Thursday, February 10, 2011

Drill, Baby! Drill!

Now when I started this costume, I decided I did not want to do the drill arm weapon, but do some other weapon from the game.  The drill arm is complicated to build.  Its heavy to wear.  It can just be awkward.  Unfortunately, I never really know what I am doing.  The drill arm is an icon of the game and synonymous with the Big Daddies.  Without it, my costume could just be a guy in a diving suite with a girl riding on his back.

The build has not disappointed me.  It has been hard and complicated and a royal pain, but the result is pretty cool.  The goal is something like this:


The drill actually makes up the right arm of the character from about the elbow down.  there is a support piece that starts at the elbow and then the main drill mechanism starts at the hand and goes nearly to the floor, when the arm is held straight down.

I would need a cordless drill.  Some sort of housing for it and a way to relocate the trigger and battery.  I have several cordless drills, but all the batteries were dead in them except my main one, and I wasn’t about to butcher it.  I got a new Ryobi 9.6 volt drill for less than $30.  It stayed in one piece for about a day and then was taken to the basic parts and a new housing built.

Drill Arm 1Drill Arm 2

The tape was mainly just to hold everything in place while the PVC cement cured, but I never bothered to remove it later.

Drill Arm 3

The new handle with the trigger mounted inside.

I did have the arm support piece connected for a while, but in the course of the build, it eventually broke.  This actually made it easier to finish the drill, but I’ll have to go back and repair it before long.


Drill Arm 4Drill Arm 5

Next I got a threaded rod for the spin of the drill.  I was going to use just a wooden dowel, but they are never very straight and I needed this to be as straight as I could.  Mainly because I know I’ll get something in off center (and I did) and having something start crooked would only compound the problem.  Unfortunately even threaded rods are not perfectly straight.

Drill Arm 6The disks are in place to help hold the rest of the skeleton in place and guide me in making the cone shape.

Drill Arm 7

It took about 4 different builds to get here.  The upper portion was easy enough, but the lower half is below the drill and over my arm.  The spinning motion had to transfer from the top down, but as it did some of the off center and bent bits really showed up.  I ended up having to cover the internal drill housing with a layer of foam to smooth it out and protect it from the spinning skeleton.  What was happening was as it would spin one of the support ribs would hit the support on the drill housing and either start a horrid wobble or snap everything on the lower half.  By covering the drill housing, I left nothing for the ribs to grab onto, so if they did wobble, they would bounce and glide.  I also hoped once I got the skin on it and strengthened it more, the wobble would lessen.


Drill Arm 8Drill Arm 9

A day spent gluing on the skin of card stock.  I had a hard time with this simply waiting for the glue to dry.  The purple tape is just painter’s tape that I used to hold a few bits in place while the glue dried.  Once it tried, it was time for the drill edge.

I had a thought about using a spiral cut out of the blue foam and just wrapping it down the drill.  It was a good idea, but it didn’t work.

Idea number two was to wrap a string around the drill and take bits of card stock and layer them using the string as a guide.  That worked really well.

Drill Arm 11Drill Arm 12Drill Arm 13

I used the painter’s tape again, simply because I didn’t know if this would work or not.  Once it did, I switched to regular masking tape and replaced most of the painter’s tape.

One problem I had with this was after one night of gluing, wrapping the string, and adding more paper the weight had gotten too much for the drill and pulling the trigger resulted in just the lovely chunking sound.  I had forgotten when I was working out why the drill kept destroying itself that I lowered the torque setting to the very lowest setting.  Now I had to cut it open and raise the setting higher.

Drill Arm 14Bandage in place with painter’s tape while the glue dried.

Once that was set, I replaced the string and continued to wrap the card stock pieces.  Eventually it was done.

Drill Arm 15Drill Arm 16

Fortunately too, this was something I could do in my office where it is warm and it is easy enough to do this while on conference calls too.


Drill Arm 17Drill Arm 18

Drill Arm 19

Here’s a video of it actually working.  The music and giggles in the background are from the soundtrack I am making to have playing from the costume.  Just music from the game and the voices of the Big Daddy and Little Sister.

Holy crap the thing works!

The next steps will be to cover the whole thing with a layer of paper Mache and then once the weather warms up a little, a light layer of fiberglass resin and paint.

In hindsight, I am actually glad that I built this thing.