Stackable Magnetic Pyramid Terrain
Looking awesome so far - but, where is the door / entrance?
(08-09-2015, 08:23 PM)djmothra Wrote: Looking awesome so far - but, where is the door / entrance?

Ah, that is a DM secret even Ableman doesn't know ! Big Grin  

Ableman - it is looking SOOOO amazing!  Everytime I see a new picture, I'm squealing like a little girl at a fluffy unicorn parade!! I was really impressed with the magnets for both large/small objects.
May the Elements be with you! - OrientDM
(08-09-2015, 08:23 PM)djmothra Wrote: Looking awesome so far - but, where is the door / entrance?

Maybe there'll be Waypoints like in the  Blizzard Diablo  series video games.

I've started work on the exterior steps.

I cut foam into 1x2 inch strips and used it to line the base of each tray.  These strips will form the middle step of each tray (except for the bottom tray where they will form the first step).

Since this foam was being glued to dry wood that was unfinished on the other sides, I used PVA/Elmers to glue these steps in place like I did the metal panels.  Given enough time, the wood should draw the moisture out of the glue so it can dry completely.

Since I will be weathering this foam into crumbling stone blocks, I'm not worried about rough edges or gaps.  In fact, to save time (and my brain cells from fumes), I scored the foam with a box cutter and snapped the pieces off.  When it comes time to do the thinner pieces later, I will make more passes with longer blades to make the cuts more regular.

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As you can see, the edge of the foam steps does not interfere with the wooden tabs from earlier.

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Next step, cut 1x1 inch strips to form the remaining steps.  Unlike the larger steps, these new steps will be gluing foam to foam so I will need to use new adhesive, likely 3M Super 77.  If you try using PVA/Elmers to glue foam to foam, the outermost edges dry forming a seal which keeps the interior glue liquid for ages.  I've seen pieces of foam glued together with PVA that were pried apart more than five years later where all the glue on the inside was still just as fluid as the day it was applied.  The pieces had only been stuck to each by the slight tackiness of the liquid glue and the thin stripe of dried glue around the outside edges.
All right, that's the 1x1 steps done. Smile

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Now to let the glue fumes disperse a bit.   Tongue

I plan to use squares cut from foam plates to cover the wood parts of the exterior so that they better match the block look I'll be carving into the steps later.

I was originally thinking of using hundreds of 1x1 inch squares cut from foam plates to tile the interior metal floors to represent the grid.  While that would give a really nice subtle 3-D effect, it will be a HUGE amount of work.

I was also toying around with the idea of using printed paper textures to cover the interior walls.  That would give me the potential of lots of hieroglyphic details at a scale impossible to carve into foam.  That got me to thinking of the possibility of using printed textures on the floor as well.  Not only would that be much faster, easier, and not require any painting, but the paper would be thinner than the foam pieces letting the terrain magnets get an even better grip on the metal floor.

Off to breath some fresh air for a bit while the garage workshop clears.  Big Grin  
[+] 1 user Likes ableman33's post
YAY!! Ableman - that is looking really nice. Make sure Storm Trooper Scout doesn't loot the temple before y'all get there! (Has he found the door yet?)
May the Elements be with you! - OrientDM
Time to do some more work on the exterior of the pyramid.

Firstly, while I can carve into the foam steps with hotwire tools to make them look like stone blocks, using woodworking tools to do the same to the exposed wood would be a ridiculous a amount of work.  So, instead, I will cover the exposed external wood parts with thin layers of foam that can then be scored to look like blocks.

Since I want these foam layers to be as thin as possible, I grabbed a stack of the cheapest, floppiest, foam plates I could find.  A quick cardboard template and some time with my hotwire scroll saw, and soon I have a stack of stock 4x1 inch pieces that I can glue onto the wood as needed and then score and texture with my hotwire tools.  (Each of the four "stacks" in the last image easily peal apart, even though they look like solid blocks in the image.)

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The GM this terrain is for has asked that I break up the outer surface of the pyramid with patches of original sloped sections so that the path to the top will be more interesting.  To do this I needed to create some appropriate stock material that I could glue in place.

I quickly made a bunch of long 1x1 strips out of scrap foam, but I needed a way to split each strip in half diagonally.  I tried experimenting with a handheld hotwire tool, but that was too irregular and time consuming.  

