Sunday, April 27, 2014

D.I.Y. Lightsaber Video Blog

Hello internet! This week I am showing off my first two D.I.Y. projects! They're a couple of lightsabers made from scratch that are actually fairly cheap to make and turned out great. Check out my video over here on YouTube!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

InFamous 2 Amp

         This week I also finished the amp. The two best superhero games I've ever played in my many years of gaming are InFamous and InFamous 2. I recently bought a PlayStation 3 just to play these two games, and in my mind, the purchase was well worth it. In the second game, Cole MacGrath (the protagonist) is given a weapon called the amp to focus his electrical powers into a powerful melee attack. Being such a fan of the game, I set out to make my own.

Materials Used
  • 3/4" Diameter PVC
  • 3/4" PVC Cross-Connector
  • 3/4" PVC Plug (x3)
  • 3/4" to 1" PVC Adapter
  • 1" Diameter PVC
  • 1" PVC T-Connector
  • 1" PVC End Cap
  • 1" Coupling
  • 1" to 3/4" Connector (x4)
  • 2 Different Wires
  • Plastic Lid
  • Gloss Black Spray-Paint
  • Metallic Spray-Paint
  • Painters Tape
  • Black Electrical Tape
Tools Needed
  • Drying Rack (any place you can hang your PVC will work)

I am sorry I do not have step-by-step pictures for this build, but based on the following pictures, you should be able to see what I did to assemble this prop. I may post written instructions at a later time.

Podcast #2- Succeeding at DIY Projects

Hello internet! I posted my second podcast where I cover a step-by-step plan to help you succeed at virtually any D.I.Y. project. Check it out here!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Podcast #1- DIY Projects on a Budget

Hello world! This week's post is in the form of a podcast (my first ever!). In it I cover my opinion of the best materials to use when making D.I.Y. projects on a budget. Be sure to check it out here!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Futuristic LED Cube Desk Light

         As my spring break approached, I looked for a good D.I.Y. project to tackle over the course of the week. I stumbled upon a post on Instructables about an LED cube that looked something straight out of a futuristic sci-fi movie. Me being the nerd that I am, I couldn't resist. Taking the basic concept from the original build, I set out to make my own piece of "advanced technology." Three days, $17, and 16+ hours of work later, I had completed my cube.

Materials Used
  • Baseball (or Golf Ball) Display Case 
  • Aluminum Tape
  • 3v Coin Lithium Cell Battery
  • 100ohm Resistor
  • A Strong LED (color of your choosing)
  • Wires
  • Slide Switch (not pictured)
  • Thin White Foam
  • Painters Tape
  • Scotch Tape (optional)
  • Double-Sided Tape
  • Electrical Tape
Tools Needed
  • Drill
  • Wire Stripper
  • Wire Cutter
  • Scissors
  • Knife
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Soldering Gun (optional)

As with any D.I.Y. project, the first and most important step is planning your design. This especially rang true here. Make very detailed 1 to 1 plans of your design. Do this by cutting out squares of paper the size of each face on the cube. I went further and made 2 copies of blueprints. One I constructed into a paper model of the cube, and the other I used  to cut my designs out of the aluminum tape with.

With your display case, attach your blueprints in such a way that aligns with each piece that makes up the cube. This makes cutting out the designs MUCH easier later on.

Set your layout aside and make sure you have everything for your LED circuit. It's important to do this before doing your outer design because you can hide your electronics behind the metal "armor."

Before assembling the circuit, find where the switch will emit to the outside of the cube. Mark this with painters tape, and use your drill to cut out the hole.

Make sure the switch has plenty of room to toggle between the "ON" and "OFF" settings.

For this step you can solder your wires together if experienced, but I am not, so I just twisted my wires together and wrapped them in electrical tape. Although it is not nearly as durable, my method does work.

Check and make sure your LED and switch both work properly. Once this assembly is installed, it can be difficult to get it back out for repairs.

Use hot glue to secure the switch in place. Cut out a piece of foam the size of the cube's base with a hole around the switch. Tape it down using double-sided tape and install the rest of your circuit.

Here comes the hardest part. Use your blueprints to start cutting out pieces of aluminum tape for the exterior of the cube. You can leave the tape smooth, but I thought the crinkled look gave it a more weathered and alien feel to the cube.

After finishing all sides of the cube, tape foam pieces on the insides of the cube making sure that you cannot clearly see the inside (if you can, this means light will escape from this section and not properly diffuse). Make a cone out of your aluminum tape and tape it together. This is to help spread the light from the LED across all sides of the cube.

Glue or tape the cone into the top side of your cube. Make sure it is located in the middle to ensure an even amount of light distribution.

Slide your cube back together and test it out. For best results, install your cube in a room without windows to allow it to glow in all of its glory.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Easy Minecraft Magma Cube Keychain

         In my opinion, one of the greatest creative video game of all time is the game Minecraft. The game itself presents its various worlds as pixelated blocks that form everything from wide open landscapes to dense jungles. These landscapes are full of animal life, some are docile, some are aggressive. One of these animals is called the Magma Cube, a seemingly harmless creature that can be found in the Nether. You can read more about Minecraft and Magma Cubes here. For whatever reason, this creature has become my favorite mob (as they're called in Minecraft) from the game. So when I thought of a way to make a Minecraft key chain, it just had to be a Magma Cube.

