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donderdag 8 juni 2017

Zombicide Machine Guns, part 1

Here's the second part of my Zombicide project! In the first part, I made a guitar axe. This time, I'm going to make the machine guns, one full sized Uzi-type gun and two identical mini-sized guns.

This is also my second attempt at making a video tutorial. The first one failed quite miserably. I'm not good at talking in front of a camera, and I forgot to take pictures besides video. Also, this will be a two part tutorial. The first part will deal with building the guns, the second part will be about painting them.

Materials and tools
  • EVA foam floor mats (10 mm)
  • 2 mm EVA foam
  • PVC pipes, 20 mm and 35 mm diameter
  • PVC foam plates, 2 mm and 5 mm
  • MDF scraps, 10 mm and 3 mm
  • Neodymium disc magnets
  • Contact cement
  • Super glue
  • Wood glue
  • Construction adhesive
  • Hobby knife
  • Rotary tool with flex shaft
  • Belt/disc sander
  • Heat gun
  • Glue gun
  • Band saw
The video
I recorded more or less the entire build on video, and this time I didn't screw up! Again, I shot waaaay more footage than I actually needed.
I removed the original audio and did a voice over. I'm not really good at talking in front of a camera. Apparently, my placeholder word for when I can't come up with the right word is "falafel". For example, "Next, I'm gonna drill two holes and glue in the... the... falafels with super glue." I used my phone as a voice recorder. It did a decent job, but I should invest in a decent microphone nonetheless.

Before I could start building guns, I had to design something first. The easiest method would be using pictures of real guns and try to replicate them, but that would be a bad idea. I would end up with props that look way too realistic, even if I didn't replicate them perfectly. Conventions have quite strict weapon policies these days, and realistic looking weapons aren't allowed most of the time.
So I decided to design my own guns from scratch. I did use pictures of real weapons as a reference, mostly for getting the proportions right. I imported them into Inkscape and started drawing. I used an full size Uzi and a Micro Uzi as a reference, starting with the mini weapons. The most iconic part of the guns I was trying to mimic are the magazine in the grip, and the sights, so I made sure to include these. The magazine has an opening in the sides, showing the ammo inside.
Another feature I added was a muzzle brake. This is a sort of barrel extension with holes in it, and its purpose is to lighten the recoil of a gun. It's hardly ever found on this type of weapon, but it looks cool. I also wanted to make the magazine removable, both for ease of storage and transport, and for coolness.
After I was finished with the small gun, I used it as a base for the full size gun. I kept the grip, but enlarged the body and gave it a forward grip. Both guns also have an accessory rail on top, so in the future I can add stuff like high tech sights or other gadgets.
If you're interested in these designs, you can download them here for free. They are made using Inkscape, an excellent free cross-platform drawing program. The drawings are A0 and A1 size, so for printing you'll have to chop them up a bit. I had to cut them into A3 sized pieces for printing. I'm giving my designs away under the Creative Commons license, so if you use them, be a nice dude and give me some credit!

Full size machine gun, SVG file, 268 kb
Mini machine gun, SVG file,  242 kb

Getting started
I had ordered a band saw for this project, a tool I had been planning to buy for quite a while. Unfortunately, a few days after my order, I received an email from the store it would take a bit longer for the saw to arrive. The guns themselves kind of required a band saw, so in the meantime I got started on some of the small parts.
For the magazines, I didn't need the saw. They are made out of 10 mm EVA foam, sandwiched between a few layers of thick cardboard for stiffness and 2 mm foam. The bullets are made from a wooden dowel, painted with wood primer and brass spray paint. The sides got sanded flush on the disc sander, and an extra layer of foam was wrapped around the bottom of the magazine.
I wanted to make the magazines removable. To keep them in place when inserted into the gun, I put two small neodymium magnets in each magazine. I drilled two holes in the top, glued the magnets in place with super glue and then glue another layer of thin foam over it.

