GI Joe Fan Pic with My Gear

As you should know by now if you follow this blog, I create GI Joe toys with my 3D printers, and Cotswold Collectibles sells them through its catalog. People generally find them quite enjoyable. Every now and then someone posts a photo.

This one was featured in Cotswold Collectibles’ E-News letter this week.

Phil Gilbert posts this photo of my Helijet with the wonderful uniform Cotswold put together for it, as well as the RACCS Platform which fits on the rear of the vintage Adventure Team Vehicle. On the RACCS is the RACCS Power Winch and the RACCS Spy Probe – Dual Carrier System. The driver is wearing two Drone Control Cuffs.

More Toys For Cotswold Collectables

Since December, I have been working nearly constantly at home printing new and re-order stuff for Cotswold Collectables.

Here is a portion (heavily edited) of the Feb 1 E-Newsletter they sent out:

cots-e-newsletter-feb-1-2017

While there were more items shown, and I did a cut in the center there, this shows how much of the space was devoted to my products. Not bad.

Most exciting, at the top, the new RACCS ATV Winch, which was revealed in images not long before. Those, as of this writing (Feb 9, 2017) are completed, waiting to be shipped to Cotswold for their pre-order fulfillment. Meanwhile just below is a very nice camo outfit featuring my new military colored Tranquilizing Bazooka for hunting the Invaders. These are currently printing and being assembled.

Below that, re-orders for RACCS MCU (Mobile Charging Unit), RACCS Spy Probe Dual Carrier System, a new Yellow/Black/Red Drone and Control Cuff, the Folding Tri-Copter blade, and the RACCS platform with hinges.

Big month here at Huxter Industries.

Huxter-Industries

RACCS Spy Probe Dual Carrier System

My latest project with Cotswold Collectibles: RACCS Spy Probe Dual Carrier System.

raccs-spy-probe-catalog-01

This one reprises the Surveillance Probe I designed for Cotswold as my first project with them: Deluxe Midnite Mission set.

This time Greg asked for a military colored drone for the new military-themed Cybernetic Explorers and other new outfits he was planning. Add to that an arctic rendition, both dockable to a new RACCS Component: The Dual Carrier System.

These spy probes fit two to a unit, and they snap beautifully in place with snap tabs.

The control cuff I designed is slightly different than the one pictured.

raccs-spy-probe-cuff-01

The actual cuff has a separate joystick pad, and screen. The screen is one of my designs as well.

THE SET

The set consists of the Dual Carriage Unit, which snaps to the RACCS platform, one Military drone, one Arctic drone, and one control cuff. (Pictured incorrectly here. See above.)raccs-spy-probe-set-wrong-cuff-01

Here the two drones are in place on the unit, snapped in.
raccs-spy-probe-set-wrong-cuff

CATALOG/WEB SITE PICS

Here, Joe prepares to deploy the military drone.raccs-spy-probe-stowage-proper

He sets it up on the RACCS for launchraccs-spy-probe-deploying-01

And with a touch, the drone’s anti-gravity repulsors rev up.
raccs-spy-probe-deploying-02

And it is away!
raccs-spy-probe-deploying-03

BLUEPRINT

Again, I created a blueprint/instruction sheet for this set:

raccs-spy-probe-blueprint

CONSTRUCTION

Here you can see a number of the parts that made up the drones, before cleanup. Just as they appear coming off the 3D printers.

raccs-spy-probe-parts-01

After some cleanup and construction, the military drones are under way:

raccs-spy-probe-under-construction-01

spy-probe-construction-parts-01 spy-probe-arctic-construction-01

Huxter Industries – Cotswold Collectibles and RACCS

RACCS – Ready Attachable Configurable Component System

Greg Brown and I usually communicate by text message. One day he texted me and said he had had this idea for something along the lines of the vintage GI Joe Trouble Shooter. Only this would be a flat platform that covered the cargo bay of the vintage Adventure Team Vehicle, or Trouble Shooter. Something like my Helijet rack but more versatile, more flexible.

trouble-shooter

He said he envisioned something like the Trouble Shooter radio/radar pack which was this massive wonderful toy that slotted into the slots of the ATV. Only this would be modular, and allow various equipment modules to be snapped to the rack.

