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Hey there everybody - this is my first thread on RPF, and I'm looking forward to sharing!

Like a lot of you, I loved the Mandalorian. It's well written, fun, and feels like a great addition to the Star Wars universe. I also fell in love with the Beskar armour. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to recreate it. I've been interested in prop-making for a long while (I'm a big fan of Adam Savage & Bill Duran, and I've been looking for a good project to get into it for a while).

A bit about me: I'm an electrical engineering graduate, maker, and problem-solver. I have a lot of CAD and 3D printing experience, and I'm going to be using a lot of that for this project. I'm also a competent sewer, which will definitely come in handy for the flight suit.

What I'm NOT great at yet: Painting, weathering, scaling prints to be wearable.

So here's the plan: I'm going to work through this project over the next several months (quarantine has made this a lot more accessible), and I'll be maintaining a record of the design and build on this thread. If you have any suggestions, comments, criticisms, or advice, please give me a shout - I'm always looking to learn, and there are probably a WHOLE lot of techniques and tools I don't know about yet.

I decided to start on the Pauldrons, which I've modeled and rendered. I still need to find the right scale for them on my shoulders, so I'm going to be building a scale rig out of paper/cardboard, and get an idea of what size feels right.

Render 1.pngRender 2.pngRender 3.png
Blaster time! Last night I finished the my whitebox model of the blaster pistol (just the rough shapes and elements, without any care taken in the details), and I think I've got the basic shape and scale down - so today I flushed out the details of the Flash Hider, and some of the left-side detail elements. Probably more complete-looking main body work tomorrow.

Been about a month since my last update - I'm still working full-time through the quarantine and I don't know about the rest of you - but I find myself exhausted by the end of the day. Anyway! I got back to the Blaster today - and I've continued my work in detailing the 3D model. I've started naming the pieces - but as I have no real knowledge of firearms, I've just gone ahead and given them my own labels. I'll try to upload a sketch with my notation for reference in a day or two. For now- updates!

Today I fixed up three parts of the design:
  • Handle Frame (the part of the handle that is structurally linked to the body of the weapon)
  • Underbarrel Attachment Point (the rounded parts with the pill-shaped carve-outs under the barrel of the gun)
  • Ammo Door (the right-side of the gun-body)

I'm particularly excited about the Ammo Door; I saw at least one other maker build a functional door and I've been working on mine as well. I'm thinking of putting some light up 'power cells' inside the cavity, so that when you open the door - it triggers some LEDs to turn on and look like angry glowing energy cells! I've also designed space for a bearing and some magnets to both give it good rotation, and lock it safely in place when closed. Some updated renders below!

wip5.png wip6.png wip7.png wip8.png
Some work on the trigger mechanism today - I also started adding placeholders for the electronic components I'll be adding to the print in green. I have a hard-back-stop and front-stop for the trigger to limit its motion - and I'm going to be placing a string on the lower mounting point. The upper mounting point acts as the back-stop, and will also house the momentary switch that tells the circuitry that the trigger has been pulled. I checked through my parts bin shortly after updating the model, and realized I didn't have the right component - so I'm going to have to change the mounting piece for the smallest form-factor switch I do have (picture below, measurement in cm).

wip9 trigger mechanism.png wip10 trigger mechanism.png IMG_20200512_010915.jpg
Ugh - rough news today. My computer had a bad time this week and I permanently lost my reference files, and all the modeling work I'd done on the Pauldrons. I managed to save the Blaster (thank god) by pulling it up an autosaved version from the other night.

Frustrating, but the pauldrons weren't the hardest to design anyway - so I'm counting my lucky stars the Blaster is intact.
After getting together a new set of reference photos - I knocked out the blaster's Hammer, Handles, and the barrel Heatsink (long bar on the left side with a grill at the front). I'm really happy with the Hammer and Heatsink, but I think the handles could use some work. At minimum, I need to thin them out a bit - as right now I think they're too wide.

wip11 handles and hammer.png wip12 handles and hammer.png wip13 handles and hammer.png

I also did some research regarding scale. I'm going to be aiming for a total length of 32cm in length. I'm still struggling with the width of the gun, so right now I'm basing it off of the barrel radius indicating the main body width - and then bulking out from there.
Birthday update! (Yes, I spent my birthday working on the blaster :p )

I've started doing some clean up work on the existing parts of the blaster - either adding detail or adjusting the size and beveling of certain components. I want to give thanks and a shout out to JOATRASH FX for providing some advice on the blaster scale - it helped me manage the width and the whole model feels a LOT more consistent now. Some work in progress photos today instead of renders - but I think I'll be ready to work on the big Heatsink components on the top of the Blaster tomorrow!!



