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MV's ANH TK Stunt [ATA] 1st Build Thread for Centurion

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Sorry to hear you're going through a rough patch.  Hang in there, Caleb.  Looking forward to when you will be able to cut armor again!  We'll be here!

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On 6/15/2020 at 3:51 PM, MaskedVengeance said:

Hello there, Troopers. I'm dealing with a family and financial crisis right now, so I'll probably be going dark on my build for several weeks—likely until this time next month. I hope to find time to maintain a presence on the boards via Tapatalk to keep up with you all and continue my research. Feel free to chime in if you have any tips to questions I've asked on my build thread thus far. Until next time,



A lot of strength Caleb ... I hope everything goes well for you and your family ...:(


A big hug ...

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Disclaimer: This will be the first of THREE posts which I will be submitting in quick succession. The first two posts are updates which I drafted at the beginning of the week and initially wanted to split apart for linking purposes, and the last post is a most recent development which impacts everything.


OP (MV) Post #27


I'm back, for the time-being. We're not out of the woods yet, but time away from the build has been healthy for my family, and special thanks to @CableGuy, @TKSpartan, @ukswrath, @Cricket, and @Chemi for the well-wishes. I've just recently made some progress, and in this post I will provide updates on the following:

  • Butt-joint rough (excess plastic) trimming on leg and arm pieces
  • Ab and kidney side connection trimming + Chest Plate
  • Close trimming of returns on chest, ab, back, and posterior
  • Drop box sanding continuation
  • Frown mesh foam outline
  • Paint color and finish
  • Recent supply acquisitions, including Trooperbay and Ukswrath items, and others
  • Raw un-trimmed original ATA ABS hand guards (not to be used in this build)
  • Review of questions asked
  • Extra fun and smiles
  • Making magnet sachets (post #2)


Leg Trimming: Butt-joint rough excess plastic
In a previous post I showed my rough trimming of the return edges on my leg pieces, and in this installment I'm documenting rough trimming the excess (non-smooth) ABS from the surfaces which will eventually be butt-joined. Basically I simply cut where the broken-off tip of my xacto blade is pointing in the first photo below. I'm leaving the entirety of the flat surface intact since I'm not ready for fitment trimming yet, and cutting off this excess will also make my fitting process easier. I'm using the score and snap method for this trimming, since I like straight lines, even if they will eventually be hidden by cover strips.



Here are some pre-cut shots of my ruler placement. I used my most flexible thin metal ruler and strong clamps to try to keep the ruler as flush with the armor as possible. I probably could have put a third clamp in the middle of the run, and cut around it, but elected not to for ease-of-access.


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Because I chose not to use a third clamp in the middle, plus the fact that the armor is rounded, and the clamp arms were in the way, the portion I was cutting was not able to lay flat on the table, and was instead raised. To keep the armor flush with the ruler, and provide support underneath, I used my gloved hand. If I had readily had a piece of smooth wood or a book I didn't mind risking cutting, I could have likely used that instead. The next two images show my hand support and a resulting cut after the ruler was removed.


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I typically utilized three or four scoring cuts with the ruler in place, followed by two cuts after removal of the ruler. Keep in mind that, since there was not a solid support underneath the armor as I was cutting, each run with the xacto knife was pretty shallow. Since score and snapping is typically utilized for flat pieces of ABS, I knew I'd need to make extra deep cuts at the raised lips at either end of the armor pieces in order to get them to snap easily. I made extra deep cuts at all the ends, and in some cases even completely cut through the plastic where a strong and thick bend was sure to provide resistance to snapping.


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Here are before and after shots on one of the inner thigh pieces. Note that there is still plenty of width on all the raised surfaces which will still need to be trimmed down for sizing and butt-joining. The width on each side ranges from 18-27mm, and most are in the 20-23mm range. Eventually they will be cut down to 7.5-12.5mm for standard width cover strip application.


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Remember, this is simply ROUGH trimming of the butt-joint surfaces, which will need additional reduction after fitment. I used this same technique on all my thigh, calf, forearm, and bicep pieces. Once I get to my fitment stage I will determine how many more mm of plastic I need to trim off all the pieces, then likely use this same score and snap method. I know, it's really not necessary since it will be hidden by a cover strip, but hey, I like straight lines. Additional photos of this process are shown below.


Note on Calves: For now I only trimmed the excess of the FRONT of the calves; the backs of them remain untrimmed to maximize sizing options. Additional trimming will still be required on the front in order to fit a standard 20mm cover strip on it. When cutting, I needed to place my ruler on and cut from the OUTSIDE of the pieces due to limiting curvature on the inside, which I describe a bit more in the next Ab and Kidney section. Because I situated the ruler on the outside, I was able to place the piece to be cut off right on the table to provide a nice flat surface for cutting, rather than having to support it with my hand as done when trimming the thighs.

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Ab and Kidney Side Connection Trimming + Chest Plate

In the same way that I cut the excess ABS off of my limb pieces, I'm using the score and snap technique for trimming the side connection edges of both the ab and kidney pieces. This is the area on the side where the two pieces will come together with hopefully a "seamless"... seam. I really want these lines to be as straight as possible, and based on an approximation when I pressed both pieces against my body, I will need every mm of plastic I can keep. Therefore, I'm trimming only the non-smooth excess. I currently weigh 192.4 lbs (87.27 kg), with a measurement of 38 inches (96.5 cm) around the largest part of my waist/belly, and I think it's going to be a perfect fit. When I get back into cycling and lose some weight it will hopefully be even more comfortable.


As for the cutting process, since I wanted these lines to be completely straight from the start (since no further trimming will occur), I needed to have use a straight edge for the entire length of the piece, meaning that I would need to place the ruler on the OUTSIDE of the armor. Previously I had always scored on the inside of armor pieces such as cover strips and the thighs. Since my metal ruler would be on the visible part of the armor, I elected to use my cork-backed ruler, which meant the metal surface would be a bit raised, further requiring extra care to maintain a straight line. I, therefore, took extra caution in making my initial score lines very shallow with extremely light pressing of my xacto blade. It's VERY true what they say, that light pressure stays on course and heavy pressure has the tendency to waver.


Once I had a good score line, I used my lexan scissors to trim either end where the return edges were then proceeded with the back-and-forth bending to snap off the excess strip. I'm pretty pleased with my results on both side of the kidney, and the last two photos below show the before and after states of the piece.

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I followed the exact same process as the kidney for the large ab piece, and below are a couple before and after photos.


50024838318_20b0c55898_o.jpg     50025638582_d0e3db34ae_o.jpg



I also took this opportunity to trim the excess off the lower side edges of the chest plate, and followed the same procedure as with the ab and kidney pieces. Note: I do realize that there is still an extensive amount of return on the arm openings of the chest pieces, which will eventually be eliminated.


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Close Trimming of Torso Return Edges
In a previous post I showed images of my rough trimming of the return edges on my torso pieces, and I've now completed further trimming which will hopefully put me at or pretty close to the final cuts, with sanding still to come, of course. I also barely touched the bottom of the back plate, and expect to do more trimming in that area, as well as the similar top and bottom returns on the kidney piece and posterior. Here are photos of my recent pre and post trim work; if you see areas which I definitely need further work on, don't assume I have such plans, so call them out! =)

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The posterior is an interesting section of my ATA kit which differs from other kids such as RS, etc. There are virtually no return edges other than a small ridge so I've been a bit at a loss for what do do. I suspect the lack of returns will maximize the flexibility of the piece, and perhaps help alleviate cracking, but I do wish it would match the screen armor a bit more. I don't suppose it'd be worth taking a heat sealing iron to, would it? I did my best to match the angled lines seen on most kits, despite them not being very distinct on this ATA piece.


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Drop Box Sanding Continuation
I continued the sanding process on my drop boxes and followed the dimensions shown on Billhag's diagram below. Roughly 15mm depth for the outer drop boxes, and 12mm for the inner (or however much to make them flush). I started with 60 grit sandpaper then moved up to 120, with a plan to eventually finish with 220. Since I planned to progress through various grits, I made sure to not go to far with each stage. For example, with the 60 grit I only sanded the outer boxes to about 16-17mm, knowing that I would continue to shave off additional material with the 120 and 220 paper. I know this may seem obvious, but I'm including this point for future readers who may not have ever worked with sandpaper.