After some hasty experiments with some cardboard boxes and pushpins holding a piece of hotwire that was less than successful (note to self, the plastic handles of pushpins are made with thermoplastic that hotwires slice right through, even if the wires are wrapped around the metal pin part), I decided to quit fooling around and make a real jig.

A scrap piece of 1x4 lumber screwed together at right angles formed a quick guide.  I then made attachment points for my hotwire on the bottom and side of the guide frame.  The wire was fed through a notch cut through the wood just to keep it from wiggling around while the jig was in use.

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To keep the wire under tension as it expanded when heated, I added a spring to the upper attachment point.

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You can see things a bit better here with the conductor cable from the power supply removed.

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One thing I didn't count on was that when I cranked up the heat to let me cut as fast as possible, the spring's tension did a little wood burning, slicing into the soft pine of the scrap guide frame.  I was still able to finish all my foam cuts, but if I was going to use this jig again, I would likely put a bit of metal, like a washer or a screw, at the end of the wood to keep this from happening.

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For the underside attachment point (here turned upward for better visibility) I cut out a notch in the underside so that the jig could lay flat on the table.

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Since the spring above provided the tension, all that was needed here was to screw the hotwire and conductor cable together.

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Once the jig was finished, it took only a few minutes to rip through my 1x1 strips and make lots of 45 degree pieces.

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Now to have fun attaching all these to the outside steps!   Big Grin

Happy building everyone. Smile
[+] 1 user Likes ableman33's post
Excellent ideas here.

One question: How much does the wire expand when heated?
(08-22-2015, 10:12 AM)SethDrallitoc Wrote: Excellent ideas here.

One question: How much does the wire expand when heated?

It depends on the length of the wire and how hot you get it, but it can be enough to make the wire go slack enough to mess with your desired shape.  That's why hotwire tools that have thin wires (as opposed to solid tips or rigid rods) usually have some sort of spring tension to them.

For instance, the gray aluminium arm of the black hotwire scroll table I used to cut the foam plates actually has to be bent down quite a bit to loop the wire through when you set it up.  The bent arm keeps the wire under enough tension that it not only keeps the wire from deflecting during use, but it pulls up any slack from expansion of the heated wire.

When I was first using my large scale homemade hotwire setup, where I drilled a hole through my workbench and hung a chain from the ceiling, I had a problem with maintaining wire tension.  Either the wire went slack from heat as I used it, or I snapped the wire by over-tightening the turnbuckle adjustment.  Once I added a spring into the setup, it solved both problems. 
[+] 1 user Likes ableman33's post
7 months...

I won't go into all the reasons it's been that long since I've been to TG or worked on any terrain, but for now at least I'm back.

My apologies for just dropping off the face of the terrain world.

Picking back up where I left off, I marked my existing foam steps out in 1-inch increments to lay out my grid and make placing my 45-degree angle stock pieces easier.

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When the pyramid was first constructed, it was made out of rough sandstone blocks. These were then covered with a layer of much finer white marble blocks that were smoothed and polished.  The top peak of the pyramid was capped in metal and gilded with gold.

Over the ages, many of the marble blocks came loose and tumbled to the ground, except at the peak where they were protected by the metal capstone.

The shifting sands slowly buried the pyramid.  This protected the lower levels more than the upper levels, meaning that the further one goes up the pyramid, the more eroded the outer surface and the fewer marble blocks that remained in place, at least until one gets to the capstone.  The metal there has resisted all effects of weather and time.  Perhaps there is something mystical involved...  Tongue

The plan for the exterior of the pyramid is to have most of the surface covered in eroded sandstone blocks with a scattering of marble blocks decreasing in frequency from bottom to top.  Players can explore and fight on the sandstone steps, but the smooth sloped surfaces of the marble blocks will break up the available paths.

To help differentiate between the two types of surfaces, the sandstone blocks will be rough 1-inch cubes while the marble blocks will be smooth shiny 1x2-inch blocks.

After consulting with the GM on the placement an density of the marble blocks I began work on the corners.  Using hot glue, I placed the blocks so that they ran all the way to the corners. I then trimmed the ends to 45-degree angles using a box cutter blade, just lining up the cut by eye to match the particular corner rather than using any kind of exact angle measure.

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