Thursday, September 23, 2010

Art, BattleTech and Airplanes...

Howdy, folks! We have more good new to pass on!

- Eric Ou is still working on the Urugan art and some other ‘stuff’. He is in school again, so no telling when exactly we should get the finished piece, but it should be soon.

- Bill Burt went and stirred up a nest of yellowjackets while cutting down firewood. No, really. But he is doing fine (despite seven stings) and is using the templates I sent him to get comfortable with the controls. What we really need is a copy of InDesign for Dummies®. Does anyone have a suggestion?

- Paul Skowronek still loves us and is still editing. He has just about finished the Capellan vehicles and I was right – they were in a bunch. Geoff and I have filled the gaps in the work Paul corrected with accurate Notables and some additional work on deployment. With the extra room, we’ve actually been able to go into some detail over stuff we had to gloss over previously.

- Ian Stead is recovered from his computer woes and is working on the Tomahawk. Below is what we have so far:

…but this IS a work in progress…

- Karl Olson has nearly finished the Centaurus armored car. Take a look at the fifth draft:

- Daniel Cherng has not reported in on the changes to the Katana. I will get with him tomorrow.

- Chris Duke is feeling poorly, but is still working on the Panzerfaust. I am going to take Bill’s recommendation and use the image of the Winter Panzerfaust for the cover of our Record Sheets Annex.

- Prdarkfox is having another go at the White Knight… I agreed to see what he could come up with. He is really very good if he has sufficient time.

- Lee Madison has responded with several emails nailing down the White Knight. He is also working on it [as you can see below] but has other projects as well, so I will have to be patient. He is adding backgrounds to the Ocelot and the Roland. I sent him a copy of the list of plastic models in my attic (350+!) and hopefully some of them will find a good home soon.

Lee's current work on the White Knight

- We have a new artist! Let’s extend a warm welcome to Stephen Huda! He did outstanding work for Catalyst Game Labs and their TRO:3085 and is currently working on the Lyran Kangaroo, a ‘Mech support vehicle. His work is at the top of this post!

- Chris Seymour has been paid (yay!) for the Montgomery II and is currently working on the Nemera, another piece which could use some polish. As you can see below, we are in the preliminary stages:

After selecting the features I wanted, I made some dimensional changes and came up with a machine that will serve:

I will be making a few payments this Friday – to all the artists who have been waiting, thank you very much for your patience and understanding. I have actually been mowing lawns in my off time in order to come up with the spare cash. I am still catching up on the water and electric bills. Thank you again for waiting on this.


We have no airsoft games coming up, although Bill is now fit as a fiddle. Instead, I am going to play as a member of the OpFor (opposing forces) in a BattleTech game on 2 October 2010 over in Redmond, Washington. It is a bit of a drive and there is no guarantee my son can go (I believe he has another track meet) and Bill is going to spend Saturday hacking new trails at the local airsoft playing field. But we have come up with the forces we will command to fight the scurvy invading Clan scum.

Here is the list of our forces. They are all from the 3025 era, and against the superior Clan technology, they will have their work cut out for them. Our advantage? We have good armor, good strategy (at least I hope so) and numbers (the players will field six machines and three points of Elemental battle armor).

Recommended OpFor Composition for 2 October 2010 –
Draconis Combine forces against invading Clans (3050)

Lance 1 – Vehicles – Total BV1 = 2,158

Goblin SRM Tank – Tracked, 4/6, 3 SRM-6, 1 MG – excellent armor – (BV1 – 371)
Goblin SRM Tank – Tracked, 4/6, 3 SRM-6, 1 MG – excellent armor – (BV1 – 371)
Drillson Heavy Hover Tank – 9/14, 1 LL, 1 LRM-10, 2 SRM-2, 2 MG – good armor – (BV1 – 708)
Drillson Heavy Hover Tank – 9/14, 1 LL, 1 LRM-10, 2 SRM-2, 2 MG – good armor – (BV1 – 708)

Lance 2 – ‘Mechs – Total BV1 = 4,904

Atlas AS7-D – 3/5/0, AC20, LRM-20, 4 ML, 1 SRM-6 – excellent armor (BV1- 1,561)
Grand Dragon – 5/8/0, PPC, LRM-10, 3 ML – good armor (BV1 – 997)
Victor VTR-9B – 4/6/4, AC20, 2 ML, 1 SRM-4 – fair armor (BV1 – 1,173)
Victor VTR-9B – 4/6/4, AC20, 2 ML, 1 SRM-4 – fair armor (BV1 – 1,173)

Lance 3 – ‘Mechs – Total BV1 = 3,630

Hunchback HBK-4P – 4/6/0, 8 ML, 1 SL – excellent armor (BV1 – 960)
Hunchback HBK-4P – 4/6/0, 8 ML, 1 SL – excellent armor (BV1 – 960)
Hunchback HBK-4G – 4/6/0, 1 AC20, 2 ML, 1 SL – excellent armor (BV1 – 855)
Hunchback HBK-4G – 4/6/0, 1 AC20, 2 ML, 1 SL – excellent armor (BV1 – 855)

Opfor BV1 – 10,692 – exactly!

The reason I noted the total BV1 is because it matches – exactly - that of our opponents and is the limit posed by the OpFor leader. This was totally an accident, a weird sort of coincidence. I was simply selecting the machines available that would do the job.

