So…I thought about pulling the Supermobile out tonight for a road patrol or driving to St.Pete for a foot patrol.
And I thought to myself “how much have I really accomplished doing that?” Sure I’ve had random instances over the years of being in the right place at the right time, but they’re few & far between. A car fire here, a mugging there…a drunk guy in a Hover Round here…a lady with here head busted open in a parking lot there. But for the amount of times I’ve struck oil there has been many nights of absolute boredom…or as I said it in a panel at a con a few years back “95% Boredom for one minute of sheer terror.”
So anyways I see Zimmer Barnes wrote awhile back about doing Missions instead of patrolling. I’m beginning to think this may be sound logic.
EVERY time I’ve set out with a specific mission in mind I’ve pretty much accomplished it, or figured out how to accomplish that goal for the next time.
95% of the times I’ve headed out on patrol I’ve ended up Driving around or stopping to pose for pictures with Collage girls or explaining What the Hell I’m doing dressed like this.
There might be something to this whole mission’s thing, Get specific tasks done, be it Philanthropy or Recruiting or gathering information on a known Dealer or sitting in a specific park that’s having a rash of assaults, however you roll you might be better planning it out then just jumping out the front door in your gimmick & saying “All right Evil! Here I come!”
Being a gadget builder, I reuse and repurpose a lot of things. Almost any bit of scrap technology can be reborn into something new and interesting with a little imagination, some know-how and hard work. I pride myself on being able to save something from a land-fill and give it new life in a new form. Because I have gotten such a reputation for doing things like that, people bring me stuff.
My team mate, Superhero brought me the old sun roof off of the Supermobile. The transparent roof turned the cockpit into an oven in the Florida sunshine so he removed the Lexan roof and installed a fiberglass one. The Lexan roof came to me. I was going to sell it on Ebay Motors for some Team Justice operating capital, but there are dozens of them on there. For $50 price range!
So I was stuck with this large sheet of smoked ¼ Lexan. I offered it up as shield material. The first taker was Anonyman.
I started by marking out a circle on the plastic that was roughly the diameter of the length of my forearm. Any larger and it would not be practical. Regardless of what Captain America may think, a large shield is not useful.
I got a leather belt from Goodwill for a few bucks and a dowel rod from my scrap box. The belt made the elbow strap and the dowel became the hand strap. Some metallic vent tape was used to create an Anonyman logo for the front of the disk. It was a pretty easy build.
After seeing the success of the first shield, one was requested by Urban Avenger. Not wanting to duplicate past work, (I hate doing something twice) I procrastinated. I’m bad for that.
Eventually I did get around to starting on the build for Urban Avenger. I wanted to do something different for his shield so as not to be duplicating work. Urban has always had a thing for lighting and mask goggles. I wanted to create that effect on the shield using 3 lenses with the top one being an actual light with interchangeable color disks with his logo and such on the various disks.
As I was talking to him about the shield though, He told me he doesn’t really use his mask lighting any more. There goes my design plans. I decided to just put the light on it (since I already bought it) without the lenses. The light I purchased for the project is a 3 way system having a standard light, A UV setting for finding spilled fluids, (actual detective gear!) and the 3rd setting? A friggin’ Laser! Sweet.
After working out the details on how to do the Logo, I again used a Goodwill leather belt as the elbow strap. However UA, had stated he wanted it to be adjustable. It needed a buckle. More specifically it need a buckle that could be adjusted using only 1 hand.
Using my Dremel tool, I cut a tab shape in a square of heavy sheet metal. By folding the outer form at 1 location and the inner tab at a different location, I was able to create a double loop buckle with no moving parts. A bolt ran through the metal becomes the belt keeper. As far as I can find this is an original invention.
The front handle had to be a stable one on this build. It had to hold the barrel of the light on it. I couldn’t do it the same as the Anonyman shield. A section of “V” channel would do the trick. I beat the cold steel into shape with a heavy framing hammer. But it had powder coat on it. A soak in an acetone bath softened the powder coating enough to allow me to scrape it off with a utility knife. Some primer and Urban Avenger red and it was ready to go.
