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Subject: Making tetrahedral APID cages rss

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Jonathan "Gorno" Fashena
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I have come up with a much easier Print and Play approach,
here:PnP APID and cage

I'm putting this in the DIY Forum because it's shared by two games (Attack Vector: Tactical and Saganami Island Tactical Simulator) and it has some interesting DIY ideas and techniques and because it belongs here among the crafty! Here are the instructions for making the APID balls themselves: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/294735

Caged APIDs

The following article describes a craft project using potentially dangerous items and should only be undertaken with adult supervision. Take special care with dowels to avoid eye injury. Do not injest any item of the project, including but not limited to Xacto knife, hot glue gun, printer, and/or skillet pan.

I'll describe two methods of making tetrahedral APID cages, one using fuse beads as corners and side color markers and the other using hot glue and printed index card bits (the APID Cage cut-outs.pdf file in the AVT file section (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fileinfo/30453) contains these templates: to print the .pdf correctly, be sure to uncheck the "Auto-rotate and center" option). The fuse beads require some more materials but are quicker and easier, look cooler, stand off the table, can be disassembled and fine-tuned and can be useful for other DIY projects. Getting all the colors needed might cost a few bucks so I've provided an alternative: this hot glue method is basically free (if you already have a glue gun and glue!) but using my quick technique the ball sits directly on the table and your wet-erase marks might smear on to things it rests on (you could modify the corners to elevate the ball). You could mix and match the techniques if you want: beads for corners or for color markers only -- you will need to experiment with the rod lengths to get them right.

Both methods use 1/8" thick wooden rods as the bars of the cage (the length of the rods will differ slightly with the method used, but you'll need at least 15" total length). Geometrically, the line segments of a tetrahedron enclosing a sphere are the square root of 2 (~1.414) times the diameter, which is 56.56 mm for a 40 mm ping pong ball, but rod segments have thickness, so must be shorter: for a glue-corner cage (with paper color bands) we take off ~1/2 mm, thus, 56 mm rods to cage a ping pong ball; for a bead-corner cage, we take off 3 mm, thus, 53 mm rods for a ping pong ball. A tolerance of +/- 1 mm should produce acceptable results (we need the fit to be snug so the ball doesn't rotate with casual contact or brushing against the table). The ends will be hidden, so they don't have to be prefectly flat. To neatly cut a rod from a dowel, place it on a hard, durable (or expendable) work surface and roll an Xacto blade or utility knife back and forth on top of it so as to spiral in from the entire circumference to the center. Add a fraction of a millimeter to your length measure to allow for cut-loss. Once cut, check the lengths and mark the mid-point of each rod with a pencil line to position the color marker. It's a good idea to seal the rods with a coat of polyeurethane paint after you cut them since it's inevitable that you'll get the wet-erase ink on them when you use it on the APID inside.

Color coding: I've adopted the following color scheme because it's easy to procure and remember -- Green (Go) for Front, Black for Back, Red for Right, yeLLow for Left, (sky) Blue for Top, and (Earth) Brown for Bottom. I use white beads for the corners since it's neutral, but it would hardly cause confusion to duplicate one of the code colors. If you're using the hot-glue method and have/prefer the appropriate colored markers/paints to printed color bands, knock maybe a millimeter off the length of each rod to compensate for their absence. If you don't have a color printer or adequate coloring instruments, you could snip strips of the colors from construction paper or little color squares from a magazine instead.

Fuse Bead Method

Fuse beads are a widely available (Walmart, toy and craft stores, etc.) childrens' craft item (the leading manufacturer is Perler but there are generics that are probably just as good). Base kits come with plastic boards in the shapes of animals, vehicles, etc., with pegs arranged in hexagonal and/or square arrays, onto which the multicolored beads are placed in a decorative pattern before being covered with silicon-coated ironing paper and ironed. The heat of the iron melts the tops of the beads so they fuse together into a sheet on that side. Once the sheet cools and separates from the ironing paper, it may optionally be flipped to fuse the reverse side. Fuse beads can be used to make game bits. They are especially lent to hexagonal arrays -- one could easily make tiny Catan and Heroscape boards. Combined with 1/8" dowels (or bamboo skewers), fuse beads can also be used to create a variety of odd gaming accessories. Photos of examples are shown below: miscellaneous bits,, a swiveling space miniature mount and flight stand socket, a miniature cement-block wall (not quite fully fused, so it looks weathered), an eyeglass earpiece adaptor for an ear-lamp.
I couldn't find my oversized compass made by fusing beads into a pair of right-angle adaptors that slide on a skewer (one to hold a skewer point as the center, the other, the pen tip), but here's a bolo tie draw-string closure:
and a stupid little spaceship assembled (mostly) from bits on a toothpick:


Instead of fusing with an iron and pegboard, I invert the process by taping over the arranged beads to keep them together then pressing them down on the ironing paper in a hot flat-pan/skillet on a stove-top: I feel this gives me better results, as I can see what I'm doing and better control the pressure/thickness on the small bits I'm fusing -- something made of flat-bottomed glass is an ideal presser (most drinking glasses have concave bottoms, which is no good). I press down with something flat-bottomed, like a small pot: using spacers, as we will do here, to limit the degree of compression, it's pretty skill-free.

