Introduction: FTL Clock Design

FTL Clock Design:

For this project I intended to make a clock that was based off of the game FTL by Subset Games for my little brother. This clock was built with the intention of being an FTL themed clock and being able to time speed runs to the nearest 5 minutes. it would accomplish this by using a system in which the standard numbers allocated to time (1,2,3,4,5...etc) would be replaced with minutes (05, 10, 15, 20...etc). It will also be based off of the image located above this body of text. During this instructable I will be taking you through the process I used to make this clock.

Step 1: Chosen Design Sketch

Chosen Design Sketch

In the end I sketched out my final design and what I wanted it to be. The following is what I deemed necessary for my final design.

- It must stick true and follow the games original retro-pixelated art style. It must not use any moded or fan made artwork.

- It must have a system through which each rebel ship replaces a number that would normally allocate time.

- Underneath each rebel ship there will be a number in minutes that is equivalent to the position in which time would be allocated on a clock in minutes (05, 10, 15, 29...etc).

- Different rebel capital ship types will represent different sets of time (12, 3, 6, 9 will be the lighter, longer ships and 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11 will be the wider and larger ships).

- The Final design will have 3 different layers. 1. The background or the circular base plate from which the design is built. 2. The letters FTL will extrude from the background layer. 3. Each of the individual rebel ships that represent different points in time.

To help you get a more clear understanding of my intention I will place a link to my Design Brief and Design specifications below.

Step 2: Step 1 Laser Cutting.

Step 1 Digital Photo Reconstruction and Laser Cutting.

In order to create my chosen design I decided to use the school laser cutter. As I thought that it would provide a more clean and accurate cut then that of a saw. It also made the process more simple as I would not have to draw out my design to scale. Instead I was able to take the image I based my final design off, remove it's background and do a little digital reconstruction to any damaged parts of it's foreground; then save it as a monochrome bitmap and open it in Tech soft 2D design. Once it was in 2D design I was able to trace its outline for all of the previously mentioned layers. This then allowed me to prototype my design to see if my ideas for my final design may encounter any issues.

Step 3: Prototyping


Once the prototype design was done on 2D design all I had to do was actually laser cut it. I chose to laser cut it into plywood as I felt that this would allow me to simply find any potential flaws in my design. It did actually help me, as it provided me with one tiny bit of insight that I think made the final project that much better. In the prototype I saw that the larger more wide rebel ship (the one in the top of the 1st photo) looked much better in the positions of 12, 3, 6 and 9 then the smaller rebel ship did (bottom ship of the top photo). This modification I made does alter what I had set out in my design specification and even what I said earlier in this post, but in my opinion it made the overall aesthetics of this clock so much better.

Step 4: Returning to 2D Design.

Returning to 2D Design.

Now that I had observed my prototype and decided on some modifications to make to my design it was time to revisit Tech soft 2D design and modify my laser cutting files.

- The first step I took involved me measuring all of the dimensions of the actual clocks shape. Then using these dimensions to mark where I will put the ships that will represent time. Then I used these measurements to place the actual numbers that signify time in minutes.

- I then created a separate set of parts to laser cut. This included the number of rebel ships required (4 large ones, 2 small ones).

- Once that was all done I set to work on tracing out custom clock handles of my little brothers 2 favourite in-game playable ships. These two ships also add to the aesthetics of the design as they are from the opposing faction, that is at war with the rebels in game.

Step 5: Laser Cutting and Varnish.

Laser Cutting and Varnish.

Now that all of the work on tech soft 2D design is done you simply have to laser cut your files into MDF (Medium-Density Fibreboard) wood as this will help you achieve a nice and glossy look when combined with clear varnish and acrylic paint. In order to accomplish this all you have to do is:

- Remove all of the different components of your clock from the MDF.

- Do not glue them together. Instead keep them separate.

- Apply 3 layers of Clear Acrylic Varnish to each MDF component of the clock.

- Then clean your brush off as you will be using it for the next step.

Step 6: Painting.


