Sunday, August 25, 2013


As per my previous post, I've already blown my budget as much as I can afford to, but, I guess there's nothing wrong with having something but not need it, than needing something but not have it. I actually need some of the stuff I've recently purchased; it's getting extras of each of them that blew my budget like the Hiroshima. The recent storm actually derailed most of my projects since I couldn't go out to get some of the other stuff I need, and while stuck at home, I couldn't prioritize properly, since my brain was mush all the time.

Anyways, In my quest for a solderless (or at least almost solderless) circuit design, I've stocked up on the essential solutions. Ironic, though, I bought a new soldering iron (from eGizmo), but a couple of weeks before that, bought a soldering gun at CD-R King. The soldering gun took a tad too long to heat up, and barely, so, with my old iron rusting, and the new gun unreliable, I bought another one from a reliable source as back up.

Winded Wiry Worries
Solderless circuits are almost next to impossible especially when dealing with wires that need to be soldered. A few years back, I wouldn't have thought of these simple solutions because I wasn't trying to avoid having to solder anything back then, because I had nothing to solder.

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Wired pin connectors; top left, F double-pin (Alexan); top right FF single-pin (eGizmo); bottom left, FF double pin (eGizmo); bottom right, MM single pin (eGizmo). The ones on the center are 9V battery clips (DEECO). In all my hunting expeditions, eGizmo has the most complete stock of items, though they do run out from time to time.

Geared Gnawing Gets Going

Although having a turntable display is but an add-on if I finish everything on time, my mush of a brain couldn't help ponder on how I will make the SIN's diorama base spin, or turn.

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On separate trips to eGizmo, I bought gears, rollers and geared motors, with a devious plot to rule the world, but even with those assortment of gears, I couldn't finalize a design schematic for the turntable. For one, them gears don't have standard shaft diameters, that even with my varied stock of beams and pipes nothing would fit the ones I needed. So, while rummaging for gears on the RC section of Lil's, I remember them having 3-speed crank gearbox kits, so I got that one as well.

Dastardly Detail Disasters

The support structures I built for the overhead hangar repair module was too bland for comfort that I initially planned to simply scribe panel lines on them to liven them up. But, the more I looked at the modified base, the more convinced I became that it needed raised and recessed sections, to balance it with the rest of the structure.

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So I made detail parts using sandwiched 1.0s then beveled them to give them more depth. These are affixed on a predetermined spot on the support structure.

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More to come...

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Twice, so far, that I went or passed by a certain place because I was looking for something specific or the location was along the way and found something else that is nevertheless somewhat an "ongoing" necessity (in these cases, for Project SIN). I'm already over budget as it is, with just the cost of Stein alone, so I wasn't too keen on a splurge.

There were two sets of things I was actively looking for: cranes, haulers or anything similar, and chains small enough to pass as 1/100 scale. The logical place to look for the cranes/haulers were in TK or TRU, but each cost about PhP150++. I could also go and look at Divisoria (which I still intend to do later on, but I'm so swamped, I didn't even get a chance to go there the last time I was in the Binondo area). I looked for the chains at silver stalls, and even found a few "faux gold" ones at Japan Home/Daiso, but I just wasn't ready to give up looking since I do still have enough time.

I have made rounds a few times at the newly renovated Glorietta, seeing "old" shops mixed with the new. I was there to pass time because I was waiting for my new camera to get cleaned at a service center "nearby" (a story for another time, but I believe mentioning the camera is significant to the continuity of this story). I window shopped in the usual places, and there I found the first of what I was looking for:

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Mobile cranes. I found a couple of them, "hiding" in plain sight, but out of clear view, in one of the shelves at Japan Home. It was easy to miss if one wasn't looking for it, and in that clutter, I might have.

A week after, I had an "impromptu" meet with a model, who then decided to have an impromptu photo shoot. The route to the designated meeting place will take me to a place I rarely got to nowadays because it's either out of the way, or there was just no reason for me to go there. But, little did I know, my curiosity as to why a flock of girls/women were all battling for position in front of a shop at Farmers Plaza, Cubao, gave me that tingling sensation of serendipity after I saw what they were buzzing about.

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Chains. LOTS of them. They are not as fine as what I need, but at 1mm diameter, and P50 each, they would do just fine for my SIN. I found it quite funny how one girl's badly designed fashion jewelry can become one modeler's source of material. These chains will be part of SIN's Hangar Bay scenario.  At this point, I realized that the camera is the commonality in these two serendipitous events.

There is no Rust In Space

I've seen quite a few well-made Hangar Bay dioramas set in space, and when I say well-made, I believe the modeler has taken care in making it look as realistic as possible, except for, maybe one tiny detail: There is no Rust in Space, especially in an active Hangar Base. Most Gundams and mobile suits also won't rust, even on Earth, so, it's one particular detail I don't ever intend on putting on any of my current and future projects, unless of course the theme actually calls for it.

I'll leave it to your imagination (or googling skills) as to why.