Using BattleMechs in Lance Strength

Chris Snider, our OpFor leader, expressed surprise at all the Hunchbacks. I pointed out that in ten years of playing this game, I have never once seen any unit deployed in lance strength. Ever! Very strange, I must say, but this will probably be the first time our opponents have seen this as well. The strange part is that in the game of BattleTech, the lance of four is a standard deployment configuration.

Quite a few of the machines in BattleTech, both ‘Mech and Vehicle, were meant to be deployed in groups of four. And a lot of the complaints I have heard over the years about certain designs (such as the Capellan’s Vindicator BattleMech) stem from attempts to use that machine either singly or in pairs. It does no good to explain that such machines, while mediocre at first glance, really come into their own in lance strength. You have to show people how to properly use them.

Yes, the Vindicator is a 45-ton ‘Mech which packs one PPC, one LRM-5, one medium laser and one small laser. It is not very impressive on its own. But it was never meant to go out in less than lance strength! With a movement profile of 4/6/4, four of these ‘Mechs acting in concert can be very, very nasty! With an aggregate Battle Value 1 of 3600, these machines, in their time, were fully capable of taking on much larger opponents. The biggest advantage? There are four… and while your foe is tracking and shooting one, the other three are ganging up on him.

Control Line!

I have been working on a control line plane, the Jumpin’ Bean. Originally a Carl Goldberg model, it is now being produced by Brodak. I did not want to build the kit as-is – I’ve already made many of these little beauties. What I wanted to do was make a new plane design based on as much of the ‘Bean as I could.

The result is something that will look like a P-38 from WWII. I separated the original wing halves with a section which is twelve inches long, and made two profile fuselages based on the original ‘Bean fuse extended three inches. That should offset the weight of the two Cox .049 Sure-Start engines I have on hand. I cannot recommend these new engines enough.

The last time I bought a Cox .049, it was a Black Widow made by Estes (who bought out Cox back in the day) with an integral craptastic plastic fuel tank and cost $50. The new engines have no integral fuel tank – what they do have is a choke tube bolted on the engine backplate. That eliminates forever the tedious process of bulb priming (and maybe flooding) the engine prior to starting. And the new Canadian owners sell them for only $8 each!

I have four .25 ounce Perfect fuel tanks I got in a clearance sale. I am going to solder them together in pairs and install one in the center wing and one the inboard wing. The extra fuel should allow for starting the second engine and flying a bit longer. For comparison, a standard Black Widow integral tank had 8cc’s (or .25 ounces) of fuel and ran for about three minutes.

One engine has a left-hand prop and spring, the other a standard right-hand prop and spring. Since the engines will be turning in opposite directions, the torque from each should be offset nicely. I still have to locate a standard three-bladed 5-3 prop, but the folks in Canada should have some for sale.

My main task, after getting the wing sections built, will be to make sure the assembled wing is flat and the elevator is parallel with the wing and the whole plane squared off. Not an easy job, even with pins, a t-square and superglue! I will install a thinner plywood-reinforced profile ‘cockpit’ on the center wing section and the plane will have tricycle landing gear.

Finally, I will have to reinforce the inboard fuselage ribs with thin plywood. This is where I will place the bellcrank mount (used to transmit the movement of the two control lines to the elevator) and it has to be strong as it is the point at which the lines connect to the plane. A weak bellcrank mount – or even a standard one – will not handle the extra inertia forces from an additional engine and a larger wing.

I will use a bellcrank larger than the standard 1/2A size, too. That way, I won’t have to worry about a twitchy plane.

Thanks for stopping by.



Paint it Pink said...

Always good to see an insight into the process, and blood, sweat and tears of the act of creative writing. Also, good to see that you are keeping a perspective on things, and doing other stuff that you really enjoy.

When I was a teenager I knew a boy called Trevor that did control line aircraft. He showed me how to fly the model, but I'm afraid I could never get it to stay in the air, so I ended up watching him fly instead.

Memories of one's misbegotten youth.

Simon Damson said...

I am not exactly an art guy, but I am interested in following how this book came about and developed.. Can I ask what forums and such you discuss its progress on?

OK I admit, I also have a massive thing for giant robots..

Steven Satak said...

Paint it Pink: Not a misbegotten youth, but a misspent youth. Heh. From your blog it would appear you are more than making up for it! :)

Yeah, control line was really popular in Britain for a long time. I am impressed with the number of CL designs still available on the InterWebz which originated in the land of Winston Churchill.

Like the Commodore computer and the cassette tape drive, Britons tend to wring the very most they can out of a hobby before spending their hard-earned cash on the next interesting googelie.

Steven Satak said...

Simon: go back to the first post in this blog and follow the trials and tribulations over the years if you want the story.

We discuss it on BattleTech Universe and the (ugh!) company site, the Classic Battletech Forums. Or rather, mention it in passing, since there really isn't much of a discussion. A lot of the 'regulars' ignore it because while it conforms with canon as much as humanly possible, the TRO:3063 is not itself a canon product.

And thus not worth more than a smidge of their idle time (they'd much rather while away their lives arguing over whether Catalyst Game Labs needs to be more like Games Workshop, or whether or not Warships can land on a planet).

The blog is for folks who are interested, as well as a clearing house for the artists and writers working away. It's a bit of recognition for them and also a bit of a stump for me to occasionally perform a rant and showcase some of my other hobbies.

Also, I shamelessly plug for help in affording this large vanity. The art has gone over $3300 and we've been writing on 107 entries for a long time.