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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Quetzalcoatl Case Mod, Part 4

Part 4: Packing foam, it's not just for packing stuff anymore.

Last time, I outlined the process I used for modifying the side panels, adding a top air duct, and adding a hinged front panel. A metal mesh "hardware cloth" screen was bent to fit over the top of the case and held in place with a strip of Velcro tape. Hot glue over the back of the sticky side of the Velcro tape anchors it firmly to the screen.

[caption id="attachment_224" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Pieces of packing foam are hot glued to the mesh."]Attaching packing foam to case[/caption]

To seal the open mesh, I covered the inside of the screen with duct tape. The tape creates a barrier when I hot glue foam to the outside of the screen, and at the same time anchors the hot glue through the mesh to the duct tape lining.

[caption id="attachment_225" align="alignnone" width="267" caption="The DVD drive mounted in the top bay is covered with paper to protect it. The head of the feathered serpent is constructed to position the drive inside of the mouth. "]Case construction[/caption]

I use single-edge razor blades to cut long strips of closed-cell packing foam to fit. Hot glue is run along the sides and the foam is then positioned in place. I'm using up some dark pink hot glue since it has a low-temperature melting point. I can't use my extra-strength hot glue because it is high-temp and melts this type of packing foam.

[caption id="attachment_226" align="alignnone" width="253" caption="Openings can be left in the foam, as long as the surface can still provide support for the shell."]Case construction[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_227" align="alignnone" width="284" caption="Carving starts to reveal the final form of the serpent."]Case construction[/caption]

After the shell has been roughed-out, the edges can be rounded by trimming away the excess. Fine detail is not important, since I will be covering the foam with a layer of paper mache.

[caption id="attachment_228" align="alignnone" width="260" caption="Once the general shape is "roughed" out, start carving with razor blades or hobby knives. Save the larger scraps of foam to fill holes or add detail. "]Case construction[/caption]

This is the slippery "plastic" foam that does not soak up water easily. For paper mache to stick to the foam, the surface must be rough. Any shiny, slick, exposed surfaces are shaved with a razor blade to expose the open cells.

[caption id="attachment_229" align="alignnone" width="279" caption="Smaller pieces of foam were cut and glued edge-to-edge to form the radiating "feathers" of the mane. "]Case construction[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_230" align="alignnone" width="249" caption="Contact cement is used to stick thin cardboard to the PVC side panels. Blue Styrofoam sheet adds border and front panel detail."]Case construction[/caption]

Design reference

Borders of thin blue Styrofoam sheet are glued to the side and front panels. A row of "steps" help disguise the combo flash card reader and floppy drive that extends through the front panel (covered in pale green paper in the image.) To create a surface that the paper mache is going to adhere on, additional cardboard sheet must be glued over the Styrofoam.

Next time: Electrical connections and fine detail

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