I installed it on the shield and attached light barrel to the outer edge using aircraft cable and then wrapping it with some scrap leather. I sealed the open end with a pvc pipe cap after drilling a hole in it for the wiring. I ran the wires to the emitter disk that I attached to the front of the shield using some angle braces. I then covered the wiring with some surgical tubing to keep it neat and help seal from water. I covered the connections with some leather and called it complete.
Here he is at his first official event with Team Justice and the Humane Society Of Pinellas. Strutting his stuff with the other dogs at the 12th Annual Mutt Strut.
Here is a longer (but still fun) video of K-9. Includes some explanations about him and cool Dr. Who music.
Off and on for the past year I have been slowly putting together a model robot. It’s now at a stage where I don’t mind showing it off. You see there is a con coming up soon, and he is going with me.
He is based on K-9 from the old Doctor Who series. K-9 was a robotic-computerized tin dog on the show way back in the 70’s. That’s when I was a kid and began my long journey down the road of everything science. K-9 was, for the most part, a computer. His intellect and memory were on par or superior to The Doctor. Mans best friend as a small silver motorized computer.
He had several abilities outside of his intellect. He had a laser in his nose, sensor arrays for his ears, an interface connector that extended from his eyes, and tank treads for mobilization.
I have always been a fan of K-9. Two years ago I built a small replica one for Supercon in Miami. This small one was merely a mat-board shell over a small remote control car. It was a nice miniature version. But being made of mat-board, after some time it began to show a lot of wear and tear. It was time for a new full size one.
I found a chassis that I could use in the form of a monster truck at a garage sale. It had been left in the garage for some time and the battery boxes had corroded so it was nonfunctional. I got it for $5.00. Another $4.00 for new battery boxes from Radio Shack and a little time and solder and it was good as new.
And there is sat in my garage for at least 9 months. Why? Because I had already built one K-9 and did not enjoy the prospect of having to do it again. I’m not big on repetitive tasks. Then I discovered Steampunk. Steampunk allows us to re-imagine things that once were as new and different things. So I asked, “What if Doctor Who was Steampunk? What would K-9 look like then?” I began to work.
The first thing I did was remove the monster truck tires and replace them with some that looked more retro. The front ones were from a set of training wheels from a small kid’s bike. The rear wheels came from a lawn mower and I painted them in copper and gold for that retro feel. My fender design covered most of that however.
I then removed part of the front suspension to allow a step down in the body. I used foam-core board to build the front section inspired by a trolley train. I wrapped the foam-core body section in galvanized flashing sheet metal. I then built a cow catcher for the front out of dowels and spare parts. Flashing $14.00
The sheet metal was held to the foam-core sub-structure using brass nails pushed through and bent over on the inside. The nails were then glued down and allowed to dry. This created a nice effect of having it fastened together with brass rivets. It looks real cool up close. $4.00
A plumbing coupler was added on the sides to simulate a power take-off. A trick I learned from Aviator of Skiffytown. $8.00
I built a tank from a stove pipe and a 2 kettle lids from Goodwill. Less than $10.00
The rear body structure had to support the tank and hold the whole thing together. I built it from foam core as well but included a lot of internal structure for stability and strength. I then repeated the process of creating a metal skin made of flashing. I attached my tank to that structure. I later added 2 smoke stacks on the back behind the tank. Also made a spot where some vacuum tubes could be installed to help create the proper look. A Tesla coil style tail at the back of the tank creates a nice detail as well.
