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Author Topic: Mikedemana's aerial screw (not a Mile Hile Club reference!)  (Read 2160 times)
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mikedemana
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« on: January 07, 2017, 06:59:18 PM »


Leonardo da Vinci's sketch of his idea for a helicopter using an aerial screw

So, I may be asked to modify my somewhat scurrilous thread title, but here it is! My first planned entry into the Build Something Contest. I've participated in the Lead Painters League a number of times, but this is my first time in this one. I love scratch-building terrain, having created a number of Southeast Asian temples for my Pulp games. See my Lead Legionaries blog for some of these: http://leadlegionaries.blogspot.com/

What looks to be like an MDF model of Da Vinci's helicopter

What will my subject be? Well, Leonardo da Vinci is a personal hero of mine. I tell my students every year that I think he is the most talented and smartest man to walk the Earth, so far. What's more, I own an Italian army for my friend's Victorian Science Fiction/Steampunk games. My friend Tom has written and published his own rules set, For Queen & Planet: The Imperial Wars of Earth and Mars 1845-1930. Check them out here: http://www.firstcommandwargames.com/published-rules/for-queen-and-planet-the.html

One of our games of For Queen and Planet, with fanciful war machines on the tabletop

His rules allow for flying and other war machines, and I had been wanting to scratch-build something for my army to use in our games. The contest is a perfect opportunity. And what better choice for an Italian army than a Da Vinci inspired design?

My Italian army for our Victorian Sci-Fi/Steampunk games

So, my thought is to modify Da Vinci's Helicopter, or aerial screw. With the invention of steam power in our game's time period, his screw no longer needs to rely on man-power to turn the screw's fan blades. I plan on cooking up some sort of lightweight steam power and gear assembly to replace the man powered crank in his design. Obviously, this is steampunk, so it doesn't have to be scientifically accurate or a blueprint for an actual vehicle that could take flight. However, I want to make a nod at the science part of Victorian Sci-Fi, and make it not outrageously unfeasible.

An image I found of a model someone had built, demonstrating Da Vinci's idea of employing human power

I am still working out what kind of armament it would employ. My first thought was it would be a bomber, able to attack units it overflies by simply dropping bombs down onto them. Anther thought was to make it a helicopter gunship, of sorts, with a gatling gun mounted in some sort of swivel mechanism either beneath the helicopter or out front. So far, no sketches have been made. However, I  have ideas bubbling like the steam engine building up power. Hopefully, something productive comes out of this -- and I actually complete the model, unlike many of Leonardo's designs, which never left paper.

In bocca al lupo!

Mike Demana
www.firstcommandwargames.com
http://leadlegionaries.blogspot.com/


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jimbibbly
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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2017, 07:31:58 PM »

Title is fine with me  Smiley

Looking forward to seeing what you do with this.

cheers

James
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von Lucky
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2017, 09:52:36 PM »

Great idea (along with modifying it for its setting). I like the idea of it not being a bomber (my first thought too) but a gunship or maybe a sniper's platform?
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mikedemana
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2017, 04:02:01 AM »

I am still in the schematic phase, though I made my first two component purchases today. I think I solved my first main question, which was what material to use as the framework for the spiral "screw." The owner at the hobby store recommend taking brass wire and wrapping it around a cylinder to get the circular shape I want. Then pulling on it and separating it a bit to give it a spring-like appearance, of sorts.


This would be the top-down view of the bottle cap base for the flying machine

I also picked up my platform base for the flying machine. Michaels craft store had a giant, galvenized metal bottle cap -- about the circumference of your thumbs and index fingers. It has a very retro look to it, with the flanges pointing down, and I think can be easily modified with beads and various other steampunkish elements to trick it out as the body of the aircraft.


Hmmm...can I use this to make my aerial screw spin?

