Red Special Retro Ray Gun


Ok, I’m going to confess that I like this one quite a bit.

I started with some small sketches of retro 50s ray guns. When I sketched one in pencil I quite liked, I redrew it in pen, and colored it with colored pens, on graph paper.


I scanned this image and created an image plane in my 3D modeling software package. I used that as a horizontal guide.

The one thing I didn’t like was the muzzle, so I left that for last, hoping I would come up with a better idea when I got to it.


One thing I wanted to do, and added a lot of time to modeling, in this one, was to avoid having to use glue of any kind. This required carefully designing each piece to screw or bolt to previous pieces until it was solidly constructed.

That, and I wanted it to be heavy.

Recently, I created WERBLZ, a series of rolly-aliens, which I hope to make available to the general public soon. To bet these WERBLZ to roll, I used a short carriage bolt.


I sheared the rounded head off to use at the bottom of the WERBLZ to make them wobble. That left the bolts as junk, so instead of tossing those, I decided to keep them for weight in various models I wanted to add weight to.

I started with halves of a handle. Since this was a little too large to print on my Afinia H479 and H480 printers, I cut it into two pieces, using a jig-saw method to attach them nice and tightly.


Each half has three screw holes at the top, and three screw holes in the handle itself. Then there were two screw holes to screw the grip panels to.

I needed space to add a trigger, which pulled correctly, and a part for the base of a spring to attach to. This would allow for the trigger to actually work.

Once these elements were placed, the two halves screwed together: (Note I only use two of the three screws to attach the handle halves. No need for the third, but it could be used. I was running short on screws, so I skimped.


Note the notch at the top, near the rear. This is to slide the body of the gun onto the handle frame. First, the central “heat sink” section is slotted into position:


At this point a 6 inch bolt with a hex head is pushed into a space in the heat sink piece. The hex head fits into a hex aperture, while the bolt comfortably (though snugly) fits through the whole piece. The heat sink section acts as a wrench, in a way. I can rotate the barrel on and the bolt will be held in place by the heat sink.


Four screws screw into the front of the heat sink, and drill into the red rear section. Note the square nubs at the front of the heat sink section. These fit into squares in the main barrel so the barrel won’t spin.

The black dial ring slips over the heat sink, and is allowed to freely rotate. This is a ray intensity dial.

I slipped a bolt inside the rear section for weight too.


Next, the main barrel gets its rings:


Each of the rings (left) slips over the main barrel cone very snugly.



The main barrel is complete when all the red rings are in place:


Here I show the bolt section of the carriage bolt I sheared off eariler (to create the WERBLZ), wrapped in Scotch Tape for friction hold, placed into the main barrel section for heft:


Then, three more:


Then the main barrel is slipped over the long bolt. The four holes for bolts also meet up with four square plugs on the heat sink section to prevent the barrel from rotating.


The barrel neck has a slightly smaller cylindrical aperture, with ridges so the bolt can grab on and act like a nut:


Then the muzzle is attached with a single screw:


Four small pegs/holes in the neck/muzzle keep the muzzle from rotating.

Then the focus dial at the back is added:


A single screw holds the dial on:


A red plug covers the screw, but has a small notch so it can be easily removed if needed.

Last, I put one more carriabe bolt in the gap inside the handle frame, for better weight, then the handle grips are screwed onto the handle frame to form the final product:


So there are 9 #4 3/8 screws, one 6″ bolt, and six sheared carriage bolts.


When I was test-fitting and adjusting the model, I printed a version using colors I had that I don’t use much, usually accent colors and highlights, and things that I use for smaller objects. So rather than waste the real colors (which I use a lot and can’t spare as easily) I printed a fully working version (before final adjustments) in a rainbow of colors:


It was a throw-away, but my daughter loved it, and asked for it. So it’s now hers.

Future Plans


I bought some cheap carded laser guns at a dollar store, and they have very loud laser sounds and bright LEDs. I will have to do some wiring and soldering, but with a few changes, I could make this gun electronic.

Problem – The Trigger Sounds Springy

I noticed when I completed the first print that the trigger makes an ugly springy noise like rusty bed springs. I looked at the design again to see if there was anything I could do about it.


You can see the problem. The handle frame has a post for the grips to screw into. It sits amid the handle right where the spring has to be when the trigger is pulled back. The trigger is basically a lever (with the fulcrum right under my thumb.) The end of the lever inside the gun has to hold the spring, which needs an anchor somewhere else inside the frame. There’s lots of room below it, but not when the post is in the way.

The result is that when you pull the trigger, the spring is raked over that post, making a squeaky noise.