The voice module on the back is meant to approximate the control panel of the original K-9. It is a working USB /clock/radio/mp3 player. The 8 gig on board sd card has a set of prerecorded voice responses that I can activate with the remote. It came in a wooden box, which I disassembled and rebuilt into the structure you see, made from foam-core and sheet metal again. Amazon. $14.00
The neck is a foam-core inner shape around a large section of all-thread. It was then wrapped in nylon and spray painted black. Incidentally that is the same way I built the smaller versions neck. That’s the only process that I repeated.
The head is built to closely resemble the original K-9. This was mapped out using Autocad software and each section printed onto paper at full size. The paper was then cut and used as a template to shape the foam-core precisely. After building the foam-core head I placed the barrel of a replica civil war era Ball and Powder revolver in the nose section. This replaces his laser. After skinning the head with metal I placed the sides of the gun, showing the mechanism, on the forward part of the nose. The air soft gun I used came from Amazon as well. $12.00
The eyes were made from some scrap plexiglass. The 2 antenna ears were speaker covers from the voice module. And a Steampunk monocle magnifier for $4.00 to top it all off.
Building a custom one-off RC robot: $71.00
Having the most awesome K-9 on the planet: Priceless
I’m finally getting a few moments to write. Ever since the weekend of Superheroes Anonymous 5, there has been a virtual whirlwind of activity surrounding me, keeping me from writing my blog. A good deal of it is tech related so I will relay a few details to you about it.
First I want to talk to you about technology abuse. This is directly related to this blog. It seems there is some new spider software that seeks out blog comment areas and automatically dumps comments containing links to other sites that sell bull sh!t that people are trying to scam a buck from. I have gotten at least 75 of these comments in the last 3 months!
Do you see any spam links in my comments? No. That’s because I moderate all my comments. If you send me a BS comment it will go straight into the trash. So don’t bother. Because it aint happenin’!
That is an example of improper use of technology.
Now that is out of the way, I’ll let you know what I been up to.
Project EON was pushed to the back burner for some time due to a shift in my work schedule and the accompanying free time restrictions. Now that the holidays are behind us, I should start to have a bit more free time to work on the Mach 2 skeleton.
The Skeleton needs a strong foundation at the ankles. This is the crucial point for maintaining balance and stable safe operation of the Mach 2 and Mach 3 systems.
This is an example of the safe use of technology
I oversaw the design and layout of the new Team Justice website. www.teamjusticecharity.org. It features a donation area and swag store. The donation area has been a constant and growing source of funds for various immediate needs issues for helping families and children with pressing financial problems. The swag store features gadgets, fan gear, tee-shirts and other items.
The site was programmed and maintained by Kapes. She set it up though her company AVS Productions that has been making fine internet websites for over a decade. She also has Team Justice officially partnered with the Humane Society of Pinellas! As a result Team Justice is being asked to appear at an upcoming Humane Society event.
This is an example of the proper use of technology.
I have been frantically building a robot superstructure over a modified, re-purposed radio control monster truck that I got at a rummage sale. I love rummage sales. Anyway, it is to be debuted at Megacon in Orlando in the middle of February. This is 6 weeks earlier than I thought it was going to be. So I have been hustling to complete it.
When Miss. Fit was in town I showed it off a bit in its unfinished state. It’s not really a Hero gadget, though it could be adapted as a search drone. Mostly it’s just something I am building for fun.
Transportation is vital to an RLSH. Many of us cover a large area while on patrol and for handouts. As a result the most vital piece of gear that we use is the car. Of course some of us don’t use a car at all, patrolling on foot, or using a bike or skateboard. There’s nothing wrong with that. Which ever transportation is best suited to your locale is the way you should travel.
But I am going to tell you about cars first. Anyone who owns any type of car should have it on a regular maintenance schedule. All too often I see people who have a limited budget, purchase a vehicle that is right at the edge of what they can afford. They don’t include maintenance as part of the operating costs of the car. As a result the car degrades and you wind up with a really large paperweight that you are making payments on. Not an effective use of funding. Also you will look real silly in your gimmick trying to fix a leaky radiator by the side of the road.
