My builds/finds


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Edited the title to continue with further builds/finds.

link index:

My fist props: a couple of light sabers with crystal chambers note the goes to a different thread.

My first thread: light up saber stand with back didplay- note the goes to a different thread.

#1 metal thermal detonator: starts on this page.

#53 Neuro-Saab ND.621 range finder

#71 in universe Leitz Wetzlar droid caller

Small P37 bag

#75 krate dragon detonator

#91 grogu’s chainmail armour and cloth bundle wrap

#130 glowing spotchka bottle

#140 EH-17 scout blaster and star destroyer capacitor bearing

Metal thermal detonator scratch build with light and sound, on a budget.

I know KR/OR offer a really nice kit, but it’s price is too prohibitive to justify. So I thought I’d try and make one myself.

A bit of background for those that don’t know, I don’t own a 3d printer, pro paint set up or have access to any machining, so this will all be done with hand tools.

I’ve done a fair bit of research and realise I may have to sacrifice some screen accuracy - I can live with that.

Here are the parts I have so far which is pretty much everything I need:

there is:

2 1/2 inch stainless steel ball (a garden decoration) £2.75 - which I’ll cut in half

2 1/4 inch aluminium hose connector for the middle section - £2.63

2 3/4 inch aluminium round billet - I plan to cut the activation switch from this then grind the back it to fit - £7.80

a recordable sound model from a greetings card/music box - I plan to modify to include the lights and different switches - £6

type N battery holder and batteries to replace the larger AAA with (the module still works on 3v)

3mm yellow flashing leds and metal led holders

6mm red led lens, red 5mm led (not in the pic)

2 micro lever switch, one to run the sound, the other for the lights, all running back to the same battery holder, but otherwise 2 separate circuits.

a couple of flanged screws to hold the activation switch on, I’ll probably use a couple of rubber o-rings on these for a smoother movement.

I plan to electro etch the grooves using 9v battery.

hopefully I can figure out away to make the bottom screw on. I’m thinking this will just be a cross brace and a bolt.

I did source a Fuman 1/48 panther G tank kit with the correct track for the top of the activation switch, but it cost more than all the other parts combined, so I’m still looking for an alternative.

I’ll see what I can find at the local hardware or toy store. failing that I can always cut something out of black styrene. But I’d welcome any other suggestions for that part.
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So I couldn’t find anything at the toy are hardware store in place of the tank track, but I have found that 1/35 instead of 1/48 panther kits are a fair bit cheaper than the 1/48. I’m tempted to get one, I think there will be other parts I could use for a future training remote build.

I masked up the ball with tape to cut it in half. You could almost see the join, so I used that and a small pot to check the line was straight. I left a small gap to run the blade


I clamped it up in a vice. the jnr hack saw didn’t want to bite, so I had to swap to the dremel.


I used some wet and dry with oil to true it up
I Had a couple of wobbles/nick left but I figure I can lose those when I cut out the notches.

the steel is much thinner than I thought it would be, it deflects if pressed at the edge, which is going to make the next steps tricky. Hopefully it will be thick enough to etch.

I know it doesn’t seem like much progress, but only had a hour to work on it after work tonight. I’ll try to get some more done tomorrow.


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Got a little more done today.

my frustration with the tank kit grows. The 1/35 has a rubber track, that might work for this build, but the gun port for the remote isn’t a separate piece from the main tank chassis, the 1/48 has all the correct parts for the remote but no longer has the rubber track for the TD. The idea of getting parts for 2 different builds from 1 kit made it seem appealing, but I think that is a bust now. Guess if I want to do a training remote later I’ll need the proper kit anyway and I already have parts for the next few builds.

I’d still like to hear any suggestions for an alternative to the tank track for this build.

Any way back to what’s been done so far. 1 cut the top lip of the hose connector. I’ll keep the off cut - may make a nice greeble.

Then I measured up the spacing for the 3 led holders, using the top hemisphere as this has the male front notch on the zig zag channel.

realised there isn’t enough room on the inside to fit all 3 nuts that hold on the led holders in place, so I had to slightly file 1 side of 2 nuts, ti get them to fit. the one in the middle will have to be glued in.