Finally, while walking around the hobby store I got one of those crazy thoughts we all get from time to time, which multiplies the hours of the project we are cooking up. The thought was, "Why not mount a motor on the aircraft's platform, with the drive shaft pointing up, and attach the aerial screw to that? So, the whole things actually spins?  Shocked Shocked Shocked

I am not a mechanic of any sort, so any advice on using hobby motors, power sources, On/Off switches and such would be greatly appreciated...! Oh, and advice on adding lighted LEDs would be appreciated too... Laugh

Mike Demana
www.firstcommandwargames.com
http://leadlegionaries.blogspot.com/


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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2017, 05:17:04 AM »

I'd love to see it actually spinning. That would be great!
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mikedemana
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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2017, 04:31:27 AM »


Marking out the dowel to pinpoint where each brass wire strut would go

Two weeks without an update...yikes! Well, most of that time has been spent talking to hobby and model railroad stores, Radio Shack, and surfing the internet to solve the problem of whether to make this spin or not. After much research, I came to the realization that I am not Leonardo da Vinci. I simply am not mechanically inclined, and I don't know diddly about electronics. So, sadly, there will be no spinning.


The wooden cube which preserved the angle of the struts to a hopefully reasonable consistent degree

That decided, I worked on trying to build the framework for the "screw" portion of the flying machine. I tried two materials -- the brass wire definitely did NOT work. Instead, I decided to change the shape of the sail part of the flyer. It will not be round. Instead, it will be more "squared off." Brass wire will project from a central shaft (wooden dowel). I will cut out and glue metallic paper to the wire rods in wedge shapes. I agonized for awhile over how to make all my drilling into the dowel at the same angle so the wire struts aren't all at coming out at different angles. I finally came up with a method, using a small wooden cube. I shaved one face of it so it would sit flush against the dowel I would be drilling into. Then I drilled through the cube at the angle I wanted. I would simply line up the cube with where I wanted to drill on the dowel, plop some blue tack over it and hold it in place, then insert the drill through the cube and begin drilling into the dowel at the same angle. Prior to that, I marked out all the spots on the dowel where wire struts would be affixed. I was happy to see this portion went fairly smoothly, and quickly.


The dowel central shaft with the wires (and a small bead) epoxied into it

Finally, it was time for a trip to the hobby store for supplies. I picked up copper and silver paper, various metallic beads, a set of wooden gears and wheels, and tiny black "gem stones" that will serve as rivets. I probably spent a good 45 minutes there, envisioning what various beads would look like together, and designing the steam engine on the fly in my head.  I still wasn't sure what I'd use as the main body of the engine, but I had all kinds of ideas for various steampunky bits to glue onto and around it to make it look cool. There was definitely a metallic theme going on with this flyer.


My haul from the hobby store -- beads, beads, and more beads (plus some metallic paper, gem "rivets" and more)!

I finally settled on a simple cylindrical container for the base of my steam engine. I glued various wooden bits onto it, using a lot of the wooden gears at the joints. I'd picked out two cone beads to look like a kind of spinning shaft in a dark metallic color. I began gluing various bits together, and was fairly happy with how it was looking. So, I just kept going. When I was all done, the engine assembly was 4 1/4" tall (11 cm). The dowel with the struts is another almost 5" tall (13 cm). So, this is going to be a tall model. I will likely need to drill into the shaft and run a dowel or piano wire piece all the way through to stabilize this. Otherwise, I'm afraid it may break in the middle.


The steampunk engine assembly that turns the central shaft with the dowel and wire struts

Still, I'm encouraged. After 2 weeks of no visible progress, I've got two pieces of it fairly far along!

Mike Demana
www.firstcommandwargames.com
http://leadlegionaries.blogspot.com/







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von Lucky
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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2017, 05:49:15 AM »

A massive burst of progress - nice one Leo Jnr.!
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« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2017, 06:35:42 AM »

So it's going to be a long slow screw, is it?

I'm sorry, I had to.

 Cheesy
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2017, 07:27:57 AM »

If it crashes, will it be Sex on the Beach?

