During the month of December, I was commissioned to create a Team Fortress 2 Sasha mini-gun to accompany a female Heavy Weapon Guy(Gal?) cosplay.
The big requirement here was that my client wanted the barrels to spin and it needed to be done in time for Chattacon on January 25th.
One month to build a spinning mini-gun? Sure! Why not?
Honestly, the part that I was considering to be the hardest was finding a way to mount all six barrels straight and even. This is where I wish had a laser cutter like another prop builder *cough*Volpin*cough*.
After a lot more math than I ever planned on, I had a barrel mechanism in place.
I used PVC pipes for the barrels because, well, they look like barrels. I would come to regret this later.
The two backmost disks had a threaded rod bolted through them. This would act as the part that the cordless drill will connect to in order to provide the spinning motion.
Now I needed the rest of the body to house the barrels. Another PVC pipe and a concrete form tube worked out nicely with some metal strapping and custom bolts to hold everything in place.
Up next, the cage around the barrels and the top handle. More PVC and a mix of 3/4” and 1/2” MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). I went the MDF route because it is durable and can be easily formed by sanding. It is heavy, however.
At this point, I’m now ready for the back handle and the drill electronics. Again, more PVC and more MDF. I used a heat gun to bend the PVC in order to reduce the number of couplers I’d have to use and keep a smoother look.
This Y shaped piece was much harder than I planned. It originally had a piece that came out and went into the PVC handle. This ended up breaking. More metal strapping and some Plumbers Putty fixed that.
With all the electronics in place, it was time to mount the 9.6 volt drill motor and give this a test. Up to this point all my tests had been done with my person 20 volt drill and it had been working fine. However, a 20 volt drill has about twice the power of a 10 volt drill. This idea never entered my head until I pulled the trigger for the first time with the 10 volt drill. Nothing happened. I got a high pitched whine and a click. No spinning. The next two days, I tested batteries, chargers, connections, everything. Nothing worked. Then it finally clicked. The 6 3/4” PVC pipes were just too heavy for the smaller drill. Remember when I said I would regret using PVC earlier, well here it is.
All of Sasha was heavy. My wife had a hard time picking her up and moving around with her. The barrels added a ton of front heavy weight too. That put all the weight on your left arm. The right just guided it and pulled the trigger. How do I lighten the whole thing and get the spin back? By dumping the PVC barrels, that’s how.
A day’s rework and now we had nice, lighter Poplar dowel barrels. The drill could spin these easily. However, during the rebuild, the drill motor got knocked around a little and was slightly off center now. This caused a little bit of wobble in the end of the barrels. Unfortunately, I had no time to fix it. To get to the drill motor, nearly all of Sasha would have to be taken apart again. Fortunately, my client said it was OK and didn’t mind the wobble.
On to paint.
This was a lot harder than I expected. Next time I build a Sasha, I have to do it in a way to be disassembled for painting. Getting in all those little spaces was nearly impossible.
Custom boxed attic fan for ventilation.
I was loving how she looked all one color. This pleased me. Also, at this point, I finally stopped wrestling with her every time I tried to stand her up like this. Two small “chocks” gave her a solid base to work with.
There was a lot of touch-up and hand painting to get everything just right, but the final result was very nice.
Sasha is now in the possession of my client and she was very happy with how she came out. Sasha is still a little heavier than I would have liked, but hey, cosplay + a workout = effective multi-tasking.