Get a car that is well under your budget levels. A running used Camry is going to be a lot more super than mustang that is up on blocks in your back yard.
My team-mate Superhero has The Supermobile. A tricked out custom built Corvette Stingray. It’s mean, fast, scary fun to ride in, and spends a lot of time (and money) in the shop. Is it worth it? If you can afford it, yes. But take a realistic look at what you are doing as an RLSH, before purchasing something like this. As with everything else about the community, try to not be all starry eyed when investing in transport.
Now that I have said the preachy part, I will tell you about some cool little transportation gadgets that are available.
A new arrival on the scene is a sort of cross between a skate board and a motorcycle. Called The Shocker.
Holy Nazi Frog Men! There must be a war going on in every back alley in the world? Is there? Have you asked yourself that question? Are you being realistic about what you will encounter on the streets? Or are you still pretending just a little bit?
If you are carrying a sword around on the streets you are pretending. “It’s just decorative.” Then why do you need it? “To make the costume look authentic” Ahh, you’re a cosplayer.. “I’m an RLSH!” No you’re not. You are lying to yourself and those around you.
I saw a video of the great Phoenix Jones. There is no denying that he is the most visible of us. The one most recognized by the public. And the one who is “setting the bar” by which we will all be judged. Unfortunately.
Anyway here he was on camera attending to an injured civilian. The man was lying prone on the ground. Bleeding from an injury to his temple. Phoenix Jones was dancing around in concern, seemingly confused. Then he calls to someone off camera for towels. PJ is not carrying a first aid kit.
Bullet resistant vest? Check.
Stun Gun Baton? Check?
Thousands of dollars worth of custom made costume? Check.
Public Relations camera guy? Check.
First aid kit? Who needs it!…
I have no beef with PJ personally. I don’t even know him. This is not a PJ blog. This is a “What you need to have with you on patrol” blog. We should all be setting a good example. We should all be setting a much better example than that video of Phoenix Jones is setting.
Your number 1 priority, the number 1 reason to be an RLSH is to help people. Regardless of your ultimate mission you are there to help. The best way to help people is to be prepared. Training comes first. Then the gear.
Can’t afford the training? Volunteer some time to the Red Cross. They offer first aid training, CPR classes, and other life saving procedure classes. And they will teach you about the Good Samaritan Laws in your area. Free to volunteers. Free! No excuses not to do it. Go there now!
If you are an RLSH to help people, then put in some of that time at the Red Cross. Look at it as patrol time. If you are not willing to volunteer your time doing that, you should be questioning your reasons for being an RLSH. We are not here to fight, we are here to help.
After you have a bit of training, and hopefully some real world understanding, then you can get these items for your utility belt. These are essential.
The Gadgets you should have with you always:
Get a first aid kit. Know how to use it.
Carry a cell phone to call for help. Always call for help first.
Carry a camera to make a visual record of events
Carry a flashlight to see in the dark areas.
Notice there are no weapons on that list. All weapons are optional. All of them. You don’t “need” any of them.
Are weapons helpful? In certain circumstances, yes. But those circumstances are a lot more rare, than someone needing first aid. Saving a life is going to make you a lot more of a hero, than fighting off a team of Nazi Frog Men.
I get requests for gadgetry all the time. 90% of those requests are for some kind of weaponry. I understand this. The heroes in the comics are loaded to the gills with advanced artillery. Villains are as well. They even have whole armies of henchmen packing all sorts of lethal armament.
As a result, our young impressionable members feel that they need a flame thrower or micro grenade launcher or some sort of anti personnel tactical nuclear device. Of course you need that. The heroes in the comics have them.
“Why not me?” you ask.
As I said before, many of our members are young and impressionable. In fact, a vast majority of people asking for top rated fire power are teenagers. Yes that’s right. Children not old enough to buy beer or vote are asking me to build a flame thrower.