Immediately images came to mind. I sketched up something that spanned the cargo bay’s top area, and snapped in using the holes in the ATV.

raccs-concept-01

But it had to be able to have multiple various modules connected to it. So I skteched up a grid design figuring I’d connect modules using square pegs. Modules could be slotted onto the platform, as many as would fit, completely configurable by the user.

Greg looked at the sketch I sent and declared I was reading his mind. (He has said this on more than one occasion as he pitched design ideas my way.)

I test-printed a version of the platform (which we still had not named) and it slotted nicely to the ATV.

raccs-first-print

Then Greg asked if it could tilt up like a car trunk. Immediately I started sketching an idea for a hinge that would fit between the ATV and the platform seamlessly. It just might work!

raccs-hinges-issues-01

Here’s where the rapid prototyping made possible by 3D printing comes in very handy – when I slotted the hinges to the ATV and then the platform to the hinges, any forward movement of the platform would cause it or the hinges to slip forward.

I was flumoxed. How was I going to prevent this kind of slippage.

Well, thought I. What if I rotated the slots on one part of the hinges sideways? That way the platform would not be able to be pushed forward on the hinges. And the hinges themselves fitted pretty tightly to the ATV.

The result was that you had to snap the hinges onto the platform by rotating them a bit, but once locked on, and the hinges attached to an ATV, that platform wasn’t slipping anywhere!

And so the platform was nearly perfected.

raccs-hinge-02

But I had a problem: my printer has a build volume of about 13.5cm x 13.5cm x 13.5cm. A 5 inch cube. The ATV’s cargo hold is wider than that. The platform would have to be printed in two pieces.

Immediately my symmetry-loving brain saw a way to make this platform work with two identical halves which snapped together. I was incredibly excited!

So I created a tab and slot for the platform which allowed for two identical parts to fit together perfectly, and still slot onto the ATV like normal.

Huge win!

Greg coined the term RACCS which is an acronym for “Ready Attachable Configurable Component System”.

This whole design process was going down around the release of the GI Joe Collector Club’s new freebie figure, a modern retake on Mike Power, Atomic Man. A new head sculpt on a vintage body with one arm and both legs made of clear plastic.

It also coincided with the re-emphasis of Cotswold’s own Cybernetic Explorers, figures made on repro vintage bodies, with various combinations of arms and legs molded in clear, which was getting some attention, and had its own outfit sets already developed.

This was a very popular figure, and club members couldn’t wait to get their hands on the new Mike Power.

The vintage Mike Power came with a two piece copter blade set that Mike held in his Kung Fu Grip, and a small wheel on his forearm let kids rotate that hand easily, so Mike Power could simply spin his hand and be a helicopter.

atomic-man-blades-small

Greg noted that many collectors had these, and many would love to have them stored in a module made by me for this new platform design. So I created a two piece module pair that connected to the RACCS and the Atomic Man’s blade could fit snugly in place, carried by an ATV.

raccs-blade-holder-real

raccs-blade-holder-real-01

I also created a blueprint/instruction sheet for the RACCS platform, with reference to the blade holding module.

raccs-blueprint-01

And so RACCS was introduced in the sixth catalog in 2016:

cots-catalog-raccs

raccs-cots-2016-06-inside-800

 

ATOMIC MAN / CYBERNETIC EXPLORER MOBILE CHARGING UNIT

By the time RACCS was announced in the catalog, Greg and I had already brainstormed a bunch of modular units that would fit on the platform, so you could configure your own adventure.

The next one up was to be a Mobile Charging Unit so Mike Power or the Cybernetic Explorers could charge their bionics while on a mission.

I started sketching.

raccs-mcu-concept-01

First thing I came up with was a box with ridges which would resemble heat sink blades to cool the atomic charging unit. Greg wanted a removable box the Explorer could take with him in case he needed an emergency charge, a box with a handle and its own charging coupler.

No problem. You can see the genesis of the idea in that sketch.

raccs-mcu-original-concept-01

Which then got updated until I drew this:

raccs-mcu-color-concept

I ended up with a charging box which looked a bit like some of the parts of the original Trouble Shooter, which was no bad thing.

trouble-shooter

Even the nub I created for the cuff to store on resembled the Trouble Shooter module.

Then I modeled up and printed up a prototype.

mcu-01

mcu-02 mcu-04 mcu-03 mcu-05

I found some red paracord to act as the main cable to the larger arm cuff. This would be a fast complete charger, charging up Mike’s bionics to full.

