After making the handlink and Psi Corp badge, I thought about a PPG.  If you like to dress up for conventions, the Babylon 5 costumes are fairly easy to do, especially the Psi Corp outfit.  However no costume is complete without all the extras and that meant making a PPG.  This is a lot more work, than the other B5 bits I have made so far, and a lot more research was needed as well.  I have the complete B5 series on video, but unlike DVD which runs on a computer and is for easier screen grabbing.  Video needs to be watched frame by frame, and the picture is nowhere near as clear, so as I had a bit of free time and had started watching the series again, I noted down episode number and time into, for later reference.  This helped a lot.
     The best thing about the PPG is it can be made in lots of bits, then assembled and moulded as one.  This makes things a lot easier, as bits can be made in any order.
     I started with the emitter nozzle of barrel, whichever you prefer to call it.  This started life as a rod of polyurethane resin, as this is stronger to work with than tooling resin, and as small slots were going to be cut in the sides, this was less likely to chip.
     The first thing I started on was the nozzle as this is a fairly simple shape, but has a few bits of fine detail, which needed paying special attention to.

     The next job was to mark and cut out the slots.  Width was determined by which end cutter I had that looked right.  Then just s simple case of machine a slot and turn it slightly and do another one, till all six were done.  The actually piece was marked out for eight slots, but two will be the sight and under bit, which will be made after from sheet styrene.

     The next bit to make was the trigger assembly.  I had as always drawn up scaled planes so I new how big everything should be.  By doing scale plans on paper, you can lay bits just made on the paper and check they are as they should be.  This is much easier than just doing the measurements to work from.
     So this bit is basically a right angle with curved inside.  I had an odd bit of resin from another prop I had made in my spares draw, so just needed to add a bit more filler here and there to make it do.  I placed it in a bit of right angled plastic, then applied filler and clamped a round bit of tube to it.  Once set and removed from the plastic, it just need a bit of sanding to shape.  One end is sort of squared off, while the other starts to curve a bit more, and is rounded, so it fit the trigger finger nicely.  The trigger is a simple piece of clear plastic sheet, cut and sanded to shape.
     Now one thing I did come across while doing a bit of research for this, there were two versions made for the series, one being the stunt PPG, and the other one for close up work.  The stunt one is featured in the old B5 magazine several times, but the close up one is only seen on screen.   The stunt one seems to be resin cast, and the finish lacks very fine detail. The close up one looks to be made from aluminium, and has very sharp clean detail.  A good shot of this is in the episode Z'ha dum, when Sheridan is preparing to leave, he asks Mr Garibaldi to do him a favour, regarding the registering of the crew of Whitestar 1.  After Mr Garibaldi leaves the room, Sheridan, checks the charge on his holster PPG, then gets a backup from the draw.  In these few seconds of film, when run frame by frame it gives a good shot of each side.
    Knowing there are several copies of the so called film used stunt version, I opted to go for the crisper detailed close up version.  While harder to do and requires pressure casting to keep the fine detail, its seemed worth it to me.

     The next bit was the ammo cap.  Again there is the stunt and close up version, and being the close up was made for close up work, there are quite a few shots throughout the series of caps being inserted and taken out, this gives a good clear picture of what both ends should look like, down to which end is rounded more than the other and by how much, and what sort of fine detail has been added.
     This part was turned from a single rod of tooling resin, which only took an hour or so to make.  Itís a simple bit but I wanted to keep it separate from the main body, as in the series the holster holds an extra cap, so I wanted to cast this separate so extras could be made.
     While in the series it seems to push and turn to lock it into place, I decided to opt for magnets, as it would keep the design simple, yet allow for the caps to be taken in and out if wanted.

     It was now time to start on the main body of the gun.  This was going to be quite difficult, as it needs to be perfectly symmetrical, or when you look at the front or back it will look off.
     I started with a rough cast block or tooling resin, and machined the four sides and top flat and at perfect angles to each other.  Once this is done, the shape can be marked out on the block of resin and machined to size. 
     With the main body shape done, it was turned on its end and the hole the barrel will fit into drilled and the recess along the front added as well.  Being a bit brittle the resin chipped at one side, so needed filler adding, but nothing major.
     Then an angled cutter was used to add the angle along the top, making sure it was symmetrical and even both sides.  While the finished item has surface detail, this will be added later in the form of thin sheets of plastic cut to shape and stuck in place, a bit like decoupage.
     Last off was a slot for the sight piece to fit in,  this is going to be made from clear plastic sheet, but trying to stick it on a flat surface would prove very difficult, so a recess is machined for it to slot into.  This keeps it central, and makes gluing and holding it in place much easier.

     With the shape of the main body done the first of the finer detail was to be added.  This is the detail that will be below the main surface and I will call it the first level as this is easy to remember.  The raised detail will then be added later in layers.
     At the front there is a recess where the bit under the barrel fits.  This is not dead round, so needs a smaller cutter to be used to elongate the hole slightly so it looks right.  It would be simpler to just do a round hole, but as this will be noticed a lot being at the front, so needs to be right.
     Next I added the three holes which look through onto the barrel.  If I had opted for the surface only detail of these, they would look fake, where if they go through to the actual barrel, when finished as the barrel will be stuck in afterwards, it will give the effect of a proper barrel, not just a block of resin.
     Then the line that runs along the length of it was added.  Part of this will be covered up when done, but to keep it all inline, its easier cut as one long line to start with.

    So now its time to start on the surface layer details.  To make things easier as it will be added in layers, I draw up a template on my CAD program of the parts I am going to be making, and do several copies of them.  Itís really just like doing decoupage, as a part is cut from the same picture to stick on the previous layer giving it height.
     With the bits cut out, some needed smaller holes drilled in the side as the screen used on had holes there, and other bits needed higher surface detail sticking on extra.  The four little raised bits on the main body looked like the heads on some rivets I had, so once cut down and stuck in they looked perfect.  Obviously when done it will be moulded and cast in resin, so the bits will blend in and look much better.

    This is how it looks after the plastic bits have been attached and filler added to remove any join lines and smooth off the surface where needed.  Hopefully you can see how much easier it is to do it this way, instead of trying to make all the raised detail in with the main body.  To do it from one block would make a huge amount of extra work, and also one slip and itís ruined.  The more bits you can make something in the better, as it something gets damaged or doesn't look right, only that bit has to be changed not the entire thing.
     There is still a fair amount of work to be done, as there are still a few details that need machining into the main body, but my milling machine is being used for something else at the mo, so it will have to wait a few days.

    Now onto the grip.  I am not sure what the screen used one was taken from, but I have looked very hard to find it, but to no avail.  Luckily I had a replica .38 old cap gun with black rubber grip on it, which is very close to the shape.
    A bit of work it needed on the bottom curve and the bit where you lower fingers wrap round, and also the top on one side needs reshaping, but over all not a huge amount to do.  Much better than starting from scratch
     As rubber is no good for filtering, I took a quick cast of the pair and then set to work reshaping them to match the screen used items. Once I was happy with the shape, I had to drill out a circle which has a logo of something in, I am guessing the make of the grip used, but I will never know for sure.  So I settled for making the Earth Alliance logo to go in there.  The PPG was issued to earth alliance personnel so it fits quite well.

The work on this page is ongoing, so the page will be updated as it progresses :)

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