All my life I’ve been a huge fan of the Half-Life series and especially the Gravity Gun which was introduced in the second title of the franchise. I’m so in love with the overall design of the weapon so you could only imagine how thrilled I was when NECA announced their own Gravity Gun replica. Unfortunately the lack of detail (of course compromises had to be made) prevented myself from buying it. I guess I could have added some details here and there, repainted it, you know the deal.
Slowly the thought of creating one from scratch was coming closer and a few days later I already sat infront of AutoCAD and modelled the Gravity Gun in the good old fashion way: 2D!
Basically the idea was to create the gun from Plexiglas and aluminum. The parts which are going to end up being metal are the ones which keep the internal structure together and prevent the thing from falling apart.
However the odd shaped main body is going to be made from acrylics. I’m not THAT big of a fan of using acrylics but it’s just a nice and comfortable material to work with.
After around four months of constantly drawing, resizing, lack of motivation and loads of headache I got the point where I called it finished… at least the model on my computer screen. Designing the gun was one of the hardest things I ever came across but I eventually figured out a way to make everything detachable and maintenance-friendly without losing stability. A local store then helped me to cut all the parts needed from various Plexiglas sheets, ranging from 1,5mm up to 12mm.
My good friend Michael offered me to have all the circular shaped objects (barrels, caps, canisters, etc.) which are needed on the backside CNC-machined from aluminum.
Considering I was going to create them from MDF… it was a nobrainer to accept his generous offer. Even though the weight would “slightly” increase, who would have declined? ; )
So he spent a lot of his spare time just to hand me over all those parts… what a crazy guy he is. THANK YOU MICHI!
So. Much. Stuff.
I managed to pick everything up from the laser guy and already began putting all the parts for the base together. Just to confirm I didn’t make any mistakes in planning. I had good feeling though as I rechecked every part at least three times! ; )
Feels like I was buying this thing from IKEA looking at all those parts… and this is only for the main body.
It would have been nearly impossible to cut this all by hand considering all this stuff needs to be totally exact when it comes to dimensions. So glad I went with the laser.
The right image shows main junction which holds everything in place.
The two M12-rods will be connecting the main barrel of the gun to its rear and act as additional support beams running through the whole structure.
On with the progress… after searching all the parts which are needed first I carefully aligned them and started glueing them together!
While I was waiting for the glue to cure I started working on the end cap for the main barrel (right image).
The little slots are supposed to be holes to let the cables of all the LEDs come from the barrel to the inside of the gun and connect up with the power sources and Arduinos.
Also you can see the two holes for the M12-bolts.
The next step was to grind all the acrylic plates which are used for the shell to the correct angle and so form the outer shape.
This was a fairly quick process by using my belt sander and so one after another piece got glued onto the base plate. For exact alignment two angles were used to prevent the plates from tilting while the glue was drying. Furthermore the shape needed to be as perfect as possible in order to fit the lasercut backplate which seals up the whole enclosure.
Instead of using Loctite I used Acryfix-192 for glueing the Plexiglas as I found this stuff really bonds parts to each other. It cures under UV light pretty fast and is really great to work with. If you ever happen to need to glue some acrylic stuff, definitely give it a try.
Let there be light!
A Gravity Gun wouldn’t be complete without some fancy light show, right? RIGHT!
Here are the first two of the RGB-LED modules which are going to be used all over this build. Those are called NeoPixel’s and are made by Adafruit. Basically all the LEDs (type: WS2812) are individually addressable and controllable by let’s take for an example an Arduino or Raspberry Pi.
Each LED-cluster will run a different fading/pulsing pattern which later on can be individually programmed. Controlled are those little boys in my case by two Arduinos seated in the rear canisters. More to that later on.
The little “Jewel” as it’s called by Adafruit will make the hatch on the gun’s main body light up whereas the 24-LED-ring will bring light inside the barrel.
I used some temporary mounting methods to show you what it’s going to end up looking like.
While in terms of glueing the main body of the Gravity Gun is basically finished I moved on to the frames which enclose the Xen-Crystals. Each frame is made from two layered pieces of acrylic in different strengths. I sanded the inner edges where the parts come together to create a seam around the inner area which will get special treatment (worn, rusty, etc.) later on.
A few small holes are lasered in every single piece of acrylic where tiny rods were put to keep the pieces aligned perfectly when stacking and glueing them.
