Thursday 31 October 2019

BAOR Beginnings (Again)

I've made a start on a 1/150 scale 1980s BAOR force. I've done this before, not too long ago, in 1/300 scale, but this scale will be easier for me to see and manipulate on the table. I'll mostly just be replicating that micro-scale army in 1/150 really.

I never actually got much use out of the 1/300 scale stuff, and I'm still pretty ignorant of post-WWII equipment and doctrine, but if they maintain the quality of their WWII stuff, I expect NORTHAG will serve pretty well as a broad-strokes introduction to the period.

The infantry are going to be the problematic part. I can print them OK, but at the moment I have no digital models specifically for 1980s British troops, and I'll quite likely end up having to sculpt some.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Cura Profiles — 1/150 Comparison Prints

With the imminent release of NORTHAG I've become interested in printing some 1980s BAOR stuff in 1/150 scale. I thought I would do a comparison test to see what sort of printing time to quality trade-offs I could afford to make. I don't require diorama-quality models for my wargaming pieces, but I do like them to look decent at least.

The test-bed model I chose is a Chieftain tank, modeled by a chap who goes by the Thingiverse moniker of Captain_Ahab_62. It was modeled in 1/100 scale, but intended to be printed scaled down to 1/285; I've scaled it down to 1/150.

All of them were sliced in Cura 4.1 and printed on my Creality Ender 3 in eSun PLA+. All were printed on a raft, using tree supports with support roofs enabled. All are shown straight off the printer, without any cleanup at all.

This is printed with the FDG Minis profile I've got into the habit of using for my 15mm stuff.
The layer height is 0.08mm, print time was 8 hours 22 minutes.

This one uses Cura's built-in "Extra Fine" profile.
Layer height is 0.06mm, print time was 5 hours 57 minutes.

This one also uses a built-in Cura "Fine" profile.
Layer height is 0.1mm, print time was 3 hours 31 minutes.
The higher speed of the built-in Cura profiles appears to have given me a bit of ringing in vertical surfaces, but I doubt that that would be very apparent under a coat of paint, and the advantage in print times over that of the FDG profile is substantial. The Fine profile renders adequate results for playing pieces, and it is quite quick, but the Extra Fine profile is markedly superior, and still fast enough that I could get three tanks off the printer in a day's run, so unless there's a matter of great urgency, that's probably what I'll use.

Tuesday 29 October 2019

12mm Remix

Original model

Remixed model
I had a go at remixing/remodeling one of the 12mm WWII British infantry by LoxFil that I wrote about in a previous post. The original model is on the left here, the remix on the right.

I did it just to see what I could make of the figures, treating them as mannequins, and in general I think they'd do fairly well. They could probably be rescaled to 15-18mm without any major issues, but they'd have to be printed on a resin printer I think — my Ender 3 would struggle to resolve much, if any, of the new detail, especially at 12mm scale.

The chunkiness of the original is advantageous for wargaming figures in these small scales. If they were closer to actual scale dimensions, they'd not only be a lot more fragile and difficult to print, but they'd also look far too thin and wimpy.

I doubt very much that I'll go any further than this with these figures; I have no plans to start doing WWII in 1/144 or 1/150 scale. However, I am thinking about building a 1980s BAOR force in that scale for NORTHAG when it appears, so maybe I'll do something in that line. Though a 12mm SLR barrel will be a tricky thing to print.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Wall of 3d Printed Fire

I found the STLs for this on Thingiverse, but foolishly neglected to take note of exactly where. Hey-ho. This lot took about seven hours to print on my Ender 3, and about another twenty minutes or so to paint.

I haven't really gone in for spell effect models for tabletop minis in the past, but for persistent effects like this they can be quite useful. In fact, 2d printouts, pasted to cardboard and cut, out would be just as useful, and wouldn't look any worse — in fact they may even look better. And they'd almost certainly take me less than seven hours to prepare. But never mind, I've got these now, and they'll serve my needs just fine.

Thursday 17 October 2019

Art & Arcana

This arrived for me today from the Book Depository. It's not the sort of thing I'd normally lay out my own money on, I had a bit of spare built up in my PayPal "buying toys and shit" account. It cost me about $54 in Kiwibucks.

It's an illustrated history of D&D from its earliest days right up to the present-ish (that being 2018), and is plentifully illustrated with art from every edition of the game, plus some of the peripheral TSR properties like their collectable cards, computer games, Dungeon board game, and Dragon magazine.

It doesn't go into minute detail, but it covers everything (as far as I'm aware). It's an interesting potted history of a game that has been perennially important throughout my adult life. Interesting, that is, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

It's a pretty hefty tome; I haven't weighed it, but it's heavy enough to make me very grateful for the Book Depository's free worldwide shipping.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Kfz 14

Adler Kfz 14
I've been wrestling with putting together this Kfz 14 radio car, from a base model by Bergman or TigerAce1945, I can't remember which.

I took off the original wheels (which was quite a task, as the mesh was a bit of a shambles) and made some new ones, and I added the aerial and radio station in the back. New bonnet, new engine grill... probably should re-do the mudguards as well. Come to think of it, there's not a hell of a lot of the original mesh left at all.

The print is OK, but not amazing — I'd really like to have access to a DLP or SLA resin printer, which would produce a much cleaner model.

The crew are a couple of 15mm Skytrex figures, artillery crewmen in fact. I dropped the officer on to his face and squished his nose a bit.

