The Aliens Legacy

Motion Tracker Build: from "Fixer-Upper" to Real Parts!
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Author:  retrogarde [ Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Motion Tracker Build: from "Fixer-Upper" to Real Parts!

Spat was offering a discounted MT kit just before DragonCon and I jumped at the chance. I don't mind putting in a little extra effort and honestly I like a challenge.

filling.jpg [ 98.32 KiB | Viewed 14460 times ]

As Seth B. just did an excellent build thread ( viewtopic.php?f=3&t=13538) on a pristine Spat kit I didn't feel the need to document every step of this one. Here you can see some of the filling I had to do, but honestly this kit was still pretty easy to throw together. The bottom half of the Hama slide viewer had the only significant air bubble (shown here partially filled). Note that I used Seth's idea for the plug from the Hama viewer to the drill body. It makes the thing much more sturdy. In fact I just left the cable long that threads into the front so if I want I can detach the whole viewer without much fuss.

paint.jpg [ 89.24 KiB | Viewed 14460 times ]

A coat of paint shows where I need to sand more. I built this thing over the weekend as I had a spare moment, so I'd say the hardest part was just figuring out the best order of operation.

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So this is how it looked as of this morning. I need to add the bottom switch, weather and seal the OD, attach the black parts and the keypad graphic. I have some mesh and a real Vivitar coming from Joneseythecat so I'll be upgrading some areas once they arrive. I decided to paint the area behind the mesh black instead of drilling it out as I'd already attached the two halves of the body before I remembered that I wanted to do that. Oh well! I think it will still look good.
Not having a photo reference in hand was a huge mistake as I somehow got it in my head that the cable from the Hama viewer went into the bottom of the pump widget. I sawed and drilled the widget before realizing my mistake. I've since rebuilt the bottom bit on the widget, but that could have been avoided pretty easily :oops:

calculation.jpg [ 65.28 KiB | Viewed 14460 times ]

My calculation panel is just a printout of the actual found item Photoshopped to match the screen used version, and then covered with a bit of clear plastic from a NECA blister pack. Looks pretty good to me!

The Hama viewer is the roughest part of the entire build so at some point I will probably buy a cleaner cast from Spat. I have an idea for a simple electronic display, so having two viewers (one static, one electronic) wouldn't be bad at all.

Later today I'm going to swing by Wal-Mart for some sling attachments ("Uncle Mike's #1311-2 swivels", thanks Filandrius for the heads up!), and then I'm just watching the Post for the missing bits.

Here's a question: does the Vivitar LED light up/blink in the film?

Author:  Seth B [ Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: (another) Spat Motion Tracker Build: The Fixer-Upper

Nice build! If you'd care to, would you post the graphic you sized for the calculation panel?

Author:  PVB [ Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: (another) Spat Motion Tracker Build: The Fixer-Upper

retrogarde wrote:
Here's a question: does the Vivitar LED light up/blink in the film?

I don't think we saw it blink, just the slide viewer screen flash to simulate the tracker screen 'ping'.

Author:  retrogarde [ Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:03 am ]
Post subject: 

Seth: Spat just sent me all the graphics you'll need! He asked me to post the file here in case others needed it:

SCS_MotionTracker_Comp.pdf [592.36 KiB]
Downloaded 335 times

PVB: Thanks for intel. Am I thinking of the MR 'Tracker or have i just gone nutty?

Author:  PVB [ Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: (another) Spat Motion Tracker Build: The Fixer-Upper

The MR one definitely had the other LEDs under the Hama viewer flashing. :)

Author:  Rimwar [ Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:47 pm ]
Post subject: 

Retro your a god at this stuff... Had a brain wave after watching a episode of geek beat TV podcast.
They had a episode with video greeting cards and I thought what if they were playing a motion tracker loop video: with screen video and sound.
See there website: ... A-Sick-Car

Two screen siszes
2.4 inch 61mm $29 and 4.3 inch 109.22 $45
As I don't have a MT I am not sure I'd they would fit but a super cheap way to add some SA to a fantastic prop:

Not sure how long the battery would last but there are ways arround that. Speaker may need amplifying as well. The screen is near perfectly flat so heaps of room behind the display for any extras:

??? Screen size ...????