The smaller blue box (with the Cybernetic Explorer Atomic Logo on it) has a tilting handle, and a clip on the main box to hold it in place. Pull up and on the back is a cavity to store a smaller arm cuff, connected by a smaller, black cable.

Both of the cables store inside their boxes.

Originally the clips for the MCU would friction-fit into the RACCS slots like the Blade Holder units do. But while the blade holders are smaller and the pegs clustered closer together for a good friction fit, the MCU could not rely on friction. So I created a unique new spring-loaded clip system that worked easily with the original design. I simply created a slot in the bottom of the unit, slid the clip-spring part in, and a single screw connected it all together. The flexibility of the plastic itself allows for enough spring action for the module to clip nicely to RACCS and then remove again by pinching two tabs on the side.

I also came up with a blueprint for these.

mcu-blueprint

The catalog came out recently, and these items were made available for pre-order, with delivery in November.

cots-catalog-2016-08

cots-catalog-2016-08-inside

FOLDING TRI-COPTER

But what’s this?

Another item?

Greg asked me long before the Charging Unit to come up with a replacement blade for Mike Power and the Cybernetic Explorers to replace the blade that came with Mike, since a lot of owners of vintage Mikes may not have the blades. They tend to get lost.

But he wanted the helicopter blades to be able to fold back like an aircraft-carrier helicopter.

asturias11

It turns out this was a hard challenge.

I could make the blades hinge, but 3D printing them consistently would be something I didn’t think I could guarantee.

hand-copter-concept-01

As you can see by the sketch, the hinge plates have to be symmetrical and fit together while snugly fitting into both the hub and each blade. If this was too snug, it would not move. Too loose, and it would not stay in place. It was tough. But I think I did it.

As a further benefit, I didn’t just fit a handle onto it that resembled Mike Power’s blade. Rather, I made that handle lock into the hub. Why?

As a sneaky extra feature, I made the hub compatible with vintage Turbo Copters!!

Here is a pic of an original Mike Power blade, along with my Tri Copter Blade, next to an original vintage Turbo Copter blade.

blades-cornucopia

(Don’t worry. The Turbo Copter blade is turned upside down to show the hub opening. The turbo heads are facing the right direction on mine. (I hope.))

blade-replacement-turbo-copter

IMAGES FROM THE CATALOG AND WEB SITE

Fully extended:atomic-man-blades-01

Cybernetic Explorer operating the blades, getting ready to take off:atomic-man-blades-06

Stowing in backpack:
atomic-man-blades-05

Folding blades:
atomic-man-blades-04

Stowing
:atomic-man-blades-03

And going:
atomic-man-blades-02

 

Seen here, attached to vintage Turbo Copter. It is designed to fit the black, yellow, green (Action Man) Turbo Copters. The more recent Hasbro reproduction (a lovely thing) will not fit, as the coupling is different, and rotates the wrong way.

atomic-man-blades-07

 

SO WHAT’S NEXT?

RACCS Spy Probe Dual Carriage System

 

Huxter Industries – How I Got To Work With Cotswold Collectibles

MEETING GREG BROWN

As reported before, I went to the Dallas GI Joe Convention in 2014. I had brought some of my 3D printed GI Joe stuff with me, including my two dioramas for the show, the GI Joe Action Pack Jetpack on a custom AT Launch Tower:

gijoecon-dio-03
(cross-eye stereo image)

And the Search for the Endangered Pygmy Rhino set, which included a number of 3D printed items including a tranquilizer bazooka, an aerial drone and its backpack, a laser cutter to remove a rhino’s horn, an electronic prosthetic surveillance horn, and a sealant gun to affix it.

gijoecon-dio-22
(cross-eye stereo image)

While there I found Greg Brown at the Cotswold booth, where I bought a cool set they had made featuring a black puma and outfit. I also had on-hand some samples to show him, and he took a few minutes to look at what I had brought, while he was dealing with other customers and some issues with the online billing software.

He seemed excited with the jetpack especially, and we chatted for a bit, and parted company. I had a great convention, my second, and first traveling, we did the parachute drop, including a later clandestine drop, I got to meet up with the Regular Joes and have dinner out, walking past the Book Repository, Kennedy’s assassination site and his memorial there.

It was some time later when I was back home that Greg approached me with some ideas for Cotswold Collectibles.