So I tried to figure out a way to remove the spring.

In the past I have made a few things that use magnets as springs:

Space 1999 Stun Gun Settings Switch


I used three magnets: One in the trigger switch slider (on the right) and there are two under the KILL and STUN settings.

EMP Grenade Plunger


I used three magnets, one in the plunger, one in the bottom, and one in the base.

So I began to think magnets would be the perfect solution to this problem. I diagrammed out how this would fit into the existing structure. I had to make a few small changes and additions, as well as cut out some gaps for the magnets to fit, but here’s the scheme:

The trigger itself has one magnet, North pole facing upwards.

The handle has a magnet below it to pull the trigger forward. This is also North pole facing upwards for attraction

Then above the trigger a third magnet, South pole up so the two North Poles repel each other as the trigger approaches, for some resistance on the back pull.


A quick test print (in blue and brown) later and here it is:


(Ugly pink tape holding the magnets in place because what really holds them in place is the two halves of the frame screwed together.)

The resulting feel is very nice. No noise, good pull resistance, and retraction.


Tintin On The Moon

Tintin, by Hergé, is a character in a series of comic books from Belgium, beloved the world over. I read them as a kid, and my two favorite ones were a pair of books, in a rare thing for Tintin, a two-parter: “Destination Moon” and “Explorers on the Moon”:


A year or so I bought a nice die-cast Jeep (the one on the first cover) and I downloaded and 3D printed the rocket, someone put up on Thingiverse.

But not satisfied, I wanted to make a statue of Tintin in his space suit.

Here it is:

12189801_10153071016431105_5607296879127696805_n 12208704_10153071016496105_2524085349619937784_n 12187668_10153071016596105_2605207907898148152_n 10406440_10153071016551105_2176392486078442578_n

The bubble is a vending machine bubble capsule, which is not terribly transparent, which sucks a little, but it works fairly well.

The figure stands about 8-9 inches in height.

JANI-TOR Updated

Twice now, my JANI-TOR 3D printed robot model has broken. Once I dropped it while carrying it, and once it toppled over seemingly on his own on my bureau. Perhaps he’s a bit front heavy.

This second time, the head came clean off, so I took this opportunity to redo the head.

The original head disappointed me because the whole point of this model is JANI-TOR is contemplating a ball. But my original model was not looking at the ball, he was looking far too up and forward:


So I took the opportunity to make an alternate head that is looking towards the ball. Here you see his new head attached, and his old one detached:


There. Fixed it.

Re-Introducing JANI-TOR


In the late 1990s I created a robot in Lightwave, and called him JANI-TOR. The idea was that he was a menial sanitation robot sweeping the floor of a lab he’s not necessarily supposed to be in. His broom bumps a ball (a familiar one to Canadian children in the 1970s, and is NOT, I repeat, NOT the PEPSI logo!) and follows the ball to where it rolls to a halt under a huge Van de Graaf generator, where he reaches down to pick it up as the sparks get increasingly closer to him, and then he stands up, the generator waning, and examines the ball, tosses it in the air where a huge spark disintegrates it, turning it into dust. Undaunted by any of this, JANI-TOR continues about his business.

I put the video together but never did the sound.

This week I decided I wanted to 3D print him. Actually, I decided this many years ago when 3D printing became possible.

This week I remodeled him (can’t find the original Lightwave files), updated a few things, like his hands, and beefed up his feet, and printed him in his broom-carrying, ball-surveying pose.

Here is a tray filled with all of the parts: The dark teal of the original was not available, so I used a lighter version, and I still think he turned out well:


And here he is, printed out. As you can see by the parts, it’s all tab and slot connections, and so he’s not articulated. He’s a statue. But a nice one.

jani-tor-01 jani-tor-02


I posed his eyes looking a bit too high. I can fix that by printing a new head for a different version.

Note the broom. I could have 3D printed that too, but guess what? Sometimes 3D printing is not the only, and not necessarily ideal, method to make something. This time I used two paint brushes (one for the wooden base, and one for the bristles) and a piece of wooden dowel. The hand has a cylindrical space in it so the broom can slide into place easily.

Here are the movies, one is a walk test, and the other the full video. These are tiny because it was the late 1990s and this size took long enough to render. It was also a test only.

Here is a series of single frames from the animation. Each one mimics the storyboard frame I created for them very closely. I stuck to my storyboard fairly strictly.

shota shotb shotc shote shotf shotg shoti1 shoti2 shoti3 shoth1 shoth2 shotj shotk shotl1 shotl2 shotl3 shotm1 shotm2shotm3 shotn1  shotn2 shoto1 shoto2 shoto3


UFO 04 – Jetson Cruiser

The Jetson Cruiser

This is my latest UFO print:


Admittedly, I grabbed the idea from this wonderful model I saw on the web:


I did make my own alterations and adjustments, though.