The sights and accessory rails are made out of 2mm thick rigid PVC foam. This material is easily softened with a heat gun and bent into shape; the different parts are glued together with super glue. For the adjustment screws on the sides, I simply cut the heads from a few screws using my Dremel and a grinding wheel, and glued them on with super glue.
The barrel consists of two pieces of PVC pipe. The barrel itself is a 20mm pipe, and the muzzle brake is a 35mm pipe. For the slots in the muzzle brake, I drilled a row of holes, cut the remaining plastic between the holes away with my Dremel and cleaned it up with a file. Another thing to add to my shopping list: a drill stand, because drilling a row of holes accurately isn't easy freehanded.
To fit the 20mm pipe into the 35mm pipe, I wrapped two layers of thin foam around it. This almost fit, but I still had a little bit of space left, so I wrapped some electrical tape around the foam until it fit firmly. The transition between the two pipes was then sculpted with Apoxie Clay. This is a two component sculpting medium that hardens into a rock solid mass that can easily be sanded, without shrinking or cracking.
A few discs made out of PVC foam, some more Apoxie and a few strips of thin EVA foam finished the muzzle brake. I did paint the interior black before I finished it, because it would be too difficult to paint it afterwards.

I wasn't really pleased with the barrels. The muzzle brake looked crappy, so I decided to start over. I used two pieces of PVC pipe again, but the other parts were 3D printed. Since I don't own a 3D printer, I headed to the makerspace at the Hasselt university and printed it there. The parts were modeled in Blender, an incredibly powerful free application, but with a steep learning curve!
The next day, a friend of me who runs a computer store told me he had a printer set up in his store for demos, and if I wanted something printed, I just had to send him the STL-file. I needed one more printed part for the barrel, and that's the part that connects the barrel to the gun itself.

The gun body
When my new band saw had finally arrived, I could get started on the gun body! I had already cut out the shapes I needed from my foam mats and sanded away the texture. For each gun, I needed 5 pieces of foam; the body is about 5 cm wide. With all the sanding, however, the foam was a bit less than 1 cm thick, so I used some 2 mm foam to bring it to the right width.

The handle needed a hole for the magazine. I glue three layers of foam together and then cut out the hole. Next, I drilled holes for the magnets (to keep the magazine in place), glued them in place and, after checking if everything fit, glued on the last two layers of foam.
Next, I cut the foam blocks into the right shape on the bandsaw. The upper part of the gun was easy, since these were all straight lines. The cuts were cleaned up a bit on the disc sander; special bandsaw blades exist for soft materials that produce a very clean cut, I should try to find one of those. The grip needed a bit more work, this was done with my Dremel and a sanding drum. I had to be very careful here not to sand away too much!

The raised details are all made out of 2mm EVA foam, cut with a hobby knife and glued into place with contact cement. The details on the handle were made by making a shallow cut and then heating it with a heat gun, causing the cut to open, and with a chainsaw sharpening bit in my Dremel.

Finishing touches
The trigger and trigger guard are made out of MDF scraps. Whenever I use MDF, I keep all the little scraps (well, not the tiny ones of course, anything bigger than the size of a playing card), they always come in handy for stuff like this. I used 10 mm and 3 mm thick MDF, wood glue and lots of cutting and sanding.
To install the trigger, I cut out a slot in the foam gun body and nudged it into place. I couldn't use contact cement for this, so I used a bit of construction adhesive. This has the added advantage to fill up any voids, so it bonds well even on a rough surface.

For the barrel, I carefully drilled a hole in the gun body. Since I don't have a 20mm drill bit, I enlarged it with my Dremel, until the barrel fit. Again, a bit of construction adhesive, and some hot glue. I was all out of super glue at this point, that's why I used the hot glue.

And then, some final finishing touches. I put the sights and accessory rails in place, drilled some small holes and put in some screws. The two last parts were the loading grip and the fire selector. The loading grip was also 3D printed, the fire selector is made out of MDF.

Coming up...
The next part will all be about painting and weathering the guns. They look quite silly and colorfull at the moment, but that's because I used craft foam sheets in all sorts of colors. Don't worry, the finished guns will look badass gunmetal grey with chipped paint, scratched metal and dirt!

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