While sanding I also stopped to visually spot check all four sides of each pieces about every 5-10 seconds to ensure I wasn't pressuring one side or corner too much and creating a slanted grade. To combat inadvertently over-pressuring one side I periodically rotated the piece in my hand, since I suspected that I was naturally pushing down unequally with my index finger. If I noticed any slanted sanding I would counter it with a little extra pressure on the high area for several seconds.




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I will likely finish off the 220 grit sanding when I have more armor pieces to do the same with, to minimize my sanding sessions, so as of now I ended at 120.





Frown Mesh Foam Outline
I've seen something similar to this technique on many builds in the past, but I don't currently have the energy or time to scour back through all my saved resources to find links to examples. My plan is to frame the frown mesh with black craft foam, for both a cleaner look and more surface area for attachment adhesion, and here is an outline of my planned (though not yet implemented) process, along with a Billgram which depicts the basic process. First I will use some wax or parchment paper set inside the helmet faceplate to draw a rough outline of where I wanted to mesh and foam frame to be. Then I will up the lines with a large sharpie marker and set the template on top of the foam sheet. Using a metal ruler and an xacto knife, I'll then cut into the template and foam. With the first slice I will not be concerned with going all the way through the foam, as the most important thing will be to simply create guide lines/channels which my blade can follow upon removal of the template. I'm not sure yet exactly how to adhere all this to the helmet, but I figure trusty ol' E-6000 set along the foam frame will do just fine. Below is also a photo of the 6mm (thickness) craft foam I'll be using.





Paint Colors & Finish
Let's talk about paint colors, and specifically, FRENCH BLUE, and the finish type on the vocoder and hovi tips. It appears that over time there has been a shift in thought regarding what the appropriate shade of blue for the ab buttons and tube stripes. There has been extensive research documented and lively discussion (see two links below), and I believe I have every option I would need, but I'm just curious if any of you intentionally and preferably use anything other than French Blue on your TK builds.






The first photo below shows an early version of Billhag's paint sheet which indicated that refers to Midnight Blue as being the original color and French Blue as a recently-conceived color. The second photo indicates a shift to Mediterranean Blue. The last of the three photos is an update by Chris (@themaninthesuitcase) which he documented in 2016 (thread), which as I understand it, is the current standard and represents a shift back to French Blue. Am I understanding this history correctly?


BOTH OLD VERSIONS (first two photos below)

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CURRENT VERSION (single photo below)



Here are the enamel blues that I have which were all available on Trooperbay and were mentioned in the color discussion threads linked above. Note that the Humbrol paints in cans in the first photo are all enamels from TB, while the French blue bottle in the second photo is acrylic from ebay. Should I go ahead and use the enamel Mediterranean blue or the acrylic French Blue? Or should I continue to search for Humbrol or Testors enamel French Blue?

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Above you'll also see some of the greys, white, and blacks that I have for my TK build (I actually have many more for my HWT build and blaster weathering). I've seen several Troopers, including @CableGuy, paint either the vocoder or hovi tips with a non-gloss black, and I am interested in the idea of the resulting contrast to the rest of the shiny helmet. Would using a flat black paint cause me any difficulties when applying for EI and Centurion status? I know that many images of screen-used helmet appear to show glossy black vocoders and the different finishes were briefly discussed here.


Additional Supplies

In the past month I received additional supplies and accessories shown below, and I also photographed some items which I simply hadn't previously posted. If you're interested in purchase links to some of the newest items, I included them two posts prior to this one, linked here (scroll to the bottom of that long post). First up shown below are Trooperbay masking templates in two styles—standard (the first one), and hand-painted (the second and third). I think I will go hand-painted style for the tube-stripes for a more authentic look, and to match the tears and traps.




Below we have sugru from Joseph, and acetone from Walmart, mineral spirits from Amazon, and some spray paint. The Model Master 1923 Gunship Grey (Hobby Lobby) is for my TD tube which is white (leftover from my HWT build), and I completely forget what the Testors Aircraft Grey is for—maybe nothing in this build. Haha. And then at the bottom we have small paint brushes that I had on-hand before even starting my build.









I'm hoping to use the screw thread covers shown below on my ear screws, since they'll be pretty close to my head inside my helmet. I may also need to cut the screws to shorten them anyway, and subsequently may cut the black covers as well. I ordered a 50 pack, and therefore have quite a few extras, so if you'd like to try a set of six for yourself send me a PM with your mailing address (US only, please) and I'll throw some in the mail for you.





Finally, here are some items from Tony (Ukswrath), including Thermal Detonator clips (etsy) and hovi tip screen mesh, which just arrived yesterday. I came to the conclusion that the mesh I received from ATA was actually adequate since it has the same number of screen gaps as Tony's (9-10 depending on the trimming), but I figured it wouldn't hurt to have an extra set in case I mess up my originals during installation. Note that I accidentally left out the TD pan head screws in the first photo, so I show them in their own image at the end. Also, Ukswrath decals and a patch to represent!




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ATA ABS Hand Guards (untrimmed)

Due to the fact that I'm NOT using these plastic hand guards for this build, I completely forgot to photograph them as part of my documentation of all the ATA pieces in their new, untrimmed state. So here they are. Perhaps I'll use them as back-up someday, but I do already have an extra set of Joseph's flexible guards.



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Questions Review

In case any of my questions were lost due to the length of this post, here they are again, along with a couple additional ones.

  • Is there any reason to attempt to create small return edges on my posterior piece? Don't judge, Joseph ;-)
  • Is French Blue really the only option for buttons and tube stripes, or do any of you have any other preferences? Should I use the acrylic French Blue that I have, or one of the other enamel blues? Or continue searing for Humbrol or Testors enamel French Blue?
  • Will my higher level approval be affected if I were to paint my vocoder and hovi tips in matte black?
  • Does the side profile of my sniper knee plate in my earlier post look ok, or should I make the curve a more distinct angle? It seems that most versions I see have a sharper angle.
  • Is there a limit to the amount of time I should leave armor with E-6000 applied in boiling water so as not to compromise adhesion? I thinking of arms with cover strip(s) attached.


Extra Extra

Finally, for some extra fun and smiles. Since my last update we had both Father's Day and then my Birthday last week, and below are some cards which my wife made with my baby girls hand-prints, and a drawing from my young nephew. Not so sure about those rebel sympathizers, but that last one is on-point. Also, some Birthday socks.


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Edited by MaskedVengeance
typo correction

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OP (MV) Post #28: Part 2 of 3


Making Magnet Sachets
Per Joseph's Magnet 101 recommendation, I purchased 20 of the N40 7/8" x 1/8" disc magnets (roughly 22mm) for general armor application, and made sachets (credit goes to @Cricket) for them to protect them and the armor, and for ease of use (something to grab on to). I used simple 100% cotton purchased on Amazon (I'm still avoiding in-store shopping) by the yard, and got one yard each of two colors to differentiate polarity pairs. Below is a description of my process.

These are the materials I used, which included a borrowed pair (from my mother) of pinking shears which previously belonged to my grandmother, and possibly either of my great-grandmothers before that. I bet none of them would have ever dreamed their sewing supplies would be used to build a Stormtrooper. The purpose of pinking shears is to created back-and-forth jagged cuts in fabric, which supposedly helps combat fraying. I'll need to take the word of more-experienced individuals on that, and clearly my skills at using the shears are lacking.




I then measured out 8 inch (20 cm) squares and marked them with small pieces of painters tape, which would serve as markers to guide my cuts. Though I'd never used pinking shears before, or even really ever cut any fabric, I guessed that I'd need to hold the fabric with tension in order to get clean cuts, and I was right. I didn't have a long open table available, so I had to make do with clamping portions of the fabric then readjusting after several small cuts.


