The discussion of the Alien series of films and the props used in them is the aim, but if it's got Big Bugs and Big Guns, then they are welcome too!





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 Post subject: Marty's M56 Smartgun build
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:16 pm 
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Country: Czech Republic
As I mentioned in my introduction post, I found the forums while I was looking up reference pictures for a smartgun build and the sheer amount of information on here still blows my mind. I might be a bit late to the party when it comes to Aliens themed cosplay, but there are some clear advantages to building on the experience and research done by others.

Making a complete smartgun operator costume has been on the back of my mind for a while now, maybe even since the first time I saw Aliens and played some old games from the franchise. Who wouldn't want a big, badass looking gun that aims itself? Now that I have some pretty complex cosplay builds under my belt, the idea of making my own M56 doesn't seem so daunting anymore (we'll see how long that lasts :D ).

After going through some threads and factoring in my experience with a particularly heavy and bulky cosplay, I discarded the idea of building the M56 out of a deact Yugo M53 or a similar gun. Even though I could gut the receiver and replace the barrel, carrying all that weight for a day or two would probably be just as intense as wearing my exosuit cosplay. Plus with restrictions on airsoft or deactivated guns on almost every convention, I want to try a different approach. I have pretty extensive experience with 3D printing and design, so my plan is to print the main smartgun body and run a length of reinforcing tubing all the way from the rear grip to the muzzle. Most of the greebles and details will be printed as well, although I managed to get a hold of the correct Kawasaki light switch - that should come handy for the sound and light package, both as a secondary trigger and as mode selector.

The rest of the gear is your usual budget stuff - modified Polish desert BDUs that I got off of Allegro, a set of embroidered patches, original OG 507 hot weather cap and an IDF flak vest cover that looks like a solid stand in for the correct 3/4 collar vest "M69".

As much as I love the look of a SA 3A Steadicam vest, I couldn't justify a purchase in the price range of a brand new car and I bought a used, no name copy from China (250 Euros with shipping looked like a bargain price to me). The back padding and straps don't look anything like the original, but the arm is fairly close and it should work nice with some added parts and maybe even fake spring covers.


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 Post subject: Re: Marty's M56 Smartgun build
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:56 pm 
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Country: Czech Republic
I picked this no brand steadicam kit based on budget and not screen accuracy, but the arm should work just fine and the chest cpu/armor plate will hide the most of it anyway.

“Steadicam” arm
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No name camera vest
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6D4E8EDE-7C65-4F3D-815E-79D2C43601FE.jpeg [ 1.83 MiB | Viewed 195 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Marty's M56 Smartgun build
PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:22 pm 

Country: United Kingdom
Wow that'll be a lot of printing. Good luck. Looking forward to seeing progress


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:35 pm 

Location: USA
Service Number: A02/TQ0.0.52138E1
Country: United States
If you DO go the 3d printed route and still want to use that steadycam clone arm, add some weight to your finished 3d printed weapon. Fighting the arm all day because of a lack of counter weight is loads of fun afterall. Not that I'd know about such things...


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 Post subject: Re: Marty's M56 Smartgun build
PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:59 pm 
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Country: Czech Republic
Thanks for the feedback, guys! I've taken apart the light switch to clean out all the gunk and to make sure that the electrical parts were okay. There's some corrosion on the metal brackets and the wiring is ready to be thrown out, but the rest seems solid and most of the grime came off pretty easy. Some more parts off of ebay arrived in the mail, so I now have a clutch/brake lever for the rear grip (not screen accurate and perhaps a little bit too big, but it's a start)

smrtazzsmrtgnnr wrote:
If you DO go the 3d printed route and still want to use that steadycam clone arm, add some weight to your finished 3d printed weapon. Fighting the arm all day because of a lack of counter weight is loads of fun afterall. Not that I'd know about such things...


Thanks for the tip, I've been experimenting with the vest and arm combo and with the springs dialled all the way down, I still need about 3,5-4 kg of load in order to achieve equilibrium, so the printed gun will need to have some weight to it and not just for the "feel" of a weapon instead of a toy gun. Taking my 3D printed Moritas as a reference, I expect the printed parts to weigh around 3-4 kilos on their own, so the final weight should exceed that bare minimum of my steadicam arm. I can always use the counterweight under the pivot point as a real counterweight in case the gun ends up being lighter than expected.

It'll be a lot of printing, no doubt about that. Each Morita was about 150-200 hours of print time and those are roughly 3/4 of the length of a MG42. Once you distribute this load to two printers that run in parallel, it's not that bad.

I have a question for smartgun operators with some drops and colony sweeps under their belt, is it necessary to have a pivot point with a bearing (the one that connects the "L bracket" to the barrel shroud of the MG42) or is a threaded rod/shaft good enough for normal use? I've seen one made out of a caster wheel with an axial bearing, but the screen used mounts look like a simple bolt with a lock nut on, nothing fancy. My exosuit used bearings for all the main pivot points, so maybe I'm just over-engineering this and there's no real need for a bearing.

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Kawasaki GPZ 750 switch from a wrecker yard
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 Post subject: Re: Marty's M56 Smartgun build
PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:01 pm 
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Country: Czech Republic
Here's the light switch, taken apart and free of most of the gunk and corrosion.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 3:44 pm 
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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Service Number: A01/TQ2.0.42137E1
Country: United States
I did the caster wheel mount (although someone else may have used this technique as well). It allows for excellent range of motion.

You probably saw this, but here is thread about my build:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=15903&hilit=m56+chronicle

The "screen accurate" mount I saw was an L-bracket with a swivel point attached to the gun. The caster is the same principle, but I think it may be superior because it uses a bearing instead of a single bolt as a pivot point.

I was a little concerned about durability of the bearing, but haven't had any problems. I keep a backup mount in my toolkit just in case.

During a drop, you may find yourself maneuvering through crowds of colonists or using lifts, stairs, narrow doorways, etc. You want to be able to pull the gun in tight to your body.

I'd also suggest rigging a "tie down" so you can secure the gun with your hands free. When you let the gun go its weight will cause it to swing around on the arm. I have a velcro strap on the right side of my belt I can secure the trigger handle with to keep the gun from moving around if I need both hands.

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 Post subject: Re: Marty's M56 Smartgun build
PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:28 pm 
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Country: Czech Republic
Thanks for the info, Erik! I've been going over all the threads on Smartguns on this site and I believe the notion about using a caster wheel comes from yours, yes. If it's holding up for you, I might give it a shot and test it. Initially I had some concerns about loading that caster base/bearing radially instead of axially, but I guess for an application like ours, the casters are still massively overbuilt. I'm thinking I could cut up one of those casters and have a friend weld some flat steel to it in order to get a better clearance for the arm around the ammo drum front. Either that or I'll explore the possibility of using a small pillow block bearing, that might be a bit easier to attach since the load bearing part on a printed prop gun is gonna be the tubing that runs along the barrel axis.

That tie down is a great idea, I'll have to write it down. Having to constantly control the gun with at least one hand has to get tiring, I can imagine.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:24 pm 
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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Service Number: A01/TQ2.0.42137E1
Country: United States
I had the same concerns about the bearing, but it's holding up really well. My gun is mostly cast resin, so it doesn't have that much weight.

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