 

THE JETPACK – (or, the not-yet-ready-for-prime-time-jetpack)

atapfp-jetpack-top

First up, he wanted to distribute the jetpack. From previous writings on the subject, I felt that the jetpack needed some serious redesign if it were to be strong enough to sell. I would hate to sell something that was easily breakable, and I knew my current design was very delicate in how the harness connected to the body. 3D printing can be strong in layers, but not so much in tall thin cylinders. The layers break easily like a twig, but there are definite ways to make very strong things.

Here are some early concept ideas:

jetpack-early-concepts-01 jetpack-early-concepts-02 jetpack-early-concepts-03

So I went back to the drawing board with that project.

 

THE SURVEILLANCE DRONE

Meanwhile Greg brought up my surveillance drone. Seems he wanted to do a special outfit set that included these new cloth backpacks they had made, and wanted some things to go in them. The first thought was to 3D print some of my cool aerial drones, but smaller.

at-drone-backpack-with-drone-complete-01

My original was too big to fit into the backpack.

But the design was very cool. The one issue I had (being very nervous about breakage and ease of assembly), was to consolidate the hub and top struts into a single piece which would be very strong.

But you can see below that I still had not yet come up with a good landing leg system, even though the rest of the drone was basically fully fleshed-out.

I continued hammering away on concept sketches:

Mostly, it was beginning around the basic design of the jetpack engine housing, a Dyson-like central hub forcing air through a hollow body, downward in a stable air column for lift. Even the hub and struts were nearly identical.

drone-early-concepts-01

I decided I wanted fold-away landing legs.

drone-leg-concept-02

That’s when I discovered I could split the strut and make the lower half a landing leg that hinges down!

drone-leg-concept-01

I could retain the incredibly cool leg system I created where I split a nicely sculpted strut right down the middle so that half of it hinged down as landing legs. I could retain the camera, which has a 360 degree range of rotation along with a pivot that allowed the camera to see a full hemisphere below the drone. (Play of course. No real camera… duh)

This entry talks about how I was able to scale them down, and found, much to my surprise that even at 50% of the original size, I didn’t have to make any changes to the model and it still worked as intended.

cots-drone-scaling-test-01

I think it was the first step down that actually fit into the packpack:

cots-drone-fitting-backpack-01

So not long after that, the Deluxe Midnite Mission set was introduced, which included the black drone as well as an arm cuff which acted as the remote control and monitor for the drone. These both fitted onto the cloth backpack very nicely.

cots-drone-all-done-01

cots-drone-controllers-all-done-01

cots-catalog

 

THE HELI-JET – The Action Pack Jetpack V2.0 – (now ready for prime-time)

I spent some months in the summer redesigning my jetpack from scratch. I reduced the size of the jet bells, I completely redesigned the body to be more compact, curvier, and less – bulky and awkward. It retained the exact same thumbwheel and mechanism for tilting the rotor housings, which were still based on the Dyson fan design – a jet engine forcing air into hollow housings, out an aperture cut into the interior of the bell, down the aerodynamically curved housings, and straight down into a stable column of forced air. But much more powerful.

jetpack-v2-concept-sketch-02

The harness was the hard part, since the original was 3D printed and so easy to break I had to be very careful mounting it on a Joe and taking it off.

So I went back to how the original vintage GI Joe rocketpacks and other items were made. A lot of those used elastic strapping with clips as harnesses. The one thing I wished to avoid was sewing. To connect two pieces of elastic strapping I’d need to sew them together. I could do that for a prototype, but I couldn’t imagine doing it for a larger run of, say, 30.

So I came up with a way to do the harness as a single loop of strapping that began and ended in an angled dart, which I could then cauterize with heat to ensure it didn’t fray at the ends.

I hate bragging (too late!) but I came up with a very clever and intricate way to feed a length of elastic strapping into the jetpack body, onto a harness connector, then folded back onto itself and back into the body, so that the two loose ends hung down freely so strap adjusters and clips could be attached easily. Again. No sewing required.

The trick was folding it in the middle and connecting it to the chest piece with two small screws which did double duty as holding the two halves of the chest piece together, and also holding the strapping in place by having the screws screw into the straps.

I invented the method for the Aerial Drone Backpack.

at-drone-backpack-harness-attached-01

Likewise, inside the body, the straps were clamped to the inner body by the seat cushion, both of which had ridges printed onto them to hold the strapping in place, and then two of the screws went into the strapping to secure that hold.

