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  1. Zinger's Avatar
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    Apr 6, 2017, 8:30 PM - Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #1

    After years of thinking about it, I've finally started work on Kevin Matchstick's glowing baseball bat from Mage - The Hero Discovered.

    Update 8/15

    I've completed a 2nd version of the bat. This one has the battery in the barrel of the bat, so there's no external wires or need for the trench coat. I can't add any more pictures in the body of this post, so I'll leave one in the comments.

    Build details here. https://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=280492

    Update 6/17

    On my second day of cosplaying, a friend of Matt Wager (creator of this character) took my pix and sent it to Wagner.

    It's now on his Facebook page.

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    Update 6/16

    Finished it this morning. Just in time for Awesome Con.

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    Honestly, it looks better in the picture than IRL. I didn't enough diffusion in the handle so the LEDs show up as hot spots. You can see that in the reflection off the desk. Also, I made the end caps too thick, so they are a bit too dark.

    Live and learn.

    Last Update for 6/8 - It's beautiful!

    Here's what I was aiming for and what I've got.
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    The lit-up picture was taken in my office with full normal lighting. That's 9 overhead flood lights. The bat still saturated my phone's camera and forced it to cut the exposure.

    Best thing yet? That was with just one string of LEDs!!!!! I think I can get 3 strings in the barrel of the bat.

    There's a wonky seam up the back of the bat and the handle section is wobbly. I didn't get the resin evenly distributed across the whole surface of the mold. That's OK. I'm going to cut the barrel end and the handle off and replace them with 3D printed parts to mount the LEDs.

    I'm really happy with how this came out. Not 100% happy though. If my wallet recovers between Awesome Con and Otakon I might try the mold and casting again. I made some rookie mistakes that, now that I know about them, will be easy to avoid.

    Update 6/8 - Don't judge me. I'm a little bit afraid. The mold and mother mold are done. There's nothing left to do but cast it. Over 3 months of work, research, planning and more money than I'm willing to admit to all comes down to the next several hours.

    Wish me luck.

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    Update 6/3 - I made major progress this weekend. I rotocast the test handle and lit it up. Compare my pix to the drawing

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    That's 9 LEDs in a 5" section. Very encouraging.

    Full details in comment below.

    Update 5/22: Here are latest WIP photos.

    Making a 1:2 scale baby bat to practice on the lathe before turning the positive for the bat.

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    And mounted on a base to make the glove mold this week.

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    Mounting the LED strip on a plastic tube covered in aluminium foil. It's bright enough it hurts your eyes. This will go up the center of the resin shell.

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    And finally, starting to turn the full sized bat.

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    End Update.

    I'm going to roto-cast a shell of a bat using a translucent urethane plastic and load it up with cool white LEDs. I'm using HitLights high density Luma 20 LED strips, With 38 LEDs and 828 lumens per foot, they should be plenty bright.

    https://www.hitlights.com/luma20tm-s...trips-smd-2835

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    I was worried about heat dissipation in the bat, so I put the whole reel and the battery in a food container and turned it on. After 10 minutes, the temperature in the box was about 105 F. That's higher than the max temperature for the LEDs, but I was encouraged. They were packed in much more densely in the box than they will be in the bat.

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    Today, I cut up a cheap toy bat from Target and tested the brightness and heat.

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    I only used two sections of LEDs for this test. It was so bright it was uncomfortable to look at. After 10 minutes the temperature near the LEDs was only 75 F. I think I can fit 3, maybe 4, sections in the full sized bat. Depends on the trade off between brightness and battery life.

    I modeled a bat in Autodesk Fusion 360, so I could get volume and surface area measurements. I'm new to 3D modeling, so it was a good learning exercise.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I plan on mounting the LED strips on a dowel or plastic rod. I'm going to 3D print caps for the ends of the bat. The caps will have hollow pegs on the inside to hold the rod in place. I modeled those in Fusion 360 so I can 3D print them with a translucent filament.

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    Based on my test today, I might not need the ventilation holes.