What I was aiming for was something out of the Jetsons, a flying saucer that invoked a 1950s car feel with fins and chrome lights. I have no chrome, so I was stuck with a gray filament that is called silver but is not.

Here are all of the parts that make up the Jetson Cruiser:



Gluing the bumper to the bottom half:ufo-04-cruiser-assembly-bumper-01

Here the cockpit assembly (console, pilot seat and comfy couch for five passengers) is attached to the bottom of the saucer:ufo-04-cruiser-assembly-cockpit-01

Then the semi-spherical bubble capsule cap is put in place. The fit is so perfect I don’t need to glue it:ufo-04-cruiser-assembly-cockpit-02

Then I blue the six clear translucent lights to the light covers:ufo-04-cruiser-assembly-headlights-01

And I attach those to the body:ufo-04-cruiser-assembly-headlights-02

The tail-light rims go on next:ufo-04-cruiser-assembly-tail-lights-01

Followed by the customary navigational lights, green on the left, red on the right:   ufo-04-cruiser-assembly-running-lights-01

And then the actual tail lights:ufo-04-cruiser-assembly-tail-lights-02

I glue tires into the three wheel housings. Note: These wheels are printed in a flexible black, so they feel like rubber and have some bounce. In a future version I may add axles and allow them to roll:

Inserting the vertical thruster. The thruster is printed in a translucent glow-in-the-dark icy blue. So when it’s glued to the underneath, it shows the orange (and gray from the cockpit) through. To avoid this, I attached a circle of tin foil to reflect light back out:ufo-04-cruiser-assembly-tin-foil-01

Then I glue the thruster in place underneath, and attach the wheels:ufo-04-cruiser-assembly-bottom-01

Now the two halves get joined, for a completed model:ufo-04-cruiser-assembly-main-body-01

The Showroom

ufo-04-cruiser-01 ufo-04-cruiser-03 ufo-04-cruiser-04 ufo-04-cruiser-06 ufo-04-cruiser-07 ufo-04-cruiser-02



Cute Prototype

When I prototype, I use colors I normally have a lot of, but don’t use a lot of, like purple, pink, neon yellow, etc. In the first print of this model, I used purple and pink with green and white.

It was intended only for fit and to determine what issues the model would have.

But my daughter loved the color scheme and basically demanded it, so it’s now hers. Here it is.


New Rocket – Apollo 42

apollo-42-complete-engines-extended-03A couple of years ago I bought a Pegasus Hobbies model kit called “Apollo 27” because it looked awesome. I haven’t built it yet, but I will get to it.  It has these four rocket engines offset from the body with a solid structure holding them in place. I looked at it and thought “Hey, what if they swung in and out?”


Apollo 42 is born. (42 – Reference to the Ultimate Answer.)

I changed the design naturally, but I liked the original enough to keep the basic shape.

Here are the parts: One engine has been assembled to show how the parts fit together.


A bit about the design:

Like many of my rockets, it prints in multiple colors. I design it so that body stripes are individual cylindrical pieces, and I use holes and pegs to align them for gluing (the black mass in the picture is a group of pegs.)

Each hinge arm has a hole in either end. In the body of the rocket and in each engine, there are four hemispherical bumps that the hinge arms get pushed onto. Once in place, this acts as a very solid hinge. In a future design I may change how this works, but for this one it works well. A careful eye can detect that at each end of the hinge arms there is a funneled channel carved in to make sliding these onto the bumps a bit easier (though it’s no easy task.) Once snapped on, however, they work very well.

The number 42 is inlaid using four individually printed numbers, booleaned into the body and angled correctly. I do this by making the letters, the making a cutting tool object that is just a bit larger all around, so the number can slip into the cavity without too much difficulty.

I designed the rocket with two hinged arms for each rocket engine. Each engine retracts to a recessed section of the main body, and extends outward to a maximum distance.

As it is now, each engine can be pulled in and out individually, and because each uses two hinged arms, the angle stays correct as you extend them and retract them.

apollo-42-complete-engines-retracted-03 apollo-42-complete-engines-retracted-04 apollo-42-complete-engines-retracted-01 apollo-42-complete-one-engine-extended-01 apollo-42-complete-two-engines-extended-01 apollo-42-complete-three-engines-extended-01 apollo-42-complete-engines-extended-01 apollo-42-complete-engines-extended-02


I will note that during assembly I came up with a great way of making it so that when you pull out one engine, the other three will also pull out, and in. I will be working on that in the future, perhaps Version 2.0 of Apollo 42.