This job was done pretty fast, only the sanding took me some time. However as they were glueing I started working on the heat-pipes which are mounted on the lower backside of the gun. It’s not actually exchanging any heat, just to clear things up : )
As so often – aesthetics. And a few minutes later the module was built and mounted – IKEA style!
There I was, facing another problem with the main barrel. Since all the Xen-Crystals should get illuminated by LED-strips aswell I had to mill some indents along the main barrel to have the stips flush with the barrel. My awesome friend Michael helped me out on this one too and again spent his spare time to get this thing going. Asked him on Sunday afternoon, got it on Monday… this guy is simply crazy! Without his insane help on the CNC stuff I would not be able to create this project in the quality I had hoped it to end up in.
While the barrel was in the works I drilled some holes in the Xen-canisters which got tapped for some M12 rods. Those will extend inside the barrel and function as mount on the main frame.
Filling, sanding, smoothing…
Self-explanatory. It was time to get all the sandpaper I could find and start working on all the imperfections. Luckily I wasn’t in the need to smooth it perfeclty as I had to apply a rusty metal paintjob later on. And for that the part had to make look distressed and weathered anyway. So there was mercy!
After a little bit of sanding, applying a base-coat, filling and even more sanding I started putting it together so get an idea how it is going to look like.
I screwed all the CNC’d parts to each other and put them on the main frame – it looked awesome. Finally it started coming together after all this time : )
To add a little detail and depth I added small aluminum bars inside the barrel to fit the conturs of the front element. Looks muuuuch better. Me like.
Painting and rusting
FINALLY! It was about time to let my passion for painting rise to the very top : ) The part I’m looking forward the most in any build has come and so I grabbed my brushes and all the acrylics I could find and started rusting the main body. Including all the CNC machined parts and the heat-exchanger. A few hours later it was done and for the most part I was happy with what was accomplished. A few bits and bobs had to be redone but that could wait for another time.
Remember the little LED-module I built in the hatch on the gun’s main body? Here’s a sneak peek of what the lighting is going to look like later on.
Finally I managed to start working on the gun’s main handle protruding from its rear. I wasn’t sure which material to use at first but after browsing my workshop for a little while I remembered I had this layered and glued piece of ash-tree wood lying around. I was given that block a few years ago and when I remember correctly this was part of a dampening system for an industrial hydraulic pump. Luckily it fit all the dimensions so I started my beloved angle grinder and started sanding it down.
However I haven’t really done some progress pictures while carving. After I was happy with the shape a U-shaped slot had to be milled which was done by mounting the piece vertically on my drill press and using a 25mm forstner bit.
I wasn’t really quite sure about the shape I wanted to end up with so I tried to improve the handle by creating some kind of molds for your fingers to rest in.
Unfortunately this didn’t turn out quite well in my opinion so I had to redo it again…
For those of you who wonder: the reddish bondo kinda looking stuff is wood filler to cover and fill all the areas I grinded too hollow.
This time I chose to get rid of the molds for the fingers and make it plain but with rounded edges along the sides. Again I covered some areas with wood filler since there were some indents here and there from it hitting the floor when it slipped out of my hand while grinding.
I’ve been frustrated quite a bit as the handle didn’t turn out quite as good as I expected it to be so I’ve began working on the little metal shaft which gets inserted in the milled part.
Since I do not own a lathe I had to figure out a way how to create this little groove in the upper part of it. Finally it was much simpler as I thought it would be
I cut two shafts from a 25mm aluminium rod and connected them by inserting a washer between and with a little help of Loctite 638; this stuff is AMAZING! However now that I think of it I could have just mounted it in my drill press and used a Dremel disc to cut it. (I tend to thinking quite complicated on simple stuff). In the end this was done fairly and I chamfered the edges on the belt sander.
Also two thin wooden sheets were added on both sides for aesthetics ; )
As the handle needed to be grey I did a quick-n-dirty paintjob to at least see what it will look like. Then I had ordered myself some black/grey/blue-ish goat leather which got cut into thinner and thicker stripes for to be wrapped around the upper part of the handle which was now finally attached to the Xen-canisters.
Barrel caps and Grip.
While I was working on the handle my friend Michael passed by and handed me some pretty neat aluminum parts of pure CNC-amazingness! Thank you buddy, so frickin’ much!!
