Tuesday 27 November 2012

What can I do with a 3D Printer?

The two Up! Plus 3D printers arrived in the workshop last week and now that I have had a chance to play around with them I am reasonably pleased and I think they will be very useful (once I get the hang of designing 3D stuff on the computer).

As with the 5 Axis Milling Machine, I have initially started by finding files only to practice with. A great resource for 3D files can be found at Thingiverse.com. I have printed several files from there over the last week, and generally they have given very good results.


The 3D printers we have bought are not high end machines, they are called the “Model T” of the 3D printing world, by their manufacturuer. However, compared to the 3D printer that I used around 10 years ago, they come out very favourably (at least, the print quality is very similar, and that was a much more expensive machine). These machines are certainly not of a high enough quality to produce 28mm miniatures, with anything like the level of detail that would be expected of production figures. However, I can see a use for building larger creatures (or figures), and using them as a starting point ready for detailing and finishing. Also they will be ideal for producing equipment, vehicles and possibly architectural pieces (which is after-all what we actually bought them for).


In this photo the tree frog is about a quarter built. This was the first model I ran, and it was interesting to see that it could cope with quite a good overhand where the legs ran up to join the body, without adding any support material.


As we are got these machines for architectural model making it seems appropriate to try out a building. The ground floor turned out exceptionally well, as did the roof.


However the first floor warped a little (a common problem with ABS 3D printers apparently). I hadn’t fully read the manual, and I don’t think I had pre-heated the bed of the machine enough, so hopefully I can avoid too much of this happening in future!

The building is quite small, the doorway on the photo is about 15mm high. So suitable for 10mm gaming, or it may be be possible to get away with 15mm…

Finally I have produced this mobile phone stand.


Not elegant, but a nice little test of the mechanical properties of the ABS and the 3D printed form.

Oh and as for the tree frog, my sons painted a couple of them up over the weekend!


Wednesday 21 November 2012

Playing around with the 5 Axis Milling Machine!

I have not had much time recently to experiment with the new equipment that is coming into the workshop. However, I did manage to run a couple of quick samples through the new milling machine.

The software that runs the miller works with .stl files and these are fairly standard in the 3d modelling and rapid prototyping field. So as well as getting the hang of the machines I have been trying to find the time to learn to use some 3D modelling software. I am using Rhino for the primary work but I am also looking at some of the open source and freeware alternatives that are out there, namely Blender, Sculptris and SketchUp.

Ideally I would like to use SketchUp as it seems the simplest to pick up. However the free version is limited in the formats that you can save (or export) the files in. I do have a pro licence for SketchUp, but I am not sure how far down that road I am going to go. It may turn out to be better to persist with the more advanced software as once I know what I am doing with it it should be quicker to use.

Sculptris is somewhat different to the other software I am using in that it is an organic sculpting tool (something of a younger cousin of Z-Brush, which I can’t justify buying at the moment). Sculptris will come into it’s own with the figure sculpting side of things and I think that combining it with the 5 Axis milling machine and the 3D printers it should prove to be a very interesting tool to develop designs on.

As for my first attempts at running a file on the milling machine, the installation came with several sample models, which the engineer ran through with me. Once I had played around with those I wanted to try something for myself. As I am not far enough down the road of learning to create 3D files just yet I hunted round and found a 3D model of a treasure chest online that seemed like a good test piece!

The file was in an .obj format so first I took it into Rhino and converted it to an.stl file.

Then I transferred it to the software that drives the milling machine and set up the job. While I am still learning to use the machine I have decided to stick to cutting styrofoam. It cuts easily and will not damage the machine if i inadvertently crash the cutter into the material.

The first attempt confirmed my decision to use styrofoam, as the depth of the cut meant that the collet that holds the cutter did crash into the foam. Fortunately as I was using the foam, gave way under the tool and caused no harm.


As you can see the result is not exactly fantastic, but as a first attempt I learned a lot and found it very useful. I used a 6mm end mill on this one, which proved to be to large for a lot of the detail.

You can see the rough lip at either end of the chest where the collet crashed into the foam. Also, the shallow angle of the slopping lid of the chest led to some fairly heavy stepping.

For the second attempt I reduced the size of the end mill, down to a 3mm cutter and reduced the overlap of the tool passing over the surface. This meant that the job took a good bit longer to run, but produced a much finer finish. I also spent more time working out the cut path so that it didn’t crash into the material this time.


Clearly still not perfect, but a vast improvement on the first attempt!

I still have a long way to go with this, and I definitely need to spend more time learning to use the actual design software. Still the initial playing around is fairly positive and I am getting more and more enthusiastic about my new toys!

A couple of days after posting this article the Fabbaloo 3D Prinitng blog posted this article about creating printable models using SketchUp. I haven’t had a chance to fully digest it, but this will be a big help when I get far enough on to actually start designing for 3D print.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Wargaming 20 Questions

This seems to be doing the rounds on the wargaming blogs a while ago, and as I am very busy and don’t seem to have the time to come up with anything original at the moment, I thought I would give it a go!