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I decided to wrap the spacer rings that came packaged with the magnets for two reasons: 1) To add to some, and perhaps structure, to each sachet end, and 2) To keep from losing them for possible future use. The plastic rings were set on top of the magnets where the extra fabric is bunched and tied off with zip ties. You can see the height difference between sachets with the spacer inside, and one pair of sachets which do not have spacers due to each set of 10 magnets only having 9 spacers (this left me two short).


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In case I find areas in which 7/8 inch (22mm) diameter magnets are too wide for proper application, such as the inside of some arm pieces, I may also make several sachets with smaller N52 12mm x 3mm disc magnets. If I do that, I will make sure to match the cloth color polarity pairs with the larger sachets in case I need to use them in conjunction with each other.




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July 10, 2020 Part 3 of 3


I dreamed a dream.


It is with great sadness that I must announce an indefinite hold on my dream to become a Stormtrooper. For financial reasons related to COVID-19 it appears I must sell my ATA armor (ABS only) in its current state. I'm hoping to get what I paid for it (around $540 plus shipping), but I'm wondering if the value of the kit would actually depreciate, or appreciate, due to the work I've already done on it? I'd like to assume it would become more valuable, in the same fashion that fully-trimmed kits are more expensive than untrimmed. For a detailed look at what state the ABS is in, see all my previous posts in this tread, as all my trimming has been photo-documented, and everything is in the exact state as shown in my images. To-date no pieces have been cut for sizing purposes, so the armor will still fit any trooper who would otherwise fit in a new just out-of-the-box ATA kit.


Special thanks to @zv288bot, @Cricket, @TheRascalKing, @TKSpartan, and @justjoseph63, who have been with me on this journey since day one. These past eight months have been an amazing adventure, and I would never have made it this far without you. Thanks as well to Terrell (@SuperTrooper) for graciously dealing with my 39-message email string during the ordering process, as well as additional help and encouragement from @wook1138, @T-Jay, @ukswrath, @gmrhodes13, @Frank75139, @husky68, @Daetrin, @Sly11@CableGuy@Blast 'Em!, and also @magni and @CrookKnight from my HWT build. Hopefully all these tags aren't inappropriate—I simply want to express my gratitude and apologize for what feels like failing you all and not being able to finish what I started.


This not goodbye. (I'm sticking around to put my gained TK knowledge to use helping other new builders pursue their dreams)


I'll be back. (Someday. I'm keeping my soft parts for the long haul)


Save the Dream.





| Art by one of my students|


Edited by MaskedVengeance
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Wow, I can feel your disappointment and am sorry the Covid situation has affected you in this way.
I am very glad to hear you want to stay around and help others, that speaks volumes to your character and proves you truly have what it takes to be a TK. Troopers helping troopers :).
I hope things take a turn for the better in your near future and you can get back on the path to fulfilling your dream.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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One day you will get there, keep dreaming!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Sadly sometimes it depreciates due to the fact that people aren’t the same size. With that being said sometimes it becomes more valuable to the person with the same measurements who sees it as a great head start.

Sorry to see this happen COVID is ruining everything! We will always be here and more then happy to help when the time comes and you can get restarted. Good luck won’t he sale and hopefully this all ends soon so people can stop having the hardships.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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3 hours ago, MaskedVengeance said:

This not goodbye. (I'm sticking around to put my gained TK knowledge to use helping other new builders pursue their dreams)


I'll be back. (Someday. I'm keeping my soft parts for the long haul)


Save the Dream.



Stay Strong Mate, I'm sorry you have to make such hard decisions . 


Hope things go better and all return to be good.












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4 hours ago, MaskedVengeance said:

July 10, 2020 Part 3 of 3


I dreamed a dream.


It is with great sadness that I must announce an indefinite hold on my dream to become a Stormtrooper.

Not goodbye, but see you again soon. Your enthusiasm and passion for this project was evident so I know how hard this decision must have been. But at the end of the day, it's just plastic space men dress up and real life comes first. We'll be here to support you when the time is right again. Best wishes my dude.

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Oh, wow, I'm so sorry to hear this, Caleb!  Take care of yourself first- we'll all still be here if you choose to cut plastic again.  Stay strong, hang onto the dream, and all the best to you and your family.  

(And about that armor, be sure to post over at the FB GA SW Costuming Group.  Someone might be willing to take it off your hands locally.)

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So sorry to hear that you have to let this project go, you are so passionate about this that I know you’ll be back on this project in no time.

Hope everything gets better, and hold tight to your dream. The great thing about hitting rock bottom is that it can only go up.
Best wishes.

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Sometimes, life strikes someone who does not deserve it ... I hope, I can see you again here soon, my friend ...:blush:

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So sorry to hear this, best wishes to you and yours, we will be here when you can make your way back

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I'm sorry to hear that Caleb, and I'm sure this was a difficult decision for you. I'm impressed with how you're handling such a challenging situation and I'm glad that you'll continue to share your expertise and enthusiasm on here. There's no reason to apologize for your hiatus. Your super detailed and informative posts and encouragement have greatly helped myself and many others. Stay strong, and we'll see you in white armor soon.

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No worries Trooper. One step back but many steps forward in the future. You have a lifetime to accomplish this as well as many other things. Talk to you soon.

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Keeping fingers crossed for you and looking forward to seeing you here again soon.

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OP (MV) Post #30


Greetings Troopers! It's been nearly a month since my last build post, so I've had some time to distance myself a bit and come to a better acceptance of the situation at hand. Thanks so much for all your kind words, thoughts, and prayers—they've truly meant a lot. I thought I'd provide you all with a little more insight since, up until now, I've only spoken in broad terms, and I also have some questions for you fine folks. If you don't want to read about COVID, skip the next paragraph and jump straight to the third.


My wife and I both work in education—she at the primary level—and I at a private College/University, and work-week childcare for our one-year-old girl is provided by our elderly parents. Several weeks ago the local School Board for my wife's district finally (late) announced their COVID reopening plan, and we were SHOCKED at the proposed procedures, or lack thereof. Now I know there are varied opinions regarding everything related to this pandemic, so I won't get into the specifics, but one thing I know we can all agree on is the safety and well-being of our loved ones. In our opinion we were going to be exposing our daughter and her grandparents (via our own exposure) to excessive risk, so we felt forced to address and act on our concerns. After multiple emails and phone calls to the local County School Superintendent and Board members, US Congressman, and State Governor by family members and ourselves, with practically no meaningful responses or updated procedures, we felt that we were left with no choice but to have my wife resign her position. My heart goes out to anybody who was unwillingly let go or furloughed during this pandemic, and I don't presume to be thought of as being in that same category. We were blessed to have the opportunity to make that choice on our own, but make no mistake, it has been the hardest decision we've ever had to make since literally half our income is now gone. We have a monthly budget deficit greater than the cost of my TK armor, and that's after we slim it down to bare-bones survival mode. If my wife wasn't going to search for some online virtual work, internet would be gone. Thank goodness our student loans are currently on forbearance; hopefully we won't have to sell our house.


Now for a few questions, and the reason why I haven't listed my armor for sale yet. In my previous post I asked whether the work I've thus far completed on my armor would cause the kit to appreciate, or depreciate, and though I never really heard a consensus on that, one thing I recently concluded is that assembling the helmet might be a value-added point. (Please correct me if you think doing so might have the opposite effect). Then I realized that I could expand that idea a bit further, and perhaps complete the thermal detonator, attach and paint the ab buttons, and maybe even finish trimming the ABS belt and at least the front-facing (screen-used sized) cover strips. Basically work on any armor feature which has no body size fitting/trimming component. And in the end, even if the final sale price is unaffected, at least I'd have the experience of working on those components. What say you? Is my thought process all wrong, and would such work be a turn-off for armor-seekers? Am I being too ambitious for a first-time builder? The good news is, I'm not selling the components to my HWT backpack, since they have very little individual value, so I still have that to keep me occupied and feeling like a Trooper-in-the-making.


If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. I still very much enjoy being a part of this community, and I open the Tapatalk app on my phone far too often. Stay safe everybody!