Materials Used
  • 1 Blank Red Die
  • 1 Standard Nail
  • 1 Key Chain Loop and Clasp
  • Gloss Black Spray-Paint
Tools Needed
  • Drill
  • 1/16" Drill Bit
  • Hammer
  • Computer/Printer
  • Painters Tape
  • Cardboard
  • Hot Glue Gun

         Begin by finding the center of your die. Draw two diagonal lines from each corner onto the side you wish to make the top of the key chain. This should look like an "X" across the surface. At the very center, drive a nail into the plastic using your hammer. Only insert the nail about 1/8". Use this hole as your start for the 1/16" drill bit. Drill straight down into the plastic approximately 1/2".

 After your hole has been drilled, clear out any leftover plastic shavings. Place two small squares of painter's tape for the Magma Cube's eyes.

Take your cardboard and fold it so you have a catch for any excess spray paint. Place your die on the cardboard and spray down all exposed sides with the paint. Wait for the first coat to dry, then flip the cube over and paint the base.

Make sure to let the paint dry all the way, or it will stick to the cardboard and mess up the paint.

Gently remove the painters tape from the die. Screw in the key chain loop into the drilled hole and attach the clasp.

Now for this next step I suggest that you use yellow model paint to paint the pupils in the eyes. Since I did not have any yellow paint at the time, I printed out the eyes on paper and glued them on using a hot glue gun.

Make sure to use a very small amount of glue if you choose this option. As you can see, I used too much on the left eye and it doesn't look nearly as good as the right. Here is the final product next to the paper Magma Cube I used as a guide.

Now all that's left is putting your Magma Cube on display for the world to see. I personally thought it looked great on my Batman lanyard alongside my keys.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Easy Deathstroke PVC Prop Sword

        While playing the video game Batman: Arkham Origins, I noticed the unique design of Deathstroke's sword. In the game, he uses a sword that can be best described as a katana with a straight blade. The many different designs of the blade can be seen here.  Appearing in many comics and video games, Deathstroke is known as the greatest assassin in the DC Universe. You can read more about Deathstroke here. Being a major fan of Deathstroke, I set out to try to make my own version of his sword.

Materials Used
  • 1 piece of 3/4 inch PVC piping (3' long)
  • 1 PVC 3/4 inch coupling
  • 1 PVC 3/4 inch end cap
  • Black electrical tape
  • Aluminum Tape
Tools Needed
  • Pencil
  • Hack Saw
  • Sand Paper
  • Heat Gun
  • Foil (optional)
  • Clamps
  • Wood Planks (2 of them about 3' long, 2 of them around 1' long)
  • Gloves
  • Palm Sander
  • Table Vice

To start things off, make a mark 8 inches in from the end of the PVC. This will be the grip of your sword. Sand all stamps and scuffs off of your PVC (except your pencil mark!). Using a small-grain sandpaper works best for this.

Heat the long end of the PVC using your heat gun, making sure not to come more than an inch from your mark. The foil can be used here to speed up the process by reflecting heat onto the back of the pipe. Constantly move your heat gun up and down the length of the PVC and continuously rotate the pipe to prevent any burning. Keep the heat gun about an inch away from your pipe.

WARNING: Burnt PVC may release harmful fumes!

Once the PVC starts to become flexible, use your glove to feel the pipe. You should be able to press the PVC inward down the entire length. If this can be done, quickly move your PVC between the two boards and place clamps along the ends and center of the pipe. Make sure to leave the grip section outside of the boards. Tighten your clamps so that the PVC is flattest on the end opposite of the grip and tapering up to the normal 3/4 inch diameter. Let this sit for 20-25 minutes to cool.

Remove the boards and clamps from your PVC. Check for any imperfections and correct them in the same fashion used to flatten the blade.

The PVC just past the grip was uneven on mine. I simply heated up the small area and re-flattened it using smaller boards.

Place your PVC in a table vice with the blade tip facing outwards. Mark your desired angle for the tip using painters tape. Cut along the line with your hack saw. Sand down any flakes and imperfections left on the tip.

Reheat the blade tip with your heat gun and clamp it like shown. This is to give the desired point to the edge of your blade. Let this cool for 15-20 minutes.

Use a palm sander to make any finishing changes to the tip.

I cut the grip off of the blade. I DO NOT advise doing this. The sword is much sturdier if it is left as one solid piece.

If you cut your grip off of the solid piece, add your PVC coupling. Either way, add the end cap to the grip.

Wrap the entire grip area in black electrical tape. For the best results, follow the following video on how to tape drumsticks. It's all done in the same fashion. You can see this here. I used varying styles between the coupling, end cap, and the grip itself to add varied texture to the design.

All that's left is adding your grip to the blade. Painting your blade a metallic silver would definitely add to the look of your build. I have not done this yet because of how tricky painting PVC can be.


Just recently I bought some aluminum tape and applied to the blade. The result is a metallic shine that makes the sword much better looking.