I am all for the right to bear arms. My father taught me to shoot a revolver when I was 11 years old. I can bulls-eye a dime with a 22 rifle at 20yards. And I can knock a squirrel out of oak tree with nothing more than a sling shot and a small pebble.
I can use these weapons because I understand them. I respect them. I, however, do not advocate carrying any of them in the field.
I know that some RLSH carry lethal weapons on patrol. I am not telling them not to. One of my team mates carries a lethal weapon in the field. He has training in how to use it. He has years of experience with fire arms. And he has a licensed permit to carry it. Also, he is old enough to vote.
Anyone wishing to carry a weapon of any kind in the field should have a healthy respect and understanding for what it can do. They should be trained, licensed if necessary, and permitted to carry and use it by the local laws and regulations. If you are asking me to build something that cannot be bought at a specialty weapons shop or a traveling weapons show, then I must assume that it is probably not legal and you have little understanding of that weapon and its proper use.
My new policy for any type of lethal weapons will be “You’ll shoot you eye out kid.”
*Addendum* I wrote this blog on Saturday night just before patrol. Sunday morning I had an email from a person asking for me to build a flame thrower. Yep.
I won’t say who it was that asked so if he wants to keep his reputation he can just pretend it never happened and no one will know.
Some of you may know of my long running Project EON. Some of you may not. This week I reached a major milestone in the project by completing the Mach 1 Phase. It seems a good time to brag about this humble endeavor.
EON will be wearing the suit at a major RLSH event called HOPE 2011 at the San Diego Comic Con the weekend of the 23rd.
Project EON is an attempt to build a super suit somewhat akin to a real life version of Iron Man. Now if there are any comic book nerds (or even comic movie nerds) in the audience, you already know who Iron Man is. Tony Stark is a normal guy in a metal suit that gives him all sorts of super powers. It does this by ignoring those laws of physics that I harp about all the time.
Of course the Real Life version must work within those laws. So we will have to scrap some of the Iron Man super weapons in favor of more realistic available gadgets. And unlike Tony Stark, who is a billionaire, we have to do it on a modest budget.
The first six months of the project were completely eaten up by trying to decide what to build into the suit, make it super, and still meet those physics requirements. There are several hundred pages of archived brain-storming from some of the finest, most creative minds in the RLSH community. Some people joined the community JUST to work on this project. Probably 80% of the gadgetry that I build has come about as a direct result of this project. To say the least it is an incredible undertaking.
Now the Mach 1 is complete and on its way to EON.
Well, you might ask what does that consist of? And why is it the Mach 1?
The Mach 1 is the lite patrol version of the suit. It consists of The Blast Boots, a utility belt, a UHMW level III bullet resistant vest, an MK6 Kevlar helmet, flash Kevlar gloves, the Shock Collar, armored forearms, a stinger flash light, various bits of first aid gear, and goggles. Because modern heroes wear goggles, not because I forgot to make the mask. The whole ensemble weighs in at about 25lbs. That is right where we wanted to be for the Mach 1.
We looked at a lot of the stuff that Iron Man does, and asked: What would be a real world counterpart?
Iron Man is invulnerable thanks to his super alloy skin of Titanium and Vibranium. Vibranium is comic book metal and doesn’t really exist. Our answer was to add in some bullet resistant materials such as Kevlar and UHMW in the vest. UHMW, or UHMWPE, is a type of polyethylene plastic. It stands for Ultra High Molecular Weight. That just means that the molecular structure of it is very dense. Dense enough to stop a bullet.
Iron Man has repulsor rays in his hands and feet. That really isn’t going to happen in the real world. We replaced these weapons with the shocking voltage of stun gun technology. The Blast Boots came from needing a weapon on the foot. Also because we were watching Ultra Man, and thought it would be cool to kick a bad guy and shock him at the same time. The hand repulsors were replaced by flash Kevlar gloves with carbon fiber knuckles. EON can put out a small fire with the fire resistant gloves, or bap a bad guy in the face with the reinforced knuckles. Hopefully it will never come to that.