For this project, we will merely be arranging the beads in a triangle, which we can do directly on the tape without bothering with the pegboard; also, glossy magazine paper works pretty well if you don't want to buy ironing paper (any adhesions can be rubbed off on regular printer paper), so you only really need to buy the beads. Mixed-color bead refill packs only cost a dollar (at Walmart; colors include transparent and glow-in-the-dark), but you'll probably need more than one pack to assemble the selection of colors this project uses. If you want real ironing paper, your cheapest option is probably the 1$ fuse bead mini-kits sold at Michael's (arts and crafts) Stores (found in the kids' 1$ bins) which may include some of the colors you'll need and a full 8"x8" sheet of ironing paper, which you'll probably want to segment anyway -- two of these kits include a hex shaped pegboard (8 pegs per side) which has interesting gamecrafting possibilities in itself. At most places, larger base kits start at 5$.

A corner triangle of three beads is fragile, so we expand it to six to add strength and flexibility, and to lift the ball off the table (but we still insert the rods into the inner three, as shown):


Before and after fusing
To make a cage corner, we take a piece of tape about 3" long, fold the ends over so we have non-sticky tabs to grab, and lay it sticky side-up, then arrange six white beads on the sticky middle in a closely-packed triangle three beads on a side: start with a triangle of three then add one to each side -- a tweezers will help (we'll want one handy to remove the corner from the pan when it's done). You can reuse the tape strip for all four corner assemblies.

To fuse the corners, we'll need to surround the beads with (at least) three spacers so they are adequately fused but not squashed too short to grab the rods securely: tape together stacks of three dimes each for spacers of just the right thickness (< 4 mm). We will only fuse one side of the beads, as we want them to be able to flex as well as have open sockets to accept the rods (if we were fusing the second side too, we'd want a second, shorter, set of spacers). The tape on the stacks will get melty, so place them on the ironing paper right before you place the beads, and avoid leaving them in the pan for long (you can just spill them out between each corner if you're making them one at a time). Ironing paper will brown with use: this doesn't affect its perfomance, but you might want to avoid leaving it in the pan as well. It speeds up the cooling/detachment process to lightly press the hot beads (still sticking to the ironing paper beneath) down on a cool smooth surface, like the stove top or another (unheated) pan.

You'll probably need some practice to get the fusing technique down (it's a bit iffy even then) -- it might be a good idea to use a color you don't like. Preheat the pan to 230-250 F (110-120 C). Place a ~4"x4" piece of ironing paper in the preheated pan, place the three spacers on it in a triangle large enough to surround the bead assembly, and lay the beads, tape side-up between them. Press down on the beads gently with your presser until you feel it settle on the three spacers (this should take no more than 20 seconds, depending on how hard you press), then put your presser aside, grab your tweezers, knock the spacers aside, and carefully lift the paper (beads attached) out of the pan and place on the cooling surface. We want to be prompt to keep the fusing tidy, but not flex the paper too much, as we also want the beads to cool and detach from the paper on their own: if you peel them off before they're ready, the adhesions will stretch and the fused surface will be uneven.

Once your corners and rods are complete, push unfused beads onto the center of the six rods to color-code them (you marked the center points earlier). Fuse beads fit tightly on 1/8'' dowels -- a bit too tightly to easily or precisely push a bead along one (they will slide more easily after being slid a few times).
A useful tool for pushing stubborn beads without marring them is a Bic disposable ballpoint pen with the cartridge removed: the apeture is just right to push and position beads on skewers. (Precise short slides are tough -- the trick is to position your other hand as a stop at the desired location at the end of a longer slide.) The open-ended caps on some of these Bic pens are also the right size to use as a bead pusher.

Now all you have to do is assemble the rods and corners (remember that the rods are inserted into the inner three sockets). Since it's a non-permanent assembly, mistakes are easily fixable. Assemble a starting triangle/face with the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) rods in CLOCKWISE order (and the corner triangles pointing down)
Now insert the remaining rods as uprights opposite the appropriate colors (R/Y, G/Blk, Blue/Brown). Then, without the APID ball, add the final corner (we need to flex the corners into shape to accept the rods the first time, which is much easier without the ball inside). With your thumbs and index fingers, you can press all four corners together at once to fully flex the corners and seat the rods, then, remove a corner, insert the APID ball, replace the corner and press together again to seat the rods. Check the fit of the ball: it should be snug to resist unintended turning. If it's loose, try squeezing the corners together more: if that doesn't work, one or more of the rods is too long -- disassemble them to find and trim/replace the culprit(s). If the ball is held too tightly, roll the ball around to loosen the rods a bit... if that isn't enough, one or more rods are too short: try pulling one or more corners off the rods a bit; if you can't get the fit the way you want without making the rods too loose in the corners, disassemble the cage and check the lengths -- replace the short one(s) and try again.

