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  1. dashy's Avatar
    Member Since
    Dec 2010
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    Sydney, Australia
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    Jan 29, 2015, 2:54 PM - Magic power prop - tutorial [Updated with Version 4] #1

    INTRODUCTION:

    There are many variations possible with this prop idea, I encourage you to think of how you can improve on what Iíve done, find alternatives and experiment. My aim with these designs was to keep it simple and elegant, whilst working out what I could achieve without adhesives - this was an interesting challenge but I recommend you consider adhesives and other ways of connecting pieces too.

    Regarding the 2 different designs: Made an alternative to try another idea. I accidentally threw out the original design last year and lost the patterns. Re-made the paper patterns for it based on what I could remember. The reason why I've only re-made part of the original design (the part that really needs clarification) is because I chose to make do with what I had left over after making the alternative idea - I thought I had bought that plastic from a local art store but the owners donít recall having it for sale. So I checked out a local plastic supplier, bought an offcut sheet of "2mm" (they didnít have 1mm or 1.5mm, thought 2mm was worth a try) with the intention of re-making all of the original design but it was definitely too thick, measured closer to 2.5mm, struggled to cut it and heat-shape it. Hopefully the design is clear with the photos I've taken for this tutorial.

    Those LED berry lights are just one option, perhaps you would prefer wiring and programming your own custom LED configuration.
    Inside there is a plastic tab between 2 lithium cell batteries (CR 1220, 3V). Pulling it out turns the LED on, this tab can be pushed back in to turn it off. The light only has one setting, it is programmed to fade on and off continuously.
    When turning on multiple lights I timed it so there would be at least 2 fully on at any time. Iíve noticed that the lights sometimes donít maintain this timing, the fading changing slightly for a currently unknown reason.
    I donít know how long the batteries last, havenít left one on for long enough to find out. The batteries can be pushed out and back in.

    Diffusion is a key factor with lights. The further away an LED is from a translucent surface the more diffused it will be. Keep this in mind when working out your design.

    The reason Iíve used those snips is because it is quick and simple/basic.The cut edges are a bit rough but do smooth out somewhat when heated. Thought it would be too time consuming (and straining on my hand) cutting that thickness with a utility knife but maybe that tool is worth mentioning. A scroll saw (with the right blade) might result in a smoother cut too. The best option is having the PETG laser cut for a very clean, precise edge.

    PETG cools down quickly so you wonít have much time to shape before needing to re-heat, be careful to avoid over-bending and snapping. Extreme angles/bends are more fragile / likely to snap so keep this in mind.



    MATERIALS:

    • PETG thermoplastic; the sheets I used were about 1.5mm thick
    • Durable paper / card
    • LED Berry lights, blue colour
    • Sticky tape / Sellotape
    • Tracing paper


    EQUIPMENT:

    • Curved ĎAviationí Offset Snips
    • Heat gun
    • Sandpaper, grit depends on whether you want a smooth or rough surface
    • Utility knife and/or scissors (for paper / card)
    • Ruler
    • Pen
    • Heat-resistant gloves


    SAFETY:

    • Read the MSDS relating to PETG. What I concluded from it: At the very least heat thermoplastic in a well-ventilated area. I currently donít think a respirator is necessary for this particular project due to its size but if you are concerned at all then it would be a good idea to contact the plastic manufacturer and/or a company which makes respiratory protection gear, such as 3m.
    • Do not over-heat PETG. The technical data sheet for the brand of PETG I used mentions the ĎDegradation Temperatureí. Heating the plastic at / beyond this temperature will degrade the plastic and release even more toxic fumes. The temp listed is 250 ļC (482 ļF). I set my heat gun to 200 ļC (392 ļF), this was more than sufficient for shaping.
    • Avoid heating the electronics and batteries, this can cause damage and is a fire hazard.
    • Wear heat-resistant gloves to protect your hands whilst handling the heated plastic to avoid burns.
    • When cutting keep your fingers a safe distance away from the blades, make sure everything is secure and in control, donít rush it (I know this is obvious / common sense but I need to include it anyway).