Vending Machine Bubble UFO – Flying Saucer – 04

I wanted to make another UFO, this time using a 2.25″ spherical vending machine bubble capsule, one of the newer versions, not the acorn-shaped ones.

So I perused the internet for ideas and found one that I really really liked. I admit I took a lot of the design directly, and then added some stuff of my own, including re-using legs I created for Thunderbird 1’s display stand, with some alteration.

Here’s the final result:


Here are the constituent parts:


The bubble is clearly not 3D printed – it’s the clear half of a vending machine spherical capsule.


Two halves of the saucer, along with the purple interior console and green seat:ufo-04-assembly-01

Front grill and green headlights:ufo-04-assembly-02

Green vertical thruster and legs:ufo-04-assembly-04

Five green tail lights:ufo-04-assembly-03

Beauty shots:
ufo-04-finished-05 ufo-04-finished-02 ufo-04-finished-03 ufo-04-finished-04


I am often inspired by models, things I see in every day life, and in searching the web. I found this one and liked it so much I only made small modifications. Apologies to the original artist. I loved your work so much I had to use it.



Luxury Rocket

In my continuing series of rocket designs, I spent some time last week designing a sleek rocket whose fins sweep down the entire length of the body.


It’s hard to see, but rivets line the body on either side of each fin, and along both rims of the engine section. The window is printed in glow-in-the-dark blue because I like how that looks as reflective glass.

Here is the underside, showing re-use of an engine detail that I modeled for an entirely different purpose but have used in several projects since.


It was first designed for a GI Joe project, an ice blaster.

at-ice-blaster-front-view-01I used that central core (fused into one part) to create a jetpack for a Corgi which I designed and printed for a friend. (I did not design or model the dog, I just used it with my own jetpack design.)

I also used it on my Jetpack Rocket:


My rocket collection so far:


Left top right: Luxury Rocket, Rocket Jockey Ship, Silver Bullet Rocket, Fathers Day Rocket, 3DAGOGO Rocket, Jetpack Rocket, Regular Joes Rocket(s). (One for me and one for each of the Regular Joes.) (That’s the Regular Joes Podcast, which, if you’re not listening to it, you’re missing out.)

Rocket Jockey Rocket – My Unapologetic, Blatant Rip-Off

I admit it. I really liked‘s Space Tub. I have one here. I’m thinking of selling it, though, as I really have to get rid of the bulk of my toy collection. Here it is:


So before bidding this one a fond farewell, I opted to make my own version of it, with minor changes, so I don’t have to be lonely no more.

Here are the parts:


Body in two pieces, rear and front, pegs to fit them together, a cockpit which has two window sections, unlike the original, a cowl to fit around the cockpit, with a fin slotted into the cockpit, and two on the sides, which form a perfect triple rocket. Top it off with an engine and nose spear.

And it looks like this when completed:


And to finish it off, to be like the original, I added a sewing pin:


And here he is alongside his larger brother (printed at 1.44x scale) with a slightly larger sewing pin:



Thunderbird 4 – A 3D Print


I have been looking for good models of the Thunderbird rescue craft that I did not want to bother to model. Thunderbird 1 and 3 were ones I wanted to model, and thought I could do a good job. However, the curves and nuances of TB2 and TB4 made me not want to go through the trouble. TB5 I could do easily, but I’m not sure I want to.

So recently I found a model of Thunderbird 4 on Thingiverse. But it had some issues.

First, it was solid. I wanted it to be printed in colors. Also, various bits were just thin polygons placed in the mesh, not combined and not closed.

I remodeled those bits, then split the body in half, adding detail, and 3 screw holes to fasten the two body halves together.

All parts

Yellow: Front, rear, engine hoods, fin, nose, lightbar arm.
Red: Stripes and engine housings
Silver: Grill engine inserts
Blue: Windshield and dome
Clear: Lights – raw filament

Adding red engine housing stripes and grills:tb4-grills

Attaching front and rear with 3 screws:tb4-body

The screws:

Nose stripe:



Attaching engines:

Adding fin:

Adding light bar:

Windshield and dome:

Clipped filament strands to fit the light fixtures: (Fuzzy picture, sorry.)

Result is rather nice, even though I had to work hard to get the flat bases (where the body halves meet) to print flat. My printer has been warping up things with large flat surface areas. But it’s not a bad model.