Edited by MaskedVengeance
build post link added
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That's a hard decision, Caleb.  I hope your wife can find something that allows remote work.


Unfortunately, being a newby to the world of white armor I can't help with the question of what is more desirable a completed or uncompleted set.  I would suspect (aka guess) a completed helmet would be of value and leave the rest untouched.  At the very least I can give this question a bump.  :)



Now for a few questions, and the reason why I haven't listed my armor for sale yet. In my previous post I asked whether the work I've thus far completed on my armor would cause the kit to appreciate, or depreciate, and though I never really heard a consensus on that, one thing I recently concluded is that assembling the helmet might be a value-added point. (Please correct me if you think doing so might have the opposite effect). Then I realized that I could expand that idea a bit further, and perhaps complete the thermal detonator, attach and paint the ab buttons, and maybe even finish trimming the ABS belt and at least the front-facing (screen-used sized) cover strips. Basically work on any armor feature which has no body size fitting/trimming component. And in the end, even if the final sale price is unaffected, at least I'd have the experience of working on those components. What say you? Is my thought process all wrong, and would such work be a turn-off for armor-seekers? Am I being too ambitious for a first-time builder? The good news is, I'm not selling the components to my HWT backpack, since they have very little individual value, so I still have that to keep me occupied and feeling like a Trooper-in-the-making.


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OP (MV) Post #31


For those of you not up-to-date with my previous post, I had decided to continue assembly of my TD and helmet prior to letting go of my kit, since neither of them are related to armor fitment, and I figure it would be a fun last-hurrah. Completing them shouldn't negatively impact the eventual sale, assuming I do a good job, particularly with the helmet. I'm continuing to sell off personal items from my previous hobbies in hopes of miraculously being able to turn my TK situation around; half income is no cakewalk. Side note: If any of you have any leads on remote/virtual teaching/tutoring opportunities, let me know. My wife is a certified elementary ed teacher with a Masters degree in reading instruction and a TESOL endorsement.


Ok, so on to Part 1 of my thermal detonator! Be forewarned, since I'm assuming that these are the only two components left with my build, I'm going photo-heavy here on out. (Not that I hadn't already been doing that). After all, I likely won't reach the 1,000 image flickr free max at this point. This post will document the resources I used as well as the process of preparing the end caps, control panel, and main tube. Painting and the clips will be included in Part 2, in case any alterations are suggested after this post.



From the beginning I have known that ATA thermal detonators run small, and I had primarily understood that to be in relation to the end caps' tightness, but it turns out that not only are the caps a tight fit, but they're actually designed for use with American imperial (seems appropriate) sized 2-inch (50.8mm) outer-diameter pipes. Now that I think about it, I suspect that most American-produced armor makers do the same thing, due to availability of piping. I had just never really considered that before. Apparently screen-accurate detonator tubes had a metric outer diameter of 68mm, but I'll need to make due with the 2-inch (50.8mm) sizing that my ATA parts are designed for. Oh well, it's not like I have an RS kit anyway, so it'll be fine.


ANH Stunt CRLPAGE LINK (excerpt shown below)




FISD Image Galleries: Thermal Detonator  |  RS Suit Page 3


ATA Thermal Detonator discussion threads: 2012 Dutchtrooper  |  2013 Dark Trooper


Thermal Detonator build threads: ukswrath ANOVOS  |  ukswrath AM  |  A.J. Hamler  |  wook1138









For my build I elected to use the largest documented measurement for all the components of the TD. This way the proportions might be relatively consistent plus I'd be able to trim pieces down if it is suggested to do so by other Troopers. So here are my final measurements:

  • Overall width: 7.5 inches (190.5mm)
  • Panel width: 122mm
  • Panel arc length: 185 188mm (limitation)
  • End caps width: 20mm
  • Clip width: 1-1/16inches (Tony's default)




End Caps

I began with the end caps since it seemed like they would be the easiest portion of the TD to complete. Turns out I was correct, and I actually made my job even more difficult than it could have been due to over-engineering. To measure the 20mm width of the cap edge I used a pencil and a ruler both set in a clamp, with the pencil point set 20mm off the tabletop. I then spun the cap around a couple times, letting the pencil mark a perfectly level line, and shown in the first two photos below. In hindsight, I could have simplified the setup by measuring and marking 20mm at a single point on the cap, then adjusting the pencil height in the clamp (no ruler necessary) to match the height of the mark on the cap. This would have eliminated needing to see the ruler with the pencil in the clamp. Oh well, lesson learned.


50250980843_06c9e44ef8_o.jpg     50251633211_5fca354071_o.jpg


50251822442_d3120c3335_o.jpg     50250980678_f9da9cf558_o.jpg


With perfect 20mm lines drawn, I used my lexan scissors to rough trim close to the lines, leaving the excess to be sanded down. I then wrapped painters tape up to the line to serve as a guide and began sanding with 220 and 320 grit sandpaper sheets on a flat table surface. I worked slowly and intentionally to ensure level sanding all the way around each cap and avoid sanding too far and pressing into the tape. The end results were smooth, crisp, caps with straight lines and 90-degree edges and no chamfering.


50250980303_ae7e8e923b_o.jpg     50251631796_a7dd20d270_o.jpg


50251631736_200ea58d4c_o.jpg     50251633251_821b588344_o.jpg


Control Panel

The panel turned out to be the most technical aspect of the TD, with various measurements and alignments to be mindful of. I wanted my panel to be perfectly squared and not shaped like a trapezoid or parallelogram. I'm sure the construction of the original ANH screen-used panels was far less precise, but I wanted mine to be as close to perfect as possible, especially since this and the helmet are all that I have left. Documented in a previous post, I had already cut off the flashing from the edges of the panel, so next I wanted to get the left and right edges relatively straight.


I started off with using painters tape to give me a guide to draw pencil lines roughly 4.75 inches (120.65mm) apart (later altered to 122 mm). At this point the lines did not need to be perfectly straight, and once drawn I cut one side with lexan scissors. I then used more painters tape to mark long horizontal lines 195mm apart along the surface of the panel (third photo below). In other words, the length/depth of the arc of the panel, front to back, would be 195mm, though I would later change that (described below).




50251631876_51cc95f5d0_o.jpg     50251632831_2025b22ed2_o.jpg


With the cut lines marked with tape I grabbed my tiny metal ruler and handy xacto knife. Since the ABS was protected by a layer of tape, and I wanted the straight edge to be as close the plastic as possible to minimize wayward cuts, I flipped my ruler upside down so the cork was facing up. I then clamped it and used the score-and-snap method. As a reminder, light pressure with the blade is all that is needed when scoring; press too firmly and your blade may slip. The ruler method worked will for the large open side, but when moving to the round "knob" side there was no room for the ruler. I decided to layer several lengths of painters tape to create a raised edge (third photo below) to guide my blade, and it worked pretty well (fourth photo).


50251822012_842cd886e8_o.jpg     50251821882_23b56fd21d_o.jpg


50251821117_f5ec8d47ae_o.jpg     50251821077_ffbc66b782_o.jpg


The next two photos show the end result of my score-and-snap reductions on the top and bottom of the panel. At this point it became obvious to me that additional trimming would be necessary due to some outward curvature still being visible. The light next to the shadow makes this clearly visible, and I was disheartened that I'd need to reduce the panel further and not be able to maintain the 195mm arc. That being said, I know that there were many incidental variations to the dimensions of the TD components, as shown by the many diagrams showing ranges of measurements, so really it's not a big deal. Heck, even Tony had to compromise on his ANOVOS detonator build.






The next four photos show how I tackled creating perfectly straight edges running perpendicular to the length of the tube. First I grabbed a spare length of 2" PVC pipe which had a perfectly-cut 90-degree end (leftover from cutting my actual tube with a miter saw). I then aligned the lowest portion of the panel with the edge of the pipe and taped it all together like crazy with painters tape. I did not want the panel to shift at all, lest it cause uneven sanding. I then used 220 and 320 grit sandpaper on a flat surface, and the same fashion as with the end caps, to attain a straight, smooth edge.