I know these led holders arn’t accurate, but I think they will play the part well enough.





EDIT: so I couldn’t find a bandai/fuman 1:48 (with the rubber track) at a reasonable price, at least.

But I did come across a set of 10 1:25 amc peterbilt hubs, I couldn’t resist hitting the button - I knew going on eBay was a mistake, I guess it will save me money in the long run as I won’t need the full midnight express kit, which is the most expensive one needed for the remote.

Doesn’t help with this build at all, but if a Bandai 1:48 doesn’t materialise I’ll just have to use styrene. I don’t know how I stated building a detonator and convinced myself in to build a training remote as well. I’m already waiting on macro binocular parts to arrive. It’s a slippery slope for sure. Don’t tell the wife.
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Got a little bit more done.

I used some car pin stripping tape to mark the lines from the outside of front notch to help position the hole for the red lens. The tape is just as a guide. I also used a circle template to help position the hole

drilled an 8mm hole for the lens, this leave about a 1mm gap all around.

The lens has to sit at the same hieght as the hemisphere, so The activation switch can close over the top of it. Therefore 1 found a stack of 3 washers, the first had a hole just right to hold the lens the next 2 were just for spacing.

I’ve also marked out where to cut the notches for the central channel. I made a little diagram then put a dot on the circumference. I’ll run more tape up to the center, then around as a depth guide.



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Wow, that looks great. You have it looking pretty spot on so far.

thank you

I used the thin pin stripe tape to mark out where the notches will go. I used 3mm pin stripe tape to mark the depth. Then used masking tape above that as the actual cutting guild and pulled up the 3mm, I hatched in the parts being removed with a sharpie, just to make sure I didn’t stuff up and remove the wrong bi

I got all the notches in the central channel cut out using a dremel curating disk to nibble it away, then tided it up with files. It was quite hard as the steel is so thin it kept trying to deflect when being filed, in the end I wrapped a larger file with 400 grit.

I’m not doing the bottom 1/2 until I’ve got the top done, you’ll know why below, but if it works then I’ll use these notches to position the bottom ones.

Either side of the centre is a small negative/female followed by a smaller positive/male notch, for the bottom 1/2 I’ll flip them round - The central zig channel seems to be more of a snake than interlocking teeth - in that there are extra gaps, if that makes sense.


Next step: etching the grooves, I’m concerned the steel may be too thin, I’ve done chemical etching before, but it will be too difficult to do a photo resit on a spherical surface, event a simple mask by hand would be tricky to cut to enable the piece to be dipped as a whole

so I’m planning to do each groove separately using a tape resit and a 9v battery with salt water (I’ve seen some tutorials on YouTube)

I’ll test it first in the area where the slot for the activation switch will go. If it pierced all the way through at least I won’t need to cut the slot!

but I’ll need a plane B for the groves, maybe I’ll use the tape as a painting mask?

anyway wish me luck, I think this next step will be the make are break of this little project.


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I had a poke around the local shops in town trying to find something to use on top of the activation switch, no joy. I didn’t see a single toy tank - I guess they have gone out of fashion.

I did however find a set of drill bits in the thrift store ( I particularly like the tapered one with out the steps) and also some metallic pens that I thought would make nice food capsules.


back to the build:

I soldered up a simple set up for the 9v battery etching, it is just a battery connector, and 2 wires, one with a crocodile clip to hold a cotton bud. The other wire is just exposed to tape it to the piece.

1 tested it out on the slot area, luckily it doesn’t eat the metal anywhere near as fast as chemical etching, so after 10 mins it still hadn’t gone through, that means it should work for making the grooves.

I went a head and cut the slot for the activation switch and tidied it up.

I’ve used the thin pin tape as the guide, used yellow heat resistant tape either side as the mask/resist - I like this tape for etching as it’s thin and you can get good torsion and a little stretch out of it. Electrical tape is too thick for my liking and parcel tape leaves gunk behind, but both could be used.

