Category Archives: Projects

Keytar Update 01/20/2020

Lately I’ve been trying to work on the software side of things a bit lately, while I have this thing assembled (I’m still debating whether to embrace the scuffed look of the casing paint job).

For one thing, I found out that my last SD card image was 6 months old!  I had some things I had figured out since then, but as I tried new things I kept messing up the card, so I took the time to implement everything that I KNEW worked onto one card, while testing out things on a different SD card.  That way I have a safe image of all the things that work, while the other spare cards were considered expendable, and I’d only bother testing new things on them.  Once I was satisfied that I had made sufficient progress, I used Win32DiskImager to copy the image of the good card as a new baseline.

New things implemented in the baseline:

Loading all the files that I had been transferring via USB into the image so I don’t have to reload them

Establishing a new cyberdeck logo as a wallpaper (courtesy of fellow decker BillieRuben on the cyberdeck discord)

Changed screen resolution on the primary display (when I was at MAGfest I couldn’t access the buttons on some menus, which drove me NUTS).

Updating password, because apparently I had left it unlocked.  D’oh!

Implementing SSH on the Pi and installing PuTTY on my laptop.  This change was one of the more important ones!  I’ve been attempting to tweak some of the graphical settings, but every time I get them wrong, the screen on the Pi becomes unusable.  When that happens, that had forced me to swap cards, and start all over again.  It also led to me possibly corrupting cards because of powering the Pi off incorrectly, and having to wipe and reimage the cards before I could use them again.  Now, with SSH implemented, I can remote into the Pi and access the command line perfectly well, allowing me at the very least to be able to power off the Pi correctly, but it has also allowed me to continue trying new things while the display settings were messed up.  This saves a LOT of time (it takes far too long constantly reformatting and reimaging these SD cards).

Working but not baselined:

I’ve been able to VNC to share the Pi screen to an old android phone of mine.  So far that works with RealVNC Viewer on the android phone.

Instructions for VNC on Raspberry Pi

Current trials:

I’m attempting to use VNC to share a side-by-side version of the raspberry pi display onto my android device so I can use it as a head-mounted display (HMD) to simulate a larger monitor to work from on-the-go.  I’m attempting to use a software called VR VNC.  So far I’ve been receiving an error message about incompatible VNC security, and haven’t managed to get it to work.

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Upcoming tests:

Once I get VR VNC (or some equivalent) to work, I want to change the network interface from being over WiFi (which requires both devices to be on a WiFi network together, not ideal on-the-go) to being through a wired connection over USB.  Someone appears to have written a guide here:  Android Device as Screen for rPi via USB & VNC.  End goal:  wired connection between the keytar and the android headset to simulate a large monitor on-the-go, making using the system much easier… and has added cyberpunk vibes.  If/when I get this to work, I’m gonna get an old-fashioned-looking curly cable for the connection.  It just feels more authentic.

I’d like to add an app for simple-ish pass-through of the camera into an augmented reality display on the headset.  If the lag isn’t too bad, I might be able to wear the headset and still be able to see where I’m going at cons, if I want to fully indulge the costume at times.

Things I’ll have to get back to:

Attempting to switch between HDMI output (for a TV or digital projector) and back to the built-in LCD.  I was attempting to use some code I found to switch automatically, but that kept failing and rendering the screen unusable, hence the need for the SSH above.  Then I remembered the original scripts onboard for switching by command and thought I should make sure that works first.  So far I can get it to switch to HDMI, but not successfully back.  At least, the screen is still covered with some other text when it switches back.  I’ve already fixed one issue, from where the screen kept coming back upside down, but I haven’t gotten back to a useable desktop using this method.  Thankfully the SSH works and allows me to keep poking at it.

Down the line:

Now that I’m trying to add a HMD to the setup, I think I need to make some modifications to the casing.  I think I may either remove the existing branding from the case, and/or add a thematically appropriate sticker to cover it up.  I also may need to manufacture and attach an appropriate connection for hanging it from my belt securely.  I’m not going to want to wear it on my head all the time.

 

Random Updates:

I may or may not post more on these topics later, but I thought I’d go ahead and put these out there.

I reorganized my workspace, mostly by adding a rolling cart to store things on (and still be able to move out of the way when I need that particular floorspace back).  My living room (including the top of my workbench) was getting rather cluttered with projects, materials, etc. and it was becoming unusable.  I’ve now tossed some stuff, and reorganized the rest onto the cart, reclaiming some needed square-footage off of the floor, workbench, and other shelves.  I now even have space to run my laptop out of the way of the bench itself for when I want to SSH into my cyberdeck at the bench.