50251824467_876e7dfaf0_o.jpg     50251633006_dd8d5672a1_o.jpg




With one end complete it was time to re-measure and re-mark the width of the panel. You may recall that at the beginning of this process I had marked both edges with painters tape, but repeated sanding on one end resulted in me needing to shift the other end, and I simultaneously decided to change from a 4.75 inches (120.65mm) in width to 122mm. I used a ruler to measure and mark the new 122mm width, and then used PVC pipe again as a "straight"-edge. The first photo below shows this concept, but I actually used an un-chamfered pipe, rather than the one shown. Once I had the line drawn I followed the same process as before with lexan scissors and PVC pipe sanding.


50258463892_1e95f3e489_o.jpg     50257617658_b2f8edd9ca_o.jpg


With the two ends smooth and straight I returned back to the issue of the long edges needing to be re-trimmed to cut off some remaining outward curvature. As has been used many times in my build, sandpaper (320 grit) on a flat table did the trick. I sanded until the curvature on both sides was consistent, and my panel arc length is now closer to 185 188mm.




I am very pleased with the end results, shown below. As was the case with the end caps, my goal was to have perfectly straight and perpendicular lines with the control panel, and all the edges were left raw with 320 grit sanding except for a little edge-smoothing on the outer-facing long edges at the top and the bottom of the panel. The chamfering on those two corners is barely noticeable and is simply to prevent snags on any fabric the panel may come in contact with.




50258277536_98426cd94a_o.jpg     50258464592_0e01c0d200_o.jpg



This was the first time I had the opportunity to bust out some power tools on my build, but alas I only needed my miter saw for all of a single three-second cut. Since there are documented thermal detonators measuring between 7.25 and 7.5 inches (184-190mm), I opted to cut my pipe to 7.25 inches and planned on the end caps to make up the difference and finish with a 7.5-inch long TD. As with everything on the TD, I'm using the largest possible measurements which can later be trimmed down if necessary. Once I had the pipe cut I began sanding the entire surface with 320 grit sandpaper in order to prep it for spray painting. I should mention that I'm using white PVC pipe rather than grey electrical conduit since I had purchased an extra 24-inch length for my HWT build. Per Tony's own TD paint job post, I will be using Model Master Custom Spray Enamel 1923 Gunship Gray FS 36118.


50251631866_bd24908ab8_o.jpg     50251820977_b14a2fa661_o.jpg


50251631896_e13e8e695d_o.jpg     50251821122_21a1ef7c17_o.jpg


This single image below is simply meant to show how ATA's control panel section fits onto a standard 2-inch (50.8mm) PVC pipe. When simply resting on the pipe, you can observe that the ABS panel was pulled with a very slightly smaller radius than the PVC, which means that, when pressed onto the pipe and glued properly, it will sit tightly and there won't be a risk of the long edges pulling up from the pipe. Excellent design, and hopefully not unique to ATA.




Moving ahead, despite the fact that I designed and cut the pipe to be 1/4-inch shorter than what the finished product will be with the end caps, I decided to chamfer the outer edges to further minimize any fitting issues with the caps. I know the interior edges of the caps are curved so I wanted to give them space to fit on the pipe properly. I believe I measured roughly half a cm from the edge and used my clamp/pencil technique to draw a straight line around the outside of the tube. I also drew a line on the ends which split the thickness of the pipe, and my goal with the dremel off a straight angle between those two lines as shown in the third and fourth photos below. Of course it didn't need to be perfect, just approximate.


50250980898_c2c27b39a8_o.jpg     50250979338_fd7ecf15d9_o.jpg


50251632861_2b567d04bb_o.jpg     50250980308_6212c12dbf_o.jpg


With the edge rough chamfered I wanted to do some sanding on the ends to clean it up a bit, plus I had heard that ATA end caps are typically very tight. I tested them out, and sure enough, it was a tight fit indeed. So much so, in fact, that I was afraid of getting them stuck on their or splitting the plastic on the caps. I decided to do some extensive sanding on the ends so I measured and marked an area which I knew would eventually be covered by the caps. I covered the rest of the tube in blue tape (not sure why I covered the middle) and proceeded to sand the exposed white areas.


50258277826_84457881eb_o.jpg     50258464707_f352617f7d_o.jpg


At first I opted to use my 320 grit paper but after several rounds of sanding and fit testing, it became apparent that I needed to shave off much more PVC. After all, not only did I need to make room for the caps to slide on comfortably, but I also needed to account for the layer(s) of enamel spray paint that I would be applying. I removed all the painters tape, wrapped 220 grit paper around half the tube at a time, and repeatedly twisted it in my hand. I added increased pressure and extra twists towards the ends where the caps would sit in order to wear those areas down a bit more than the rest of the tube, and eventually finished it back up with 320 grit paper.


The end results of my cutting and sanding can be seen below. Those initially-angled dremel chamfer cuts smoothed out quite well, and in the third photo below you can see how I reduced the material at the ends more than the middle of the tube in order to accommodate the end caps.




50327068531_8778f7a5cd_o.jpg     50326404448_e708e1845b_o.jpg


Pre-Paint Preview

Here is a rough "fitting" of the parts along with the TD clips pressed somewhat loosely onto the tube. From what I can tell the proportions looks about right, but perhaps more experienced eyes can provide confirmation. The left clip shown in the first photo below will settle a little further towards the cap, and it wasn't flush with the tube anyway in the photo. When it's all assembled the screw-holes should be perfectly lined up with the ends of the control panel.




These last two photos show the alterations I'm going to have to make to Tony's TD clips in order to get them to properly cradle my 2-inch (50.8mm) pipe. Tony constructs his clips with universal sizing in order to fit both 2-inch and 68mm (screen-accurate) pipe, and after inquiring he sent me his recommendation on how to adjust them to fit my TD. Consider this a teaser for what will be included in Part 2 of my TD build.


50330079902_032e75eb66_o.jpg     50330079762_e9c23bfa12_o.jpg


If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. It seems that many build threads just gloss over, or skip altogether, thermal detonator assembly, so hopefully the documentation of mine will be useful for other builders in the future!


Printable/downloadable PDF of my entire build thread to this point: NOW AVAILABLE HERE


Edited by MaskedVengeance
typo correction, PDF link added
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Thank you for all the detail you've put into this, Caleb.  I'll be starting my build this weekend, and tackling the TD first.  As I also have an ATA kit, this will be a very helpful resource for me.  :salute:

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OP (MV) Post #32: Thermal Detonator Part 2


In my previous post (Part 1) I began my thermal detonator, and in this post I will continue with painting the tube and installing the control panel and end caps. But first, a little twist to start us off. As I began to look ahead towards altering my universal-sized clips to fit my 2-inch (50.8mm inner diameter) tube I felt the need to study screen-captures of all the TDs in ANH. Essentially I wanted to get a good sense of TD height placement relative to the belt, as well as gauge the angle at which the control panel points. While the FISD Gallery has excellent content, for my purposes the 1,059 screen images captured chronologically by Jeklynhyde in this post provided the easiest access. I sifted through that image bank, along with Gallery albums from @Darth Aloha and @Locitus and all 119 pages (21,248 images in case you're wondering) of 4K ANH caps from starwarsscreencaps (hereafter referred to as SWSC) and saved 129 images to this google drive folder (yeah, I went a bit Han-boring-conversation-anyway heavy) to compile into a RogueTrooper-frown-like thermal detonator collages shown at the top of this post. Though my initial intention had been to capture detonator-belt height alignment, I also included images which documented other details of TDs, such as mounting clips and screw placement.