Hot Glue Method

The hot-glue/index card method proceeds in three steps: 1) Make the cage of rods bonded with hot glue (inserting the ball before closing the cage!), 2) Add the corner covers, 3) Add the color bands to make the ship reference directions on the rods (we do this last because it's nuisance enough putting them on in the correct arrangement after building the cage, much less while you're assembling rods with hot glue).

You will need a small non-stick surface to work on, like a silicon baking sheet or the shiny teflon? side of the backing that adhesive stickers and sheeting come on (ironing paper will do as well): once cool, hot glue will detach readily, which is not merely a convenience for drips, but useful for shaping the side of a bond.

The no-bead cage is made of wooden rods secured with hotglue at the corners. The cardstock corner covers are added to these for a more finished final appearance. To prepare a corner cover, cut it out and crease between the faces on a ruler's edge, then fold them flat for a crisp edge. Overlap the two end faces and glue into a 3-sided triangular/tetrahedral cup/pyramid (hot glue could be a problem, as it will be used to secure the cover to the corner and may heat and loosen the flaps; liquid glue will tend to soak through and warp the card stock, so use rubber cement or glue stick).

Lay out a triangle of rods with at least one corner on the no-stick sheet. Apply a small amount of hot glue (not enough to stick up far) at that corner between the ends of two rods, and hold so the ends are in contact and they bond at an approximately 60 degree angle (the third rod should span their other ends; the glue bond will be flexible, so don't agonize over the angle, and excess glue can be cut away with a blade or flattened after it cools with the nose of the glue gun, but do get their ends aligned/in contact). (If you mess up a corner, just let it cool, pull it apart, and scrape off the glue to try again.) When the glue cools completely (blowing on it will speed this up), if necessary, peel from the sheet and move another corner onto the working area, and repeat for the other corners to finish the base triangle. With the next rod handy, place a small drop of hot glue on top of/inside a corner, and place the end of the rod so that the end lines up in contact with the two ends already there; hold it upright so that its free end is approximately over the center of the triangle. Once it cools/hardens, repeat for the other corners until you have three rods sticking up at an angle to roughly converge. Insert your APID ball (the corners should allow the rods to flex and allow this). Ideally, at this point, the loose rods should be able to be brought together untwisted, with their ends aligned and just touching, and with the ball slightly loose inside the cage. Place the ball in the palm of your off hand and arrange the loose rods so they converge: hold each in place with a finger and apply a drop of glue to the end vertex -- hold until bonded in place.
The ball should be loose (the color bands will take up some space, hopefully making it a snug fit). Snip off the inevitable stray filaments of glue.

To secure the end covers, smooth down the glue at the corners (if necessary) with the hot nose of the gun so that none sticks out except at the end... place a drop of hot glue on the end corner and fit a cover over it so that it is reasonably snug and matches the angles and orientations of the rods (so it looks tidy). Then, if you wish, with the corner point-down on your work surface, add hot glue inside the cup of the corner to top it off between the rods and back up the card stock. If the cover gets messy with glue on the outside, you can simply paste another cover over it, or cut off the old cover and try again.

Adding the color marker strip/bands. Start with one face/triangle of the cage: you will want to apply the Red, Green, and Blue bands in COUNTERCLOCKWISE order (as viewed with the face facing you -- this is opposite the order I gave for the fuse bead method because we were looking from the inside-out there) . Each of the other three can then be applied opposite the appropriate one of these (R/Y, G/Blk, Blue/Brown). If you screw up the arrangement, you can simply pick them off and redo them. Pre-curl the labels around a spare piece of dowel. To attach a color band: slip one under the center of the appropriate rod (where you put your pencil mark when you cut them) between it and the ball, where friction should keep it temporarily in place. Apply a "kiss" of hot glue to the rod at the center point and press one end of the color band to it. After a moment to cool, pull the free flap and roll it over the glued end so the band is wrapped tightly and re-pre-curled, then let it loose and apply a kiss of glue to the inside of that loose end and press it to overlap the secured end with the band tight and aligned. If any glue oozed out, just score it with a blade and pick off with a tweezers. Check the color codes: if you're like me, you screwed up most of them and will need to try again to get it right.

Check the fit of the ball: it should be snug to resist unintended turning. If it's too tight, too loose, or both (in different directions), something went wrong in the measuring or the gluing: pull the stupid thing apart, check the lengths, and try again. God help you.

Gorno
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Jonathan "Gorno" Fashena
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I added this to the instructions, but wanted to add a post if anyone already copied them: it's a good idea to seal the rods with a coat of polyeurethane paint after you cut them since it's inevitable that you'll get the wet-erase ink on them when you use it on the APID.

Gorno
 
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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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I'm not sure what the hell these are used for, but the instructions are so cool I want to build one!

Ahh, now I see what these are used for from the other thread. Still, very comprehensive and well done!
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Jonathan "Gorno" Fashena
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Gorno
 
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Jonathan "Gorno" Fashena
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Here is a fancy (non-tetrahedral) cage cast in resin:

Gorno
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