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Scale Modeling Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #042-- "Birds of a Feather"
June 15, 2010
June 15, 2010

Create Your Own N-Scale Critters

I wanted to add a couple of water-fowl (Mallard ducks) to the surface of a millpond I am modeling for my N-Scale layout and the scenery around Weimer’s Mill. I am planning a “V”-shaped wave being created by the duck swimming across the pond. Easy to dream, but try to make it a reality.

If you are looking for a beasty the size of a human head that is not attached to a six-foot critter, painted or unpainted, good luck. Preiser makes some good looking birds in HO, but that’s twice the size I am looking for.

A female friend of mine who is into bead making suggested I create my own using Polymer Clay, more commonly known as Sculpy.

Mallard alongside a dime

Roll Your Own
When you get down to a duck that is less than an 1/8th inch in length, you won’t have much use for sculpting tools. Think small!

Start with a pinch of Polymer clay and cut that in half. Next, roll it between your thumb and forefinger into a tube-shape. Place it on a flat surface and continue the rolling process. You want it to be about a quarter-inch in length and the thickness somewhere between the diameter of a piece of spaghetti and its diameter after it has been cooked.. You won’t need the sauce.

Sharpen one end into a duck’s beak. Fold the other end over about half its length for the duck’s body. Flatten it slightly and bend the tail-end upwards slightly.

Now you want to curve the beak end into sort of an “S” shape to resemble duck-shaped neck.

Cook Your Own Duck

Hopefully, you’ve rolled out more than one of these min-drakes along with a swan or two and maybe a few pigeons. The point is, you want to harden more than a single duck when you crank up the kitchen oven (best when your wife’s not home).

I take a normal cookie sheet, cover a small area with aluminum foil. I use a medicine bottle cap as a container. I cook them in the oven at 100-degrees for about 20 minutes, or until hardened and then let them cool.

Keep the temperature under 150-degrees to prevent melting the cap which can make a real mess out of your roasted duck.

A splash of color
A drake mallard can add a spot of color to an otherwise mundane looking pond surface, specially if it is poised in a v-shaped wake. It is easy to make one on the surface of a Magic Water pond by draping a piece of white thread in a wide “V” back from the front of the duck and picking at the surface along the wake.

Before settling your duck into position, spot glue him to the end of a toothpick anchored in clamp or clip to keep it steady. Refer to a Google image of your bird for the appropriate colors.

A male mallard (drake) has a head and neck that are green with a white collar. Its front is a rusty brown and a back that is grayish brown and purple. The tail is blue and it curls upwards.

To simulate this, I opt for a brownish-grey (mushroom) coat over the entire duck and let this dry. Next color the head and about half of the neck British Racing Green. Once dried, tip the bill in yellow and with your finest brush, paint the white collar. In N Scale you wouldn’t see much more color detail than this.

Your Duck Can't Fly But...

I could easily turn into a white blob by confining my modeling adventures to the interior of this 10X13-foot room even though I am somewhat disabled and use a mobility scooter to get around.

I have always had a hankering for models that move so I checked in with my LHS for some ideas. I wanted to try flying radio controlled, but hopefully without breaking the bank. The hobby guy pounced on me like a fish out of water. I'd always known he was into RC helicopters and he couldn't wait to get me started.

He explained it to me as a real fun way to take modeling outdoors. I had asked him which was easier to learn, flying planes or helicopters and which demanded more of an investment. He didn't bat an eye and quickly recommended helicopters, specifically the E-FLITE Blade mCX.

The Blade mCX is a pint-sized version of the RC helicopter which is a Ready-to-Fly model. It omes 100% factory-assembled, flight-tested and ready to fly right out of the box—no assembly or setup required.

Included in the box is the Li-Po battery and convenient AA battery-powered DC Li-Po charger, 4-channel transmitter equipped with Spektrum 2.4GHz DSM2 technology, and 8 AA batteries (4 for the transmitter, 4 for the charger). The DSM2 technology offers freedom from frequency restrictions and allows the Blade mCX to be flown anywhere, anytime indoors with precise 4-channel control.

It is supposed to offer first-time pilots the ability to learn to fly with ease, primarily indoors but I have already ventured outside on a windless day. That's right, I bought it on the spot. Impulsive without an iota or research.

I got the "Blade" home, acting like a little kid, it is a good thing the box contained everything needed. Uncharacteristically,I did take time to read the manual (always a good idea if you are going to fly for the first time). My experience has been a lot like most first-time buyer/flyers of the Blade mCX:

I am looking forward to my fourth flight of this little jewel at an indoor flying club tonight

Making Video Games Realistic

One of the neatest geek games to come out of CES this year was a remotely-controlled helicopter controlled over WiFi from an iPhone using a camera in its snout to transmit its aerial view to the phone’s screen.

