This page shows how I made my Babylon 5 Comm link. It was one of those spur of the moment things and only took a couple of hours to do. I did think about buying one ready done, but all the ones I could find were a bit rough looking, so as always,‘When in doubt, make it yourself.’ Luckily I found a really good clear picture in an old Babylon 5 magazine, (good job I never throw anything out :) and set to work.
As this is only a small flat piece really, the easiest way to make a block of resin is a bit of polished glass, a frame made of super sculpy, a spare bit of resin to be held in place to act as a handle to fit in the vice. With everything in position, the resin is mixed and poured and left to set. This is quick setting resin, and only takes 30 minutes to go fully hard.Once set, it is removed from the glass and fixed in the vice ready to have the surface milled flat. although being cast on glass the surface is flat, but as the bit of resin inserted into the resin to be used as a handle is not perfectly in place, when the piece if clamped in the vice the surface my be at an angle. The best way to cure this and give a good flat surface to work from is to mill it flat. That way you know from now on whatever you do the surface is proper flat.
With the outside dimensions known, the width, height and angle of the detail section in the middle could be extrapolated and transferred to my CAD program to print off. The easiest way to do something like this is to just cut out and stick the drawing to the resin and machine it from there.So with the paper stuck to the resin, it was a simple case of machining the outer edge. From the detailed picture I was working from, I noticed it has a slight bevel to the edge, something that was missing from the ones I looked at. To be honest at a glance or on less detailed pictures, the edge does look flat, but luckily the picture I have from the magazine is a double page poster and shows all the detail well.Now onto the middle detail section. with the other dimensions known, these were quite easy to work out, and dots were made using a sharp punch pushed through the ends of the markings on the paper left pointes to machine between on the resin. This is where the milling the surface flat at the beginning comes in handy, as the depth gauge can be set on the milling head, so all five grooves come out the same depth.Also something else I noticed on the magazine picture, is the two smaller shorter middle slots were slightly narrower than the others.
With the main shape and detail done, it was time to turn it over and remove the extra bit of resin it was held in the vice with and mill it thinner. You need to remember this fits on the back of your hand, and is not very think at all.Now onto the little buttons. I say it again, but the picture shows this so clearly, you can see detail normally missed. While the top two buttons are little triangles, the bottom two are shaped. It took a while to enhance the picture enough to see but in the end I got it clear enough to see they weren't just little rectangles, but they had slight shaped and rounded ends. As always I have an abundance of spare bits of plastic kit in pots around the workshop, so found bits the right size and thickness and set about making them look right, and sticking them on.
With all the detail done, it was time to make a mould. Now a lot of people say when you only want one or two why make a mould. well the simple reason is making one is easy, copying it is harder and making several copies is harder still. With each one taking several hours to make it just takes to long. Then you have the lost dropped or broken to deal with. If you go dressed in costume to conventions, you will know how easily things get lost or fall off. With something like this stuck to the back of your hand, if you get hot your hand will sweat and it might fall off. if you have to make each one from scratch, it sort of tends to linger in your mind that you might loose it, where if you make just one, then create a mould of it, you can make a couple of spares to tuck away in a pocket, then if you find it has fallen off, just stick another one on.Also this allows for pre coloured resin casting which does away with painting. this part is cast in a resin with fifty percent aluminium powder mixed in, so when rubbed with wire wool it come sup looking like shiny metal.Once cast and set, then the last thing to do is put it in the oven, (Not the one in the kitchen as it gives off oily smoke when heated,) which heats it up and makes it very flexible, so it can have a slight curve put in it so it sits nicely against the back of the hand. Flat it feels slightly off, but with a very slight curve it’s just right.
So not the most complex part in the world to make, but well worth the effort.Babylon 5 has to be one of the better sci-fi series, if not the best, as it differs from the other that have been on television, as it’s a complete story from start to finish. So many series on TV never end properly, they just finish, so when one does, it just feels complete.