PotatOS Project Part 3

[PART 1]
[PART 2] 
[PART 2.5]

Sorry this post has taken me so long to get up, life has gotten pretty hectic with thesis and FYP in full flight now. But hopefully when I get this up I can go back to the idea of updating on Thursdays.

The last post was about molding and casting and I finished with pulling the potato from the mold, so next up is details and finishing. When the potato came out of the mold there was a slight seam on it from where the mold joined together so that was sanded down and given a nice finish with a bit of Isopon and 3M red putty. The scary part was the hole for the eye which sits wedged into the potato and is held in with what looks like staples. This, and the screws the crocodile clips cling too and the brackets for the wires, also required holes, so it was time to be brave and break out the rotary tool. There are 15 holes in total on the PotatOS body, and 8 on the eye piece. Thankfully nothing needed filling and re-drilling as I managed to get all the holes in the right spot on the first try.

Pro Tip: Measure twice and you’ll only need to cut (or drill) once.

After the holes in both pieces were drilled, it was time to prime them to get them ready for painting and while the primer was drying I sorted out some of the fiddly bits. I had made the brackets and the eye staples from various thicknesses of modeling wire. One bracket was an odd shape, and this required inserting wire into some tubing to get the desired look. You could use styrene tubing but after working in an art shop for 4 years I have acquired quiet a large amount of  tubes from the tops of brushes, so I used one of them. This odd shaped bracket and the eye staples needed to be  a darker colour, I painted them with the Warhammer paint “Tin Bitz” (the modeling wire took the paint rather nicely) and weathered them a bit with the Tamiya Weatherline Master Kit C which is used for weathered metal effects. Another little fiddly piece that needed to be made was the computer chip that sits beside the eye, a simple enough shape I made it from a little piece of mdf, and gave it foamex feet, and a foamex circle on top. A hole was made for one of the little red switches that will make PotatOS talk too. Despite it’s simple design this was possibly the most frustrating because it was the one piece I kept dropping, and one leg in perticular insisted on cracking every time it did!

A second coat of primer was needed for the main body but it was time to spray the eye white. This was done with an all purpose satin white acrylic spray paint. This gave the eye a slight sheen, which is what I image the piece was like when it was new, like most of the other white electronics in the game. The eye on PotatOS, however, is filthy and grimy so I took the dry pristine satin white eye and covered it in watered down black acrylic. This wash of acrylic was immediately wiped off leaving behind a dulled while look, with dirty smears all over it. I repeated this wash about 3 times, and touched up the groves in the eye with extra black before I was happy with it. The picture above shows a tester eye piece that has some weathering on it in comparison to the pure white eye that was used for the final piece.

Now it was time to paint the main body, I used Daler and Rowney FW inks for this as they’re the perfect consistency for my airbrush, but painting at night, in a room lit by warm artifical light, meant that the next morning I woke up and the potato was a dark mossy-muddy colour. I also realised I hadn’t glued on my roots, which needed to go on before the paint did, so I sanded everything back and super glued on my little roots which were sculpted from miliput and decided to try painting again, in proper daylight. Handily enough the hole in the potato for the eye, was the same size as a large System 3 acrylic tub, so I used that to prop up the potato as I sprayed. The colour turned out much lighter than the original which was good, and I added detail to it with darker brown where marks in the potato would be and the roots were painted greenish. I tired to keep the  texture as close to the one on the digital model so if you were looking at the two side by side, they would be very similar.

While the main body was drying, I decided to sort out the electronics behind the eye, There was space for 3 LED’s, and one of the red switches behind the eye and the hole in the centre was filled with some sanded down thick acetate which was tinted yellow so the eye would still look yellow even with the LEDs switched off. The 3 LEDs were hooked up to a 9V battery and an on-off switch that were located outside the potato body so I could switch them off to save power and change the battery easily. The wires for these were fed through the hole for the mount into the base that the potato would rest on. The same was done for the sound, which was hooked up to the two mini switches in the eye and the chip, and then fed through the mount to two larger buttons on the front of the base for when the perspex box would sit over the PotatOS.

Once the body was painted, I added in the brackets and the nails so I could shape the black wires and crocodile clips. Rather than having wire randomly contorting and pulling on the brackets I pulled the inside out of some old VGA cable and replaced it with a soft modeling wire that was the correct thickness, then bent this into the right shape. The coloured bands on these cables were added with some plastic tubing slid down the wire into place, and then painted. While the brackets and nails were held in place and glued, the crocodile  clips were attached freely. The ends would be glued to the eye, and the brackets would help keep the wires in place.

The internal support was then sorted out so the potato could be screwed into the stand from the bottom once it was fully assembled. This support was also hollow so the wires from the eye and the sound could be fed through to two switches at the front for voice, and one at the back for LEDs. With this bit figured out, the base was removed and then sprayed white and switches inserted into the holes cut for them. Meanwhile, I began fitting the sound chip, it’s battery and a speaker into the Potato, which were held in place by bits of strong hook and loop pads so they could be remove easily if the needed to be replaced or fixed. The wires from the LEDs were then fed through the hollow support along with the ones for the sound. At this point the extra switches for the sound that were part of the potato, were put in place, and then the eye inserted and secured with it’s pins. The microchip was added and one of the switches fixed into place. Yellow wires that wrap around the potato were added and fixed in place with glue before the black wires with the crocodile cable was added. Finally the black wires were added glued into place at the eye. Screwing the Potato back into the base and putting it gently on it’s side, the wires were soldered carefully to their corresponding switches and tested. Success! One light up, talking, PotatOS!

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