Author:  Harry Harris [ Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:54 pm ]
Post subject: 

There was a debate with Master Replicas as to whether the two 'LEDs' on the Hama viewer flashed on the original Motion Trackers, but on looking more closely at the film what's actually happening is that the light from the flashing bulb inside the Hama box (at least some of the trackers had flashing bulbs to make it look like the screen was flashing like the 'hero' version with the TV screen inside it) and this light was escaping through the holes on the Vivitar flashgun panel where the 'LED' lamps were (IIRC they were actually small bulbs with coloured lenses set into the Vivitar panel, although it's been a while since I saw one and I don't have one to hand right now).


Author:  retrogarde [ Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re:

Rimwar wrote:
Retro your a god at this stuff...

That is extremely nice of you to say, but it is Spat's excellent work that allowed me to build this thing. I just sanded and puttied some rough spots...

Rimwar wrote:
Two screen sizes
2.4 inch 61mm $29 and 4.3 inch 109.22 $45
??? Screen size ...????

The screen is 2.5 inches across so that smaller option would be pretty great. I'm curious if there is a "loop" option for the video, and how loud it would be. You can recharge the card with the USB cable included. Very exciting option!

Harry: thanks for the clarification! I'm torn as I really dig little flashing lights on props 8)

Author:  retrogarde [ Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:45 pm ]
Post subject: 

With the swivel mounts and Noble sling on!

top.jpg [ 519.33 KiB | Viewed 14328 times ]

I printed out Spat's graphics and applied them even though I plan to replace the Vivitar ones as soon as the pieces arrive. I'd say the Spat ones look pretty great though! I laminated the keypad and the bit on top and it really helps sell the look.

side.jpg [ 546.76 KiB | Viewed 14328 times ]

There's some rough spots that I want to go back and work on at some point (like the black box on the side above the keypad and the bit at on the bottom of the grip), but honestly I'm very happy with the overall effect. I've weathered it with charcoal, a bit of silver paint and some grip tape on the handle. The last one is removable if I change my mind, but I really wanted the MT to look utilitarian.

bottom.jpg [ 586.07 KiB | Viewed 14328 times ]

So the mesh still needs to be applied as well as the Vivitar pieces, and then all that's left is the question of lights or sounds. I really am wondering about that video cards as an option...

Author:  SGT KITTEN [ Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

Looking great! Get some paint on it :)


Author:  Spatman [ Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:47 pm ]
Post subject: 


Author:  PVB [ Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: (another) Spat Motion Tracker Build: The Fixer-Upper

Reading up on these video greetings cards, the screen may be quite small, but the unit that runs the screen is a lot larger around the outside of the screen area:

DIMENSIONS: 6.00 x 6.00 x 0.30 inches

Edit: But other makes are smaller, as this one shows the innards: ... rd-module/


Author:  retrogarde [ Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re:

Looking great! Get some paint on it :)


The natural light from the window totally threw off the color of the thing. The OD looks pale grey and the silver looks like glare :?

If you look further up you'll see I really did paint the thing, I swear!

Thanks for doing the extra research PVB! I'd certainly want to be sure what I bought was going to fit and I hadn't thought about the guts of the thing having a larger profile than the screen. It's funny, there isn't really a lot of wiggle room inside that Hama viewer except in depth.