    Wish me luck.
    Last edited by Zinger; Aug 15, 2017 at 9:41 PM. Reason: Because the character's creator just posted about me on Facebook. That's why.
  2. Zinger's Avatar
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    Apr 22, 2017, 9:05 AM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #2

    Making a bit more progress. The LED strip draws 5 amps DC. That's a lot to run through a small switch. So I designed a power control circuit using a reed switch and a MOSFET. (Disclaimer - This is the first power circuit I've ever built and I got the basic design from a UK Vaping site. Copy at your own risk.)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I proto-typed the circuit on a bread board this morning. It works like a charm.

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    Now to solder it together permanently and start working on the mold for the bat's shell.
  3. Zinger's Avatar
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    Apr 27, 2017, 11:23 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #3

    This project is moving in fits and starts. It requires several things I've never done before, like design a power circuit and roto-cast a baseball bat. So I'm taking it slow, building my skills and learning as I go.

    Tonight I completed lathe safety certification at my local Makerspace. We started with square blocks of various woods and ended up with little ring holders.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Next step is to turn a 16 inch "Baby Bat" to practice mold making and roto casting with. I don't want to screw up $100 worth of silicone and resin trying to cast the full sized bat. Especially since that will be my first time trying to cast something like this.
  4. doctorwholittle's Avatar
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    May 2, 2017, 5:17 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #4

    I will be utterly fascinated to see how this turns out! A friend of mine and I had toyed with the idea of a piece of frosted acrylic lathed into the shape of a bat, then light it up ala the latest light sabres, but it was expensive and heavy as all get out.

    Please keep posting. I'll keep coming back!

    Sent from my SM-N920T using Tapatalk
  5. Zinger's Avatar
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    May 3, 2017, 7:28 AM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #5

    I started down the acrylic rod route, too. But was stopped by the weight and expense. I went so far as to search Alibaba for a cheap overseas source of acrylic. Found a great deal, but the minimum order was a ton.

    I'm not sure that casting the bat shell will end up being any cheaper, but it will be lighter. And instead of having several hundred dollars worth of plastic shavings on the shop floor, I'll have a mold I can reuse.
  6. Zinger's Avatar
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    May 4, 2017, 8:09 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #6

    A little more progress on the bat tonight. I took the control circuit off the breadboard and soldered it onto a piece of protoboard. I also cut the plug off the LED strip and soldered the strip to the control circuit. It's now ready to mount in the bat shell. As soon as I make the bat shell, that is. That's the next step.

    Here's the circuit. From design and simulation:

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    To bread board:
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    To layout:
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    To protoboard (I'm only showing the component side because my soldering skills need some serious work):

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    To something that is starting to resemble the bat for the first time.

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    I just got a big box from Smooth-On. I know what I'll be doing this weekend.
  7. Zinger's Avatar
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    May 21, 2017, 7:56 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #7

    I've got four projects going at once, so this one has been on the back burner for a couple of weeks. This week it moved to the front burner. I made some good progress.

    First, I went from electrical to physical and started the pattern for the bat mold. Rather than just buying a cheap bat, I'm turning my own on a lathe at my MakerSpace. I hadn't touched a lathe since high school. I wanted to get back into turning and this seemed like the perfect excuse. Plus, after I finish these projects I'm starting a new one for my daughter. That will require a lathe. So this is good practice.

    I started by making a couple 1:2 scale bats for practice. Those turned out pretty well. The shape is a little wonky, but I learned enough I'm confident I'll be able to do the big bat.

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    I mounted the second baby bat on a board so I can make the silicone glove mold for it. Hopefully, I'll get that done this week.

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    I've started the big bat today. I copied the profile of a classic Louisville Slugger into Fusion 360.

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    Then I outlined the profile so I could measure the diameter at 3" increments. That will make it easier to get the shape of the big bat right.

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    I got a real bat billet from a local hardwood supplier for $15. I started turning it today. If I do a decent job on it, I should be able to use it as a real bat.