    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Original Design (1)

    1. Adjust pattern size, length, shape, etc, to your fit and preference. Test fit / mock up with paper.
    2. Transfer patterns to PETG plastic by tracing around it with a pen onto the protective film/cover that is later peeled off. To save having to trace along straight edges, simply mark the corners then join the lines with a ruler.
    3. Cut out shapes with snips or your preferred equipment then peel off the covers.
    4. Place the pieces on a flat table/bench, heat the edges with a heat gun to smooth them out a bit. Do both sides. Do not have a cutting mat underneath or nearby when heating as the heat will warp the mat.
    5. Heat shape the piece that wraps around your hand. (Iíve numbered it Ď1í on the pattern). Focus on making the ends merge and meet up before refining the middle area to fit closely. Bend the circles together around each other on the sides to form a cup shape holder that is open at the top. This part will be refined later when fitting the 2nd piece into it.
    6. Sand the outside of a berry light ball to diffuse the light.
    7. Cut out some tracing paper and tape it around the berry ball, this will further diffuse the light and disguise the ball.
    8. For the 2nd piece heat the middle then wrap it around the berry light ball, make sure the fit is very snug. The plastic does flex a bit which helps with this. Next merge the rest of the straight sections together.
    9. Refine the cup shape holder until the ball section of the 2nd piece can plug / snap into it securely.
    10. The holder needs to be facing towards the tips of your fingers; bend the strips just below it down 90į to one side then twist them around.
    11. For the half circle areas, gently bend them back / out then warp it into a wavy shape.







    Design alternative (2):

    1. Adjust pattern size, length, shape, etc, to your fit and preference. Test fit / mock up with paper.
    2. Transfer patterns to PETG plastic by tracing around it with a pen onto the protective film/cover that is later peeled off. To save having to trace along straight edges, simply mark the corners then join the lines with a ruler.
    3. Cut out shapes with snips or your preferred equipment then peel off the covers.
    4. Place the pieces on a flat table/bench, heat the edges with a heat gun to smooth them out a bit. Do both sides. Do not have a cutting mat underneath or nearby when heating as the heat will warp the mat.

    5. Heat shape the piece that wraps around your hand (Ď1í). Focus on making the ends merge and meet up before refining the middle area to fit closely.
    6. Sand the outside of 4 berry light balls to diffuse the light.
    7. Remove the electronics from the balls.
    8. Tape the balls together firmly with 3 on the bottom, one sitting on top in the centre (pyramid shape). It is important that the balls donít shift apart.
    9. Sand the 2 strip pieces (Ď2í) on one side to diffuse the plastic. I forgot to do this until after step 10 which made it more difficult, I ended up leaving it looking patchy.
    10. Heat shape wrap the 2 strip pieces (Ď2í) around the balls. Allow an opening that is large enough (when flexed) to pull out the balls later (the tape comes off easily).
    11. The ends of the piece Ď1í merge into this wrapped up mass, weaving through / underlapping + overlapping strips, make sure it is wrapped tightly / securely.
    12. The straight part / end of piece Ď3í also merges in the same way as the previous step.
    13. Warp the rest of piece Ď3í into a wavy shape.
    14. (Optional) Cut up some strips of tracing paper and try either taping it onto the balls, into the wrapped mass or shoving them in before or after the balls are in place.