The photos shown at the top of this post are actually downsized versions semi-optimized for viewing at 1,000 x 750px on the FISD web-platform, but if you click on the images they should link to the full 2,000 x 1,500px versions which contain un-scaled captures from the 1,920 x 1,080 (really 1,920 x 817 at the 2.35:1 anamorphic screen ratio) source imagery from @Jeklynhyde. The un-scaled snips from SWSC are from their 3,840 x 1,600 native resolution. Jeklyn was also kind enough to provide me with additional screen grabs upon request, on multiple occasions! Of the 129 images kept, 27 came from SWSC and 18 came from the FISD Gallery; none of the Gallery images were used in my final compilations. I used a transparent background on the images so that they would display cleanly in Tapatalk and in the current and future color schemes of the whitearmor site, and every individual image snippet is ordered chronologically by appearance in the film horizontally across the two master compilation images. The eight images below are quarter slices of the two master comp images, should any of you want to view the full-resolution content in-line/thread.






HERE IS A LINK to my google drive folder which contains all eight of the above quadrant photos, as well as the master compilations. Contained in the master folder of copies of the versions of the images with three background colors—transparent, FISD gray, and white.


While sifting through the 22,000+ ANH captures I tagged some for future projects, such as compilations of other parts of ANH TKs. The sniper plate, knee ammo belt, shoulder bridges, drop box alignment, and mobility cuts immediately come to mind. I've already developed a magnifying bubble overlay system that I'm going to use, and perhaps the images might be a helpful addition to some of the "Specific Parts" sections of the Gallery. In case anybody is interested, below is a Google drive folder which contains every SWSC capture I retained from the original image bank. These 3,688 images include every instance in which even part of a TK (and TD Sandie) are visible, whether it be part of a helmet peeking out from behind another character, a knee-pack barely above the trash compactor water, or Luke wearing TK-421's belt. Those with an extremely keen eye might notice some sequenced images missing, and that's because 45 images in the SWSC bank were repeat frames (which I excluded), likely due to capture, upload, or database errors.


EVERY ANH TK from SWSC (3,688 images)


Staring at all those images for hours (days) is now making me want to get a UK/metric-sized TD, but for now I'll have to make due without (anybody have a spare?). Seems I'm getting caught up in the finer details like our good friend @CableGuy. Lest any readers get bogged down in the next three sections (Painting, Re-Squaring, ABS Installation) of this post, I'd like to draw particular attention to the last section at the end, related to modifying my belt clips. I have diagrammed a couple options and would LOVE some feedback.




In continuing with Tony's documented paint process, I taped up my tube in order to cover a space the size of the control panel. To perfectly center the panel, I took the total length of my tube (7.25 inches or 184.15mm) and subtracted the width of my control panel (122mm), which left me with roughly 62mm. Since this represented the total remainder width, I divided it by two, and thus my guide marks were made 31mm from each end. Keep in mind that, if you're following my posts as a guide, your measurements will vary based on the figures you cut your tube and panel to.


I then used my actual finished panel as a straightedge to guide my ballpoint PEN as I traced the border. I emphasize using a PEN because, even though I know pencil wipes off ABS, I wanted to avoid marking the edges of my control panel. This would have likely happened with pencil lead, but did not occur with my ballpoint pen. Do not worry about getting a perfectly straight line since the actual cut line will be inside of this original rough border. Once I finished the outer border I measured 1/8-inch (per Tony's recommendation) inside of it and drew an inner rectangle, again using my panel as a straightedge. This interior line will serve as my cut line guide for trimming off the excess tape.


50342978137_f2ddd58fac_o.jpg     50342978247_c0d88766c6_o.jpg


50342815386_597e4e5115_o.jpg     50342978237_deb001a638_o.jpg


To guide my Xacto knife I used leftover pieces from my end cap trimming, despite the fact that achieving a straight line is not necessary for this step. I'm a bit of a perfectionist; perhaps @justjoseph63 understands. Haha. The rationale behind cutting the shape of the blue tape down to a size smaller than the actual control panel is to ensure proper spray paint coverage, which will just barely (1/8-inch on all side) overlap with the panel. Not having this overlap could result in a sliver of unpainted pipe showing next to one or two of the edges of the panel. 




Once I had my control panel tape cut and the excess peeled off I masked off the edges of the tube which would be covered by the end caps. I wanted to leave 1cm of unpainted pipe on each end in case I later decide to glue to caps on, since the glue would best adhere to the sanded pipe rather than a painted surface. I used my handy pencil-in-clamp technique to mark an unnecessarily-straight line, knowing that there would once again be overlap with my painted surface and the end caps. Recall that I tapered the ends (with sandpaper; see photo towards end of that post) of my tube and I wanted to ensure the painted surface extended into the tapered area to combat possible paint-scraping when finally sliding on the end caps.


50342816291_689b952462_o.jpg     50342977047_0da3812a41_o.jpg


With acceptable weather conditions (51% humidity, 70s f indoor temp) I set up in my garage and sprayed two coats of Model Master Custom Spray Enamel 1923 Gunship Gray FS 36118 with some drying time in between. I might have gone a bit thick, and got some orange peel, but only if you look really closely and with certain light. Nobody at a troop would be able to notice it. I let it dry for several hours then removed the tape on the panel area and ends, and set it aside to further cure overnight.


50342137558_151f905773_o.jpg     50342137288_417d41a1da_o.jpg


50342137053_e1eaf82884_o.jpg     50342815551_98d68da52c_o.jpg


Here are some photos of the completed paint job, including photos which shows the amount of overlap that the panel and end caps will have once positioned properly for my 7.5 inch (190.5mm) wide TD.


50342977027_1e0d02ee8d_o.jpg     50342976767_8a4eb17748_o.jpg


50342816401_2b0f3845d6_o.jpg     50348772636_493d99cd68_o.jpg



Control Panel Re-Squaring

While test fitting my control panel onto the tube I discovered that somehow my panel was no longer perfectly squared, which means my previous sanding guides must have been off. The image below shows the arc length difference between the two ends of the panel, indicated by the two pencil marks a few mm apart at the bottom. The photo depicts the short end of the panel, while the other longer side extended to that outer pencil mark.




Thus I proceeded to mark off the sliver on each side which needed to be sanded. To do so I evenly split the length difference I needed to make up so the result would be a very small amount coming off on both ends of the arc. It took several attempts, but I finally managed to lay down the tape in straight lines, checked by looking down the tape line in a fashion similar to taking aim with an E-11 Rebel blaster. The tape would obviously serve as a visual guide while sanding but I decided to add a second layer of tape in hopes that it might create a bit of a barrier to keep me from over-sanding.


50351314568_ee8da4d485_o.jpg     50351314473_bb28df389f_o.jpg






It's always a good idea to use proper PPE (shown above) when sanding ABS, as even sanding small amounts at a time can add up over the course of a build. Save your lungs (and eyes and fingers) people! I was happy with my final results after measuring the arc lengths again on my spare PVC pipe, so ONWARD!



Control Panel & End Cap Installation

With the spray paint having had a couple days (excessive) to fully cure I set out to install the control panel and end caps on my tube. However, I first wanted to drill a couple air relief holes into my tube in the same fashion that AJ Hamler did on his build. These holes would theoretically make it easier to install the snug-fit end caps, but since the plan was to install the control panel first, it's unclear if the holes would end up being sealed off anyway. I guess that depends on how tight I get the panel adhered down onto the tube. I marked dots where I wanted to two holes to be drilled, which would be situated beneath the raised areas of the control panel (buttons and round washer style detail). I first drilled pilot holes with a 5/64 bit then graduated up to and ended with a 3/16 bit. It was my first time drilling into PVC and I was surprised to find that drilling the holes did not result in PVC dust, but instead several curly-Q shards of plastic. Fine by me, as it made cleanup a breeze.


After-the-fact-tip: Once again I over-engineered another aspect—the relief hole cutout—though I only realized it after the next step of gluing the panel down. Another perfectly suitable location, and less likely to fail due to glue sealing, is to drill the relief hole beneath where the TD clips will be seated. So basically the hole would be covered by the clip. Alternately, if you plan on using clip screws rather than bolts with nuts, you could actually use a clip screw hole itself for air relief and attach both end caps before driving in the final clip screw.


