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E-11 model "x" - A BlasTech Case Study


I wanted to make a E-11 for a long time, my customer Pablo and his scratch built did put the scale UP.

I considered screen accurate for a while, but I decided later to go for a custom E-11 since I wanted to add a screen to the blaster, hence non canon (I hope I'm not hurting any feelings).

Rather than scratch built (very tempted to follow that path though), I chose real sterling parts.

Here is the build log with many pics, I though that might interest some of you.

SHORT CUT : here's the video :-)

E-11 model X Custom Blaster - 3 videos

The sterling came in chopped pieces which is the short "cut" () to disable it. Sure, it won't *ever* work again this way...

The first part of the exercise is to extract all the bits and parts then clean/Shave them and re install them on the main body that will be scratch built. The rest I hope to have as many vintage parts as possible on that blaster. The scope is missing but it is on my way as I'm typing this.

cutting the read sight and the removable butt cap

Building the main body. The PVC BBC templates are for a 42mm OD tube matching some plumbing supplies. The real sterling is made out of a 1"1/2 OD tube. I managed to find the right diameter and correct wall too, on, tubes being sold as coolant pipes. Made of sturdy 6063 T6 aluminium from what I remember.

The downsizing of the templates are an exact 10%. I shrunk only the width to match the perimeter, holes are oval but since I know what the size is supposed to be (7/16" and a few of 1/2"), so I just needed the alignment and spacing, aside the front stock lock groove that was measured on the original part and cut accordingly.

I'm so happy I have those stepped drill bits. (In inches )

Many centers and drills later...

Cutting the long groove

Done. Jump for joy. Cool yourself down. And wash your dirty hands you dirty boy.

Some sanding to clean the outside. I used a file to clean the sharp metal edges inside, then cleaned the wall of each hole with a sharp knife, then finally put some sand paper on a piece of blade to get a nice finish inside.
Then, some threaded rod and a piece of aluminium matching the ID, with sand paper taped on it => drilling machine => clean shave of the inside of the tube.

I was impressed to see that the bolt is perfectly fitting in that tube !

Shaving various parts. Tedious. Don't know what God modeled after him but he had some smart enlightenment when he got B&D inventing the electric file. Let there be steel powder. This is the front flash deflector

Measuring the eject port. Since my templates were shrunk of 10%, I rubbed some grunge on a piece of paper to "measure" the original one. Yes, I also used a digital caliper too

Extracting the stock mount. Fortunately the pins are coming out easily. Easier than removing those **** on a MR saber

Shaving time again. Sorry no Gilette cream. Sorry about the heat. But admit it you look much nicer now.

fitting like husband and wife (which is never perfect as you know)

Rear sight. I'm cheating on that one, I'll leave a superficial layer of the original body tube to have a large flat surface for the JB weld to stick on (+ a headless screw or 2, or simply JBweld rivets). No one will notice a 2/10th mm difference in the part height.

The handle and trigger group holder. Same as above. Some is cut out but I leave some surface for the attachment. No point of having that section fragile.

Cleaning the muzzle. I got a HARD time extracting it. Then I machined it. Fits the barrel like a charm (supposed to).

What I have to re install

The butt will be coupled to the main body by just machining both parts (reducing a little bit the body OD on a 1" sleeve, and increasing a bit the ID of the rear ring, then JBweld)invisible. Electronics will remain accessible from the rear.

I've identified how I'll handle the blast and the semi/full auto mode, using the the REAL SELECTOR and trigger. Very easy. More detail on that later. I also have some glams idea.

the kit I got was chopped this way

Even getting alu tubes in the UK shipped to me wasn't that easy, since it's heavy and not all vendors will accept to ship across the channel Also, with the humble machining tools I have, alu remained the easiest solution.

here's some more of the build log. I wanted to have the blaster Powder Coated cause I like props you can hang around with, without the fear of paint chipping and so forth.

2 stressful days cause I was SO afraid to miss the PC job. I first went to buy some oxalic acid (you guys call that Naval Jelly, rust dissolver) to prep things nicely. I also baked the folding stock and the main body since I noticed it helped neutralizing the rest of paints, oil and so forth.
Baking also gave the final kick to the steel epoxy on the main body, which stabilized and didn't melt at all.

Then I cleaned with water, then with biodegradable degreaser, and wiped properly, then compressed air to blow away any trace of moisture.

I resisted to the envy to re coat the folding stock (an area isn't thick enough) but I didn't. Too risky.

First, I remembered about the faraday effect during the PC job, and I was worried about not having the inside of the barrel dark enough. So I protected the beast and PCed the inside with a light mist of flat black (then I hadn't made more experiments with the satin black I had and I didn't want to ruin anything).

then after experimenting the right flow out time and temp on a scrap part,
I played again with the satin black on the trigger and its guard. I learned there how to (almost) fully disassemble a trigger group, which helped for cleaning it from all the grease.