The geometry of this section was a little tricky to figure out - but I'm pretty happy with the result.
Easily the most complex part of the Blaster so far - but it has been SUPER worth it to see the render! Today I modeled what I'm calling the Heat Exchanger on the top of the prop. There is one little detail missing from it that I'll add tomorrow, but otherwise I'm thrilled with it! Take a look:

wip19 heat exchanger.png
wip20 heat exchanger.png

wip21 heat exchanger.png
wip22 heat exchanger.png
I took the evening to knock out the remaining exterior pieces of the Blaster - and I think I'm just about done! Next up, I'm going to break the main body apart and work on some of the interior components I want so that:

a) It's easier to print in pieces, paint separately, and then put together
b) I can ensure I have room for any electrical components

For now - here are some renders of the completed exterior! Criticism is welcome - if you have any thoughts on how I put this together please let me know - I'd like to keep improving and get it as accurate as I can.

wip23 complete external.png
wip24 complete external.png
wip25 complete external.png
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This week I took the steps to go from virtual to physical!

I decided on a few key cut-points that I could live with and are ideally placed to 'hide my crimes' as Adam Savage would put it. As I optimized the pieces for printing, I found and improved on a number of areas to optimize assembly, alignment, and mounting of future electrical components.

And I'm really pleased with how the prints have turned out :love:

I'm using a new PLA material and tuning the setting took a few tries - but after a few failed test prints (see below) I've landed on some great settings and have been printing off the pieces for my Blaster with minimal-to-no noticeable warping.

wip26 test prints.jpg

Top left printed using black PETG, didn't play nice. The other three on the left were space-grey PLA using various settings, and all warped during the print. The one on the right was with the tuned settings, and properly fits the bearing I'll use for rotation.

The next step is going to be carefully removing the skirts, supports, or large pieces of excess material from the prints, and test-fitting them together. I'll be sure to take some pictures of the pieces fit together and post them as soon as I can. I'm expecting a fair bit of overhang as the material does shrink slightly during printing, but I'll make up for in the next step - which involves many grits of sandpaper, some epoxy, spot-filler, and a whole lot of elbow grease - but we'll get to that in a bit. For now, here are some photos of the prints!

wip35 in progress.jpg
wip38 prints.jpg
wip42 prints.jpg
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Today I did a test-fit of all the structural pieces - my design includes some purely mechanical connections, so I didn't actually need to take that many bits down! A few key learnings:

  • I'm going to reprint the handle as one piece. The two sit together well, but there is some subtle warping between them that, added together, torques the two sides of the blaster out of alignment.
  • The front right attachment point needs to lose a little bit of length so that the ammo door fits.
  • The left front attachment point needs to lose a little length too.
  • All of the pin details came out great, but the tiny details printed separately need to be a little smaller.
  • Because of all the cuts in printing, I'm going to be using a fair bit of epoxy & spot putty to fill gaps - but I'll deal with that after an initial sanding, which will help some of the pieces make closer connections.
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Big update time - it's been a little while since I've posted but I've been working away at the Blaster all the same.

After I realized that a few parts on the gun were miss-sized, I went back to CAD and re-cut the model to avoid some of the print-deformation that was happening during fabrication. I placed the cuts where I knew I could either hide them with other parts, or have an easy time filling them and sanding them clean - and it WORKED! I took the same opportunity to re-design my trigger mechanism, including a custom 3D printed spring to provide more resistance on the trigger pull. It works great, and the newly printed body pieces also have mechanical slots I worked in - so the entire body now can be put together/taken apart mechanically - and the parts sit flush with each-other.

