Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Dragon's Gem

Down, down, down the blasted, eternal staircase! After twisting and turning through miles of endless, wretched passages you come to a door. Locked! The brute force of the fighter eventually breaches it and beyond, in the stale, dank, chamber you gaze upon more gold and treasure than you could ever imagine. You scramble toward the pile delirious to claim your share when you notice THE Gem! Meanwhile, something in the room has noticed you....

Hi everyone! Here's another Dwarven Forge conversion piece that I did a while ago. It's a dragon's treasure hoard with sparkling gold treasure and a glowing gem. The got the itch to make this piece from a tutorial I saw on the Reaper Miniatures website.

Incorporating some electronics into my conversion pieces makes for a fun twist. So I thought it'd be sweet if some of the gold pieces in the pile were made to look like they were twinkling or sparkling. Also, I wanted to have a huge, colour changing gem as the main piece of treasure (sort of inspired by the Arkenstone from The Hobbit).

I started by moulding three flat oddly shaped disks of polymer clay (each one smaller than the previous) and stacked them together before heating them in the oven to harden. Sorry, but I don't have a photo of the finished stack but it looked kind of like how a snowman would look if each section of it was flattened. Anyway, once it was hardened, I took my dremel tool and hollowed it out from underneath. This was done so I could install the LED's and the electronics.

Next, I designed and built a "pseudo" random flashing LED circuit for the twinkling effect in the pile of gold. I built four timer circuits using miniature 555 IC's and made each one with a different clock rate (this is done by using different external component values on each IC). I then routed the four clock signals to the input pins of a 7447 Seven Segment LED Driver IC and on each output pin I soldered a tiny, yellow LED. Then I drilled seven small holes in the clay to insert the LED's so that when they flash on and off it will look like some of the gold in the treasure pile is twinkling.

The short video clip below shows the flashing circuit with green LED's, but I switched to yellow ones before the final installation:

For the main gem I used a small, clear, rhinestone. I drilled a hole in the top of the clay that was a bit smaller than the rhinestone (so it wouldn't fall through). From the underside of the clay, I installed a slow changing, multi-coloured LED in the hole. From the top, I simply glued the rhinestone over the hole. Now when lit, the light shines through the "gem".

Getting all the electronics stuffed in the area on the underside (while keeping the LED's glued in their proper places) was a bit tricky. But after a while I finally got everything to stay in place.

A tight fit for all the wiring!

After that was done, I drilled a small hole in the centre of a big Dwarven Forge floor piece to route the power wires through and then glued the clay pile in the middle. I applied a good amount of glue to the top of the clay and then dumped a bunch of gold glitter on top. After letting it dry and removing the excess, I added some small coloured rhinestones to look like smaller gems and a few other trinkets as treasure a dragon's hoard might have. Here's a few close-ups:

The main gem when it's green...

changed to purple...

and now red (a bit out of focus though!).

A close-up of the skeleton, scroll, and shield (near the top above the big gem).

The power wires come out of the side of the piece (see below). I used very long and thin wire so that they can be run beneath the floor pieces of the dungeon set-up and therefore unseen. Here's one last close-up of the entire piece and a short video of the treasure pile only. I took the picture outside in the sunlight to get a good sparkle from the gold. Notice a small bit of the black power wires are barely visible at the top edge (before they go behind the piece).


Hope you enjoyed this. Now onto my next project!

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