PCing the folding stock. First stress of the day

final results once I've baked all the parts (the oven heated the whole afternoon, I couldn't stop). I also made my scope rail.

Still a light texture but that's exactly what I wanted

You can see the difference in the texture of the butt cap. It's not just due to the primer coat of flat black, the surface of the metal was different.

Stock locks (and 2 smoking barrels )

the shorten magazine

with a nice decorative inserts (SO-dim 1GB... well that's only 512 MB now - They didn't want it back at work after I upgraded on my previous machine)

Getting close. Received my uber accurate T-tracks from Gino yesterday. Strong ABS extruded plastic with the right gaussian profile.

Grinding the bolt. Why ? because it's hiding something (see below). Taking a picture while actually grinding isn't easy when you have only 2 hands and no tripod and when you're tired to make efforts... (I know, use the Force to levitate the camera)

wiring the satellite board on the barrel. After checking between having it right next to the Blaster Core board or here, it was easier like that, less wires and an easy power supply split for the barrel end flash RGB led. The latter has its power xtender and resistors all local, and protected with heatshrink. Once glued, the LEDs were covered with some masking liquid (latex from what I smell... brand is Maskol by Humbrol), then I painted the whole barrel with some regular satin paint. It's weird to work again with spray paint once you've done some powder coating. Takes ages to dry (impatient me), chips and marks easily buy since it's going INSIDE the body of the E11 so I don't mind.

A big part. A crystal chamber. I wanted to have (among other things) some glams for that projects. Also, the bolt is visually such a nice piece of mechanics that I refused to do a static thing with it, with a piece of chrome tape. So you can still cock the bolt and it moves back to reveal some (simple) internals. I mounted an aqua aura crystal on a small ring/mount JBwelded to the bolt and it goes straight in the barrel.
The internals were assembled on a thin copper plate (polished a bit), the thin comb of brass/gold is an old SD card reader that came with my previous laptop, as well as the control card (sanded, and glued). You can also spot 2 anakin brass pins, a weirdly shaped coil from a hard drive and a few other bits I had in my drawers.

Once everything was installed, I placed a small headless screw behind the handle to stop the bolt from going back too far (and smashing the wires going in the handle, to the trigger group). It's not moving back a lot, but it's enough to reveal the internals. No led there and no reason you'll have any, getting the bolt back disables the weapon. Initially, I was supposed to use the bolt as a range selector / unjamming operation but I didn't have the right spot to place the sensor/switch and I consider the bolt and wires just behind it too fragile for using that on a standard base.

Installing the electronics in the back. It's one of the most difficult wiring job I ever had to do (my yoda saber retrofit was easy in comparison). Not only there are a LOT of wires but they have to extend to allow servicing the board if need and they have to fold properly when the chassis (PVC) is inserted in the body of the sterling. Add then that you have the functional spring and the bolt that still have to move freely without smashing the wires.
Also, fourteen (14 !) wires are going to the henglser counter. Holy cow. I used some of my 30 AWG ribbon cable. It's a solid wire in there (no strand) but that was my only choice.

The trigger group. No limit switches, but Hall effect sensors and small neodymium magnets (3mm OD) and secured with activated (spray) cyanoacrylate glue. They act as a switch when the magnet is close enough. Inside, it's actually an open drain MOSFET transistor, just like a power xtender board.
The only switch I used is for the AUX switch (range / reload). I'm going to cut the screw that secure the trigger group to the handle and body and the rounded end (the one not having the screw driver slot) will be attached to the switch plunger (removable). On the other side of the handle, where you read the "Free / Lock", the other half of the screw will go on a M3 head less screw that installed on a small bolt then glued on the back of the aux switch with some JBweld. Original Look will be preserved.

Mag cylinders ! Thumbs up for Russrep accurate pictures he posted in his thread, I did my best to get a scale out of them, but credits go to his work.

aligning the lasers took a while, even now it's not perfect but since the magazine catch isn't laying flat on the weapon itself, the targeting sensor laser beams are never aligned. I like it too, it's just point at 2 different location of the target.

Now we know pretty much the parts (but not the source device - read here my recent "research" as Private Erv'

but still, I couldn't find any suitable replicas of the central capacitors in my drawers. The original ones are rated for 70° and won't have withstood PC curing at 400°F so no regrets, I machined cylinders that look like them pretty close.