1. Favourite Wargaming period and why?

Science Fiction. Followed by Pulp and Weird War, whether it be 1920’s Back of Beyond, Dinosaur Safari, Retro Sci-Fi, 70’s TV shows or Nazi Zombie hunting.

I have always been a diehard Sci-Fi fan, and all of these categories seem at least related to that…

As far as historical periods go, I haven’t really settled on a favourite yet! I like 19thC Colonial, Sudan etc. I have a substantial Late WWII British force. When I get around to painting them up I have a large collection of Ancient British too.

2. Next period, money no object?

I have several projects brewing at the moment. I did some work for Critical Mass Games last year (designed their newly released Laser Cut Tokens for them), and for that I received large Arc Fleet and Praesentia armies. I am slowly painting them up. However that doesn’t really fit the “Money No Object” requirement.

I have picked up a few packs of Mark Copplestone’s 15mm Barbarians.  As a keen fan of Robert E. Howard’s writing, with a particular favourite being his Bran Mak Morn stories, these were a no-brainer! At the moment I am only planning on doing skirmish with them. I do plan to build some special terrain boards with a dark and brooding fantasy Britain theme to them (misty overgrown meres, standing stones, rock gullies and small woods etc. as well as a barbarian village.

If money were no object I would certainly expand those plans to full on battles over a large table…

3. Favourite 5 films? 

Blade Runner


The Ultimate Warrior

No Blade of Grass

The Quiller Memorandum

4. Favourite 5 TV series?

Blake’s 7

Babylon 5

Burn Notice


The Champions

5. Favourite book and author?

Favourite book would have to be Frank Herbert’s Dune, but my favourite author (as I have not disliked any of his books) would David Gemmell. I nearly went for Gemmell’s Legend and my favourite books as well, but Dune will always have a place in my heart.

6. Greatest General? Can’t count yourself!!

I am not much of a historian when it comes to military leaders. I would say Admiral Nelson but as he wasn’t a general it will have to be Genghis (Chingis) Khan. I have read several books on the Mongols and their history. I find them fascinating.

7. Favourite Wargames rules?

I don’t really have one particular set of rules that I would call my favourite. I like The Sword and the Flame for colonial warfare, although I haven’t played it much. I haven’t really found a set of World War 2 rules that I like. I do like the way Rattrap Productions put together their pulp rules and I have a soft spot for Voyages Extraordinaires from Wessex games, as it is such a simple system…

I am also very keen to give Song of Blades and Heroes a try, as it seems to fit my requirements for a simple Skirmish game.

I suppose that I would probably say 7TV at the moment, although I haven’t actually played it. The rules read very well and the books are stunningly well put together with wonderful artwork!

8. Favourite Sport and team?

I am not much of a sports fan. I rarely watch any sport, although I do like to see the results of the Six Nations Rugby.  I used to be quite heavily involved in archery, but as you don’t see very much of that on TV (and to be honest it is not he the most riveting television anyway), and it’s not a team event anyway, I will have to skip this question. 

9. If you had a only use once time machine, when and where would you go?

Very difficult to answer this one. There are several historical times and places I would like to see, but to be honest I would probably go forward in time rather than back. Possibly a couple of hundred years. Of course there is a big what if with this:- will the world still exist, will we have finally wiped ourselves out, will the zombie apocalypse have happened, will Apple have finally taken over the world (the worst outcome of them all)…
10. Last meal on Death Row?

11. Fantasy relationship and why?

Don’t really have any suggestions here as I can’t really imagine who, other than my wife, I would want a relationship with!

12. If your life were a movie, who would play you?

I haven’t a clue…

13. Favourite Comic  Superhero?
I am not really much of a comic book fan, I do read the odd one now and again, but I tend to avoid anything resembling spandex. I thought about settling for one of Robert E. Howard’s characters, but as they were not originally from comic books and I first encountered them when reading second hand books in the mid 1970s I don’t consider them to be primarily comic book characters.

The only comic book hero that I follow is The Rocketeer, so I guess he gets my vote!

14. Favourite Military quote?

I don’t really know many military quotes, the only ones that spring to mind are Caesar’s Veni Vidi Vici (I Came, I Saw, I Conquered!) Nelson’s England Expects speech and General Anthony Clement McAuliffe’s response to the Germans ultimatum requesting his surrender to which his one word reply was of course “Nuts”.

As a patriotic Englishman I suppose that Nelson’s speech wins that one!

15. Historical destination to visit?

The Mongolian Steppe!

16. Biggest Wargaming regret?

Being out of the hobby from about 1980 until 1996. While at university I used to buy and paint miniatures, but they were mainly for roleplaying use. I continued to paint miniatures right through, but didn’t really get into wargaming seriously until I found a new group of friends up here in Aberdeen. Now I can’t imagine life without it…

17. Favourite Fantasy job?

Working in movie special effects as a model maker and sculptor. This very nearly wasn’t a fantasy, as back in the 1980s after I left university I had an interview at the BBC Visual Effects Department, but I didn’t have the experience they were looking for at the time.