I’ve then peeled up the thin pin tape leaving the bear metal ready to etch.

the etching solution is just a tsp of table salt and one of bicarbonate soda, in water. I’m not sure you even need the bicarb.


Here it is after it’s been etched and the tape has been removed:


Now I just need to buy some more Cotton buds and repeat that 9 more times for each of the groove and the top part will be done.
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You’re welcome, I usually use a bath of copper sulphate and salt, but I couldn’t for this piece due to it’s shape. The battery doesn’t etch very deeply to be honest.

It certainly comes in handy for simple details. The pin striping tape and thermal tape make a good mask.

Without access to a machine shop, most my protects will end up using etching in one form or another.

I’m planning a brass sith holocron and an aluminium NN-14 blaster. I’m waiting for parts to arrive for a Neuro-Saav D621 rangefinder and plan to etch the lip on the view finder and a couple of other greebles.

I definitely prefer working in metal.

This is the simplest etching solution I've ever seen! Thank you for sharing this. This just opens up so many possibilities!


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Had a little more time to work on it today, so I finished etching the top, cut out the notches on the bottom half, using the top as a reference and etched the grooves on the bottom.


So here are the two finished halves, it’s starting to look much more like a detonator now :)

When holding the pieces together I realised I won’t be able to screw the bottom half on, due to the position of the male notches. The led holders pertrude just enough to get in the way.

I can’t screw it together from the top, due to the position of the activation switch.

I tried filing a spare led holder down - but they are plated brass and I didn’t like the look of the brass showing.

I could possibly use 2 opposing cross braces - but I don’t think there would be enough room to get all the electronics in just the top half - otherwise the wires will get in the way of it closing - unless just under half a turn will be enough to close it. Possible if I can find a small bolt with a big pitch?

my new solution will be to use a magnet, I’ve ordered a countersunk neo magnet with the hope of being able to mount it on the end of a bolt (that’s why I went with a counter sunk variety) I have 2 concerns;

a) will it be strong enough?
d) will it interfere with the speaker?

Guess I’ll find out through trial and error, unless anyone here knows?, or has a better idea for attaching the 2 halves together whilst still leaving room for the electronics?


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So I’ve cut down the middle hose connector


but I’m not happy with the width of the channel or the profile. The 2 half’s are sat a little high and the ‘roundness’ seems off.


I’m going to go back and spend some time filing down each side of the hose connector to get it looking better and put a fillet in the edge so it’s easier to seat.


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So I took trip to the local Poundland store to see if I could find a toy tank for a track, I don’t find one, but I did find a very thin floor mat that I think I can make work, for £1 it’s worth a punt. Also picked up a capacitor bearing screw driver set.



Sr Member
This is super cool! Love the etching technique, I'm gonna have to try that. I have a feeling that it will be amazing when you're done. :)


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After much filing, offering up, flipping, repeating, eying/feeling for high spots I finally have the middle section to a point that I’m happy with it. It also seats much better and finds it’s own cent now.


compared to the last image it has a much better profile now.

next up will be the activation switch piece,
I found some decent reference images.




once I get that done I’m going to use an etching solution to ‘pickle’ it, and also the middle section to make them darker.

Took the measurements from the top half using tap


I’m cutting this out from the billet by hand with a hack saw, dremel and shaping with files. It’s going to be quite time consuming, so it may be a while till my next update.

EDIT: small update, found a correct burnerd MC multi collect for the star destroyer capacitor bearing! I’ll add that build to my list too lol
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Just a very small update, the neo magnet arrived and I’ve tested it on the speaker and it doesn’t seem to affect it in any way :)

it doesn’t stick very well to the hemisphere itself, probably due to how thin it is or that it has a high chromium or nickel content, but it does stick excellently to a washer, so I’ll glue that into the bottom.

the only issue I foresee is if the magnetic attraction is too strong and I have trouble separating the 2 halves or pull the washer off.

I’ll make that assembly before gluing the top half on, so if that is an issue it should be an easy fix by just adding some material between the magnet and the washer.

I’m still working on the activation switch, it’s taking ages.
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