You started it!!  Wink
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2017, 07:58:25 AM »

Very interesting process. I like the idea of the jig.
LB
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2017, 08:45:42 AM »

That looks like a fiendishly fiddly construction.  Cool Cool
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mikedemana
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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2017, 05:21:10 AM »


A look at the beginning of the gun platform, extending off the front of the flying machine

 Laugh Laugh Laugh I deserve all the drink references with the Mile High Club title!

So, more progress today, chiefly on the Gun Platform. This is meant to extend off the forward portion of the ship. Fortunately, the massive galvanized bottle cap which is my base has a hole in the edge for hanging on a hook in the store. I picked a dowel that fit the hole and trimmed it so that it would brace the underside of the platform and extend through the hole underneath the cap. I chose some appropriate beads to look like machinery parts on the underneath, and a wider flatter one for the platform (a square metal base) to rest upon.


The underside of the bottle cap base, showing the "machinery" beads and support

Once the epoxy had set, I flipped it over and added some gear-looking beads at the connection point between the gun platform and the bottle cap. This is to represent the gun platform being able to transverse up and down to better target enemies below. Later, I plan to add larger wheels to the gun platform to further that impression.


Shiny! I like how these beads make it look very Steampunkish

I used some cool-looking beads for the railing posts and epoxied them onto the metal base. Once set, I added a bright copper bead to the top of each post. Later, I will add some wire going between the bead holes for a railing.  What's more, I finally got a chance to go through my collection and found appropriate crew figures. I will use two 15mm Gatling guns on the platform, each with two crewmen. I also found an observer, a nice captain figure, and two crews who will look good steering or fiddling with machinery.


Who knows where these pieces originally came from? I remember saving them and now, years later, they will be the beginning of my gangway leading between the platforms

Of course, I need a way for the crew to be able to walk from the main platform to the gun platform. I found these bits I'd been saving for years in one of my boxes.


The two center sections of the gangway bridge epoxied together. The brass wire will be trimmed once it sets.

I used bluetack to fix them in place while I epoxied in brass wire to connect the holes between them. They will be the support of a gangway bridge crossing between the two platforms. I will add two more pieces on either side of this flat center section once they dry...and once I figure out a way to hold them in place at the right angle while I epoxy them...!

Good progress tonight, I felt. I hope to add a bit more tomorrow. Oh, by the way, that massively tall central shaft assemblage has been taken apart to be reassembled with more internal structural support. Sigh.  Cry They can't ALL be wins!

Mike Demana
www.firstcommandwargames.com
http://leadlegionaries.blogspot.com/

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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2017, 05:33:53 AM »


A look at the beginning of the gun platform, extending off the front of the flying machine

 Laugh Laugh Laugh I deserve all the drink references with the Mile High Club title!

So, more progress today, chiefly on the Gun Platform. This is meant to extend off the forward portion of the ship. Fortunately, the massive galvanized bottle cap which is my base has a hole in the edge for hanging on a hook in the store. I picked a dowel that fit the hole and trimmed it so that it would brace the underside of the platform and extend through the hole underneath the cap. I chose some appropriate beads to look like machinery parts on the underneath, and a wider flatter one for the platform (a square metal base) to rest upon.


The underside of the bottle cap base, showing the "machinery" beads and support

Once the epoxy had set, I flipped it over and added some gear-looking beads at the connection point between the gun platform and the bottle cap. This is to represent the gun platform being able to transverse up and down to better target enemies below. Later, I plan to add larger wheels to the gun platform to further that impression.


Shiny! I like how these beads make it look very Steampunkish

I used some cool-looking beads for the railing posts and epoxied them onto the metal base. Once set, I added a bright copper bead to the top of each post. Later, I will add some wire going between the bead holes for a railing.  What's more, I finally got a chance to go through my collection and found appropriate crew figures. I will use two 15mm Gatling guns on the platform, each with two crewmen. I also found an observer, a nice captain figure, and two crews who will look good steering or fiddling with machinery.


