is going to divorce me staring at Vera, like this.....
I must say, if I had a printer or any computer abilities , ( which I don't )....lol....I would attempt something like that, but I am more of a metal working person myself, not too computer savvy.....I cant wait to see more......I think I am going to pass out now............feeling lightheaded............starting to get darker..............................
May 16, 2013, 5:42 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
I made a design/assembly decision today regarding the mounting of the top rail and the optics arrangement. Actually, it was the best kind of idea... I woke up in the night with it.
I'm going to permanently affix the optics pieces to the top rail, but the assembly will only be secured to the rifle with a threaded bolt. Hear me out. I'm worried about the dangly bits on the top getting snapped off in transit, so I want to make them removable. I'm going to seat a threaded socket in the top of the rifle through which a small socket-head bolt can be threaded to affix the rail and optics assembly.
I'm hoping my execution of this idea will match the "win" I've envisioned in my head.
(I'll only install the suppressor when everything else is done. I feel the suppressor is kind of like Vera's crown, as it's likely her most recognizable feature... next to the monster-size magazine)
May 17, 2013, 10:24 AM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
absolutely stunning! You my friend did amazing work on these. You have every Browncoat drooling. You could cast resin parts and make a killing, id imagine.
May 17, 2013, 11:07 AM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
Not much more to say...
That is a stunning piece of workmanship right there. It's obvious that you were on a mission with this build.
I'm intrigued by 3d printers, unfortunately they do come in at a higher price point than I can swing. Besides, I'm not sure I'd be able to knock together the required 3d files to make anything as cool as Vera!
May 17, 2013, 2:07 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
These are tears of joy....I love it...
May 17, 2013, 5:21 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
Modeling Vera is actually more time consuming than difficult. Pretty basic shapes. The hard part is extrapolating the hundreds of measurements needed since there are so many parts.
May 17, 2013, 10:12 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
I wish I had your talent, that thing is so gorgeous....I have to look at Vera ... everyday
May 17, 2013, 11:44 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
Outstanding work man, and thank you for such a great post. A big welcome to the RPF !
May 17, 2013, 11:53 PM - Re: Jayne Cobb's "Vera" from Firefly (3D printed parts - Image Heavy)
It's amazing how many different ways people have attacked the same iconic gun project. Another great success story!
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