Right now, all three boys (5, 7, and 9) are very into Beyblades (think tops on steroids). The Beyblades can battle each other. Some are designed to Attack, some Balance, others Defense, Destabiliser, and Stamina. The problem is, there is not real good place to battle. The floor does not lend itself to the Beyblades colliding. So for Christmas, I wanted to get them a cool stadium or arena but could not find anything. Alas, I set out to build one. It got a tad more involved than i originally thought, so I’m logging some notes in case anyone else wants a map. Here’s how things went.
Here’s the first mockup, a Visio drawing. Note, it’s a hexagon, six sides, not eight.
I had a couple eight-foot 1x10s, so I used those, cutting 30-degree angles on both sides of pieces. 22" allowed for the bottom to be cut from a 4×8 sheet of MDF (vertex to vertex should be about 45" outside-to-outside). Here’s a pic of the cut boards:
Used tie-down straps to glue them together. Whatever the corner-to-corner measurement is, make sure it’s the same for each set of corners:
To reinforce the joints, and since I could not find 120-degree brackets, I bent some 90s:
The screw-hole tapers would not allow the brackets to go on the outside. So i put them on the inside near what would become the bottom. I went back and forth on what material to use for the inner portion and landed on 1/2" MDF. You can outline the perimiter on a full sheet:
I found a sled on Amazon that seemed like it might work for the bowl portion. It was about 25" in diameter. So I cut a piece of trim and drilled two holes about 12.5" apart. One hole was nailed to the center of the hexagon (connect the corners with lines; they will intersect in the center).
I used a pen in the other hole to draw the circle:
This next part was tricky. At first, I thought i could cut the hole with angled sides so that slide would set into the hole. But the slide was not perfectly level. So after three attempts, I cut the hole a little shorter than the diameter of the slide and decided to under-mount it (like an under-mount sink). The edge is still beveled so that the Beyblades will fall in nicely:
After racking my brain for a way to mount the slide in such a way that it could withstand the inevitable abuse, I thought that maybe a cargo net might work. It wouldn’t.
But what would end up work would be relying on glued pieces of plywood with shims (more on that later, but you can see the beginning):
I began to get excited at this point b/c I thought this might actually be doable. It took some time to come up with a color scheme of red, yellow, orange, and black. I decided to separate the orange from the red using a segment of black. Thus the hexagon would need to be two colors, which required outlining where the paint would go:
I should pause here and thank my buddy Gary Venable for letting me use his track saw. It made cutting the hexagons ridiculously easy. Next cam supports to hold the floor up. I just glued and tacked some 1×2 segments. Something quite fortuitous ended up happening: the height that i picked was just right so that the bottom of the slide would be supported by the base (if a 1/2" piece of plywood was added). This was great b/c I’m sure at some point, someone is going to try to stand on the slide, and there is no epoxy that Lowe’s sells that would support that.
Things started coming together. Here is everything with a first coat of primer:
Here is that small piece of 1/2" plywood being glued to the top of the base so that it will support the bottom of the slide.
It was easier to get crisp corners by taping off the inside edges, though this meant painting orange over black, which was not easy. But four coats later, looking good:
Quite impressed after the tape was removed! Definitely use some sort of tape that has an edge-lock technology.
I decided to go all red for the interior, which, again, took about four coats to darken up. Here’s my first glance at what the end game might look like:
I wanted big Beyblade stickers, but could only find some small ones. So i went to an auto-parts store to look for some decals. At this point, I was ahead of schedule. Christmas was still about three weeks away. And while I was looking for decals, I saw this little strobe-light kit.
So I thought back to my physics days and remembered the stroboscope experiments (yes, I know). Anyway, if a light blinked at just the right rate, an wavy string or spinning object would appear to be still. I wondered if I could use this so that they Beyblades would appear to be still. The kit was designed to run off a car battery, which is 12V, so I figured I could string together eight AA batteries. Long live Amazon Prime:
Well that didn’t work so well. After a couple Facebook posts to my former physics teacher (Dr. Ken Kramme for all my OPHS buddies), I figured I’d need a real stroboscobe. The LED stobes were very bright and kind of annoying. On my way out of the store, I had also seen a sting of red LEDs. They looked great, but were about $30. Plus, the perimeter of the hexagon was about 11 feet. But while I was looking for various alternatives on Amazon, I happened up a 16-foot reel of raw LEDs for only $14!!!! Greg (we are on a first-named basis with our UPS delivery driver, who turns out to be a high-school friend) had them on my front step in a day and a half. Hooked them up the batteries and bam, worked!
But why settle for always-on LEDs if you could have ones that blink. The strobes from the strobe kit could be disconnected.
But I don’t want them to always blink, and the kit only allowed for blinking. So I bought a DPDT (double pole, double throw) switch so that they could either be a) controlled by the controller or b) just turned on via the batteries. I started with this switch:
Devestation! When trying to hid the arena from my boys, it rolled off a bench, landed one corner squarely on a stool, and crack!!!! It must have been the sweet spot of the structure (which did not have the center in it) b/c pretty much every single corner split. But for those little brackets, I would have had six painted pieces of wood on the ground. Spilled milk. Time to re-glue:
Turning to attaching the sled, I affixed many more pieces of plywood, mixed up some epoxy, and used shims and friction to hold the slide in place. The cargo net isn’t really doing anything:
This thing was getting a might heavy. I added some handles:
The original switch had a flaw: no center-off position. Turns out that whenever power was cycled back to the controller, even if it was left in the "off" position, it would turn on. So whenever I turned the lights from the batter back to the controller, they would start blinking. I’d have to manually turn off the lights using the controller. This was unacceptable. So i found a new switch with a center-off position. But my sides were 1/2" thick: much too think for the switch to protrude through. I used a 1" Forstner bit to remove some wood, thin a small portion of it, and ultimately wired things up. Here is the back of the switch: center = battery, one side goes to the controller, and the other side goes to the lights (by way of the same connection from the controller).
Attached the base:
I glued and screwed the controller to the outside of one side. The best idea i could come up with for the batteries (and maintaining access to them) was to just screw a little holder to the side and use some Velcro fastener in the bottom to hold the battery holder.
Before I attached the lights, i had put on the decals, a few of the Beyblade stickers I had bought, and then painted the interior with about 7 coats of shellac, which prevented the decals from lifting. I also coated the floor.
Here’s the decals up close:
The above pic shows some Bondo filler that I used to fill the holes from the sled handles. And with that, voila:
And here it is with lights on in a dark room.
The boys will be getting it tomorrow: 12/24/12.
And here they are playing with it: