Arcanotech Jumper Cables Prop
Made by Kthies
I made a prop for the CMU RPGA's on-campus LARP system.
Created: May 1st, 2019
For my final project, I wanted to make a prop or costume piece for the CMU RPG Association's on-campus LARP, Zenith! I really enjoy making props, so this was a fun project for me that was also something I'd use a fair amount.
The item as described in our rulebook. It sounded like such a cool item that deserved to have a physical prop made for it.
Since this object would exist in our LARP system, this meant that it had a world already made. The setting is in Zenith, the City of Wonders, where cutting-edge tech is a combination of machinery and magic, steam meets sorcery and steel. The aesthetic is similar to steampunk, but in the game's case the steam is through fusing water and fire elementals, and there's generally more magic than a traditional steampunk setting.
The users would be the adventurers of Zenith, the heroes tasked with going out and solving the city's problems, more often than not with combat prowess and brute force. In combating hostile forces in the city, adventurers get injured, and the Arcanotech Jumper Cables can be used by Master Artificers to revive their allies, like the steampunk equivalent of a combat medic with a defibrillator.
The fabrication process started with a Pirouette can, measured with calipers, and built on top of in cad. The Stratasys printers were limited to a 4" x 4" print bed, so I printed it in segments that were meant to evoke riveted sheets of metal. The parts were washed in the parts washer, and I ultimately decided not to filler prime and then sand the parts due to running low on the paint itself, and to cut down on the time it would take.
Next came woodshop, where I made a wooden support piece so that the ends could be cut off using their metals bandsaw. After filing the edges, we go back to IDeAte, where the parts had their holes sanded up to size and holes were drilled into the can.
After a quick run to Home Depot and $30 later, we have some hardware and a pair of gloves to work with. Some of my earliest thoughts on this project had them as a pair of gloves with some built-in electronics, and I gravitated back to that idea as I worked, since my design process comes out of making and seeing what's around. Step 1 was to rig these gloves up.
Physical Computing had some female barrel jack connectors that looked perfect for the end of the tubes that'll come later, and while they didn't have the male ends, they had these things, which were the perfect size. They were cut down to a better angle and installed into the gloves through some creative cutting, drilling, and application of zip ties. Zip ties are one of a maker's best friends.
The tubing was plugged on one end using epoxy putty, and actual plumbing hardware was installed into the can itself, so that the gloves could be connected to the can, but also disconnected. The tubing was measured to be a good length so that they wouldn't impede my movement, but not much more than that.
A few holes, more epoxy putty, and some structural popsicle sticks later, we had installed the PVC exhaust pipes and the tubing connectors for stowing away the tubes.
Cue a quick stop at woodshop for sanding the pieces for increased adhesion, and we can move onto the painting! I got to use some leftover Rustoleum Metallic paints, which are some of my favorites. My #1 is the darker color, their "oil-rubbed bronze", and I also got to use some of their "aged copper". These paints are a rattlecan primer meant for basically any material, and produce a great metallic finish. While it's not chrome, it's enough to use on its own, or build up layers on top of that for some really complex finishes.
Base coloration, adding a stripe to the bottom of the shell pieces, and a bit of soot on the tip of the exhaust pipes.
Then there was some wiring. It adds a lot of weight, and I really loved one of the on/off switches in Physical Computing. However, I noticed a flickering light, which doing fixes turned into two lights that were off, and fixes to that became all the lights burning out. It's a good reason to not use conductive tape in your design so close to the wiring. Honestly, that one's on me, but I could also replace it all with a bit of elbow grease. Silver lining: I had everything documented. As they say in Architecture - "Document everything"
Then we get to the finished piece. Oh did I say finished? I meant assembled. One of the most enjoyable steps is... Weathering! At this step we can add some character and story to this thing! Also, an important step is clear coating to protect the paint.
The weathering added a lot of detail and character, turning something new into something with history.
Bonus images: I went back and spent a couple of hours messing with the electronics, and ended up starting over, but this time with all blue LEDs!
Looking forwards, this is something I'll likely be iterating upon. The vinyl tubing is already almost watertight, and with some quick epoxy or even just hot glue plugs, I could fill them with a UV or glow-in-the-dark liquid, I'd just want to do some material testing to make sure it doesn't stain the tubing. Additionally, the lights are on a super easy to swap platform, and I might try to change the pipes back to a flickering red/orange at some point, and I could always use addressable RGB LEDs if I want some extra versatility. I could also add in a small bluetooth speaker to play sfx or something like that, and I do wonder how the acoustics are, given that the original can worked so well as a drum.
Offers students hands-on experience in DIY product design and fabrication processes. Students work individually or in small groups to design customized and personalized products of their own and bu...more
I made a prop for the CMU RPGA's on-campus LARP system.