Latest Progress Pic:
All major components mounted--not just test fit!
Stay with me through the short novel here, the pictures start further down!
Iím back for a full build thread, on a road much less traveled: I am well into building an exact scale Halo 3 Spartan Laser that is also an airsoft gun.
This is a render of what I'm building (photo copyright Bungie Studios)
Let me say up front that I know there are plenty of purists who don't favor sci-fi guns in airsoft, but please look at this project from a technical aspect if the cosmetics aren't your cup of tea.
Anyway, I wanted to make sure I had a rock-solid plan as well as real momentum in its construction before beginning this WIP thread. This project had almost a year in planning before starting actual construction. I realize there is a new (but more primitive looking) SPLASER out for Halo Reach, but by the time Reach came along, this project was already well down the road in planning. Besides, I like the look better. Most importantly for this project, I wanted an airsoft gun that was the airsoft EQUIVALENT of the Spartan Laser in firepower. To me that meant that it had to put out a quantity of BBs far greater than an ordinary AEG rifle.
I am running a version of this thread on the 405th.com forums that will likely have more focus on the challenges of scratchbuilding a replica prop. This thread will cover that aspect as well, but focus on the airsoft aspect.
The completed SPLASER will have a full-metal lower receiver (black lower portion) and a fiberglass upper receiver (everything green) that contains THREE airsoft gear boxes, three 11.1 V Li-Poly batteries, extensive timer and relay electronics, and an automatic feed mechanism to deliver BBís to the gear boxes. Overall, this system will fire BBís at a rate of over 2100 BBs/minute! Due to the substantial level of routine adjustment and maintenance required to keep even a basic AEG reliable, I am using proven internal components from the Echo 1 E90 rifle that have not been upgraded in any way. My objective is to carefully engineer these three sets of components into the casing of a Spartan Laser such that the entire system is reliable, professional looking, and well laid out for ease of service. Bottom line: I donít want it to look home made on the outside or the inside. As you will see, that equals time (and money).
In order to figure out the internal layout of this system, I needed accurate 3D models to work out life-size internal spaces as well as organize my approach to surface detailing. A special thanks to TS Hunter for providing me with not only the basic working model, but also for generating component models of the lower receiver sides that have helped me figure out my milling plan as well as the locations of fasteners to hold it all together.
On the airsoft side, the staff at Disruptive Paintball and Airsoft in Tucson, Arizona has provided outstanding advice as well as great pricing on the Echo 1 components Iím using for this project. They also were able to supply critical parts from spare/damaged weapons that will help hold down the cost. BSS Airsoft out of Robertsdale, AL has also contributed great advice and reasonable-priced components.
Initial Construction Plan:
Following the intellectual exercise, the next phase was to construct a Spartan Laser prototype shell to verify the planned layout would really work. At the 405th.com costuming site, the most common method of prototyping armor and props is a Japanese system/freeware package that can convert any of several common 3D drawing file formats into a print file to make a 1:1 paper model. This model takes 36 pages of heavy cardstock and lots of patience. These parts are then stiffened with catalyzed fiberglass resin before further strengthening and adding of details. The folded and resined lower receiver will be used to design both the milling plan for the aluminum final version of the lower receiver as well as allow me to mock-up the internal frame that will support the outer barrel, BB barrels, airsoft gear boxes, batteries, sighting laser, and BB feed mechanism. The upper receiver in Pepakura, once resined will be used to figure out my access points, securing points, and seams for disassembly. Following this, it will be fully sealed and rondoíd (internally beefed up with a mix of Bondo and resin). This near-solid blank will be fully detailed, then used to make molds to be used in laying up the final fiberglass pieces.
The lower receiver will be constructed in one of three ways, depending on what I learn over the coming month and who Iím able to talk favors from: 1) Aluminum plates with milled-in details will be jigged and welded together for the most perfectly detailed and strongest-possible receiver followed by high-temperature powder coating 2) Carefully cut sheets of aluminum will be built-up layer by layer using JB Weld to provide the same level of detail and will be riveted and glued together to provide a strong receiver that will have to be painted due to the glue being unable to handle the heat of powder coating 3) Details will be built up using JB Weld bonded sheets of aluminum, but structural joints will be brazed with Alumiweld rod, possibly enabling me to still use low-temp powder coating. I currently lack access to a mill, but have a drill press and every imaginable way to cut sheet aluminum. My drill press cannot handle the side loads of millingóIíve tried. I also donít have access to an aluminum-capable MIG welder. If these situations change, Iíll go for the first option.
I want this SPLASER to simulate the in-game weapon as much as possibleóright down to the rumble in your XBOX 360 controller. To this end, Iíve spent months going back and forth with skilled electronics experts to design my circuitry. I now have a plan and all components that will:
Turn on the master circuit, light the side marker LEDs, and raise the top shroud via a servo when the front handgrip is extended. This should be interesting as the SPLASER is never shown in the game in its predeployment configuration. You only see this function for a millisecond when you pick it up or switch between weapons. I also plan to embed white LEDs inside the BB hopper and at the gear box feed nozzles to allow the use of glow in the dark tracer BBs.
Activate the sighting laser, start the low-frequency rumble motor, start a 4-second timer circuit and a 3-second timer circuit when the trigger is pressed.
Activate the high-frequency rumble motor at the expiration of the 3-second timer to give the operator a one second heads-up that the weapon is about to fire.
Activate three relays at the expiration of the 4-second timer to light the high-intensity red light in the outer barrel that back-lights the outgoing BBs and, finally, to allow the three 11.1V Li-poly batteries to start the three airsoft gear boxes to bring the pain!
Finally, my own cheat code: Pulling the trigger very hard will override the timers and bring an instant rain of BBs onto my opponent. After all, who really likes waiting 4 seconds for their SPLASER to fire when someone is shooting at you?
The above-mentioned rumble motors were gutted from a dead XBOX 360 controller and will help give the replica the same feedback you get from using the Spartan Laser in the game.
At this time, I plan to feed the BBs to the gear boxes by siamesing three of the manually-wound clockwork feed mechanisms from 3 siamesed M-4 high-cap airsoft magazines. These will be centrally wound by turning the big dial already conveniently built into the sides of the Spartan Laser toward the back. If this proves difficult or insufficient, Iíll need to design an electric winding mechanism.
Scale and Detail:
This is intended to be an exact 1:1 replica across the board. If I am unable to pack all three gearboxes in tight enough, the main barrel may have to be imperceptibly larger to accommodate the three internal BB barrels and the high-intensity red back light (LED 12 volt tail light bulb from auto parts store!).
Finally, what exactly is the official Spartan Laser from Halo 3? There are subtle differences between SPLASERs shown in the Bungie renders, the weapon as you see it on the ground, and in how it looks when you are shooting it in first person. Most noticeable are the warning stickers that only appear when you are shooting it. I will retain these as I want my SPLASER too look the same when Iím shooting it as it does when being fired on the screen. Less obvious are differences in the placement of panel lines and holes for fasteners. For these, I will go with whichever depicted location helps to screw the thing together best.
Well, enough of theory and plans.
Here's an early sketch of the internal layout:
This shows my plan for the arrangement of the airsoft mech boxes inside the upper receiver. The trick is getting the actual barrels close enough to fit inside the SPLASER outer barrel, yet leave enough room for the LED back light to fit between them.
My initial post (novel) was too long. Additional pics immediately follow.