Author:  retrogarde [ Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:15 pm ]
Post subject: 

Here is my extremely inexpensive display screen idea:

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This is a cheap LED picture frame key chain. It holds 48 images and can be found on eBay for about $8. Mine cost me a dollar at the Salvation Army but works fine! The screen is only 1.5 inches wide, but Spat's Hama screen is a fresnel lens, so it magnifies it:

keychain2.jpg [ 80.78 KiB | Viewed 14253 times ]

This tiny keychain (55mm wide I think?) *barely* fits inside the Hama viewer, so I'd be cautious about trying anything larger or more expensive without test fitting it first. As it is I need to dremel a but to get a nicer fit.

keychain3.jpg [ 60.8 KiB | Viewed 14253 times ]

As you can see though it is self illuminating, and I have multiple screen images set to refresh every second so while it isn't animated or pulsating, it certainly beats a paper printout.

hole.jpg [ 74.96 KiB | Viewed 14253 times ]

There was a flaw in the back of the drill body (remember this was a fixer-upper kit) that I've left open for now as I consider my sound options. I'm leaning towards gutting a Christmas tree ornament that can record a message and putting that inside the drill body with the button on the outside. It will be the same sound each time I press it, but it would be a cheap way to add a little more life to the kit.

sideview.jpg [ 149.05 KiB | Viewed 14253 times ]

Finally, here is a side view of my Motion Tracker. Blame Ridley Scott's influence, but I just can't leave well enough alone. I've added a stencil on the side and some metal stamped stickers off an industrial device from my work's recycling bin. Sure the ones in the film didn't have these details, but mine does! 8)

Author:  MattRendar [ Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:22 pm ]
Post subject: 

Awesome additions. Really flushes out the prop. Looking great. IM now going to have to steal all your ideas.

Author:  retrogarde [ Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:42 pm ]
Post subject: 

Please do!

Author:  88reaper88 [ Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:38 pm ]
Post subject: 

Brilliant idea Christian, looks great :)
The ID number looks good too, very real-worldish.

Author:  cosmo_kraemer [ Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:01 pm ]
Post subject: 

Damn you Reto now i want to add this to mine.......very nice build tho one day i will upgrade from my POS with great Spat add ones to a full on Spat Tracker.

Author:  Osmotic [ Fri Sep 20, 2013 4:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: (another) Spat Motion Tracker Build: The Fixer-Upper

Great idea with the keychain !

Got to give that a go.

Author:  SGT KITTEN [ Sat Sep 21, 2013 2:16 am ]
Post subject: 

If you want easy sound, go to a build a bear workshop. They will sell you just the sound chip for the bears. It has built in mic to record, one button push to play, and about 30 sec record time. It's a complete self contained unit with a built in speaker. I used them with great success on my Star Wars hologram communicator. I think they are in the neighborhood of $8.

And the view worker is outstanding!


Author:  Moosh89 [ Sat Sep 21, 2013 6:34 am ]
Post subject: 

fantastic work as always retro!

SGT KITTEN, that's a great idea! My Mom tried out something similar to Build a Bear, It was called Noah's Ark, it was one of those home business things where you host parties and crap haha. But she had a few of those sound chips I wanted so badly to snag some! I should have! One of my friends was asking me if my Mom still did it but unfortunately she got out of it because there was no interest in our area :(

I bet if you look online for Build a Bear or Noah's Ark you can source those chips!

Author:  PVB [ Sat Sep 21, 2013 11:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: (another) Spat Motion Tracker Build: The Fixer-Upper

Can only find LCD video key chains on eBay, not LED, or are they the same thing, as the details/pics on the auction pages seem to show screens that are not bright/backlit? :?

Author:  retrogarde [ Sat Sep 21, 2013 2:56 pm ]
Post subject: 

Doh! LCD is totally what I meant. Sorry PVB!

Author:  PVB [ Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: (another) Spat Motion Tracker Build: The Fixer-Upper

No probs. :)

Author:  bigbisont [ Sun Sep 22, 2013 2:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: (another) Spat Motion Tracker Build: The Fixer-Upper

WOW. Def need to do that to mine when I unpack and get a work area sectioned off! Awesome man. Gonna totally steal that and the build a bear sound board idea.

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