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    The billet was square, so I had to turn it round first. Then I smoothed the surface and mostly finished the barrel end. I ran out of time before I could do the handle. That will have to be this week sometime too.

    Finally, I mounted the LEDs. I got a cheap florescent bulb protector from Amazon for less than $3. That's the only cheap thing in this project so far. I wrapped it in aluminum foil to reflect stray light back out and wound the LED strip around it in a spiral.

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    This picture doesn't do it justice. It's so bright, it hurts to look at. If I can diffuse the LEDs so the light is smooth without loosing too many photons, it's going to look great.

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    Zombie Killer suggested using the lenticular screens from a broken flat screen in another thread. If the resin shell doesn't do the job, I might try that.

    25 days till Awesome Con. I'd better get moving.
    Last edited by Zinger; May 21, 2017 at 8:06 PM.
  8. Zinger's Avatar
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    May 26, 2017, 10:02 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #8

    I had to abandon the baby bat. I'd coated it with shellac after I turned it. Turns out silicon can bond to shellac. I can't practice mold making and test my material using the baby bat now.

    Instead, I turned a test handle out of the same billet I'm using to make the big bat.

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    While I was at it, I practiced my lathe skills. I must be getting better. I couldn't get a finish like that "straight off the tool" with a skew chisel before tonight.

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    While I was at it, I finished the full sized bat. Here it is as I added the diameter cuts to get the dimensions.

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    Shaping done. Now time to sand and finish. This time no shellac.

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    I am the Pendragon and this is Excalibur!

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  9. doctorwholittle's Avatar
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    May 27, 2017, 6:59 AM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #9

    Very nice!!

    Sent from my SM-N920T using Tapatalk
  10. Zinger's Avatar
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    Jun 3, 2017, 9:16 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #10

    I learned a lot with the test rotocast. Here's the process.

    First lesson, it takes a whole lot of Smooth-On to get anything done.

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    Here's the first "stipple" coat of Rebound 25. You dab it on instead of brushing it on to minimize air entrapment. This is a pretty simple positive, so that probably wasn't a big deal. But that's how every video says to do it.

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    I colored the second coat to ensure even coverage. I picked green because I was recently told "Magic is green, dontchaknow?"

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    I cut up some extra silicone that set up from a previous batch to make registration keys. I stuck those on after the 3rd coat and finished the mold with a final green coat.

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    Second lesson, keep things neat. Those clunky registration keys are a pain to work. So is the rough surface. For the big bat, I'll have to be much smoother.

    Here's making the clay barrier and mother mold. I made it with Plasti Paste, another fine Smooth-On product. Demold was easier than I expected give all the rough surfaces.

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    Third lesson. Keep things neat and smooth. See above.

    Time to cast. I mixed up about 1/2 a small Dixie bathroom cup of Smooth-Cast 57D and poured it into the mold. I turned and tumbled the mold until the Smooth-Cast gelled. That took the promised 3 minute pot life of the resin. Repeat twice more at 15 minute intervals.

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    Fourth lesson. I'm probably going to have to make the mother mold for the big bat in sections. It was hard to get the silicone mold to mate well with the mother mold on this 5" piece.

    Here's the finished part.

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    Fifth lesson. Bubbles suck. Instead of just dumping the resin into the mold, I'll use the "long pour" method on the big bat.

    Sixth lesson. Use a plug to keep the resin in the mold and make it easier to tumble. I ended up spilling a good amount of expensive resin and got a uneven coating inside the finished part because of that. One side is about 0.05". It's quite floppy and the LEDs shine straight through it. The opposite side is 0.2". It's solid and gives good diffusion.

    And finally, "First Light"!

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    Two weeks till Awesome Con. I think I'll actually get this thing done.
    Last edited by Zinger; Jun 4, 2017 at 7:59 AM.
  11. doctorwholittle's Avatar
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    Jun 4, 2017, 12:42 AM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #11

    Don't know why, but the attachments aren't coming through.