Anyways, the SIN's diorama/base is almost done, with most of the main components built or modified. Previously, I've shown a teaser of the main diorama base and I plan to reveal it by then end of September or early October along with everything else. For the meantime, I've done something totally different with the detail on top of the main base, instead of the usual walled hangar (which I see quite a lot nowadays, especially with ready-made chain bases available). Kotobukiya has quite an assortment, but the one I needed/wanted was unavailable locally (it's out of stock online as well), and I wasn't about to order online mainly because of time constraints. Bandai's mechanical system bases are 1/144 scale, which I could probably modify, but again, I was already over-budget. Also, I took note of the fact that if I do use chain bases, it might look just like any other hangar-based themes whether I intended it or not (and I've seen recent and older entries not to be doubtful), so I dropped the idea together.

A year or so ago, I bought a Keiko Action Base at GTO on a whim (even at that time, I wasn't too keen on hangar scenes and chain bases, especially after my first attempt at it was a bust).  But, this one is rather rare, and I've only seen a few of them around being used anywhere. As I have already started modifying it, I had no before shot to speak of, so I'll simply borrow one from Kakashi and a generic shot from the manual.

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Regardless, I wasn't about to use it as is, so I modified it later on to fit the "overhead repair bay" concept I had in mind. First, using 1.0mm WHIPS, I scratch-built whole sections as vertical support systems, using excess parts from the main kit as added detail, and shaping them as similar as possible. Earlier, I thought of getting another such kit so I wouldn't have to build anything else any more, but, with the weather and my schedule as bad as a woman having hot flashes, I decided against it and made most of the time I'm stuck at home working on other projects.

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I separated the parts into useable sections, modified them to increase the structural integrity (the plastic is made of glass-like brittle material, similar to what most Kotobukiya kits are made of), and the kit itself is a complicated mish-mash of interlocking parts, making it rather easy for me to repurpose them.

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As it is, without it mounted on the main base, it kinda reminds me of imperial walkers.

More soon...

Monday, August 12, 2013


What's a hangar base without lights, right? When the year began, I actually already had the idea of a hangar diorama brewing in my head, mainly because my very first ever hangar dio was a rushed bust. Simple as it was, it took me a long time to build, mainly because of inexperience. I wondered back then, as I was engaging my warp engines if I can even pull this one off, because of the lighting it will involve.

A couple of months after, March to be exact, I already had a circuit in mind, bought 5mm and 3mm LEDs, to augment the 5's and 3's and SMCs I already had on hand, as well as some two prong wafer connectors, a new soldering gun and batteries. That being said, I don't like soldering because it's too inconvenient for me, and I try to avoid it as much as possible, hence why I developed non-soldering methods. Little did I know that those purchases (and my soldering woes) would prove to be somewhat "useless" since I "discovered" something I've known and been aware of for quite some time, but, the gears in my head was on low. CD-R King has them for quite some time, but, with my mind being set on building a circuit myself, I ignored it.

In one of my sojourns to Quiapo (Hidalgo for camera stuff and Raon for electronics), hunting for parts and such, I saw an assortment of the thing I ignored at CD-R King. It was then that the gears in my head kicked into high gear, and I told myself, "why didn't I think of that sooner?"

LED strips. They come in all sorts of color variants. This particular roll contains 60 LEDs per meter at 5 meters per roll, and can be bought at P100 per meter. Prices range from P100 to P400 depending on the type (there are multi-color and double types which of course, are more expensive), and for this particular type, the cheapest I found so far is at P100/m. They are rated at 12 volts, but they can run on a 9V battery as well with a slight (but acceptable) dimming.

With these, I can lay down a strip of lights with little soldering involved, and no worries about the overall circuitry. The strips can be cut in 3 LED sections, and each section can be re-soldered onto each other or onto a circuit. I can simply cut a strip of appropriate length, and since it is self-adhesive, is easy to mount on almost any solid surface. I've used a 120LED/m type to light the underside of the base, and will use the 60LED/m type (the one pictured above, which incidentally has a black mount wrapped in weatherproof silicone) for overhead lighting. It's a good thing I ignored my impulse to buy the LED strips at CD-R King, because the non-weatherproof type they are selling is already at P680 and the weatherproof type at P780, the only plus is, both have an AC power source included (which I won't need).

Dark Power

Now, with that out of the way, I had to figure out how to power the LEDs. I've always managed with button cells for a switch-less single or double LED setup, but with this, those wouldn't be enough. Four 3V button cells in series can power an entire roll, but since they are not made to handle high loads, the batteries got depleted in a matter of minutes. So, I opted to power them up with 9V batteries. I got 9V battery clips, easy enough to set up with the LEDs and the switches (I will till try to avoid soldering altogether by using two-prong connectors), but to ensure longevity, I'll wire two 9V batteries, either with an interrupt/interchange switch, making one battery the main power, and the other an auxiliary. Switching from main to aux will still be manual, with a main power switch.

Connecting the batteries would be simple, but I didn't want to just leave the batteries loose inside the dio, especially if time permits, I'll be rigging the diorama to a turntable (for that effortless 360° view). So, I built battery cases that will mount on the underside of the dio. At first, I cut pieces of HIPS using the battery as a guide, but I realized it was taking too long to wait for the individual pieces to mount and cure, more so, I would have to reinforce each joins, making the case too thick and heavy as I would like.