This worked like a charm! And the 3D printed strap adjusters allowed the user to fit the harness onto just about any size body.

The next thing I struggled with was the control handles. My original had them on rigid arms that swung down so Joe could hold the twin joysticks. But I had seen real jetpacks designed without rigid arms, and even the GI Joe Collectors’ Club Convention Set “Search for the Sasquatch” had a very cool repro jetpack with two cables attached to two small hand-grips. That was the answer to my final fragility question.

jetpack-concept-side-01

I would attach two hand-grips to cables, non-rigid.

Then with that in mind I could do a few new cool things, like snap the joysticks to the body itself, and then allow the cables to retract into a hollow area inside the body of the jetpack for very compact storage.

jetpack-v2-complete-01

The engine housings would still snap off and snap back onto the shoulder clips just like before, but before the clips were printed vertically like the cylinders they were attached to, which meant they were inherently breakable. Printing those sideways strenghtened the clips, but I wouldn’t want to print the cylinders sideways. So I printed them separately, and glued them together. Strong!

jetpack-v2-testing-01

When I had made all of these changes, I was confident I could sell them without much fear of breakage. So I agreed to deliver 30 of them.

Yikes! What was I thinking???

Printing just one half of the jetpack body required 8 hours of printing. The other half took about 6, and that didn’t include the housing bells (2 each) the cushion, the thumbwheel and cylinders, the clips, the harness pieces, the jet intak embellishments… this was going to take a while.

With two printers I could do the job in a couple of months, probably. But of course at that point one of the printers failed and I had to send it in for repairs, so I was down to one printer churning out 30 jetpacks, each of which had 30 parts.

cots-helijet-all-pieces

And I also had to print 30 ATV racks which slot nicely into the cargo bay of a vintage GI Joe Adventure Team Vehicle (or Trouble Shooter) so the jetpack could be carried by an ATV easily.

jetpack-v2-atv-rack-01

Whew. I was wondering if I had done something very stupid.

But when I finally got 30 of these babies printed, assembled, tested and ready to send, I was very happy with how it all went.

cots-catalog-helijet-01

cots-catalog-helijet-02

But I couldn’t stop there either. I decided to make a blueprint/instruction sheet for it.

blueprint-in-progress

I used the money I made to buy a third printer so future orders could be done far faster.

(In case anyone should think I’m in this for the money, the design time alone would be worth 10 times what I charge for these things. I charge just enough to cover material costs with a bit extra so I can buy new stuff for the hobby. Also, things like screws, elastics, paracord, etc, I also have to buy, experiment with, toss out, get different versions, etc. This is just my hobby. When it stops being fun, I will stop doing it. Until then, look for more designs from me.)

 

 

RACCS – ready attachable configurable component system

Introducing my new collaboration with Cotswold Collectibles: RACCS: ready attachable configurable component system.

raccs-cots-2016-06-cover-800

Cover of the latest catalog shows the base RACCS set, with hinges attached, covering two vintage Adventure Team crates fitted into a vintage Adventure Team Vehicle. Sidebar shows the RACCS hinged down with the first module, the Hand Copter Carrier, slotted in near the back.

The RACCS base set includes the RACCS mounting platform which slots directly into an ATV or Trouble Shooter, or can have hinges attached which then slot in. With the hinges the platform doubles as an openable lid for the cargo bay.

The hinges are slotted to the platform first. They snap in on an angle so that when the hinges are attached to the ATV, the platform doesn’t slip and slide.

Lots of cool pics of it in various configurations are available here.

The system allows modules to be slotted into the diagonal grid in any way that works for your particular adventure.

This first module is intended for the Cybernetic Explorer (or for that matter, Mike Power) to carry his vintage Hand Copter. (Not included.)

Just as many collectors own a vintage ATV, many also own a vintage Mike Power (Atomic Man) and his hand copter. This module allows convenient carrying of that blade when collapsed.

raccs-cots-2016-06-inside-800

As the text indicates, RACCS is a configurable system, and the first module is available for pre-order now. It also indicates we are working on more modules for the future. We are indeed.

What those are I can’t say, but they are exciting and quite cool, and I know you’ll love them.