This shots have been done later on so don’t mind all the scratches. Those are the caps for the two barrels on the gun’s back. Including this small end cap thingy which gets mounted between the main cap and the rubber handle on the left side of the gun.
First I had to align it with the bigger cap to drill the mounting holes to connect those two. Those then were tapped with M5 threads. The little cap needed to be hollow since a switch is going to seated in there. This switch then will be used to cycle between different lighting effects.
I was also searching for some rubber motorcycle handles for the side attachment. To find the perfect one (in terms of look and size) it took me nearly three days until I found a seller in Lithuania via eBay who sold them. Taken from an old (1982) BMW motorcycle.
As I’m waiting for the last CNC-lathed part to finish up the backside of the gun I managed to get the gauge going, aswell as other parts for the front.
The initial setup of the gauge is quite simple. The face itself was designed in Photoshop, printed on some sticker paper, then eventually post-painted with acrylics and glued onto a special kind of white opaque acrylic which I used to distribute the light of the leds underneath. As the base I used an old manometer I had lying around and teared it apart.
Didn’t do much of photographying during this process so you have to be happy with the pictures below : )
Since I want the whole thing to look like it has been used under the roughest conditions the glass covering the gauge of course wouldn’t survive the harsh journey. So I smashed it on the floor, picked up the parts and put it in. MAXIMUM REALSIM!
Now finally let’s head to some parts of the electronic setup I have planned to be installed. The blue PCB’s are custom made especially to fit in the gun’s canisters. Both Arduinos can be removed to re-program them for different effects later on. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to capture the white lighting though, sorry for that : (
Now the fun part began! Weathering and distressing the whole part. From shiny aluminum to scrap metal in minutes ; )
Before that though a thin layer of stainless-steel-looking paint was applied to give me good base to apply all the acrylics. This is the part I’m looking forward to in every single project, that’s where my creativity shines the most. But I guess I mentioned that already : )
Making dem jems.
Eventually it was about time to start casting the Xen-Crystals which are running along the gun’s barrel aswell as the circular shaped one in the front part. I do not have any detailed progress images on that since it was my first time casting and I needed all my concentration to actually not screw it up.
Which unfortunately happened at some point but yeah, in the end all worked out : )
I casted the circular shaped crystal by putting the raw part (which was lasered too) inside a 210mm fan I got laying around from a casemod I did a few years back. This worked out phenomenal and in notime I had a perfectly orange-ish crystal using Smooth-On’s “Smooth-Cast 300” and some additive’s for applying color. While the resin was curing I put small glass stones and black plastic flakes inside the mold to end up with inner textures and irregularities in the surface. This definitely helped to improve the look in terms of realism.
When cured completed I ended up dabbing the crystal with black acrylic color and applying two coats of clear coat.
Same was done with the crystal bars : )
Here’s what the finished up crystals ended up looking like. I’m really happy with the result and couldn’t have wished for something better. Just what I had in mind : )
And here’s a video on the lighting effect! Enjoy.
So as I was satisfied with the first outcomes the last four crystals had to be casted and put on the gun to see if everything had a nice fit – it did : ) On the image below you can see how the crystals did look right from the mold. What a difference a little bit of clear-coat makes though.
I actually forgot to cast one orange part for the inside of the barrel. This should deffuse and evenly distribute the light from NeoPixels quite nicely.
Wire it all up.
And with those previous two last pictures this worklog ends. A few more details had to be added here and there, some screws replaced and of course covering the whole gun a nice rusty paintjob. What now follows though are the final pictures I took. Enjoy and thanks for checking out my version of the Gravity Gun : )
And here’s a picture of me : D If you believe it or not, the Gravity Gun weighs around 15kg and due to its odd shaped form it’s a real struggle actually holding it. Props to Gordon!
And as a late Christmas present this year I received an email from Valve… yeah… Valve! They hit me up, congratulated me on my replica and offered me to send one of the models from NECA they held back for all those years since the release. Of course I accepted their generous offer and two days later (thanks Fedex) I had a parcel waiting in front of my door : ) The only wish they had before sending it to me that I accepted to send them some shots with both of the guns for comparison. Not a bad deal if you aske me : )
Lam… Lam… LAMAR! Could… could. Could you please… I’m trying to photogr… nevermind…
Thanks everyone for checking out! : )No posts available