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I thought the table lamp needed a lampshade, so I designed and printed one inspired by a Japanese style pagoda roof.  The green is a reference back to the Jade Pagoda from Whovian lore.  Right now 3 out of the 4 segments match.  I ran out of material when printing a later version of the design.  I still need to get some more green filament to finish this properly one of these days.  I’ve posted the files on Thingiverse here:

Pagoda Style Lampshade

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Christmas Presents: Light Staves

This year I decided I wanted to build something for at least part of the Christmas presents for a couple kids in my family.  They are active outdoors, so I figured I’d make them some custom walking sticks.  This… has been an adventure, and I’m not done yet.

And, yes, Gandalf was an inspiration for it, as well as some 3D printed light up “crystals” I saw online.

Premise:  if you print a “crystal” in translucent filament, and point a light into it, the crystal glows in a cool way.  I thought I’d create a 3d printed case for a flashlight to hold such a crystal, epoxy the flashlight into the case, attach it to a broom handle (cut to length), and put a little rubber foot on the bottom (to protect floors).

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Note: This crystal is not my design, I made a new one for the staff.

After talking with some people about flashlights to use, I settled on an old favorite, the mini-maglite.  It’s been updated since when I got one as a kid, to now use an LED and be over 300 lumens.  The simpler shape also allows me to slide bits on, epoxy them, and use the threaded connections of the flashlight’s parts to hold everything together while allowing it to be disassembled for swapping batteries and possibly changing light filters.

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An upgraded classic.

Other concepts I had considered were shake lights and a flashlight that had a recharging port on the side.  The idea being that in either case you wouldn’t have to be able to open it up to change batteries, but one was unavailable and the other was… 1000 lumens.  A bit much for kids.  Also, on a trail when you want a light source, you want to be able to change your batteries and not rely on having a plug handy or having to shake the staff a bunch (though it would be amusing to watch).

I attempted it first with the 1000 lumen light (I had ordered one for myself) as  practice, and it just got weird as I went on.  I experimented with leaving accessible holes for the button and the charging port on the opposite side.  I added some greeblies for fun, and a shroud on the basis that you wouldn’t want to blind yourself (or hopefully your scout leaders) with it while walking.

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Various iterations, not all in order.

When the maglites arrived, I started over from scratch, using what I had learned from my earlier experiments.  New crystal, new models, new everything.  As I went on, it felt more and more like making a custom lightsaber.

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A few intermediate models

So far I’ve built 1 prototype (for testing fit, getting the parents’ opinions).  The greeblies on this version were simpler, and serve more than one purpose.  Yes, they look kinda cool… but every point where you see greeblies is a spot where you need grip when unscrewing parts for changing lenses, batteries, or turning the flashlight on or off.

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Casing on the workbench.  Each segment can rotate separately.

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Visualization, until I figure out how to screw the thing on

I think it’s looking pretty good.  I still have to figure out the threaded interface to the broom handle that serves as the shaft.  I also plan to print some cross-sectional models to check fit better (you can only see so much from the full model), then running a few of these off, painting them, epoxying the plastic bits to the flashlight, and modifying the length of the handles.

Whew, I hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew.

Project Update 11/6/19: The Scratchening

The Scratchening:

This last weekend I was attempting to “improve” my keytar case paint job.  There were some blobs of paint from how I had painted the first couple coats.  I thought I was following the advice of some other people (particularly the Cyberdeck discord, yes, it’s a thing).

Apparently I failed.

I sanded the case and parts, and put another coat of paint on… and now there are visible scratches.  I’ll have to sand it again… much more carefully, and then repaint.  I’m not sure how well it will show up in the photos.

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These are apparently not what was meant by “use coarse, medium, and fine sandpaper”.

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I’m still annoyed at myself, and per further elaborated advice, I’m going to re-sand the thing again with a series of finer grains of sandpaper on a proper sanding block.  “When you think you’re done, keep sanding.”

 

In other news:

Over the weekend I had to clean/lube/recalibrate my printer.  I had been noticing some layer shifts in some prints, and this was the easiest possibility for me to address.

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Seems to have worked, as my prints since then have been good so far.  I needed something to test a long print time on something with verticality to make it obvious if these shifts occurred again.  I decided to look for an appropriate Benchy, and someone had my back!