When it comes to painting your clock you will only be using 3 colours Orange, black and white. I also recommend that you utilise both a thick larger brush and a thinner more accurate one. The method I painted the various components of my clock in is as follows:

- First I recommend that you paint the actual FTL logo letters, that will form the 2nd layer. You will do this using the thick brush and by painting them white 3 times. In order to create 3 layers that will project a powerful white colour.

- I then recommend that you take the smaller brush and use white paint to follow the laser cut outlines of where the numbers will be on the final clock. As these numbers where engraved on layer 1 or the background you will have to be very precise with the way you paint them; as you don't want to lose the outline and you may have to go over them again once you have painted the background.

- For the third step I recommend that you use a combination of the thick and thin brush. Use the thick brush to paint any open areas on the first layer of the clock. Once that is done you will want to use the thin brush to paint around your numbers and the outline of where to place layer 2. Once this is done I recommend that you go over it all 3 times, so that you have 3 layers of black paint that can project a deep and dark colour.

- In the 4th step I recommend you use the small thin brush to go over your numbers at least 2 more times in white. Then I recommend that you use it to go over any smaller imperfections on layer 1 or 2.

- Now in the 5th steps we will be painting the clock handles. Originally I planned to do all of the smaller spaceships in detail, to stick true to the games original art style. However I realised that this just wasn't a viable option after I spent a double period trying to finish my clock handles. So the decision was made to stray from my final chosen design sketch and sacrifice quality in order to actually finish the clock by the deadline. So to actually paint the clock handles I used the thick brush with white paint. I then coated them in 3 layers of paint. After they had dried I went over any impurities on them using the thin brush and white paint.

- In step 6 you will be painting the various rebel ships that our positioned around the outside of the clock. I painted them using the thick brush and orange paint. I then went over them 3 times in order to assure a bright and vibrant coating was created over them. Once they had dried I then used the thin brush to go over any imperfections with orange paint.

Step 7: Gluing.


Now that you have finished the extremely important task of painting the various components of the clock it is time to actually carry out the process that will instil the clock with it's essence and it's value: Gluing .This is actually fairly simple to understand and carry out.

- Step one is to use the small red scraper to apply glue evenly the layer 2 FTL logo and then stick it down into it's designated position; which should be apparent due to the fact it has been engraved on layer 1.

- Step 2 is a little more complicated as it involves you sticking each of the ships in a certain position. Essentially you use the red scraper to spread glue out evenly on the bottom of each ship. However before you glue any of them in place you need to know where to place them.

- The thicker larger ships will be placed at 60, 15, 30 and 45 min. the thicker ships will be placed above 60 and below 30. They will be placed to the sides of 15 and 30 and will always be facing to their right.

-The thinner smaller ships are a little bit more complicated. The thinner smaller ships positioned at 05, 10, 50 and 55 min will all be placed above their respective numbers. While the ships positioned at 20, 25, 35 and 40 min will be placed below their respective numbers. All of these ships will always be facing to the right.

- Once you know all this you may glue them into their respective spots.

Step 8: Finishing Touches and the Clock Mechanism.

Finishing Touches and the Clock Mechanism.

Now that you have glued everything in place it's time to go over any imperfections on your clock with paint.

- I would start by using the thin brush to go over anything that looks wrong or out of place on any of the components on any of the clocks layers.

- I also used masking tape and placed it on the top of my layer 2 letters. I then went around their edges and painted them black to add a more professional and finished look to my clock.

- Now we move onto the very action that adds use value to your clock. The mounting of the clock mechanism. The method by which you mount your clock mechanism my vary to mine, however I did it by inserting the the shaft which the handles will attach to through the hole in the middle of my clock. In between the mechanism and the back of the clock there is a bit of rubber to protect layer one from the plastic mechanism. Once the clock mechanism was in place I utilized a metal nut to hold it in place, around the hole in the center of the clock.

- To mount my custom handles I simply glued them on to the handles that where included with the clock mechanism. I found that this looks both professional and it works well.

Step 9: Finished Clock.

Finished Clock.

If you have followed all of the steps that I have outlined in this instructables post then you should end up with a clock like the one above. Who knows yours may even look better ! Anyways all that is left to do is put some batteries into your clock mechanism. Then your done and you have an awesome FTL themed clock.