Quick Kitbash #1 – Jetpack from Flame Trooper Pack

star-wars-flame-trooper-01-s

Oh dear, Hasbro, what have you done? Your once fine fully articulated 12″ figures have become the stuff of nonsense. You can’t even bend elbows to hold the nicely molded rifle you put in with your Stormtrooper figures which are now hard plastic shells with almost no movement at all.

That said, I bought the Flame Trooper with a purpose in mind – at least your accessories are still useful.

Note: the flamethrower backpack!

star-wars-flame-trooper-02-s

I knew immediately that this had potential!

Materials and Tools

You will need:

  • 1 Force Awakens Flametrooper 12″ Figure
  • 1 Dollar Store Chess Set – cheap, hollow chess pieces
  • 3/8″ Black Braided Elastic (from Fabric store)
  • Wire cutter
  • X-Acto knife (or sharp blade)
  • Binary epoxy cement
  • Drill or Dremel

That’s it. Literally.

Step One

flametrooper-jetpack-01

Gather your gear. Note that here, I have two white and two black pawns. This is for a second option I will discuss later, but will not do here in this tutorial.

The larger black pieces are the King and Queen. Make sure you use the two largest pieces whose bases are identical. This may turn out to be the Bishops or the Rooks. Doesn’t matter much. You can also use the white ones for this, but I found with the nice black/white contrast already on the flamethrower fuel pack, the black looks nicest.

Step 2

flametrooper-jetpack-02

Using either an X-Acto knife, carpet knife or wire cutters, cut the body off the base of the King and Queen.

Step 3

flametrooper-jetpack-04 flametrooper-jetpack-03

These will end up covering those hex bolt protrusions on the bottom of the flame pack.

Step 4

flametrooper-jetpack-05

Cut a slot about 1/4″ or less in the base. Note on the jetpack there is a pipe-like channel that prevents a perfect cone from fitting over the rounded tank. This slot will clear that space.

flametrooper-jetpack-06

Two jetpack cones ready to attach.

Step 5

flametrooper-jetpack-07

flametrooper-jetpack-08

Mix half and half clear epoxy cement carefully with a toothpick.

Spread some on the inside rim of the hole and slot you cut into the bases.

Attach them, making sure the slots fit over the protrusions on the tank, with the hex bolts as centered as possible.

Step 6

flametrooper-jetpack-08

Cut the base off the black pawn.

Epoxy it to the base of the white pawn, base to base.

flametrooper-jetpack-09

Jam (with friction, or you can epoxy it if you like this method) the flame hose into the head of the white pawn as hard as you can.

Step 7

For now, the last step is to remove the peg that is used to insert the pack onto the Flametrooper figure. Use wire cutters.

NOTE: There is a metal bolt inside the peg. The wire cutters can cut through it. Otherwise, use the dremel.

The Harness – COMING SOON

Here it is, without harness.

flametrooper-jetpack-11

flametrooper-jetpack-10

If you think a one-handed control (with gimbal joystick head) is goofy, we can make a dual handle control using cording and two pawns, drilled into the body of the fuel pack.

The elastic braiding will be strung through the rounded tubular frame on the inside of the pack, using the Dremel and a drill to make an aperture for it. Using heat to seal the ends of a length of braiding, we will use small screws with washers to secure the ends to the pack.

GI Joe Jetpack V2.0 – The Evolution of the Cotswold Heli-Pack

jetpack-v2-complete-01

My latest project for Cotswold Collectibles is one they have been after me to do for a while now, ever since I showed it to Greg Brown at the Dallas GI Joe Convention.

regular-joes-at-my-dio-upright
(Cross-eye stereo pic)

But I was very concerned that certain aspects of the design were fine for me, knowing what I know about it, but I was very hesitant to sell it to others due to extreme fragility in more than one aspect of the design.

 

Breakable Design

at-jetpack-with-helmet

The harness, which is a hard pipe harness that hinges down over a body and clips into place using two swing-arms and c-clamp clasps, is very clever, and works perfectly. But unless you are very careful, it can break incredibly easily.

atapfp-harness-handles-joysticks-both

Then the clips that hold the engine housings onto the body are also relatively breakable. It might take some force, but they could break because they were printed vertically.