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Benchy-209 on Thingiverse

Optimus Prime!  As a no assembly required print!  I was in the mood for printing a robot, and thought to look him up.  He transforms!

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Optimus Prime on Thingiverse

COM|POST: Quick Project Weekend in Review 10/28/19

So, I’ve apparently got a lot to log this week, which is both awesome (yay, stuff was accomplished!) and annoying (shards, I’ve gotta log all this stuff).

I’ll try got go through it pretty quickly, since it’s multiple projects, and not a lot of focus on any one project.

Keytar Progress:

I finally found time to epoxy and prime my keytar.  I’m gonna need to get some sand paper to smooth out some parts I messed up on (I’m new to spraypainting).  Later I’ll put on another layer (I missed some stuff) or more.  Then it’s back to maybe sanding a bit, stickering, clear coating, and matte coating.  Here are a few images of where things stand now.

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I’m still debating how I want to paint these greeblies.  Maybe a metallic color of some kind?

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And here is what I’m thinking of for stickers at the moment.  I’ve got a bunch of other random stickers from a Ready Player One bundle that I’m considering layering under these, but I wonder whether I should do that, or if it might cause problems.  Also might cause these top stickers to not stand out as much.

Proposed Stickers.jpg

 

 

Costume Update:

I’ve been updating my Ghostbusters costume this year.  I’m able to fit into an actual jumpsuit this year, so I got one.  And it’s a bit too big on me (yaaaay for weight loss, but boooo, I was hoping for a good fit).  Still, at least I can wear it!  And I can (kinda) use one web belt instead of needing two.

Anyway, new jumpsuit means I need to sew patches again… or if you are lazy like me (and know that you are gonna get another suit later) you attach them to Velcro for easy transfer.  Still had to sew the name patch onto the Velcro strip that came on the uniform, but just had to attach the adhesive Velcro panels for the logo patch.

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I also decided since I suddenly had free time to work on projects that I’d go a bit further, and make the connectors and tube that hang off the left side of the uniform.  3D models were available on Thingiverse here:

Ghostbusters Leg Hose Connector on Thingiverse

I printed that sucker out, ordered some magnets that I superglued in, and attempted to dye the hose.

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The dyeing didn’t go too well, but at least it is slightly greenish, which was kinda my intent.  Yes, per the first movie they are supposed to be yellowish… but I didn’t like the catheter explanation for the tube that the color implies.  I went with the video game option that implies it has something to do with slime, and tried to dye it neon green.  I think I didn’t account for some things in the process.

Also, on the printer right now is the LifeGard II monitor that the Ghostbusters wear on their belts.  Apparently it was a thing firemen would wear that would alert people if the wearer wasn’t moving for an extended period of time.  Mine is nonfunctional, just a shell, but I like adding detail.  I’m having to do it at 80% scale because anything larger wouldn’t fit on my tiny printer.

Lifegard II 3D Model on Thingiverse

 

Random Printing:

I can’t remember why or how I came across this box on Thingiverse, but I found it interesting, so I printed it.

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Inro Top.jpg

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I also thought I could use a screw tray with all the screws I’ve been taking out of the keytar prior to painting, so I printed this one (after running it through the customizer) and used some of my extra magnets on it.  I was too frustrated with superglue at the moment (I forgot that it kinda spews when it’s first opened) so I just have painter’s tape holding it in the slots right now.

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Customizable Magnetic Screw Tray/Box (with optional lid) on Thingiverse

 

Gaming:

The Outer Worlds came out last Friday.  This game is AMAZING, and I’m already getting ideas of costume props that I would like to either find or create models for.  There are a lot of cool technological bits on the outfits in that game.

I think I may have to do a review of this at some point because I LOVE THIS GAME.  Briefly:  companion social interactions are believable and contribute to the narrative, I’m not constantly chasing weapon upgrades, and I’m not bogged down in junk collection.

PROJECT UPDATE 10/11/19: Test Assembly For Maker Faire

Soooo…. I need to check the Maker Faire website more frequently.  This past Sunday I was looking to see if there were any maker faires coming up at any point in the relatively near future.  Only one I saw… this upcoming Sunday!  It’s the Downtown Columbia Mini Maker Faire, in Columbia, Maryland.  Nothing else shows up on the map in my area right now, so it’s this or nothing for a while.

Enter panic mode.