I happened to play with the PBTP satin and *when cured at the right temp* it's definitely more gloss than the eastwood PC. Flow is just perfect. However it wasn't matching the gloss of the rest of the blaster so I used a coat of an automotive paint that has very little gloss (same as on the T-Track). I left the front cap and nut natural, I like contrasting metal and it really marks the "special X model" of the blaster

For the crystal, it's made out of real quartz (aqua aura), I thought it could be the collimating element for the plasma, crystals evocate optical / light stuff.
At the end it's kind of coherent with the wookiepedia article

Blaster - Wookieepedia, the Star Wars Wiki

Testing the trigger group before final install in the handle. You can spot the aux. switch in the axis of the locking screw that is going to be parted in 2 halves.

the half that will go on the back of the aux. switch (I installed a small M3 screw there)

installed and it screws fine to the "lock" position as read on the handle

The other half of the screw, mounted & screwed on the switch cap/plunger.

I used some anti mosquito mesh / lattice that I powder coated with black chrome II. Then I glued some black fabric tape with a glue spray to hide the electronics. I looks a bit like a carbon mesh (not exactly, just the "style"). I like it very much.

Worked on the T-track I got from Gino. Bent with a lighter, smoothed with gentle heat and finger, then sanded at the ends. Painted flat black with automotive paint, glued with a few spots of epoxy, except the top one since it blocks the scope rail from being removed and I still need to install the scope (it's mounted with magnets so that it's easily removable)

Folding stock installed. Replaced the nails by 2 stainless steel M2 screws. Not sure I'll paint them black, I like the steel accents.

Reworking the firmware. I had ideas that were not ready for that release, but I wanted to prototype some of them for my E11. Hence, I made sure I had a flashing connector accessible from the rear of the blaster.

Milled a slot in the henglser counter. Why ? because there's something else requiring potentially some upgrade too.

... A mini screen... The side of the counter has some dirty edges. That's due to the PC job I ****ed up with the Eastwood powder. Not having the right stripper made my like VERY difficult on that one. I thought I had removed everything but no (of course). Not "ugly" but could be better. Too late
Boot sequence featuring a imperial logo being filled up. I shortened the boot sound of 20%-ish to get it perfectly synched with the boot animation.

Custom title of that one, the "E-11-X"

Front side of the counter. I kept the optic it makes the 3mm leds occupying the whole space and they look a bit oval, I like it. The reset button of the counter is now the menu switch to browse thru the different screen of blaster core.

Radar screen and ammo counter

Screen saver. It's blurrier than a normal screen due to the export of the video, but it looks better in person

I added 3 new "menus" to the firmware.
My counter wasn't the "right one" with the Eagle Logo, reason why I had no remorse cutting a window for the screen. However, I felt nostalgic about it so I mocked up a digital version.

Another screen with a static imperial logo (always efficient and iconographic)

Last screen, a system info displaying the charge and voltage of the battery (the config file has 2 PLI settings for that purpose). I also had fun with some extra verbiage on that one.
The cell/battery icon on the left isn't depleted in real time to avoid flickering on the sprite but it's updated each time you pass in the menu. The voltage and the charge % is updated in real time though, and you see it fluctuating a bit when you fire.

I did my best for the details. Wires (ribbon cable) going to the counter are hiden in a black mesh tubbing. Quite organic, my favorite. I also put some of the anti mosquito mesh to hide a bit the second speaker that is in there.

Same on the front of the counter. I also put a screw head and a small crystal to hide the hole left by the removal of the reset mechanism of the counter.

The wires coming out from the counter will be really used. I've always thought that the magazine cylinders should be some kind of smart targeting system (obviously not "finished" since the blasters end beaten by the sabers). Since it's the E-11-X I could invent anything after all.
I'm therefore installing 2 red lasers in the mag cylinders. They are controlled by the rear sight mechanism. I got that idea from the very beginning and that's why I wanted to make THIS very model of blaster : wire from counter to mag cylinders and scope rail stopping BEFORE the sight.
Like here

To avoid any switch between the outside of the main body and the internal electronics, I used (again) a hall effect sensor, installed in the PVC chassis. 2 magnets inline are installed in the scope reticule that activates the lasers in the "accurate aiming" position of the sight.

The stand. I got the smoked plates for free. I discovered later that it's polycarbonate, 1 cm thick, I got many panels it's worth a fortune. Attached 2 pieces together and made the stand with it. PCed legs with accent rings (quick cut with the lathe).
I still have to make a galv-etched plate now that I have the resist photo film

Finished my galv-etched plate. My first attempt to etch an aluminium plate with the new film. Still need some improvements, photo film transfer had minor dents and permanent marker doesn't resist to the galv-etching process. Will make a better one next time.
Signing the plate isn't a sign of being egocentric, but just a convenient way to hide one of the dents ;-)

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