Perspectives of a Writer and Musician

Issues related to writing, publishing and playing jazz music: One man's muse.
by Al Stevens

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Location: Florida, United States

Friday, July 31, 2009

2-axis Eye Movement, Part 2

Before finishing the eye assembly I painted the eyelids. Once the eyeball is installed it cannot come out from between the lids, and painting the lids could result in some unwanted paint slopping onto the eyeballs themselves.

Here are the two lids painted and ready for an eyeball.

Observe that one vertical support is not on the platform. That will be glued in place when the assembly is complete.

Following are two views of the eyeball resting in the lower lid. You can see how it will move in all directions.

This view reveals the details of the iris as handcrafted by Tech-Optics.

The backs of both eyelids must be trimmed to allow the control post to move in a circle wide enought to allow the eye to move to its extremes on both axes but not so wide that the eyeball will fall out. It's a process of trial and error. Making small cuts at a time I was able to trim the eyelids without overdoing it.

The following four pictures show the eyeball and eyelid in various positions.

Before the assembly is ready to install in the head, there are several things to do. I must bend back the long horizontal brass rod that protrudes from the vertical support. Then I will trim it and bend its end into a small loop for the control linkage and return spring. Also the dowel that protrudes from the back of the eyeball must be shortened and drilled to accommodate the synchro bar component of the linkage.

Oh yeah. One more thing. I have to do all this a second time for the other eye.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

2-axis Eye Movement, Part 1

This project began on two fronts. When I repaired Chuck Norwood for Bill DeMar, I was fascinated by Ray Guyll's ingenious design for eyes that move on two axes, side to side and up and down.

The following article discusses my thoughts about building such mechanisms.

When he saw what he had done...

The second front is my own main figure, Dexter Dorsey, built by Tim Selberg in 1987.

Dexter has moving eyes, but they move only from side to side. He also has no blinkers. I decided to try to install 2-axis eyes similar to those of Chuck Norwood but with shell rather than leather blinkers.

First I needed some eyes. Dexter has large beautiful blue eyes, larger then usual irises with realistic detail. I contacted Tech-Optics, the folks who made Dexter's eyes. Here's a link.

Jim at Tech-Optics made matching eyes for me. Here is one of them.

Notice no vertical hole for an axle. That's how I wanted it. I decided that using two axles would be too complex. I wanted something simpler. It seemed to me that if a figure had upper and lower eyelids, the eye could rotate freely inside them. I drew this sketch.

Next, I needed upper and lower eyelids. The upper lid will raise and lower. The lower lid will be out of sight, serving as a concave tray in which the eyeball turns in all directions.

I know how to make upper shell eyelids. I explained that process several years ago in this page:

Making a lower eyelid is the same process. Just put the second lid on the bottom. Here are two lids I made held in place with some painter's tape to ensure that they fit and that the eye will indeed rotate on all axes.

The lower lid is permanently mounted on a wooden tray shown here.

And here is the eyeball in place in the lower lid with the upper lid resting on it.

To complete the assembly, I built an eyelid frame for the eyelid linkage to raise and lower the upper eyelid. The frame is made of 1/16" brass rod. I used a jig that I made specifically for this purpose.

Here's the frame ready to install in the assembly.

I used a wooden sphere to guide and shape the eyelid frame into place. This was to avoid getting too rough with the real eyeballs. Also, the sphere has a hole drilled to allow precise fitting of the frame into two upright braces in which the frame mounts. Here's how I did that.

Here's the frame mounted without the eyelid.

And here's the eyelid glued to the frame.

We're getting close. At least on one eyeball. The next installment takes us to the next level. Check back later for more details.

Protected Internet Photos

Would you like to know how to add pictures from websites to your picture collection? Usually it's easy. Right-click the picture, choose "Save picture as..." and save the picture to your Documents/Pictures folder or wherever you want it.

But some websites won't let you do that. They employ netfoolery to disable the right-click function so you can't grab their stuff. Their proprietors think that works, and they even pay online services to provide the protection.

My websites used to have such protection measures built in. I implemented them myself because I can. Then I realized that no matter what I did, some smartass like me could get around it. So, I removed the thinly veiled protection.

What it comes down to, is if you can display it in pixels on my screen it's mine if I want it. Kind of like stealing satellite signals. If you bombard my house with electrons, and I am smart enough to decipher their meanings, I can and might.

So, here's how to circumvent picture protection on a PC, fellow libertarians.
  1. Open the webpage that has the picture you want.
  2. Make sure you have the highest resolution copy of the picture fully in view on your screen.
  3. In the upper right corner of your keyboard, find the key that says, "Print Scr/Sys Rq" or something similar.
  4. Hold down the Shift key and press that key. You have just copied an image of the entire screen into your computer's clipboard.
  5. Close the webpage.
  6. Open Start/Accessories/Paint
  7. Choose Edit/Paste. The Paint accessory now has an image of the webpage's screen.
  8. Use Paint's rectangle tool to define a rectangle around the picture part of the screen image.
  9. Choose Edit/Copy
  10. Choose File/New. You can discard the previous file, the one with the entire screen in it.
  11. Choose Edit/Paste

There it is, the picture you aren't supposed to have as a Paint document. Now save it into your Documents/Pictures folder.

My good deed for the day.

El cheapo styrene

Some of you know of my procedure for making blinker shells from sheet styrene by
using a vacuum table:

I buy styrene in small sheets from a hobby store about 30 miles south. It's a
popular material that model railroaders use to make scenery, buildings, etc.

A few weeks ago I went to buy more, and the hobby shop had closed. Another mom and pop store bites the dust. Rats. I'll have to buy styrene online. That's cheaper (no
60-mile round trip), but I have to wait. Usually I don't realize I need styrene
until I need it.

Back home I went out to get the mail. I walked past the recycle container in the
driveway. An empty cat litter container was in there to be recycled. Hmm. I took
it into the workshop and measured its thickness with a micrometer. Very close to
the .060 size I use for styrene blinkers. I cut a square out of the side of the
container and stapled it to the frame just as I did with styrene. I cooked it
and vacuum-formed it and guess what. It works.

I can make blinkers now for virtually zero cost. (We have a lot of cats.)

Other plastic product containers might work, too. I'll have to experiment some.