I need to network and meet others in the hobby, so I’m definitely going.  I think it’d be better for conversations if I had something to show… but the only thing I had going on at the moment is the keytar project, and it’s not gonna be finished for a couple more weeks.  I’m waiting on my logo decal and I need a Saturday or Sunday morning to epoxy the greeblies and let it set for most of the day outside so I don’t fill my home with fumes.  Then letting it set, priming/painting, decals, and another few rounds of painting with clear layers.

Buuuut, I figured I could get it assembled (I had to quickly order some more parts) and have an early version of it on hand as a demonstration of what I do.  So that’s what I’ve been busy doing.

I went ahead and remade a couple of pieces to fix a couple of things I wasn’t happy with and add a grip to grab the keyboard more easily.  I also sanded and wiped down all the plastic parts I’m planning on painting, since I had already started the process.

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Here’s a new reference photo for the retaining nuts, by the way.

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I assembled as much as I could, waiting on the other parts to come in before dealing with the inevitable cabling issues.  I forgot how many little components needed to be added back in from the original keytar!  I had to go tracking them down from the various containers I had put them in.  I had forgotten about this thing and the button associated with it.

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Exterior

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Interior

This piece right here still needed some holes drilled and unnecessary parts trimmed off.

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The screw assortment was a LIFESAVER!  DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS SORT OF BUILD WITHOUT IT!  I kept finding out that the screws that had worked previously didn’t always work the best, or interfered with changes that had been made since their original fitting.

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I ordered a belt amp and matching audio cable to connect to the keytar to continue the whole “decker disguised as a rocker” motif.

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As some of you probably see coming, I forgot that those cables use a much larger connector.

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Facepalm

Amaz… I mean technosummoning to the rescue!  I ordered an adapter.  I checked to make sure it works by playing the Ghostbusters theme on my phone.  Works great!  Now I just have to figure out how to get comfortable with the other settings on the amp.

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I’ve designed and printed a sleeve to interface the adapter into the case through the big hole that until now served no purpose on the case.

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For now I’m using a dab of hot glue to hold it in place.  I think I can remove it later for the paint job.  First time I’m actually using this particular hot glue gun.  Anyway, a bunch of tape, command strips, and screws later, I finished getting this assembled.

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Exterior

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Interior

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IT’S ALIVE!!!

Turns out this thing is heftier than I expected.  Main thing I’m trying to figure out I’m going to carry this while walking around.  It appears that the way the strap is mounted, if I just try to rotate the sling to the back the load directions change and cause the strap to slip off the knobs.  This might have to ride slung under my arm this trip.  Maybe later I can figure out a better way to carry it.  Right now I’m just hoping it doesn’t rain, because PLA can absorb water a bit, and the case overall isn’t sealed.

Anyway, I’ve got it put together, I’ve tested it with some music on the belt amp, and I’m trying to get everything together for going to a maker faire (maker coins, additional accessories, etc).  But at least I have something more to show than just claiming I do some 3D printing.  I hope to meet people at the faire, make some contacts, and maybe get some suggestions on how to solve a couple issues.

 

In other news:

I felt I needed another thing to have on display regarding 3D printing, and since I don’t have a booth of my own it needed to also be wearable.  Well… when I was thinking about it, I was watching Extreme Ghostbusters episodes, so I decided to make a miniature of the ghost trap Kylie wears on the back of her armor.

I didn’t see one on Thingiverse, so I decided to design one from scratch on Autodesk Fusion360.  Then I had to do a bit of splicing of files for the twist lock and belt clip.  It was supposed to come off easily for handing to people to look at, but it fits a bit too snugly and I don’t really have the time to adjust the connector.

Here’s the result:

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Note, the parts for the connection are combined from other files, and they will be noted as such in the final Thingiverse entries.

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So, yeah, now I have something I can have on me to hand people to look at if they have questions or want an example.  And for any other Ghostbusters fans, I know some people are gonna disagree with the layout of the feet on the trap, but as an engineer looking at the reference picture I had, this is how they appeared to be laid out.  Three feet and a handle spread out as if there are 4 feet.

Project Update 09/30/19: Keytar Tray

This past weekend I finally drilled the holes and test fit the screws into the nuts hidden inside the backs of all the tray mount pieces.  Here’s how I have those concealed.

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Retaining nuts

The screw hole is premade into the model, and there is a corresponding slot for the nut to slide into.  The slot is shaped to prevent it from turning.  With all these bits installed, here’s the keyboard held in it’s tray for ease of access to the inside of the case.

