Farscape Pulse Rifle

p00k1333

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The Peacekeeper Pulse Rifle: one of the iconic weapons of Farscape. Always wanted one, never could afford the official prop, and never really came across a fan-made version that I liked (and that they would be willing to sell a casting of). That last part intimidated me about making the attempt myself. Ah, what the hell. Do, or do not. This will be the largest movie prop I've tried so far, so research, screen cap, study, study, study!
 

p00k1333

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After lots of searching, screen captures, calculations, and hints from people who own the official prop, we have blueprints! I drew these up with all the details and the basic bevels I would need to create and later smooth out or round off. I've identified at least 11 variations on the rifle throughout the series. This is the base version, the one all others seem to be derived from.
 

p00k1333

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The rough 3D model I created to assist in figuring out the construction process. It also helped in the creation of the blueprints. Building the model helped in figuring out how to break the pulse rifle up into parts that could be constructed more easily, and then assembled. All the funky colors are bevels (magenta), grooves (yellow), holes to drill (cyan), etc., and the different materials I decided to use. Two different kinds of MDF (tan and brown), PVC pipe (white), and Evercoat's Rage Gold bondo substitute (green). The second pic is the model colored charcoal black, just to see how close the rough assembly would resemble the final prop.
 

p00k1333

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A piece of 3/4" MDF I had set aside some time ago. This is how it looks after Hurricane Isaac decided to 'moisten' everything. I was able to fit the needed parts on the good bits with a couple minor exceptions. Those spots should be shaved off during the shaping process. I really didn't want to buy another sheet of MDF for such a small piece. If this attempt turned out well, I needed to save money for possible mold-making and casting!
 

p00k1333

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Here's a fun part. I needed something the same size as the inside diameter of the PVC pipe that I could shape into the inner barrel. The pipe was the outer barrel and flash suppressor. I taped off one end of a piece of the PVC and scooped bondo into it, tapping and shaking it so it would settle as I filled the pipe. I had intended to cut the pipe down one side to release the hardened bondo. As the bondo hardened and got extremely hot, I removed the tape from the bottom and saw the bondo had receded from the end. I shook the pipe and the bondo core slid out into my hand. OUCH! Hot, hot, hot! But after it cooled, the bondo core is a perfect fit in the pipe. Yes!
 

p00k1333

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These are almost all the parts I used for the prop. I transferred the basic outlines and the MDF was rough cut to make the parts easier to handle. (sorry if some of the pics are rotated weird - Photoshop sometimes has a mind of it's own.)
 

p00k1333

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Using a scroll saw and various sanding implements, I shaved the edges down to meet the template lines. Yeah, I know. Scroll saw? No band saw? C'mon, give me a break. I was making the best of a limited tool set.
 

p00k1333

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The flash suppressor seemed to be pretty straightforward. I straightened up one end of the PVC with a radial arm saw. Using a few calculations, I made a template for spacing the holes out and drilled them with a drill press. I cut the suppressor off with the radial arm saw and cleaned everything up with 320 grit sandpaper. Huzzah! One piece finished!
 

p00k1333

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Design details transferred to MDF parts using pencil and silver Sharpie marker. I was careful to use the marker only on bits that would be sanded away, because I know the black Sharpie marker will bleed through most paints. I didn't want to chance that the silver would somehow do the same.
 

p00k1333

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Yeah, I know what it looks like. I got plenty of weird looks while working with it. I came up with this idea to keep the barrel as straight as possible (insert joke here). One thing that always bothered me was seeing screen-used props with crooked barrels. This 'tongue and groove' process (insert another joke here and another joke about insertion) was probably overly complicated, but find another solution I could not (insert Yoda penis joke here).
 

p00k1333

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Whew! After a lot of carving, dremeling, routing, sawing, sanding, backfilling with bondo, re-dremeling, sanding, and more sanding, the MDF pieces are ready for assembly. I originally dremeled out all the details directly into the MDF, but it being exposed to moisture in the past caused a problem. As I was cutting, the surface fibers were shredding, not cutting, leaving a big fuzzy mess and obscuring my pencil lines. The result was that my cuts were crooked and the edges were rough. Grrr! My solution was to use the Dremel as a router and cut the detail areas out and backfill with bondo, which would cut easier and cleaner. Remember to clamp your guides down and hold the router tight!
 

p00k1333

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I glued the grips on first with wood glue, and smoothed out the join with a bit of bondo. I figured it would be easier to smooth these parts now instead of after all the parts were attached.
 

p00k1333

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The sides glued on. Now, it's really starting to look familiar! All the dremeling on one side of the side pieces caused them to curve very slightly, so I had to weigh them down with a couple of steel plates while drying.
 

p00k1333

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The butt sides glued on and lots of bondo filling, flattening, and smoothing. The grip needed a bit of sculpting, which was done with globs of bondo, the dremel to get the rough shape, and various shaped sanding blocks to smooth it out. I used a few wooden paint paddles to create sanding blocks in the shapes and sizes needed to smooth out the joins and flatten some of the rough spots. I also had to re-adjust the sides to match each other. Attaching the parts together really made the symmetrical discrepancies stand out.
 

p00k1333

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The inner barrel will attach directly to the stock, and the outer barrel will slide over the inner and hopefully keep the whole thing straight.
 

p00k1333

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The barrel assembly glued on the stock and seams smoothed out. I'm kind of proud the procedure worked so well, because I had to calculate the angles. Dammit, they were right! That geometry stuff did come in handy one day!
 

p00k1333

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Okay. My girlfriend says it's time for bed. I know better than to argue. I'll continue uploading after work tomorrow. Thanks for viewing!

- Rich
 

p00k1333

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Thanks Caveneau!

And thusly, it continues:
Oops! While scanning reference pics to find anything that needed to be changed, I noticed the underside of the rifle is either flat or has a very slight 'belly' to it. My version turned out with much more belly than it needed, so more sanding, sanding, sanding! Also, the top flat part of the main body extends all the way down the barrel to the flash suppressor. More bondo! And there's a small button on the rear of the first bump on top. And I almost forgot the two small buttons that fit in the holes on the butt. There's an obvious joke if you ever saw one. They'll be attached later, after a lot of the sanding is finished. I also beveled the inside edge of the flash suppressor to give the illusion of thinner walls.
 
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