Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Tag: cnc machine

Catacombs: An Experiment In 3D

Catacombs, the dexterity disc-flicking dungeon crawl game, is easily my favorite dexterity game out there.  I’m a big fan of dexterity games anyway but Catacombs has always struck me as the perfect balance between dexterity game and narrative story.

catacombs box cover from the publisher (on BGG)

I’ve had my 3rd edition copy for awhile now and I got it in my head to take the game layout, which is in a 2D layout with obstacles, to 3D.  This concept is one I’ve explored before but never with Catacombs proper.  With the CNC machine up and running, this gave me the best opportunity to try out some experiments.

One map in particular stood out in particular as the perfect starting point.  The Altar Chamber map (as I call it) looked like a great fit so I took some photos (the board is bigger than my scanner) and uploaded it to Illustrator.  In Illustrator, I traced the central altar piece and converted it to an .svg to import into my CAD program. From there, I tweaked the measurements and created the file for a test milling.

The test print came out very near perfect for the measurements.  The ramp was only roughed in (that’s why it has that stair-stepped look to it) and I plan on smoothing it out on a sander.

I then added the other side to the layout to complete the rough first step.  I sanded the ramps smooth to a sharp point then primed the two pieces dark grey and sealed them.  Finally, I went back to my initial photo image and printed, cut, and mounted it to the two pieces.

The effect came out very well.  The pieces still fit well after the layers of primer and sealant and even though my printer is inferior to the professional board image printers, it still came out well enough to not be distracting.

So the big question is, did it work? Well, no. Mechanically it doesn’t quite do it.  The ramps are about as smooth as I can make them but still catch the discs sometimes and rebounds them backwards.  A big issue is that the Catacombs discs are flat walled cylinders with pretty sharp corners.  This means they catch even the slighted unevenness and bounce back.  Crokinole and Pitch Car discs have bevel or rounded edges to them so it takes a lot of gap in the tiles or ramps to have them bounce bad.

I could bevel the bottom edges of my Catacombs pieces but I think that is overkill.  At the end of the day, I may just ditch the ramp concept altogether and variant a “jump” ability where you use a card as your ramp and flick up that to get to the higher levels of the terrain.  I was already going to introduce that concept for the ranged attacks so it might be easier to add a movement/melee shot option for it is as well.  In any case, I like the look and the feel of the piece and I’m glad to see my CNC performed within the necessary tolerances to produce this piece.

Just Milling About

So it’s been a few weeks since my last post but only because I’ve been head-down in a new project: learning CAD and CAM for milling on a CNC machine.

Way back at the beginning of the year, I was excited to have a brand new tool added to my pimping arsenal: a CNC Machine. The only issue was it was a kit I needed to build and I’m not so handy with building things this complex.

The project progressed in fits and starts until just a few weeks ago, I finally got everything all together and running.  I had to take a quick detour and clean out the garage and cobble together a quick workbench table to have room to run it all but I was able to knock that out in a weekend.

With everything prepped, I grabbed a template off BGG and set it up using a trial version of Fusion 360.  I have to say, the resources MillRight CNC have put together on their site is outstanding and the direct responses from them for questions I’ve sent have been amazing.  They really go above and beyond supporting their customers on what could easily be a nightmare project.

The my workspace ready and my machine up and running, I imported Flashhawk’s PitchCar mini-converter SVG and got to cutting to test it all out.

As you can see from the video, the machine definitely did its job.  The cut was nice and everything worked as it should.

Punching out the piece was easy and cleaning up the “tabs” that hold the piece in place while cutting will be easy.

Just one little issue…

So obviously there are some scaling issues but the test was successful and I’ve been working up several new concepts that I’m eager to complete.  The first step has been taken, now the real challenges begin.

Building the Future

I talked about getting a CNC Machine a while back and detailed my start at putting it together.  I have made a lot of progress since then and will catch you up.

I had already built the Y-axis that will serve as the main bed for all the machining.  Now it is time to build the Z-axis plate that will hold the router/spindle and have the machine rise up and down.

The front side then holds the router clamp.

I forgot some bolts so I had to run out to Ace Hardware and grab some extras to attach the router clamp.

Next, we have the X-axis plate.  This will attach to the Z-axis plate and both will travel on rails across the top of the machine.

I attached the Z-axis motor and the Z-axis plate to the X-axis plate.  Then can the hardest part of the whole project, threading the Z-axis belt in between both plates and around the various pulleys and motor drives.

Next, we have the axis plates set on the horizontal rail and the the sides of the machine.

At this point, it’s really starting to take shape.

And with this, the machine is complete.  I still have a ways to go with setting up the electronic components but the motors are all set up and the chip board is attached.  The belts were particularly tricky as they kept tracking up and off the pulleys but after a few conversations with the Millwright team, we figured it out by cutting some aluminum shims out and re-aligning the pulleys to square things up.  Yay for soda cans to use as cheap aluminum shims.

A friend has an old laptop he’s letting me borrow so when that is ready, I’ll start setting up the programming side of the machine and we’ll be ready to start actually cutting projects soon!