The vehicle is painted in the grey and brown of the very early WWII period, during the first Blitzkrieg era in Poland and the Low Countries. Unfortunately I painted the white cross on the starboard side rather too large; I might see if I can redo it, but it's not a terribly high priority.

That's a cul-de-sac, all right

Saturday 5 October 2019

12mm Minis

I found these fairly crude 12mm figures, designed by Фил Лохмин, and out of curiosity I printed up a set on my Ender 3. These are printed at 0.08mm in eSun PLA.

Airfix 8th Army HO/OO
When I say crude, I mean it. These are even less detailed than the old Airfix HO/OO figures from the 1960s. However, they're identifiably human, and I can tell the difference between a rifle and a Bren, so they'd be quite usable as gaming pieces, if not as diorama-quality miniatures. The FDM printer isn't the ideal machine to print them on; they'd be much better done on a resin printer, but FDM is what I've got.

They're OK in terms of proportions, for the most part, and they'd probably be fine as a starting point if I wanted to sculpt a bit more detail and bit less geometric blockiness into them, but I doubt that I'll be motivated to do that in the short term since I'm not intending on swapping my wargaming allegiance to 12mm at this time.

The vehicle is Bergman design, a 25 pounder Bishop SPG, scaled up to 1/150 from one of his 1/200 scale models.

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Wrestling With Shermans

Sherman II at El Alamein, by Steven Zaloga
 To date, I've been concentrating my WWII Western Desert modelling on the early period, up to 1941 and Operation Crusader. Now I'm extending that out a bit towards the era of Operation Lightfoot and the battles of El Alamein.

To that end, I thought I might want some Shermans, and the one I like the best is the M4A1, known to the Brits as the Sherman II. I like it because its cast hull is so rounded and cuddly.

Zachary Kavulich has already designed a model of the M4A1, so that's where I started.

I reattached the tracks to the hull (Zac has them as separate objects) and filled in the voids under the sand shields. There were some very thin walls on the sand shields that I knew from experience would cause me issues in printing.

I initially printed it sitting horizontally on its tracks, and sliced it sunk down into the bed by about 0.3mm to get a smooth face along the bottom run of the tracks for best adhesion on the print bed.

The results were OK, but the characteristic fluting on the bogies was lost — I'm using a 0.4mm nozzle, too large to render vertical details that small. I could probably suggest the detail with paint, but I thought I could probably get it to print if I went about it another way.

The next version's hull was split up fore and aft (see below) and printed standing vertically.

This gave me very good results on the upper hull, but resulted in multiple issue in the running gear. Unsupported wheels partially failed, and the grooves of the track detail created very weak strips that also failed.

So, more modifications.

I flattened out the underneath of the tracks to remove the weak indentations, and took the opportunity to add some track guides and studs to provide a bit more track detail to look at.

That fixed the issues with the tracks themselves, but there are still problems with wheel failures which I will need to address, All in all though, it's come together fairly successfully.

Chopping It Up

I use 3d Builder, which comes bundled with Windows 10, for this task.

The Split utility is found under the Edit menu, and is pretty intuitive to use. You can move and rotate the split plane manually, or enter precise values in the dialogue at the bottom of the screen.

Just remember to enable Keep Both or else when you confirm the split, it will delete one half or the other.

While the two halves are still in place, but separated, I added a couple of location holes, 2mm in diameter by 6mm deep.

I can use short lengths of 1.75mm filament in these holes to ensure accurate placement of the two halves when I come to glue them together.

Then I rotate each half so that it's standing up on the split plane, and go to Object > Settle to make sure they're both sitting flat on the print bed, and at the same level.

Then, last of all Save As... to a new filename. 3d Builder defaults to its own file format, .3dm, which is much better than .stl. Cura will open .3dm files, but they usually have to then be manually placed on the print bed, so purely out of laziness I usually save to .stl format in spite of the shortcomings of the file type.

This is how the new STL looks once it's in Cura for slicing.
And this is how it looks fresh off the printer.

Almost all that stringing is from support to support, rather than attached to the model itself, so there's very little cleanup necessary once the supports have been removed.

Incidentally, this is how I deal with the turrets of all my tanks and things for wargaming.

I glue a 6mm x 1mm rare earth magnet in the bottom of the turret plug, and a nail head in the floor of the turret hole in the hull. This allows the turret to rotate freely, while still being held securely. The magnet is strong enough that the whole model can be lifted by the turret, if need be.

I model sockets to accommodate the magnet and nail head in all my models. The socket in the hull has a central hole that goes right through, allowing the end of the nail head to just peep out for gluing.

I ensure that they're located accurately with respect to each other by first gluing the magnet in place, then sticking the nail head to that, and lowering the whole lot together into place in the turret socket. Then I push epoxy glue down into the hole through the hull from below, so that it grabs the shaft of the nail head without getting all over the turret plug itself.

And more...

Redesigned turret with hatch open

...and including a commander
I went a bit further and remixed Zac Kuvalich's turret to open the commander's hatch, and I added a bit of seam detail to the turret box as well.

I've printed a few of these, and it works just fine. I'll probably use some PSC tank commanders in them, or whatever I can find in my bits box.

I also designed a separate commander figure (right) but my FDM printer is unlikely to render any of that detail very well. It'll be nice to have around if I ever get a resin printer though.