    Last edited by dashy; Apr 9, 2016 at 4:45 AM.
  2. RPF Premium Member ultraman's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jul 2012
    Messages
    981
    Jan 29, 2015, 6:54 PM - Re: Magic power prop - tutorial #2

    wow that's awesome lol
    nice job...i could think of a million cosplayer who could use this.
  3. CinderStoat's Avatar
    Member Since
    Feb 2015
    Messages
    1
    Feb 19, 2015, 11:17 PM - Re: Magic power prop - tutorial #3

    Thank you so much for sharing this! What a spectacular effect. I'm aiming to try this myself, I just haven't found a local store to acquire the thermoplastic from yet. I'd rather see it in person so I make sure I have the right type of material.
  4. Member Since
    Jul 2013
    Messages
    2
    Jul 20, 2015, 7:29 PM - Re: Magic power prop - tutorial #4

    That is so cool

    And, -although I could be wrong about this- if you wanted to try a get a bit more light up through the warped areas you could maybe get some fibre optics to attach to the underside or along the edges. But again I might be wrong in my understanding of fiberoptics >>;;
  5. dashy's Avatar
    Member Since
    Dec 2010
    From
    Sydney, Australia
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    Jul 21, 2015, 12:45 AM - Re: Magic power prop - tutorial #5

    Rivyn said: View Post
    That is so cool

    And, -although I could be wrong about this- if you wanted to try a get a bit more light up through the warped areas you could maybe get some fibre optics to attach to the underside or along the edges. But again I might be wrong in my understanding of fiberoptics >>;;
    That sounds like an idea worth trying for sure!

    The LED light reflection works really well in low light but is lost in daylight. Check out this tutorial by Elemental Photography and Design: http://www.worbla.com/?p=5239
    The colour dye looks great in daylight then combined with LEDs looks great in low light as well, I think that is the better approach. I'm keen to experiment with TranspArt and dye.
  6. EgoCos's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jul 2015
    From
    Argentina
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    Jul 26, 2015, 10:50 AM - Re: Magic power prop - tutorial #6

    This post gives me a Light in my way! (No pun intended)
    Too Cool! I need some of this for some Fire/Ice characters. Thanks!!
  7. HelenaInvictus's Avatar
    Member Since
    Sep 2015
    From
    Columbus, OH
    Messages
    155
    Sep 18, 2015, 9:51 PM - Re: Magic power prop - tutorial #7

    Has anyone tried this with clear worbla? I'm worried it won't get the same watery effect as the PETG thermoplastic.
  8. dashy's Avatar
    Member Since
    Dec 2010
    From
    Sydney, Australia
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    19
    Mar 22, 2016, 9:43 AM - Re: Magic power prop - tutorial #8

    HelenaInvictus said: View Post
    Has anyone tried this with clear worbla? I'm worried it won't get the same watery effect as the PETG thermoplastic.
    I recently experimented with Worbla’s TranspArt / clear worbla. You can create a similar effect with it but the PETG I've been using has better clarity / clearer transparency.


    UPDATE:

    Felt inspired to revisit this prop idea recently to try improving on the previous versions, here are the results!

    Version 3 notes:
    - I am regarding this as another rough prototype; made do with basic tools I had at home and only briefly wet sanded the edges by hand - heating the plastic helped in smoothing / refining the edges a bit. Haven’t tried cutting PETG with a scroll saw, band saw, router or laser cutter but some/all of these might create more precise, clean cuts.

    - This new LED pendant is easily pushed in and pulled out of the spiral form which holds it securely by tension. The pendant can be turned on and off without removing it by pressing the bottom of the pendant through the hole in the spiral. It features 3 programmed modes: always on and two flashing speeds. Various colours available. Bought it on ebay: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/HOT-Pet-D...L2toQOE1Y8ctJw

    Also experimented with a few other LEDs which you may find useful:
    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Great-Inv...WpS9Grr_2oaTDA

    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Men-Women...IdC6oRmKyssMTA

    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Popular-L...89EBgMyLoWBtDw

    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Tea-Light...ww5JRWKLD5Xo6w

    Haven't tried the flickering 'candle light' LED yet but I imagine that could be quite effective when reflected off the PETG!

    - I initially tested Worbla’s TranspArt; it is more flexible but this design needed a sturdier plastic; also, this PETG has better clarity / clearer transparency. Also tried dyeing it with Jacquard iDye Poly but later abandoned that approach because I thought the light reflections were more effective on clear plastic - this approach is really dependent on darkness / low light settings, however.