Who knows where these pieces originally came from? I remember saving them and now, years later, they will be the beginning of my gangway leading between the platforms

Of course, I need a way for the crew to be able to walk from the main platform to the gun platform. I found these bits I'd been saving for years in one of my boxes.


The two center sections of the gangway bridge epoxied together. The brass wire will be trimmed once it sets.

I used bluetack to fix them in place while I epoxied in brass wire to connect the holes between them. They will be the support of a gangway bridge crossing between the two platforms. I will add two more pieces on either side of this flat center section once they dry...and once I figure out a way to hold them in place at the right angle while I epoxy them...!

Good progress tonight, I felt. I hope to add a bit more tomorrow. Oh, by the way, that massively tall central shaft assemblage has been taken apart to be reassembled with more internal structural support. Sigh.  Cry They can't ALL be wins!

Mike Demana
www.firstcommandwargames.com
http://leadlegionaries.blogspot.com/



I am impressed by your use of unusual materials.

Tony
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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2017, 06:09:47 AM »

Jesus! I thought that was a giant beer bottle cap! How big is the bottle?
Agreed with the above as well. Excellent use of materials.
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mikedemana
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2017, 12:37:55 AM »


Stage 2 of the build? More work done on the Leonardo da Vinci aerial screw

The base IS a giant bottle cap... Laugh about 5 1/2" or 14cm across. Don't worry, I have a plan to disguise the cap edges.

More work has been done! As I mentioned earlier, I took apart the central shaft so that I could reinforce it with an aluminum rod affixed to the base and drilled all the way through all the stacked up parts. I'd cut off an inch or so of the height, too. That step went much smoother than I expected, the various pieces needing only a slight widening of their openings for the rod to fit through. Once all set, I epoxied the whole thing together, minus the top piece which will have the screw assembly. I set it aside to be epoxied down later.


Taken apart and put back together, the central shaft assembly minus the portion with the screw sails

At a trip to the hobby store in search of more beads another package of gears, I spotted this copper fabric that looks like metallic industrial flooring. I thought it would look perfect, so traced the base's outline with a piece of paper, transferred that to cardboard, then used it to draw where to cut the fabric. Once the circle was cut, I used Tacky Glue to affix it to the base, thinking it would soak into the fibers a bit more than epoxy. Next, I used that cardboard circle and cut out the inner ring of it and glued it over the top of the fabric to disguise where the fabric and metal base join. This ring will have rivets and metal reinforcement, also gate post stanchions going around its outer edge. I cut out a circle for the central shaft assembly so it would glue to the metal base and not the fabric. Both the plastic cap which is the bottom of the shaft and the aluminum rod were glued to the base.


The gun platform with the additional gears and wooden wheels to give the illusion of the platform tracking

Next, it was time to work on the gears joining the gun platform to the main base more. My thought is that the gun base has gears and wheels to allow it to depress or elevate, depending on the target. I found more beads in my collection that have the look of gears and mechanical parts. I used one of the wooden gear wheels and two beads attached to an aluminum rod for each side of the gun platform. This was kind of fiddly to attach to the model, and I essentially had to sit there holding it in my hands until the 5 Minute Epoxy set.  I also finished out the wire rail running between the bead gate posts on the gun platform. I discovered it is not that easy to ensure the opening of a tiny bead is truly horizontal. Some of the wire did not end up being as perfectly straight and uniform as I'd like. 


Close up of the gears using beads and wooden gear wheels

What's next? Well, I think it is finally time to paint the central shaft assembly and the gears. Once that is done, I can add more construction -- the metal grate gangway between the gun platform and the base, for one. I also have various beads to stack up next to the bottom of the central shaft to make it look like machinery. I want to get the gears and such all painted before I start putting stuff in front of it, though!

When's that deadline, again...? Laugh Laugh

Mike Demana
www.firstcommandwargames.com
http://leadlegionaries.blogspot.com/

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