50348934812_db82683baf_o.jpg     50348079583_6abddedb9c_o.jpg


50348934777_06d7cd7205_o.jpg     50348934857_26dba62275_o.jpg




I measured and remarked the previously-determined 31mm (from tube ends) guidelines with blue tape to ensure proper centering of the control panel, and also added a few pieces of tape on the top and bottom long edges of the panel to help align it vertically. I then sanded the underside of the panel with 120 grit sandpaper, but kept away from the tips of the edges so as not to create any rough ridges which might later be visible (via magnifying glass, haha).


50348079763_0777f55216_o.jpg     50348934932_37bb530500_o.jpg



And then came my first time use of the glorified E-6000, and my amateurism showed. My goal had been to keep the glue away from the panel edges to avoid any seepage out from beneath the panel, because though I knew that E6000 can simply be rubbed/picked off of plain ABS, but I wasn't sure how it would react to the paint and didn't want to risk peeling some of it off. I attempted to create some gaps in my glue lines in order to maintain the functionality of the air relief holes, but who knows if it will have all filled in once the glue is compressed. Below are some photos of my E6000 application, and it quickly became apparent that I used far too much, as it seeped out on the sides.


Tip: As seen in the second photo, I used a metal ruler pressed against the edge of my TD tube to ensure that I had the control panel level, and then I taped it down to keep it from sliding around. You want to make sure to position it perfectly parallel and perpendicular relative to the form of the tube, since you don't want your panel to be twisted on the tube and look crooked.


50354780033_cd90a2dfe3_o.jpg     50354779928_831e73dc7b_o.jpg




50355641662_f9a903ed8e_o.jpg     50354779668_f02ac4b1db_o.jpg


50354779478_a7d45406af_o.jpg     50355641282_4dabbcbf14_o.jpg



In another first, I finally put my magnet sachets (creation thread) to use in conjunction with a couple clamps, as shown above. I then set the TD aside for the E-6000 to cure for several days, and proceeded to work out my TD clips, described in the last section of this post.


Several things I learned during the E6000 application process:

  1. E6000 is as slippery as they say. Combat this by having adequate guidelines/marks so proper alignment can be maintained. Also use tape to keep pieces stationary in their intended locations before applying clamps and magnets.
  2. E6000 will react to at least some paints. This is perhaps what worried me the most while I waited for the glue to cure. The seeping glue immediately absorbed the color of the spray paint so I was left with what appeared like a wet paint mess.
  3. NEVER BE IN A HURRY. I repeat, NEVER. In an effort to get the control panel installed prior to heading into work, I did not allow myself enough time and I rushed through the glue application. The eye test should have informed me that I used too much glue based on the applied volume and available surface area. Consider your build a marathon, not a sprint. And actually—just completely forego the competition metaphor altogether. This is a work of art, and art takes time.


With curing complete it was time to remove the clamps, magnets, and tape, and hopefully clean off the excess E6000. The moment of truth. Would everything be ok with only minimal paint imperfections, or would the paint peel and require me to start over...




Looks ok so far... but...





50372907363_9239895556_o.jpg     50372907313_080263c475_o.jpg


50373771227_3246fbdefc_o.jpg     50372907278_246304093e_o.jpg



Sure enough, my paint job was affected, though at least it didn't peel off, perhaps due to the two-coat application. Honestly it's probably Legion-passable, but it's definitely not Caleb-passable. I'm not yet sure what I'll do, but I see two options:

  1. Order new ABS parts and hone my TD assembly skills. Use extra PVC but purchase more spray paint. Yes, I previously over-sprayed.
  2. Sand down the blemished parts, mask off the ABS parts and re-spray over the problem areas.

I'm leaning towards option #1, especially since it'd be nice to keep my blemished TD as a memento, but I'll need to decide whether to spend the $30-40 from my nonexistent budget. Since this is my first completed armor component of my build, and despite my errors, I've been excited to finally see a real-life (sorta) TD on my desk!


Moving along. Though the photos above show the TD with end caps installed, at this point in the process, with the blemished paint dried, the next thing I did was measure the exact distance each end cap would need to be pressed onto the tube to achieve the 7.5-inch (190.5mm) wide detonator. Since I had cut my PVC tube to 7.25 inches (184.15mm) I knew that each cap had to extend 1/8-inch (3.175mm) beyond the end of the tube. With 20mm end caps, simple math left me with 16.825mm of tubing needing to be covered by the caps on each end. I measured and placed blue tape just beyond that amount on both ends, which would serve as end-stops for my caps.


My plan had been to proceed with Tony's hot water bath technique, boiling the caps for 30 seconds each and then sliding the caps onto the tube, but I decided to skip that step with my already-blemished TD. When going the cap-bathing route, always remember to wear appropriate PPE. Below I have my imperfect but nearly-completed thermal detonator with clips mock-mounted.


50372917783_9b3dafd343_o.jpg     50372907778_a88f40aebd_o.jpg





Clips Modification Options

This is where the real fun begins, and where I am seeking additional guidance from seasoned veterans. As mentioned in Part 1 of my TD build, Tony's TD clips require a slight modification in order to get them to properly cradle my 2-inch (50.8mm ID) pipe. @ukswrath constructs his clips with universal sizing in order to fit both 2-inch and 68mm (screen-accurate OD) pipe, and below is the process he sent me to adjust them to fit my TD.

  1. Completely assemble the TD as normal.
  2. Install the clip and screw closest to the control panel.
  3. Putting pressure on the clip and screw (not to rip out the screw) form the remainder of the clip around the tube (the material is pliable).
  4. Afterwards mark, drill and install the second screw.
  5. Reshape the belt clip portion as/if needed.

That seems simple enough, but a thought occurred to me upon assessing the procedure. There are actually two routes I could take while tightening the wrap-around of the clips which would result in two different final forms. Below are some diagrams I created to provide a visual reference for the two routes I will need to choose from. In the first photo below, Tony's clips are shown in their current unaltered state with the two versions (2-inch and 68mm) of pipe overlaid. The second photo shows the unaltered clips with 68mm pipe and two orientation options with altered clips and 2-inch pipe (moving/transitioning gif). Option #1 has an elevated tube and Option #2 features a lower position. For simplicity's sake, following the images are notes on the differences between the two options.






50382914717_169b1ee6dd_o.png     50382914597_8e18d076d3_o.png     50382033718_91ae039cb4_o.png


Note: The images above were designed at 100% scale (printable), though the clips were thickened for clarity. The profile of the 68mm clip was a trace of one I received from Tony, and the profile of the control panel was rough traced and scaled from photos of my ATA panel.


Option #1: Raised

  • Increased/lengthened clip wrap-around. Essentially a more enclosed cradle.
  • Clip end closest to control panel sits higher (y-axis) on the tube, and is therefore more visible.
  • Control panel points steeper/higher vertically.
  • The top of the 2-inch TD sits level with top the 68mm on the y-axis (vertical position relative to the belt)

Option #2: Lowered

  • Standard ratio amount of clip wrap-around/cradle.
  • Clip end is positioned as intended on the tube's y-axis
  • Control panel points at the appropriate outward/upward angle
  • The bottom of the 2-inch TD sits lower vertically on the y-axis relative to the belt, barely below the typical bottom of the 68mm tube.
  • The vertical portion of the clips between the tube and the belt will be a bit more visible than usual.


Personally, I'm more attracted to Option #2 (lowed) since I believe the slight drop in the position of the TD relative to the belt will be mostly unnoticeable, or at least less so than additional surface area on the TD being wrapped by the clips and the control panel facing more upwards. That, plus it seems that many troopers seem to set their TDs too high on their belts anyway, perhaps to match some film anomalies, or simply due to dressing challenges. Then again, if TDs were ever not in level alignment with belts in ANH, they were always elevated rather than lowered, so what to do, what to do. I suppose there might be an Option #3 of splitting the difference between the first two, or perhaps even trimming the end off from where the screw hole is. But I'm not sure I have the tools for that plus the new mounting holes I'd have to drill would be too close to the other holes.