I've sanded all the parts down with 240-grit sandpaper in a first pass, and they're all feeling smooth. To address some of the cut-lines and uneven parts - I'm going to be doing a pass with a Bondo Spot Putty this weekend, and another pass with 240-grit. Then I'll be priming all the parts to reveal any other places that need touch-up before increasing the sanding grit!

Finally - as my ammo compartment door now fits and swings smoothly on it's bearing, I've been designing the internal power-cell I'm basic off of an old asset from the Star Wars: Dark Forces 2 game (1990s) - and I made a quick rendering of it in action! Let me know what you guys think!! You can find it on YouTube here: Power Cell Render/Animation on YouTube


Look how flush those seams line up! None of these are glued together - just mechanically fit!!


This forward section was the part that was warping during print before - the fit has improved significantly. After this I bonded the forward parts together and with the left side, so that they make a single solid piece. From here: I can consistently put together and take apart the blaster:

wip52 mechanical fit.jpg
wip53 mechanical fit.jpg
wip54 mechanical fit.jpg
wip55 mechanical fit.jpg

I can't stress enough how satisfying it is to put this thing together and take it apart reliably every time! I also added a mounting section for my momentary switch - which reacts to the trigger pull. As the resistance in the switch was good small - I also designed and printed a sprint to add extra resistance (or weight) to the trigger! Check out the video below with sound on and you can actually hear the trigger click when pulled.

wip56 springs.jpg
wip57 trigger and spring.jpg

Spot putty to the rescue!

This is after 2 passes of adding filler putty, and sanding it back down with the 240 grit. The first pass did a pretty good job of filling up some cavities and adding a little more material to the front-parts which were slightly proud, but the second pass improved it significantly and I'm feeling just about ready to prime these main pieces! There are a few more little bits I need to fill - but I'll handle those one evening this week and prime everything as soon as the humidity breaks!

wip59 filler.jpg
wip63 filler.jpg

Spot putty/filler round 1 - please ignore my messy application, this is a new material for me. Pretty good once sanded down, but still some uneven bits.

wip65 filler.jpg
wip68 filler.jpg

Round 2 looking a LOT better - these pieces are ready for priming, which should make it easier to spot any remaining areas in need of some filler.
I think tonight I'm going to do a little work on the new Pauldron CAD models. I'm going to do some basic white boxing first and get the proportions right, then go into detail from there. Here are some of the references I'm going to be working off:

60degree angle.jpg80degree angle.jpgfront angle standing 2.jpgfront angle standing 3.jpgInner lip.jpg
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Pauldron whiteboxing is done - and the shape seems about right based on my reference. I am a little surprised that they aren't wider, but from the camera angles this actually looks about right. May need to tweak the shape a bit to get it to feel right, but that's what this stage is for. One this is done I'm going to move on to doing the master model, which will include all the detail (the whitebox is missing the rivots at the top, the bevels between the plate and the bars, the rabbit around the side and lower parts of the plate, etc.), and will get it much closer to printing. I'm also going to have to figure out the best size for my own shoulder, and scale it accordingly - but this is a good start!


I set up the frame first, as it helps guide the flow of the material.


The benefit of whiteboxing is that I don't need to be too caring about my topography. That'll change in the master model though and the Mandalorian armor has some pretty interesting shapes so it should be a fun challenge!
Work stuff has been insane the last few weeks so I've had less time to focus on personal projects. However, I've been running the blaster parts through rounds of priming, sanding, and filling to get them ready to paint. Also - my microcontroller finally arrived, so I can get started on programming some key features for the Blaster! I've got a few ideas for what it can do, beyond just 'blaster noises' - and I'm going to be keeping the code open-source so you can check it out on GitHub if you're code-inclined: zachfejes/mandalorian_blaster_esp32

More updates soon!
I've been doing a while lot of priming, filling, and sanding, and I'm pretty happy with the results. I've also gone ahead and printed the remainder of the small pieces. As indicated a while back, I designed a power-cell, which I'm going to backlight with LEDs in a cool pulsing pattern. I took some liberties basing it off and an asset from the 1990s Dark Forces II game, and I like how it looks!


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