Building Mans Best Friend – K9

Recently I’ve been drawn towards making a 1:1 scale prop of the shooty dog from the BBC series “Doctor Who” and have already started building it using my own plans based on the designs of several other builds and plans found online.

Right now I have the chassis and head built using foam board, I’m waiting on some extra money to get the fiberglass I need to harden the whole thing before we can even begin to think about paint. Here’s the chassis:

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The entire chassis is made from foam board held together with hot glue, this made for a quick and easy assembly that took maybe 3 hours of sitting on the floor and cutting the pieces. It’s quite sturdy at this point and if I wanted to make just a static prop I could easily clean up the seams and paint it…. but…. we want it to be mobile at the very least.

As I mentioned I also had the head assembled, so here’s that as well:

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We took a quick run to the local hardware store to see what we could find for a neck and came across a downspout adapter that originally seemed like an awesome idea but we’re not really digging it. The plan calls to use dryer exhaust tubing ( something everyone complains about ) but with a twist. Instead of just painting the tubing I’m going to use black plasticoat on it as well as the bumpers which can also be seen in the above pics. The bumpers are just foam pipe insulation but when coated with the plasticoat they’ll be quite durable and look great.

One thing that also seems to trouble a lot of people doing this build is the monitor on the left side. Many of the older builds used just a picture, some went so far as to use computer monitors but guess what? There’s new technology out there that I can take advantage of. In the pics above you can see the hole for the monitor is cut to scale to be screen accurate-ish… I opted to make it slightly smaller and put a tablet in there.

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As you can see the table and bezel I cut for it don’t quit cover the original hole, that will all be cleaned up when I fiberglass everything. The tablet gives it a LOT more functionality and as you can see, even plays shows, right now it’s showing “School Reunion” from the Doctor Who 2005 series, Season 2 Episode 3.

So that’s where I am at right now with it, have a total of about 1 days work and $100 in it if you want to count the $50.00 tablet I purchased from work. Later today I intend to spend some money if it comes in to get the fiberglass resin and mat, neck parts, and possible some other bits to add more to the look of it. I would like to keep the build under $300 but I have a feeling when I go to the hobby shop for the motors and RC parts it’s going to get pricey.

UPDATE 9-8-2016: After making this post I was blessed with the money I needed to go and purchase the fiberglass resin and matting as well as a few other things to work on him with. So if all goes well tomorrow after my road trip I’ll get in the shop and get the head and chassis glassed up and ready. I was also able to get the plasticoat but they didn’t have the dryer exhaust I was after so I’ll get that tomorrow.

UPDATE 9-9-2016: As planned we took K9 out to the shop to get started on the fiber glassing and stuff. For a minute there I forgot how to mix and almost wound up with a mess on my hands, but it quickly all came back to me and other than a few minor issues it went well and I think I’ll slush the inside of the top just because it’s the weakest point since to maintain the curve I used posterboard. Did some light sanding to check the seams.

While cleaning up the shop we also discovered some old speaker covers that are going to be repurposed to make his ears.

For anyone wondering why I sanded to check the seams it’s because I used hot glue to assemble everything and the exothermic heat can melt the glue and cause it all to fall apart if you’re not careful. A PROPER resin and catalyst mix generally won’t cause any problems. Anyhow, here’s the pics of tonight’s progress as well as pics of my wife cleaning up the shop in preparation for the winter and lots of work in there:

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UPDATE 9-11-2016 – For the past couple of nights I’ve been forgoing my second nap before work in favor of working on the K9 build, didn’t get any pics from yesterday so here’s some of today and yesterdays progress…. and guess what, still lots more fiberglass and sanding to do lol. Much of the work I did this evening was getting his head covered in fiberglass, 3/4 covered and roughly same on the body. I can already tell there’s going to be a fair bit of bondo work and I am REALLY leaning towards doing some rondo over the inside as the larger side panels aren’t going to be as tough as I was hoping.

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UPDATE 9-14-2016 – Found a few more detailed pics of K9 to use as reference when it comes time to add some more finishing touches.

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UPDATE 9-15-2016 – Got out and worked a lot on K9’s head today. There’s still one area that’s bugging me and I need to get it built up, also found a slight dip in the top of the head I’ll work on as well.

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UPDATE 9-18-2016 – Well the weather has taken a turn for the wetter and I don’t want to risk slinging resin with the humidity the way it’s been so I’ve been doing some work inside getting my 3D printer back up to speed and…. creating some printable parts for anyone wanting to build a 1:1 K9. Right now I’ve got the bezel for the side where the tablet goes, as well as the lettering for the other side. Both of the following are STL files and able to be scaled to suit your needs. I am providing these free of charge, feel free to share them and use them in your builds but don’t sell them as is.

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UPDATE 9-19-2016 – Got out to the shop for a bit and did some sanding on the chassis. I decided that since I am planning on molding the head and chassis, I don’t need the hold in the side for the screen as this would limit what others might want to put there. So I removed the hand cut bezel and smoothed it out around where it was and will fill in the hole so that when it’s molded up it will just be a smooth side. Hoping tomorrow to get some more fiberglass on the chassis and that one spot on the head that keeps bugging me.

I was also able to pick up some small chess pieces, reason being is that K9’s ears don’t appear to be just rods stuck into his skull, they look like the bases to little chess pawns. So I have some now and will work on repurposing those for his ears.

With the 3D printer back up and running I’m finding more and more stuff to print to add detail to the build. Some of these will be included in the mold, others will be added after it’s cast like the bezel and ears.

UPDATE 9-20-2016 – Went out in the shop this morning, couldn’t get focused on K9 so started another much simpler project that led me to working on K9 somehow. Anyhow, I made a couple parts for the ears out of the aforementioned speaker grill. It was a 6″ speaker and I managed to get both ears out of 1 grill.

So what you see here are the steps I took in making the ears. I cut them out with snips, sanded them some in case there was stuff on them that might prevent paint from sticking. After that I took an old USB cable and sliced it down one side, removed the two wired inside and then used it to make the trim around the ears. The curve in the ears was made by wrapping the ear pieces over an old paint can I had laying around ( one great thing about metal ears is they bend and keep their shape ).

I’ve also included some pics of the chess pieces I plan to use for the “stalks” of his ears. I opted for the bishops as they were a bit taller and slender than the pawns and in the last pic you can get an approximation of how they look with the ears precariously balanced atop them.

Other work done was on the chassis and I started adding fiberglass to the insets on the lower part of the chassis, I’ll try to get more pics tonight if I get out there again.

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UPDATE 9-26-2016 – Well it’s still too humid out for slinging resin so I worked on some other Whovian things while the 3D printer kicked out some nice letters for me. Thinking of reprinting them just a bit thicker for more definition. Using my model above I scaled it up in Repetier to X: 6, Y: 6, and Z: 1 but as I said I will probably reprint it thicker so Z: 2 will look better I believe.


Went out for another round in the shop because I absolutely had to see how the letters looked on K9… did some more sanding and cleaning up around the insets on the lower chassis and smoothed out the side some more where the letters go and used a bogie to hold them on. Also filled in the hole on the other side and started sanding that all smooth, gonna be a fair bit of bondo work before casting can even be contemplated but it is coming along. I like the fact I’m taking my time, paying attention to things and getting it done slowly but surely. Also did a sort of mock up and tossed a neck and the head on him.

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