    - I was planning (and hoping) to use 1mm PETG for all of it but this thickness didn't seem sturdy enough for the band and spiral; I tried merging two layers but that seemed too messy. (Perhaps I should have altered the design to make it work). I already had some 2mm scraps at home so used those instead. Tried cutting the 2mm with a utility knife but gave up after struggling with it, was taking way too long (fresh blade) and was really hurting my hand so I cut it with tin snips instead - very slowly and only partially squeezing the handle with each snip to avoid cracking the plastic.

    - Practising on scraps is absolutely essential to get a feel for shaping PETG and how much heat to apply; my first attempt was a mess; over-heated which caused bubbles to form and unintentionally merged some areas together. Also, keep in mind that the more the plastic is heated and pressure applied with hands the more likely it is that any texture on gloves will be pressed into the plastic.

    - Nose cone attached to heat gun to concentrate/focus heat on smaller areas.

    - Removed a few minor scratches with Novus plastic polish #2 then applied #1 to help protect the PETG.

    - SAFETY NOTICE: Wear heat-resistant gloves when heat-forming and work in a well ventilated area.


    Photo annotations:

    #1: Pattern pieces. Lower piece forms both the hand bracelet + spiral holder. Upper piece forms the warped shape that is connected to the top of the spiral. The warped area can be various shapes. The strip length will vary depending on hand size; a mock up will help in both working out this measurement and also later as a guide when heat-forming. I added a bit extra just in case then trimmed the excess after forming the spiral.



    #2: Right: Original condition of the LED pendant. Left: Pendant disassembled and altered - the metal clip is easily removed when opening the plastic shell. To help diffuse the light I sanded both the LED itself and the plastic shell.



    #3: Heat-forming process begins with the bracelet section. I bent the strip whilst holding it above my mock up from this angle / view. Test fitted it on my hand once it had cooled down enough to see how it was actually fitting my bare hand then made some further adjustments / refinements. The spiral is formed around the pendant shell then tightened for tension.



    #4: Started the warped shape by forming a mini flattened spiral at the narrow end which connects onto the end of the main spiral, tension helping to keep it secure. Waited until this section had cooled down completely before forming the rest.



    #5-9: Whilst forming the warped shape I tested it with the pendant underneath to see how the light was reflecting.










    There's a few extra photos in the Flickr album: https://flic.kr/s/aHskw8qYMG

    Filmed a brief video showing my hand rotating it around, changing the LED mode and taking the pendant out. Photographing this was an interesting challenge, filming it was even more difficult and awkward. xD



    I hope the photos and explanations are clear and this is helpful in some way.
    Last edited by dashy; Apr 9, 2016 at 9:13 AM.
  9. HelenaInvictus's Avatar
    Member Since
    Sep 2015
    From
    Columbus, OH
    Messages
    155
    Mar 22, 2016, 4:55 PM - Re: Magic power prop - tutorial [Updated with Version 3] #9

    Oh wow, thanks for the heads up on that LED pendant, that will be super helpful. The new shape looks awesome.
  10. dashy's Avatar
    Member Since
    Dec 2010
    From
    Sydney, Australia
    Messages
    19
    Apr 9, 2016, 4:45 AM - Re: Magic power prop - tutorial [Updated with Version 4] #10

    UPDATE: VERSION 4

    Shortly after posting V3 I realised the spiral section around the pendant needed to look more warped. The new spiral wraps around differently. Managed to make 1mm PETG work for the entire piece this time, looks consistent now. Merged the previous pattern pieces into one for a cleaner design. This time I didn't sand the LED itself so less diffusion (light is spread less) but more intense/vibrant reflections. PETG shape was cut with scissors, edges wet-sanded. Also sanded the outer surface of the bracelet section to make it matte/translucent and less reflective (800 grit).















    --------------------------------

    Brief video of the prop on youtube:

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