When you print a thin cylinder on a layered 3D printer, the layers fuse, but those layers are never as strong as a single layer is. A cylinder printed upright will snap like a twig very easily. The same cylinder printed sideways will be very hard to snap but will also not be very round.

atapfp-shoulder-harness-pushed-in

It’s a trade-off. I created the first jetpack to look good, and not be terribly strong.

 

How To Fix It So I Could Sell It

How could I change the jetpack to make it so that I could confidently sell them without worrying someone would easily break it?

 

Harness

First, I harkened back to the Backpack Drone Carrier which I designed a couple of years ago. It held my aerial drone, and was a solar charging base as well as a launch pad for it. This used a harness made from elastic straps, and 3D printed connectors and strap adjusters. When I designed that, I wanted nothing to do with sewing. A complicated elastic harness might mean sewing strap bits together. I came up with a way that does the whole thing with one continuous length of elastic strapping with no sewing at all. Just heat-fusing the ends so they don’t fray.

jetpack-v2-testing-06

The jetpack was in itself an homage to, and a continuation of, the backpack GI Joe Action Pack sets of the past, especially the Turbo Copter. Those used straps as harnesses, either flexible plastic or elastic, clipped to a chest piece with metal clips.

Since that worked rather well, I thought I might be able to get away with that for the jetpack. So when I began work to completely redesign the jetpack, I had this new harness in mind from the beginning.

I created holes in the body that the strap would go into. I also designed it to screw together with 3 simple screws, but those screws would also clamp the elastic in place. I used a sawtooth strip on both the cushion seat and the front of the body piece to sandwich the elastic tightly, and it would not slip. Screws then go through the elastic to hold it in place on the body. Where the elastic folds in half, it fits into the chest harness piece and is clamped in place again by two screws.

PIC OF INTERIOR SHOWING TOOTH STRIPS AND HOLES FOR STRAPS – apologies. I still don’t have this pic!

The ends of the elastic are then fed into the strap adjusters and strap clips which fit nicely into the chest piece for an adjustable – and practically unbreakable – harness that I could now be confident could be sold to collectors without fear.

 

Engine Housing Clips

The original design printed the rotating engine arms upright, which makes for a perfectly smooth cylinder for easy rotation. However, that meant the clips that held the engine housings in place could be broken if enough force was applied. The layers could snap, breaking the clips.

So the solution was easy. Print the arms upright as usual, but make the clips separate pieces printed sideways. Sideways, the layers are both flexible and very strong. It would be practically impossible to break these new clips. They would get glued into the arms for a solid hold, and again, this makes the design much harder to break.

 

Complete Redesign

atapfp-jetpack-back

My original jetpack was bulky and clunky and not terribly smooth. This was fine for a prototype or proof of concept, and it served me well. But again, not something I thought was aesthetically pleasing enough to sell. So I came up with a new concept which was much smoother in overall design, a bit smaller, and would have smaller engines, and would fit into the Adventure Team Vehicle without the racks I had designed, (though a quick redesign of the racks made those useful again anyway.)

jetpack-v2-concept-sketch-02

I began with tessellated cubes and used lattice deformers to warp the shapes into something cool and resembled my concept.

I soon had this ready:

jetpack-v2-early-model-01

I was able to take the functioning part of the thumbwheel and arms directly from the old model without much alteration, except to make them a bit smaller.

I redesigned the engine housings just a bit to allow for the hub and spokes to work better. Those were incredibly hard to assemble as they were, and were not feasible as originally designed.

I was going to print the struts (spokes) flat in order to make a stronger central hub overall, but I didn’t want to lose the smoothness. So I deepened the slots the struts fitted into on the hub, and then created sliding slots for the assembled struts into the housings so they could slide into place, rather than be snapped into place awkwardly and with some danger of ruining the parts.

 

Why The Hub Bub?

Why the hub at all, you say?

jetpack-v2-testing-07

The engine housings themselves were designed to mimic the Dyson concept: air being pushed into the housing, and then pushed out through a ring around it, using an aerodynamic shell to funnel the air into a stable column. This, exaggerated to jet power, would provide enough lift for a human. It does not require that hub or struts.

The hub is there so when you remove the housings for storage or carrying, those can clip to the body. They are completely non-functional, though I did put a jet intake vent on it for looks.

jetpack-v2-testing-01

 

Problems With The Thumbwheel

The thumbwheel provided an issue. Originally designed to snap together very tightly, and not easily comp apart (so you could pull the engine housings off without fear of pulling out the rotator arms) this new version was giving me difficulties in assembly which involved a clamp to push the arms onto square posts on the thumbwheel.