SIDE NOTE [beware of math ahead]: Regarding trimming the clips relative to the reduced circumference of smaller pipe. The outer diameter of 2-inch (ID) pipe is about 60.3mm, which equates to a pipe circumference of 189.44mm. The circumference of 68mm (OD) pipe is 213.63mm, so the reduction of 24.19mm down to the smaller pipe represents an 11.32% decrease. Based on eyeballing (I don't have proper clips AND pipe to measure) it appears that clips are intended to cradle/surround roughly 40% of the TD pipe, so on the 68mm pipe that would be an arc length of roughly 85.45mm. For a consistent pipe-to-clip ratio while maintaining the standard height and angle of the control panel, I would therefore want to reduce the 85.45mm clip length by the previously-calculated 11.32%, or 9.67mm. Trimming the nearly 1cm off would bring the new end in barely past the current pre-drilled holes as expected, requiring new ones to be added.



So Troopers, what say you?


[Since I'm shameless / "this is my most desperate hour", in addition to the Troopers already mentioned throughout this post, I'm also tagging @TKSpartan, @Sly11, and @gmrhodes13 to harness their expertise.]


Apparently this two-part thermal detonator series has now stretched into a proper trilogy. Seems appropriate. I will proceed with Part 3 based on the feedback I receive. Thanks in advance! For reference, below are two photos of my clips which I had included in an earlier post, as well as information for confirmed TD pipe sizes for various armor makers. @TheRascalKing was kind enough (as always) to measure and photograph his ANOVOS TD for me, and other than RS (which we can safety assume is 68mm), I heard back directly from all the makers.



50095877317_416d9b06dc_o.jpg     50095067613_373f5b26f2_o.jpg



ATA: 2-inch not included (USA)

AP: 2-inch included (Canada)

RS: 68mm included (UK)

RWA: 68mm pipe included (UK)

T/MC / FAC: 68-69mm metal pipe included (USA)

WTF: 2-inch included (USA)

RT-Mod: 2-inch included (Canada)

AM / DDD: 66-67mm (est.) plastic pipe included (USA)

CfO: 68mm included (UK)

TM: 68mm included (UK)

MTK / TB: 2-inch included (USA)

ANOVOS: 67mm included (USA)


Printable/downloadable PDF of my entire build thread to this point will be updated within a few hours of my own new posts and will note sequential version numbers and revision dates. NOW AVAILABLE HERE



NOTE: Some of this post's content is displaying incorrectly in Tapatalk, with entire paragraphs of text emboldened and miscolored, and at least one entire sentence of text missing. Images have been, as they always are, optimized for web viewing on FISD.


Edited by MaskedVengeance
Image display issues. Tapatalk error disclaimer.
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Great work, loving the diagrams you have come up with. I do however think the grey you have used for the TD pipe is a little dark.



The problem with ATA TD's are the caps are too small, it's hard to stick to screen reference as the pipe used is a lot smaller, it's one of those areas that you think do I build to reference specs or try to build to pipe size and look. ATA pipe size is taken into consideration for higher levels so it's not too much of an issue, it's just not as screen accurate as it could be.


Great research on the screen references, it can get quite confusing for a new builder though as we don't replicate particular troopers (unlike MEPD) we do try to use generalized (commonly seen references) hence we use those images in the gallery sections, there can be such a thing as too much information ;) 


One other thing which is just my OCD, have a look a the alignment of the screws to the panel, yours are on the inside of the panel where the screen reference is just in line with the the corners of the panel (if not slightly out)




Great work, just need a few tweaks in my mind


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AP TD was also of the smaller diameter pipe, not sure if Mark has changed that now days, but it is also still approvable.

I'd agree the colour looks too dark in your photos (maybe lighting , not sure) but it should match the colour of the tears, traps and frown paint of the helmet.

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On 11/2/2020 at 6:47 PM, Sly11 said:

I'd agree the colour looks too dark in your photos (maybe lighting , not sure) but it should match the colour of the tears, traps and frown paint of the helmet.

On 11/2/2020 at 6:11 PM, gmrhodes13 said:

Great work, loving the diagrams you have come up with. I do however think the grey you have used for the TD pipe is a little dark.


The problem with ATA TD's are the caps are too small, it's hard to stick to screen reference as the pipe used is a lot smaller, it's one of those areas that you think do I build to reference specs or try to build to pipe size and look. ATA pipe size is taken into consideration for higher levels so it's not too much of an issue, it's just not as screen accurate as it could be.


Great research on the screen references, it can get quite confusing for a new builder though as we don't replicate particular troopers (unlike MEPD) we do try to use generalized (commonly seen references) hence we use those images in the gallery sections, there can be such a thing as too much information.


One other thing which is just my OCD, have a look a the alignment of the screws to the panel, yours are on the inside of the panel where the screen reference is just in line with the the corners of the panel (if not slightly out)


Thanks for your insight, Andrew and Glen! I must admit, I have been a little uncertain about the paint job. The Testors/Model Master 1923 Gunship Gray (Hobby Lobby) came at the suggestion (HERE) of Tony in his ANOVOS build. I hadn't considered the possibility of it being too dark, and instead thought that it wasn't glossy enough. I've only ever seen that specific paint in a flat finish, but perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places, or I ended my search too quickly after thinking I had the correct one.


As for the possibility that I am simply experiencing a difference in subject lighting, I thought I would show my TD alongside several other grays together in the same shot. The first image below, taken from an earlier post in my build, shows the Model Master 1923 (FS 36118) Gunship Gray enamel paint can, alongside another gray (Testors flat dark aircraft gray) which I believe I purchased for a blaster undercoat for sanding weathering. In my paint test seen in the subsequent photos, I show how my current detonator appears alongside spare bits of ABS brush-painted with Humbrol gloss #5 and Testors 1138 gloss gray, Trooperbay decals (from back before I decided to use paint and stencils instead), and some spare flexible conduit I had around. I believe the flex conduit is roughly the same color as the standard solid straight pipe.






50567363363_d472e9580b_o.jpg     50568114891_693da1b697_o.jpg




It does still appear that my TD is darker than the decals, doesn't it? I wonder what the difference between my paint and Tony's is, other than possible user error. Interestingly, the TB decals are actually the lightest color of the lot, and don't even match the Humbrol and Testors enamel paints. Note that the Testors paint appears a bit lighter than the Humbrol, which I think is attributable to the coat thickness I applied. So I suppose I must come to the conclusion that my TD is too dark. I wonder how difficult it would be to mask the edges―particularly the curved ones―and repaint with a lighter gray...


As for the OCD, Glen, I CAN TOTALLY RELATE. The screw holes not perfectly aligning with the ends of the control panel has been bothersome to me as well. When I first started trimming all the TD components I set out to use the largest of the acceptable measurements so that I could later trim them if necessary. I eventually came to realize that, due to the smaller diameter of the PVC pipe, I probably should have shortened the length of the pipe and panel (and possible end caps) to maintain the overall ratio of the larger 68mm screen-used TDs, but alas I came to that conclusion too late, and the panel was already glued. So since I can't narrow the panel any more, I have two options:

  1. Narrow the end caps by sanding 1mm off each one, bringing them down to 19mm each, which. This would enable me to spread the clips that much more, and still maintain the 7.5" (190mm) overall width of the TD.
  2. Pull out the end caps 1-2mm on each end, which would then put me that same amount over the 7.5" (190mm) width.

Since I'm already using the widest (7.5" or 190mm) TD measurement, I'm not sure if it'd be better to shrink the width of the ends caps, or widen the over-all length of the TD. To me, it would seem that pulling out the caps and widening the TD would seem less obvious, to the naked eye, than narrowing the caps. Of course, depending on how much adjustment would be needed to align the screws with the panel edges, I could utilize both options simultaneously.


As for the screen references, the social scientist in me wants to say that there's no such thing as too much data, but in this case your argument makes complete sense. It is definitely better to show and follow a generalized standards rather than confuse people with outliers. I'll admit that I got a little obsessed with my TD research and intention to capture and present nearly every single clearly-visible thermal detonator in ANH. At least now we can see all the instances together, and collectively observe what the common features are. *whisper* But on the other hand, @bishopdonmiguel has done a very fine job of modeling a specific infamous TK... :laugh1:


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