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Post details: Gearing Up, Part II: Preparing to Build Foxee's Frame

Gearing Up, Part II: Preparing to Build Foxee's Frame

Posted by: The Mad Scientist

Greetings Foxee fans! I'm taking a break from cleaning up all of the strange contraptions and implements of destruction scattered around my mad scientist laboratory to give you a quick update on my ultimate project of insane greatness, building a moving, talking, and singing robotic blue fox! I have been extremely busy the last two days running my mad scientist bank account into oblivion, or in other words finishing what I started at the Wheaton Hamfest last weekend by buying up all of the supplies, parts, and tools that I need to start constructing Foxee's metal wire frame. That's right! You heard me correctly! After months and months and months of me talking about all of my insanely great ideas and how my animatronic fox is going to revolutionize the world with her cuteness, I am actually almost ready to start putting my money where my mouth is and start building something! After all of this time it's hard to believe, isn't it?

I've had quite a shopping spree over the last couple days! In that time I have been to RadioShack, Michael's Art Supply, Home Depot, Wal*Mart, American Science and Surplus, and finally RadioShack again! After my success with finding some of Foxee's parts and components at the Wheaton Mid-Winter Hamfest, I decided to keep on going. To make sure I didn't buy anything I didn't need and to make sure that I got everything that I did need I consulted my animatronics mentor, the venerable Kitt Foxx, and had him fill me in on some of the parts and supplies that he used with building his on animatronics creations. Here is a rundown on most of the things that I purchased over the last two days, along with why I picked them up:

From RadioShack:

  • 1-lb. of 60/40 .062 diameter Rosin-Core Solder - Under my current plans, Foxee's wireframe body is going to be constructed out of galvanized steel wire. This is the solder that's going to hold all of that wire together!

From Michael's Art Supply:

  • Fiskars "Softouch" Multi-Purpose Scissors - For cutting fiberglass cloth and metal mesh
  • 22-gauge and 26-gauge Florist's Paddle Wire - Florist's wire was recommended as a great thing to use to temporarily bond the pieces of your wireframe together until they can be soldered by Adam Rigg's Critter Costuming book.

From Home Depot:

  • 10-lbs. Coil of 9-gauge Galvanized Steel Chainlink Fence Tension Wire - This very strong and very heavy gauge wire is what I intend to use to build Foxee's wireframe with. Using this particular kind of wire for building wire frames with was recommended by Adam Rigg's book, Critter Costuming. I actually got a kick out of asking for this wire at my local Home Depot because it is in the construction materials section of the store where you can find all of the huge burly flannel-shirt wearing construction worker type men hanging around. Imagine how shocked they were to see a mad scientist wearing a 2600 Magazine t-shirt hanging out in their section of the store! Just let this be a lesson to you-- when Foxee is built, while she may look cute, fuzzy, and adorable on the outside, on the inside she will be built burly flannel-wearing construction worker tough!
  • Channellock 10.5-inch Fence Tool - This heavy-duty tool contains a staple puller, staple starter, wire cutters specifically meant for steel fence wire, wire stretcher, hammer, and wire splicer. In other words, this tool makes me a tougher man just by owning it, whether I actually use it or not! And I will be using it, because as of right now it is the only tool that I have that can cut through that steel fence tension wire!
  • Stanley PowerLock 5-meter/ 16-foot Tape Measure - I'm planning on building Foxee with metric dimensions, not because this mad scientist has any love for the Europeans or their SI system, but because it just so happens that Foxee approximate dimensions work out nice with metric whole numbers. However, since I am based in the U.S., it's nice to have standard measurements on the tape measure as well so that I can do conversions on the fly when needed.
  • All-Purpose Goop Contact Adhesive and Sealant - For pieces of metal that I don't want to solder together I have this stuff to glue it with instead. I don't really intend on using this stuff very much, and I bought it purely as a backup alternative to soldering. Goop adhesive was yet another material recommended for wireframe construction by Adam Rigg's Critter Costuming book.
  • 3M Emery Cloth - Good 'ol Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing! Those guys make everything from industrial fluoropolymers to Post-It Notes, and here they have done it again by making emery cloth just so that I can abrade metal! Thank you 3M!
  • 3M 60-Grit Aluminum Oxide Sandpaper - I got this to sand down excess epoxy resin and fiberglass shards when I am working with fiberglass. Actually, Kitt Foxx recommended that I get 80-grit sandpaper to do this job, but I couldn't find any. As far as I am concerned, the 60-grit sandpaper that I did get will just get the job done faster, or at least that's what I hope will happen!
  • AOSaftey Fiberglass Respirator - The hope is that these will keep me from inhaling tiny particulate fiberglass shards into my lungs, which I would assume is a very good thing because the last I heard huffing fiberglass didn't give you any kind of radical superpowers!
  • AOSafety Economy Twin Cartridge Respirator - These will keep me from killing myself through asphyxiation while working with noxious adhesives and solvents. Hopefully the fact that this twin cartridge respirator is labeled as an "economy" model isn't something that I should be worried about!
  • Latex Gloves - Protects my hands from bonding them to something that they shouldn't be bonded to with epoxy resin!
  • Sharpie Marker - To label and mark things with, of course!
  • Stanley 24-inch 2000 Series Toolbox - A place to keep all of my great and cool-looking new loot, er I mean "tools" in! Yay!