However, I found that the thumbwheel bent during assembly and the arms would never snap fully onto the posts.

jetpack-v2-diagram-explaining-thumbwheel-prolem-01

I knew why. The post that goes “through” the thumbwheel actually was not a solid post. It was a shell and a part of the thumbwheel. So when you pushed hard on both posts, the thumbwheel itself collapsed a bit and the clamping process could not get the arms fully onto the wheel.

I could fix this by printing the thumbwheel with denser support, but I think there’s a better solution: Design the post solid, and make it exactly the same size as a hole in the thumbwheel. The 3D printer would see these as two solid walls and not make a solid of them, but print them almost as if they were two parts. This would mean clamping the arms onto the posts would be easier because the post would be solid, and not just look solid. It should work.

 

Sellable Product

With these changes made, tested, iterated on and approved, I was able to start printing.

One of the other original reasons I was a bit hesitant was that this thing took a long time to print. Scaling it down a bit helps, and having two printers certainly helps. And having a fairly nice lead time before they would be needed helps. I believe printing 30 of these won’t be too bad. It may take more than a month, but would be worth the time.

I’m eager to get these into the hands of collectors and gauge their reactions. I anticipate a quick sell-out of the first run.

 

Approval

I sent the jetpack, along with a dark green ATV rack-mount for it, (along with some color swatches I printed along with my own designed carabiner) to Greg for approval. The upper brass liked it apparently, but liked the rack mount so much they wanted to offer it up at the same time as an optional companion piece. So now I have to print some of these as well.

jetpack-v2-atv-rack-01

Luckily there are only three individual parts, each have to be printed twice, and the pins four times each, in order to make one working rack. The two main parts are symmetrical so they work on both sides of the vehicle cargo bay, but with one part’s leg reversed. It’s quite a clever design if I do say so myself. The same legs work on either side of the tilted bay, but each one angled upward and the platforms snap to the legs.

IMG_4964

IMG_4965

Of course the finished rack will not be in green, it will be in black to complement the ATV and the jetpack.

 

It Ain’t Always Easy

I was once intereviewed by an Afinia PR person. We chat on occasion and she loves it when I show her my latest 3D printed thing. She once asked me how often I get failed prints. I replied “Almost never.”

And that’s true. Sure, it happens sometimes. I’ll wake up, check the printer and find a huge hairball, but that is remarkably rare. Just a shade more often, I may get a print that has somehow caught on the print head and forced the print bed to skip, causing an offset.

The most frequent issue (and this happens more than I’d like, but still fairly rarely) is stress cracking. This is when the layers don’t fuse as strongly. I get it on some filaments even at my highest heat setting.

So it was frustrating to find out that when I had printed about a dozen of the body fronts for this project, a closer inspection showed me that I only had 3 good prints. Sigh. And it seems to happen mostly on my H480. Less so on my H479. The H480 just had its print head replaced a few months ago. You’d think it wouldn’t lose heat.

Anyway, it’s all part of the 3D printing process, and I’m just glad it’s a rare event.

ADDENDUM: On stress cracking. Yes, I sometimes get some depending on heat, but the frustration I was experiencing printing these jetpacks, I now realize, had to do with me buying a batch of old, outdated filament. I bought a 3 pack of yellow Afinia Premium ABS filament from a third party vendor on Amazon. It was when I was using that that I had so many jetpack bodies with stress cracks. I should have known there was a problem. These reels did not come in boxes, but in their mylar sleeves, which were scuffed up and buckled badly like these reels had been sitting in someone’s warehouse for a loooong time. I then ordered some fresh ABS from Afinia and did not experience that stress cracking.

I felt I should clear that up.

 

Final Words

Cotswold released the catalog, and here it is.

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12794593_10153323580231105_4127349986574339382_n

I created 30 jetpacks and 25 ATV racks, my thinking was about half the people who buy the jetpack would have a vintage ATV in their collection, so I figured 15. We kept getting orders, so Greg Brown at Cotswold kept upping the order until we got to 25, almost a 1:1 ratio.

Not bad.

We are currently working on future projects! Keep your eye on this space.

UPDATE: I created a blueprint and instruction sheet for the Heli-Pack:

Cots_Heli_Pack_Blueprint