So, I did what should have been obvious. WHIPS are more flexible and easily bendable, so, I wrapped a strip of 1.0mm WHIPS onto a 9V battery and cemented the sides with another strip of WHIPS centered on one of the longer sides of the battery, then I cemented a base on one of the ends. The battery fit snugly into place, as such I drilled a 3mm hole on the center of the base so I can simply push the battery out when needed.

More to come...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Sinner's Tease

Getting back into Gunpla (or more like it, cutting plastic), proved to be another painful transition as my hands adjust from light to heavy handling and vice-versa. As I type this, my right-hand fingers are all stiff. mainly because of the pressure I had to apply in cutting the patten I plan to use for the Sin's diorama base. In this case, however, I could have made it simpler if I just cut the pattern through and through and reassemble the pieces like a jigsaw (and used a 0.5mm piece of WHIPS instead), but, it wouldn't serve the purpose of the effect I have in mind overall.

I laid down half of the pattern on a large piece of 1.0mm WHIPS and cut off pieces where I needed, leaving notches in between cuts that would hold the entire piece together, marked by a pencil crossing the main lines and adjusting them as I went.

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And viola! I simply mirrored the piece onto another piece of same sized WHIPS and assembled them side-by side. I was able to replicate the mirrored pieces closely as if it was done on Photoshop. This is the main piece that will lay above the diorama's base.

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Trick Question:  What do you suppose this is?

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More to come...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sin is Inevitable

As July drew to a close, I realized that I haven't really thought of what I'll be doing as my (possible) entry to this year's GBWC. This is quite a busy year for me, mostly in the "real-work" department. I had to put the Hellraiser on hold because I couldn't quite get enough steam to continue working on it even if I wanted to, especially when I always get a call from clients just as I was about to start working on it.

Which was somewhat a good thing. The Hellraiser's wings need a radical redesign, not that my initial design wasn't radical enough to begin with. As usual, I had to contend with weight issues. The magnet solution didn't quite work as I have planned, even with the strong neodymium magnets I got. So, I'll be integrating gears to the redesign.

For the moment, GBWC. Even with ample time, I still wasn't able to start on anything, but I have had the plan in my head for quite some time. My initial plan of making a "frankenstein" monster using a Sinanju and a Stein will take a back seat as I realized there simply wouldn't be enough time for me to do all the modifications needed to make the project work. So, for the first time ever, I'll be working on an entry with very "basic" modifications, and will simply call it "SIN."

What? Another Sinanju? Why?

For one, I consider the Sinanju one of the best MS designs ever. It has a nice combination of curves and lines. It's well-balanced proportion-wise, and has ample detail, that it is sometimes frustrating to add more details to it without ruining it. The Stein, as the lore depicts, was based on the Nu and is actually more its counterpart. I believe, and I'm just speculating, that after the events of Char's Counter Attack, Anaheim was able to recover the Nu, then later on redesigned it as the Stein.

When the Stein was announced, I didn't like it because it was a) white, b) too blocky, c) white. I outgrew that ill-conception as soon as I got one for my planned entry. I still have reservations because its shield's construction is too basic, but it was the shield that made me believe it was the redesigned Nu. It's rifle was also based roughly on the Hi-Nu's rifle. <<<<(You may want to ignore this part altogether, it's just me over thinking the obvious).

I will still use two kits, the Stein I bought last April, and parts from my now dismantled Angelus, plus armor scraps I got recently. Even with all the scraps, I still had to get a few pieces from one of my unbuilt Sinanju kits, plainly because I didn't have any of them in the scrap pile.

Those two kits, side-by-side, will be on a hangar-type diorama. Some, if not most, of you who have seen my work and my modifications would probably wonder why I have resorted to such a "simple" task when most entries nowadays have become so complicated and vast, that, it might just be a waste of time.

I'm not competitive. When I work on something, It's because I want to work on something. Sure, I time certain projects with the GBWC, but I won't rush them into completion just so I could enter, as in the case of the Haribon last year, and the Ronin 3 years before that. As some of you know, I rebooted the Ronin, and the result couldn't have been more ideal at the time.

The modifications were simple enough (I have literally done half of it in a few days), but I'm banking on the concept behind the diorama to boost its chances competition-wise. As we all know, dioramas score 30% of the overall, so a well-made diorama with a good story behind it can score high with the judges.

Well, at least that's how I see it, judging from how the past winners were chosen. It seems there was no clear pattern, but, there's a logic to it, albeit random.  Somewhere in this post there is a ruse.

I won't be posting a WIP, but I'll be taking photos of the project's progress as a whole, and would be posting tidbits and teasers from time to time, if and when time allows it. Half of the time I spend on entries actually involved taking step by step progress, including how I do things, for tutorial later on, but, right now, I can't really afford that luxury, as I still do have projects coming in soon.

So, whether I finish this in time or not, you'll see SIN this October or November.

And These Came in the Mail

Rather, I had these sent to my school since I was on an off-site training.  Bosny Philippines has once again graciously sent me free...