The other things that Iron Man can do such as fly, communicate via integrated wireless, computational systems, and super strength,… Those things will be addressed on the more advanced Mach 2 and Mach 3 components. Wait till you see some of this stuff.
EON will wear the Mach 1 equipment most of the time for his patrols. Technically the helmet is for the Mach 2. There will be a mask made for the Mach 1 in the next few weeks and the helmet will be kept for the Mach 2. The Mach 2 will be a bigger, badder, more super, suit that can be worn on special missions. When it is ready, I will update you again, here on Get You Gadget On!
A lot of the RLSH wear armor of one type or another. From simple sports armor to full on ballistic protection and everything in between. Some even make there own armor to get that total custom look to it. One thing that almost everyone does to their armor, be it home made or store bought, is add a little extra padding. Possibly because you want it more comfortable, or able to take a harder hit or just because it doesn’t quite fit right.
So the question becomes, “What do I stuff under my armor and still feel manly?” Can’t very well use toilet paper like some teenage girl, can we. We need something macho and strong. And gadgety.
Enter D3o. That’s ‘dee three oh’ not dee thirty. D3o is a molecular super material that changes from gel to solid when impacted. It is sort of a Non-Newtonian fluid in jello form. It is gooey and pliable at rest, and very solid when impacted at high velocity. It has been available in Europe for a few years and is now making it’s way to the U.S. in high end sports gear. There has been a lot of talk about it in the RLSH community for a while.
I got a chance to test some of the new USA version D3o for Project EON some time ago. I tested the expensive D3o against a lesser known, much cheaper, type of polyurethane called Sorbothane. Some of you may already be familiar with my findings but for those who are not, I am re-posting them here so they can be archived for the future.
I got a sample pack for testing of each product. The USA D30 called Deflexcion and the Sorbathane. I figured the best way to test the abilities of the materials was to place it over something fragile and then smack it with something hard. Like my big ass framing hammer for instance.
I built a small frame to hold the edges of the d3o net like part in place.
It had a recessed part in the center so the d3o sample will be held above a voided area.
Then I placed the d3o sample in place above the void and screwed down a holding frame to keep the sides held tight.
Theoretically the force of the hammer should now be transferred through the entire structure making it all rigid and preventing damage to the wood below.
It actually became rigid enough to break. The force of the blow stiffened the whole sample. But with no way to dissipate it, it shattered.
The power of the hammer could now be transferred through the material into the wood.
Now lets take a look at the Sorbothane.
Its stretchy. It comes in 5 durometer levels. Which is a measure of how tough it is. 30, 40, 50, 60, 70. 70 is the toughest and the least stretchy. That’s the 30 I am stretching.
Laying each piece on its own wood sample, I proceeded to strike each with the hammer. You can see where I hit it.
No noticeable damage to the wood. I repeated this test with each of the samples. There was no noticeable damage to the wood in any of them.
Conclusion: D3o out smarts itself. It is too unforgiving if it is fixed on the edges. I feel if it is sewn into a suit and then struck it will probably not break like my sample but will instead transfer the force to the stitches causing the suit to become damaged. It would have to be loose in a pocket structure of the suit in order to be effective.
It dosen’t have any give under a forceful blow. so if you have it over your knee and are hit with a sledge, it will become solid and transfer all the force of the sledge to your knee. I can see making a helmet from it or padding over a soft area of tissue. But I wouldn’t use it over a boney area like the knees ankles and elbows. Also it is NOT available in raw form. You have to buy equipment with it already installed. The price of such equipment can be unforgiving as well.
Sorbothane on the other hand seems to maintain a gooey consistency and is probably rippling under the force of the hammer like a stone hitting the surface of a pool. I would like to get this on high speed film. You can buy it raw and add it to your existing equipment. The primary supplier being McMaster-Carr. Supplier of all sorts of industrial gadgetry and parts.