The copter is computer-stabilized, so it is much more easily controlled r than the standard $40 toy RC helicopter you may be familiar with. But it should be: it'll cost in the neighborhood of $500, when it ships this year. You'll get about 15 minutes of battery-powered fun on a one-hour charge.

If you stop and think about the possibilities, the A.R. Drone from Parrot in France can transform video gaming from the couch to the outdoors, from make believe to reality. Without the buttons, toggles and thumb pads of a controller.

You simply tilt your iPhone to control the copter and touch controls send it up or down.. Simple enough for a child and a lot more active form of gaming.

Possible games range from the single player demo robot type where you fly the plane in front of virtual enemies to multiple pilot pylon racing. There are endless possibilities as long as you keep the aircraft within 150 feet of the iPhone. Otherwise it fails to advance and simply hovers until you get within range or close enough to land it safely.

AAADD: Get To Know The Symptoms

I spotted this online the other day and really felt it needs to be shared wwherever possible:

Thank goodness there is a name for this disorder, I feel a whole lot better even though if often plagues me.

Recently, I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. This is how it manifests:
I was getting ready to water down some glue for a paper model I was working on when I realized I needed to water my garden today. :
As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing. :
As I start toward the garage, I notice mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mail box earlier. :
I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car. :
I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full. :
So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first. :
But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first. :
I take my check book off the table, and see that there is only one check left. :
My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of Coke I'd been drinking. :
I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over. :
The Coke is getting warm, and I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold. :
As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--they need water. :
I put the Coke on the counter and discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning. :
I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers. :
I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen> I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I'll be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.
I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.
So, I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.
Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day:
My model is still not together
the bills aren't paid
there is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter the flowers don't have enough water,
there is still only 1 check in my check book,
I can't find the remote,
I can't find my glasses,
and I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day, and I'm really tired.
I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail....
Do me a favor. Forward this message to everyone you know, because I don't remember who in the world I've sent it to. Don't laugh -- if this isn't you yet, your day is coming!!

Enjoy Your Scale Modeling Research

I stumbled across this idea last week when I discovered a fascinating means of finding previously unpublished research photos on almost any subject.

We just started a new Netflix subscription and I found they have an Instant Viewing program that allows me to stream movies to my computer where I can easily watch it without having to store the film on my hard drive.

I was watching “Damn The Defiant”, a 1962 British film which tells the story of a mutiny aboard the fictitious H.M.S. Defiant. The details of shipboard life in the late 18th century.

belayed bow-shot mainmast

I realized if I was building a model of the Defiant, this would be a treasure trove for duplicating this detail.

I use a program called "SnagIt" which allows me to capture screen shots of my choosing including as much detail and the size I need.

It works great with a film

Just hit pause where you'd like to capture a scene, click on SnagIt and wrap a box around the area you want pictured, snag it and save to your file.

You can get any details you want, not just what someone else think's you would like.

Your Help and Ideas Needed
To Expand SMH Idea Base

Making daily decisions involving for the past 35 months has led to the creation of over 375 pages of articles on the various facets of scale modeling, this monthly e-zine and a host of modeling questions answered.

As we get ready to embark on our third year, I am hoping to open the site up to input from other scale modelers. You may have noticed the Navigation Bar has been sub-divided into the major hobbies covered.

Each of these sections now has one or two pages that invite participation with questions, tips and pictures regarding your various modeling endeavors.

We want to hear from you as do the other 25,000 modelers who log onto this site monthly.

As I get ready to roll into my 71st year, I can’t believe how much I have learned about hobby activities In the past two years. I have heard from other modelers with similar experiences.

To help me develop and maintain my website your comments on its content are essential. You can send me your comments by visiting the “Voice Your Opinion” feature at the top of the Navigation stack in the left column on each page.

It was never my intention to make this website a one way street as my knowledge is no where deep enough for me to be termed an “Authority”. I hunger for your feedback, comments, ideas, tutorials, plans, pictures and even your negative comments if considered constructive.

The Internet and that includes work best when they are interactive and that is collaboration only you can provide. It has been a pleasure serving as your guide for these past two years and by no means am I throwing in the towel, for I honestly believe the building and maintaining of this website are instrumental in keeping my mind active.

I want to open up this site in the fast lane. That is your part of the two-way street.

Its In Your Best Interest

If you have been giving some thought to launching your own home business in 2010, it is worth your time to take a look at what I found:

Steps To Success

Until Next Month

Make It Your Best Effort!

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