    Sent from my SM-N920T using Tapatalk
  12. Zinger's Avatar
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    Jun 4, 2017, 7:57 AM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #12

    doctorwholittle said: View Post
    Don't know why, but the attachments aren't coming through.

    Sent from my SM-N920T using Tapatalk
    Weird. I had to upload all the pics again. Try it now.
  13. doctorwholittle's Avatar
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    Jun 4, 2017, 3:39 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #13

    Muuuch better!! Looking great - can't wait to see the big bat.

    Sent from my SM-N920T using Tapatalk
  14. Zinger's Avatar
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    Jun 4, 2017, 4:17 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #14

    doctorwholittle said: View Post
    can't wait to see the big bat.

    Sent from my SM-N920T using Tapatalk
    A sneak peak at my next update.

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    It almost looks like I know what I'm doing.
  15. Zinger's Avatar
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    Jun 8, 2017, 5:51 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #15

    One more decision before I pour. The bat always has a blue tint in the comics. Should I add a little blue So-Strong to the final batch of resin or just go with white?

    I think I'm going with white. If I don't like it, I can add a thin coat of blue 57D later.
  16. Zinger's Avatar
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    Jun 8, 2017, 8:03 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #16

    I've finished 4 resin pours and used every drop of Smooth-cast 57D I have.

    Now we play the waiting game. And try to figure out how to clean resin off the shop floor.

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    Last edited by Zinger; Jun 9, 2017 at 2:30 PM.
  17. Zinger's Avatar
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    Jun 8, 2017, 9:24 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #17

    The answer for cleaning resin off the shop floor was not to wipe it up. That made things worse.

    Wait until the spills partially cure, then scrape them up with a putty knife covered in mold release.
  18. Zinger's Avatar
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    Jun 15, 2017, 9:45 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #18

    Awesome Con starts at noon tomorrow. I'm really close to done. If I hadn't cut my finger, I could finish tonight.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  19. Zinger's Avatar
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    Jun 16, 2017, 9:16 AM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #19

    It's done. I'm not 100% happy with it but it will do for today. I might make a second attempt for Otakon.
  20. doctorwholittle's Avatar
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    Jun 16, 2017, 9:15 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #20

    Zinger said: View Post
    It's done. I'm not 100% happy with it but it will do for today. I might make a second attempt for Otakon.
    Anxiously... but patiently... awaiting pix. Can't wait to see hiw it turned out!!

    Sent from my SM-N920T using Tapatalk
  21. Zinger's Avatar
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    Jun 16, 2017, 11:01 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #21

    doctorwholittle said: View Post
    Anxiously... but patiently... awaiting pix. Can't wait to see hiw it turned out!!

    Sent from my SM-N920T using Tapatalk
    picture is at the top of this post. I added it as an update so people didn't have to scroll all the way down to see it. :-)

    I was wrong to worry it wasn't going to be bright enough. It really shines.
  22. doctorwholittle's Avatar
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    Jun 17, 2017, 10:00 AM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #22

    Very, VERY cool, Zinger! Nicely done, and it looks great. Can't wait to see the con/after-con pix!

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  23. Zinger's Avatar
    Member Since
    Mar 2017
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    Jun 17, 2017, 6:01 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #23

    doctorwholittle said: View Post
    Very, VERY cool, Zinger! Nicely done, and it looks great. Can't wait to see the con/after-con pix!

    Sent from my SM-N920T using Tapatalk
    Would you believe that on my 2nd day ever cosplaying a friend of Matt Wagner's spotted me at Awesome Con. He took my picture, which Wagner immediately posted on Facebook.
  24. doctorwholittle's Avatar
    Member Since
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    Jun 17, 2017, 6:25 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #24

    THAT ROCKS!!!

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  25. Zinger's Avatar
    Member Since
    Mar 2017
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    Aug 15, 2017, 9:43 PM - Re: Mage - The Hero Discovered Kevin's Bat WIP #25

    Here's a pic of the Mark II. To give you some idea of how bright it is, this was taken with full office lighting. Just have to work out the end caps and the shadow in the middle.

    Attachment 752253

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