From American Science and Surplus:

The battery that will be powering my Foxee robot

  • Two 12-Volt 12Ah Sealed Lead Acid Batteries - These two sealed lead acid batteries are going to provide the power for my darling little fox robot, and with dimensions of 5-7/8" x 3-3/4" x 3-7/8" and a weight of 8.6 pounds apiece these two batteries are whoppers that pack some serious punch! While there is a good chance that using batteries this big are overkill, I am going to be running all of Foxee's systems from her servo motors to her internal speakers to her circuit boards to her CD Player off of a single power source, so I wanted to make sure that I had more than enough power to run all of these devices, and I wanted to make sure that Foxee would be able to do multiple performances off of a single battery charge since lead acid batteries take a while to be recharged. I bought two of these batteries so that I could keep one as a charged extra and swap it into Foxee if need be. Since I don't really have any idea how much power Foxee will draw at this time, to get a very rough idea I asked Kitt Foxx how much current his Georgia Belle animatronic fursuit draws during a performance. He answered that Georgia most likely draws no more than a single amp at one time, and that he was able to power Georgia over the course of the entire Further Confusion convention weekend on only one set of AAA batteries. Now AAA-sized batteries on average only carry about 1.05Ah, which means that Foxee with her big 12Ah battery will have almost 11-and-a-half times the battery current capacity that Georgia Belle has!!!! Start your Tim Allen style grunting now, because Foxee will have more power! Having all of this extra power to draw upon is very important, because Foxee will have 6-times as many servo motors as Georgia Belle, and will be powering all of her other systems off of that one battery too!
  • Lifelike Replica of a Coyote Skull - I know what you're saying-- you're going, "What the heck! A coyote skull? What the heck does he need that for!?" I purchased this lifelike molded resin anatomically correct model skull for two reasons. The first reason is that it could be of some use to me when it comes to designing Foxee's jaw and how it moves, but more importantly it will serve as a performance prop for when Foxee and I do our act together on stage after she is built.
  • Mariner brand Saftey and Welding Goggles with Interchangeable Lenses - These circle-framed goggles are the exact ones you see every single mad scientist wearing during their maniacal experiments in monster films from the 1930's and 40's. In short, these goggles are completely awesome looking, and even better, they're the real thing and not some stupid flimsy costume prop. Unless I suddenly take up welding, these goggles will only be a stage prop to go along with my "Mad Scientist's Union Local #3.14" lab coat and heavy lineman's gloves in completing my mad scientist's costume.

Ah, the American Science and Surplus store, the mad scientist's super store! As you can see, I got a whole bunch of neat things from here for my projects like I do every time that I go. You know, you would think that with me buying mad scientist's goggles, heavy duty batteries, a morse code key, a coyote skull, and all of the other weird things that I get there each time that I go you would think that I would catch a few stares, but not there! Every time that I go I ask the owner of the place if she has ever see such a weird combination of purchases as the ones that I just made, and the answer from her is always the same-- that I am one of the more normal people that go there! Go figure!

While I always have a great time going to American Science and Surplus, this time it was even better because I finally filled up my "Surpie" membership card with purchase stamps, meaning that I got a free $15.00 gift certificate from them! How cool is that!? I think I already know what I am going to get with part of that gift certificate too, because they have a Benjamin Franklin action figure there that I have had my eyes on for some time.... Come on-- my main man Franklin's the coolest! Not only do I think that Franklin could kick the other founding father's butts with some serious smack down, but he was a serious pimp with the ladies back in his day too! And if that isn't enough to convince you to go out and buy his action figure right now, it even comes with awesome Franklin battle accessories such as his fabled kite and key! Awesome!

To get back on track, now that I have purchased the items above I have now finally gotten everything that I need to start building the first parts of Foxee's wireframe. I will be installing servo motors, pan and tilt kits, power regulator boards, and other such components as I go along with the construction process. I plan to start at the very least practicing with bending and sculpting wire tomorrow, and if I am successful at it I may start building the frame for Foxee's head! We'll have to see how things go, and hopefully they'll go well! As always, comments are always welcome!

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