CNC Progress

This week, I was able to start my CNC machine project.  It’s slow going as I’ve never had to assemble anything this complex and so I’m taking my time.  I could have opted for the pre-built version but reading up on the kit a bit more, several users noted that it was good to build it yourself so that if things go wrong in the future, you’ll have an idea of what the problem might be.  I’m not sure if that will really work for me but the building process itself is pretty cool.

cncparts

So here we have all the kit pieces laid out on my new workbench I made a couple of weeks back.  The large device at the back of the table is my photo enlarger, which was the real purpose of this room- to build up my darkroom again, but I found that I broke a key piece of the enlarger so I have to source out a replacement.  In the meantime, the room will also serve as my pimping workroom, or “The Lab,” as I call it.

cncvwheels

The kids were away so I actually moved everything upstairs and worked at the kitchen table, catching up on the latest Walking Dead episodes from the mid-season break. The picture above are “V-wheels” that were a bitch to press together (my thumb is still sore).  Eventually, I opted for two sets of pliers to get those bearings in the plastic wheels.

cncguides

Next I put the V-wheels in the Y-axis plates. These plates will hold the main board “table” of the machine.

cncrails

And they attach on these rails that connect the front and back of the base of the machine.

cncbottom2

The base then attaches to the Y-axis plates and also gain some T-nuts and another guide plate.

cncbottom1

And here we are.  This is about one-third through the assembly instructions.  Next is assembling the X-axis and Z-axis components and putting the motors and belts on.  Then finally is the final assembly.  After that comes the electronics and setting up the software and everything else.

In gaming news, I stumbled on this interesting little preview:

image from BGG, from the game publisher

image from BGG, from the game publisher

This is Gang Rush Breakout from CMON and Ankama. Those of you that have followed me for awhile might notice the game looks similar to a classic game that I’ve been nuts on pimping: Thunder Road.  While this game (from the brief publisher descriptions) doesn’t seem like it has a lot in common with Thunder Road mechanically, it does have a pretty cool look to it and I’m looking forward to hearing more about this game.

It is due to release in April, shockingly without a Kickstarter but since Ankama seems to be driving the publishing aspect of the game, maybe that is just the way they do things.  Ankama is responsible for Krosmaster Arena, which also avoided using Kickstarter.  I’ll likely wait to play this at Gen Con before I really commit to picking it up but I have some high hopes for it.

Speaking of Gen Con, I got the notice that they are opening up the event applications in a few weeks so I better get on this.  Last year I missed the early deadline and my events didn’t make it into the general admission until after the main event signup date.  I’m going to make sure my events get in on time this year to see if that helps the attendance any.

I’m planning on running my Loopin’ Chewie Tournament again as it was a lot of fun and though there weren’t many in attendance, they all seemed to have a good time.  I will likely run one more event as well but I’m not sure which it will be.  I could do Thunder Road again or I’ve been thinking about running a PitchCar variant of mine.  I’m also stupidly into Mantic’s Walking Dead: All Out War and had a blast running a custom event at CabinCon so might try something like that.  Decisions, decisions.  Only have a few weeks to figure it out. Maybe I’ll flip a coin.

Welcome to 2017!

I hope your 2016 went well.  I’m pretty happy with how it went on the gaming front this year and so this will be one of those obligatory “review” posts.  This was a “do or die” year for this blog as I had to decide if I wanted to pursue this passion or give it up due to lack of time and commitment.  As you can tell, I chose to keep it going and I’m really glad I did.  I’ve had the chance to meet some great people and the research that goes into each post is really showing me that pimping games has really come into its own in this hobby.

In 2016, I showed off some of my favorite pimped games like my Thunder Road Advanced and the Rum and Bones “travel” set, the latter of which was featured in a CMON facebook post earlier in the year.  I also finally posted my Assault on Hoth set, which has been a work in progress over the last few years (thanks to Rogue One for galvanizing me to finish up).

I also did a lot of work on Pretzel Games’ Flick ’em Up!, messing with mustaches, slow motion video, and an Adrenaline/Flick ’em Up! crossover variant.  The video was especially fun to shoot and edit as it was something I haven’t done since college.  It was even popular enough to make BoardGameGeek’s “The Geek Weekly” in both their regular weekly installment and their year end wrap-up.

Ok, enough about the past. I’m really excited for 2017 as I have a lot of ideas rattling around that I want to get going and post about.  Some of them are completing languishing projects, like a globe-using game of Risk, while others are brand new that I’ve been hoping to start for a while now.

Christmas was great this year and the family got together to get me a very fun pimping toy, a low-end CNC milling machine:

I’m really excited about this machine and so you can definitely expect posts on this adventure (or possibly mis-adventure) over the next month or so.

I’ve enjoyed keeping my posts to about once a week but I plan to try to post more in 2017 and I may try out an ongoing series as well.  In case you missed it, Pimp My Board game is also on Facebook  and as a secondary blog feed on BoardGameGeek as well.

Thank you all for reading and commenting over the last year.  It’s always encouraging and I’m really excited bring you even more in the coming year.

10 monkeys with 2 and a side of bourbon

Cheers!

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