18. Favourite Song Top 5?

5. Wild is the Wind by David Bowie

4. Evangeline by The Icicle Works

3. Small Circles by The Rainmakers

2. Copperhead Road by Steve Earle

1. Heroes by David Bowie

19. Favourite Wargaming Moment?

Running a TUSK demo game at a local convention (mainly RPGs) and having the Games Workshop staff on the next table close up their game early, so that they could come and play our game, as everyone was having so much fun!

20. The miserable Git question, what upsets you?

Trying to think up answers to some of these questions…

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Wargames Show Report: TARGE 2012

Last weekend the 26 annual wargames show was held in Kirrimuir. The TARGE show is one of two shows held in the North East of Scotland that are usually held about a month apart (the other being SKELP, which I reported a couple of posts ago).

TARGE2012 - The main hall!

Now having a couple of shows so geographically close together and at a similar time of year, is bound to lead to comparisons. I usually try to judge each show on it’s own merits, and I enjoyed both shows, however, this year TARGE clearly attracted more visitors, traders and games.

The venue was in a school (where it has been for the past few years, which proved to be a reasonable location with two or three decent size rooms. Unfortunately the catering left a little to desire, with only a selection of small sandwiches, pies and cakes being available, but I suppose this is standard for many smaller shows!

The quality of tables was especially high, with some very nicely modelled terrain. So with that here are my usual batch of photos, with comments where relevant.

ACW 15mmACW 28mm

A couple of ACW games, 28mm and 15mm.

Band of Brothers 2Band of Brothers

A simply done WW2 game that looked very effective!

Beneath the Lily BannerBlack Powder

Beneath the Lily Banner and Black Powder.

Napoleonic Naval 2Napoleonic Naval

Napoleonic Naval Battle.

Possibly AWIWithin The Hollow Crown

A couple of very attractive games that unfortunately I am not very familiar with!


World War 1 and an X-Wing Demo

Watch This Space - 1Watch This Space - 2

My son and I sat in on a game of Watch This Space, a pulp sci-fi game put on by the South East Scotland Wargames Club. The game featured several teams of “Good Guys” and “Bad Guys”, of which we got to choose one each. My son choose the marines from Aliens, including Ripley (many of the teams were somewhat familiar from Scooby Doo, Dr Who and other familiar franchises) and I chose a squad of Hydra Miniatures Robots as it gave me a chance to actually play with some of the figures in my collection…

Watch This Space - underground 1Watch This Space - underground 2Watch This Space - 3

As well as the tables shown here several of the same tables were on display as were seen at SKELP, so a very full and interesting display.

As well as the excellent tables on display there were also a good selection of trade stands covering most peoples needs and I was happy to see Four A Miniatures in attendance again so that I could pick up his newer Snow Troopers.

Also, at the Bring and Buy, I managed to pick up a small force of Demonworld 15mm barbarians which will go nicely alongside my Copplestone Barbarians, for my slowly brewing 15mm fantasy ancient Britain plans…

All in all TARGE was a fun and enjoyable show.

Friday 2 November 2012

Charity Judge Dredd Mini

Frother Unite forum is producing a limited miniature of Judge Minty (check your JD history - there is also a Judge Minty fan film in the works) for anyone that donates to their charity fund drive.

If you are a fan of Judge Dredd, excellent miniature sculpting (Kv White is the sculptor), or simply want to support a couple of great charities please check it out.

In the style of modern crowd-funding schemes, the more you give, the more you get... The details are here:-

A donation gets you a mini...

A donation of £25 also gets you a display base done by Geronimo

A donation of £35 also gets you the Judge Minty sign done by Warpy

A donation of £50 also gets you a signed print by Barry Renshaw - see page 11 for details

A donation of £60-£99 gets you an original signed 'convention style' ink by Barry (limited to 10)

A donation of £100+ gets you an original signed water colour and ink painting of a key scene from Judge Minty by Barry (limited to 6 - 4 already claimed)

Judge Minty himself (Edmund Dehn) has also offer to sign any of the prints/drawings/paintings Very Happy

If you want multiple Mintys a suggested donation would be £15 each

To donate go to the Just Giving pages:

MS Society - http://www.justgiving.com/CharityMinty1

Cancer Research - http://www.justgiving.com/CharityMinty2

Then, and this is the important bit because it’s changed from past years, send an e-mail to charitymini AT gmail DOT com with;

1. Your Name
2. The address you want the mini sent to
3. Your Just Giving reference number
4. Your preference as to Metal or Trollcast or both


So far we've raised over £4.5K - that's only a couple of hundred shy of last year's total Shocked

However, the allocation is starting to run down obviously... there are only about 50 of the metal version left and 100 of the Trollcast

Cheers, and thanks to everyone who's already donated Cool

A very worthy endeavour and you can acquire a lovely figure too...

btw both Rebellion (publishers of 2000AD) and Mongoose Publishing (manufacturers of the existing JD figure range) have given their approval to this blatant IP infringement...
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