Showing posts with label Team Fortress 2. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Team Fortress 2. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Team Fortress 2 Backburner

When I was commissioned to build Sasha, I was also asked if I could build the Backburner at the same time, with the same deadline of a month.  Again, I said yes.
Any questions regarding my sanity should now be clear.

The Backburner is one of the weapons the character Pyro uses.

I admit that after watching the video, I wanted to make the bubbly flamethrower too.

Backburner - Reference
Going off of the reference images, I could break down the parts of the Backburner:
Gas pump handle
Fuel tank
Looking at it that way made it a bit more manageable.  Plus it didn’t hurt one bit that I already had a gas pump handle sitting around.
Backburner Handle
What?  You mean everyone doesn’t keep antique gas pump handles around just in case you ever need one?  Actually this one was bought a long time ago and was supposed to become a Bioshock Adam syringe.
The fuel tank was a bigger challenge.  I couldn’t use an actual small capacity propane tank.  Just too heavy and I’m sure con security would flip out seeing one walk in.  I’d seen where others had used garden pressure sprayers as the fuel tank.  Not a bad place to start.
Backburner Fuel Tank
Bit of modding with some PVC pipe fittings and the look is getting there.
Backburner Fuel Tank 2
Some fiberglass work to get it all looking like one piece.
Backburner Tank 3
Bondo, sanding, prime, bondo, sanding, prime, rinse, wash, repeat.
The holes were made with a 1 inch spade drill bit, and were the most frightening thing I have ever done.  Spade bits + PVC = PVC part flying all over the place when the bit catches or the drill spinning out of control and trying to break your wrist.
Backburner Tank 4
I hate when seams are visible.
Now about this time, the weather took a cold snap, too cold to work with Bondo.  On to the body parts then.
Honestly, these are just a few pieces of PVC pipe and fittings.  The custom cuts were all done with a Dremel.
Backburner 1Backburner 2Backburner 3Backburner 4Backburner 5
I really don’t know why, but the small fuel nozzle under the main thrower was my favorite part of this whole thing.  To get the bend in the pipe, I just used a heat gun and a lot of patience.
Now came the hardest part of this whole build: strapping all these pieces together.  Wrapping aluminum straps around three different round objects was more of a challenge than I ever thought.
Backburner 6
I hate this picture of me, but I love that Remus is right beside me.  He was no help at all, really.  Cats suck at prop making.

Backburner 7
Fun thing is that the hose that came with the garden sprayer worked out perfectly for the fuel line.
As you can see, this thing is huge, and needs some paint.
Backburner 8Backburner 9Backburner 10Backburner 11
Please forgive me for the mess that is my workshop.  I’m trying to clean it up a little, but it gets seriously trashed during the winter.
This headpiece was the most intimidating part of this build.  I went through several ideas and trial versions before I stumbled across a solution.
Backburner 12
That is part of a milk jug.  Well, sweat tea jug actually.  It had just the right curve and angles.  The textured bottom even gave the nose a scale like surface.  I started calling the Backburner Jug Head at this point.
For the details, I thought about just painting them on, but that felt like a cheap cop out.  Instead, I sculpted them out of Apoxy Sculpt.
Lastly was a lot of hand painting for the details.
Once all the weathering and touch up had been applied, it was done, and just in time too.
Thanks for reading through all this.  As a bonus for sticking around, here’s Sasha and Backburner in action at Chattacon.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Team Fortress 2–Sasha


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. 

Meet the Heavy

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?

Fortunately, Sasha is a pretty simple shape.  Mostly just cylinders.TF2-Sasha-062

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.


The trigger will get cleaned up with the final grip. The zip ties are only temporary.

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.


This “ammo feed box” was also added.  It’s real purposes is to hold and hide the drill’s battery while keeping it removable for recharging.

I really wish I had weighed Sasha at this point.  She was getting heavy.

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. 

Blacked out.

Belly up.

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.