So… I’m the kind of person who enjoys having a project at all times. Whether it be job/school hunting, producing music, or creating replica swords out of foam insulation and glue, I need to be busy doing something. So, this summer I thought I’d be ambitious. …Really ambitious.
Recently, I re-downloaded Steam, Valve’s online videogame delivery system/anti-piracy device. Having bought the Orange Box a while ago, I decided to re-play Portal. After some reading, I learned Portal 2 is set to release “soon” (2011). As an homage to the Valve crew and the awesomeness which is Portal, I have decided to do what every Portal fan would like to do:
Build my very own Portal Turret.
Ah yes, a geek’s dream. For those who are unfamiliar with the game, you can see how the turrets operate (and how they’re so much more than just turrets) at this lovely YouTube link.
Pretty cool, eh? I think so… but then again, I have a bit of time on my hands and get really excited at the prospect of planning out and creating something.
So how does one start a task such as this? Lots of thinking. Thinking, sketching, measuring, drawing. I spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about how certain parts will operate. I get excited thinking about programming the microcontroller to reproduce the actions of the in-game turret, but the more pressing concerns are the actual mechanics involved.
For example, how big is this turret overall? What are the measurements of the individual parts? How am I going to design a part to expand and contract the doors, while also being able to rotate side to side and up and down? Where am I going to position the components inside the housing?
I worked out a lot of the details in thought and through pen and paper, but so far as actual measurements are concerned, I needed to find a way to measure parts of the this fictional object (somewhat) accurately. Enter Photoshop.
I decided the overall height of the turret based on my best estimation of Chell‘s height, and how tall the turret looked while standing and crouching. Having decided my turret will stand about four and a half feet tall, I took screenshots from front and side with the turret doors open and closed, and imported them into Photoshop.
I decided every foot would be 100 pixels, and resized my screenshots appropriately, and grouped them all together in one file. Using guides, I’ve been able to get fairly accurate measurements of all my parts.
With accurate measurements in hand, I revised my plans once more and made a short list of materials needed: wafer board and some small lengths of wood for the frame, thin plastic for the eye, paper maché supplies and chicken wire to shape the body… basic stuff I can pretty much find around the house. I’m intentionally leaving the fun stuff (microcontroller, wave shield kit, sensors, servos, etc) for later–after I’ve spent the time to figure out the basic mechanics.
Next up: building a box–the making of the central frame.