Introduction: Build a Wasp-Drone Centerpiece
This is representative of my latest series of high tech found object sculptures. I will focus on the process of building a Wasp and Bee in this Step-by-Step. You may not be able to find the exact same parts, but by browsing the steps, I hope you will be inspired to try your own high tech bug. All my previous sculpture has been entirely with "hard" mechanical parts; this series was inspired by fake fruit. I really liked the texture of these little lemons and limes- as the main body parts, it gives the little guys an organic feel. So I think of these like cyborgs, semi-living, mechanically enhanced drones.
Step 1: Gather Up Some Nice Stuff:
Basic hand tools: needle nose pliers, diagonal cutters, small screw drivers & Allen keys/drivers to suit your selection of nuts & bolts, sand paper or Emory cloth, occasionally a small pick, hemostats, and a small vise are handy. Soldering iron & solder. 5-minute epoxy and super glue are my preference above a hot glue gun.
Body - My preference are these small limes and lemons.
Eyes - I use round wooden knobs from craft stores 1/2 -7/8 inch diameter, or, steel/chromed (or brass) ball bearings(from internet). I use o-ring gaskets of various sizes to mount eyes and other things (hardware stores usually have a huge selection. If you only need a few, take your parts with you to make sure you get the right size.
Protuberances (front and back)- I use studs (from Hot Topic or online), and cheap test lead tips(Radio Shack).
Other specialty pieces - Take a look through all the hardware drawers at a good hardware store, or hobby shop that caters to radio control sports, lots of neat little parts!
Landing Gear - Legs are made of brass rod and tubing stock(K&S Engineering, hardware stores). Electrical wire terminals (eye type, guages 10-12, 12-14, with various size stud holes) are used for joints and other places. Try to throw in some springs (from ball point pens, or other...) and small collars(Du-Bro) with set screws to match your brass rod sizes. Wheels - I use anything from about 1/2 to 1 inch diameter, from yard sale toys, solarbotics.com, I've even ordered some nice sets from Meccanno - Australia. I use studs as claws for bee, instead of wheels.
Wings - On the Wasps: I found some nice tough (acrylic?) sheet material inside computer keyboards to be just right. Old computer keyboards can be found for a buck or two; the clear plastic sheets inside have circuits on them - very nice! Wing mounting uses more brass rod, or square stock, and wire eyelets. This is a good place to mount some electronic component heat sinks. On the Bee, I used rubber food scraper utensil pieces.
Nuts & bolts - I like to use black socket head screws, acorn and wing nuts wherever I can., mostly in sizes of 4-40, 6-32, and somteimes 2-56 for smaller stuff, various lengths, and lots of flat and lock washers. Think of your overall design, you can get most of these in dull steel, chrome, black, or brass coloring.
More color - I use a small bottle of flat black model enamel, or gloss black nail polish, for painting the eyelets on landing gear and wing mounts. My preference for the wooden eyes is Plymouth Prowler Purple or Dark Cherry Red, in small spray can. For a Night Wasp, I use a flat black spay, or Plasti-Dip spray on flat black - very nice! I've tried a hi gloss chrome spray but not sure it really goes with the orange peel texture of the fruit bodies.
Step 2: Landing Gear
First pic shows a jig I use pretty regularly: A wood block with a few short wood screws to hold wire eyelets when I solder them. The brass rods are held with masking tape. Brass struts are typically about 3/4 to 1 1/4 inch length. Solder up some struts with eyelets on both ends, but insert springs and collars first if you want the appearance of suspension. Also, think anbout how you will attach your wheels or claws - I will epoxy wheels if they don't fit tight; I don't want the piece to roll off a desk or table.
The first set shows a simpler, smaller tricycle landing gear. The second set shows a 4-claw setup I use on Bees.
Note: Before soldering, clean the components to be soldered, you'll get a better job. And, after any soldering job, you should try to clean off the resin, since the eyelets will be painted. I use alcohol and an old tooth brush.
Step 3: Wing Assembly
The simplest way to start is with one wire eyelet. I bend it up a bit, facing forward, (picture it mounted about the middle or slightly forward of top center. Using square brass tubing (1/16" sq.), about 4-7 inches long, I bend them together at the same time to help keep them symmetrical, rotate both 90 degrees(in opposite directions), bend again... when they look good, solder them into the mounting eye. On bigger Wasps, each wing has its own eyelet, and its own mount to the body. Again, this is where I would try to integrate a nice heat sink. And, of course, wing nuts! Lay out a wing frame on your wing material, trace it, cut it out. The keyboard film does have a top and bottom, make a mirror copy of the pattern if its not symmetrical. I super glue the wing onto the frame, very carefully - I've messed up a few with sloppy glue technique! If you're doing black trim, go ahead and paint the eyelet black.
Step 4: Major Assembly
My Wasps & Bees are made with two limes or lemons. The Wasps have a bit of structure between them - see pics - made like landing gear. The Bees have a small flexible rubber joint, over a piece of 10 guage copper wire epoxied into both front & back body parts. Any body painting needs to be done before any assembly. I like to put some black stripes on the Bees.
I start by looking at the body pieces and finding a line of symmetry, and mark top and bottom center with a marker. The landing gear and wing assembly can be mounted independently or together with one "heart bolt" going all the way through. Anything that needs to connect to the body uses the same technique: drill a hole, insert some epoxy, mount the piece. Wooden eyes(knobs) have a flat side and a hole in them. Once painted and dry, I use a piece of 6-32 all-thread, about 3/4 inch long, epoxy it into the eye, set the rubber ring, let it dry. Once dry, put epoxy into the eye hole on the body, and insert the 6-32 rod. 5/8" Brass ball bearing eyes - I solder a 3/16" dia. x 1/2" long brass tube on for mounting. Steel/chrome ball bearing eyes - ...would not take solder. I found I had to rough up a spot with a dremel tool (& cutting wheel) and epoxy the tube on.
Some more elaborate accessories that I've done include adding lines, like tendons or control cables, tubes like fuel, pneumatic or hydraulic lines, grease nipple on the bottom like a.... a grease nipple. And even a 2 cylinder horizontally opposed engine mounted between the eyes and the wings. Be imaginative, add your own parts.
Step 5: Gallery
This will show you a little variety, and hopefully encourage you to try your own! If you have any specific questions on how I did something or what I used, please ask. Enjoy!