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Keyboard in tray… finally

For reference, here’s what the backside of some of the pieces look like.  The groove at the bottom is to match the screws that punch through for the hinges.  You can also see a couple of the screw holes.  I was gonna show more… but I really don’t feel like disassembling the whole tray right now.

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A couple of these holes weren’t centered quite correctly, but conveniently I was able to gently carve out the holes in the direction I needed to shift them with my 3D printing chisels.  Well… except apparently I misaligned one of the holes within a 3D printed component with the retaining nut slot, but the piece seems on solidly enough without it.  If I care enough to later I will fix the model and replace the component.  The way I’ve designed it I can replace individual parts later.

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The back of the tray with my adjustment marks.

Turns out I was still missing some screws earlier this week, and I got fed up with getting screws piecemeal when I’m always using #6-32 machine screws.  So, through great technomancy (Amazon) I summoned this kit.  It’s got everything I could possibly need in #6-32 machine screws.

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I’m sorry Home Depot, but we’re not exclusive

I also tried yet again to fix the underpower issue with the Pi itself.  I ordered this battery, and a cable with inline switch that is specifically supposed to be for a Raspberry Pi.  For a little while it seemed to work… and then I started seeing that annoying lightning bolt again.  This battery is supposed to have smart output of 5V and up to 3.1A (depending on what is attached), but it still showed a power warning.  For reference, a Pi is supposed to use 5V and 2.5A.  It may be because I had another peripheral (a thumb drive) installed at the time.

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New Battery

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New Cable

In the middle of editing this, while taking photos, I noticed this on the back.

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D’oh!  This appears to have a 2.4A limit per port like some of the others.

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Anywaaay, I’m gonna keep tweaking this thing, and see if it has something to do with a USB drive being plugged in or a change I made in the OS a while back that was supposed to use more onboard memory on the Pi rather than on the SD card.

Wish me luck!  Or, better yet, if you have any suggestions on mobile power supplies for Raspberry Pis (that don’t involve adding a hat inside the semi-sealed case of the Pi), please let me know.

 

In other news:

Still playing through Borderlands 3 as Moze.  Kinda hard to say no to having my own mech.  I bet you can guess my main in Overwatch back when I played.

I think my filament spool had a couple discontinuities in it.  I was trying to do a long print overnight this week, and this was the result.

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No power of Greyskull.  I am le sad.

I assumed that the filament had tangled and snapped.  When I went to unsnag the spool of filament… I found this:

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A segment of filament that was disconnected on both ends.  Makes me wonder if I had a faulty spool and just hadn’t come across the break in the section yet.

 

Side lessons:

Don’t ever get attached to a character in Dungeon Crawl Classics, they will die unexpectedly.  And I’m not just talking the level 0s you would expect to die.  I think I’m gonna adopt the Goblin Slayer Abridged method in the future.

NO NAMES

PROJECT UPDATE 09/25/19: The Return of the Keytar

Okay, so it’s been a while since I had made some progress on my keytar cyberdeck build, mostly because my 3D printer had broken down and I had to send it in for replacement.  As seen in last week’s post, I have the printer back and I was testing it out with some other prints that I’d been wanting to do.

This week I’ve printed the remaining components for the tray mount, most of which had been waiting on the SD card already.  Except that bottom middle piece…. I had to shave 2.53 millimeters off of the model, re-export, re-slice, and re-print it.  Oh well, more experience in modifying parts in Fusion 360.  I’ve been learning a lot about that program while using it… including that it sucks when they run an update to change the interface at inopportune times!

To make sure the finish quality was as good as possible I printed these parts at the same settings I used for printing miniatures.  Takes longer, but it was higher density, thinner layers, etc.

Now I’ve got to figure out how I want to measure where to drill the holes, then continue the litany of things to do (order more stickers, redesign the power system, prime, sand,  sticker, clear coat, matte coat, assemble).

By the way, if anyone happens to be interested in looking at the models, I’ve posted them on thingiverse here with a really lengthy name:
https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3880609

I should note that these files would need tweaking if anybody else were to print these.  The tolerances make the connecting bits fit loosely.  They’re more like guidelines to help get the parts where they need to be, but not a solid fit.  By the time I realized it I was very much not interested in going through every connection point and adjusting.  I’ll add that to my mental lessons learned folder: design test fit parts for the connections before going into full production mode.  Just make the connection you are trying to test and a bit of material to be able to handle it for testing.