Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Update on Life

Wow I'm tired.  I haven't updated my blog in almost a month and for that I'm sorry.  I promised to show you a painted example of the heavy armor.  Trouble with that is I actually have to paint them.  I honestly haven't found the time.  I have them assembled and primed but I have gotten no farther.  It's the story of my entire miniatures collection.  It grows but I can never seem to complete an army.

So what has taken my time?

Well a gaming table actually.

My gaming group got together shortly after my last blog post and while drinking a lot we decided it would be quite nice to build a gaming table. 

I can’t stress how much alcohol was involved in this decision because it has proven quite the undertaking.  We aren’t the most graceful or skilled carpenters on the planet. In fact I’d have to say our skill level with “Craft (furniture)” is roughly -4 ranks averaged between us. 

However with several pints of Guinness anything is possible.

So I was tasked, possibly as a cruel joke, with coming up with a perfect gaming table design.

So that I did.

After our RPG session we drank and discussed options and the materials we could use.  We hashed out our basic needs and what level of complexity we were talking about.  Some of my gamer colleagues and I even field tripped to local home supply stores to see potential materials for the build.

Afterwards, armed with all this critical intelligence I sat down with another beer and google sketchup to plan.   I put the design together in google sketchup so that people can take a look at it in 3d. 

At its core the table design we came up with is modular so we can reformat it to fit our needs.  Made up of 3 separate segments, the two outside segments are self-supporting and hold up the central segment.

The first section is a relatively small table sized at 32”x48” followed by a center projection section also at 32”x48”, and the last section with a size of 48”x48”.  When combined, this will make a single table 4’ by 9’4” table suitable to fit our large 10 person gaming group.  In the center of this large table is an LCD projector rear mounted to display dynamic content on the tabletop itself.  The entire surface of the table is covered in plexiglass mounted on piano hinges so maps and gaming aids can be put under them and wet or dry erase markers used directly on the table top.  In all, great for RPG gaming. 

Or we can remove the projection section to make a 4’ by 6’8” table.  This size is perfectly sized for table top wargaming, having a standard 4’ b6 6’ surface with 4 inches on either side for models in reserve or removed from game. 

Or we can separate the 4’ by 4’ table giving us a single square table.  This is perfect for traditional 4 player board games or smaller skirmished based table top games.

The 2’8” by 4’ table also works for smaller board and card games with 2 to 4 players.  Or it can be tucked out of the way for entertaining.

The frame of the table is sturdy design using 2x2 and 2x4 lumber to distribute the weight.
Along the outer edge of the table are mounted K-Rails, a snap fit rail system traditionally used in garages. Here we use it for mounting shelving to expand the surface as needed. The K-Rail system acts as both the lip of the table top and lets us mount temporary table space around the outside of the table as well as mount cup holders, dice towers, and other amenities wherever we sit.

Kobalt makes K-rail shelves, baskets, and so on that, with minor modification, can serve the needs of any gaming group without trouble.  Our basic design mounts a 12” by 18” piece of 3/4th inch particle board onto two flat K-rail brackets with a piano hinge at the back to mount plexiglass.  This simple structure adds a single seating place with enough room for the player to roll dice and store their character sheet under plexiglass and use markers to track health and so on.  Other designs can be made and the player or group could customize these shelves to whatever they need or simply go without them entirely.

The structure is supported by its two end sections.  Each one is mounted on a set of 4” by 4” legs mounted on locking casters.  The legs are 30” long with 2” casters, once flush mounted with the top the table stands roughly 32” high.  This is a tiny bit higher than a normal table for sitting but slightly low for a standing counter top. We found this was a good medium for both standing and seated gaming.  The casters make the table easy to move around.  The large size and sturdy nature of the legs allow the table to support the center section of the table for the projector.  This insert is pinned on with aluminum pipe.  Though it may support a side seat it is mostly intended to simply mount the projector.  Minor modifications could make this table free standing or mount other equipment like an LCD TV or monitor.

So that’s the design.  Lets see some pictures.

Needed Supplies
1/2" Masonite                         x1  32"x48" + x1   48"x48"  +  x2 2" strips 48" and x2 2" strips 28" long
1/8" Plexi                                x2  32"x48" +  x2 24"x48"                                    Note: the largest plexi we found was 32” x 48” if you can find bigger it might be a cheaper build.  This is the most expensive part, doesn’t count any plexi for K-rail place settings.  Roughly 250 bucks here, literally costs as much as the entire table (minus projector).
2 part epoxy                                        1 tube                          Used to glue plexi to hinges.
2” Flush Seat Wooden Screws   x100                                    Used to mount the K-rails
2x2                                    53'6"                            ~7 boards Cuts are below.
2x4                                    39'2"                            ~5 boards Cuts are below.
3/4" Aluminum pipe               3'                                 holds table sections together
3/4" U-bracket                                    x16                  holds up the pipe that holds table sections together
3” Flush Seat Wooden Deck Screws   x100                                    Used to build the frame.
4x4                                          20’                       ~2 boards Note: alternatively you can use folding table leg kits but each section will need to be self supporting.
Casters –locking                     x8                                    screw on casters best.
Cotter pins                              x8                                    Ace has them individually, need to get ones that will fit the pipe bought to hold tables together.
 Glass Mounting Kit                x1                                    not sure on this, you need to mount a mirror at a 45 degree angle for the projector to get a focal length of 5 feet not sure on the fittings needed for that, I assume, duct-tape
K-Rail Track                                    26'7”                                    ~8 six foot rails
L-brackets                               x32                                    used to mount the legs. Note: not needed if you use folding leg kits
LCD projector                        x1                                    standard long throw projector that has rear mounting settings.
Mirror                                     x1                                      Minimum 12"x12" preferably larger                                    16” or 18” square would be best
Piano Hinge                            x6  12"                          Sold individually   
White Craft Paper                                    32"x48"                                    this is the projection surface, you can use craft paper, tracing paper, or any other semitransparent surface with an opacity of around 70%.  You can buy drafting paper that has this opacity and ½” grid lines.
Wire Cart +casters no top      x1                    used to mount the projector, could be a board with casters honestly, just needs to be flat and can mount a projector and mirror.

Wood Cuts
2x2 - x6 48" - x6 29" - x4 45"
2x4 - x4 32" - x6 41" - x2 48"
4x4 - x8 30”
masonite - x1 32"x48" - x1 48"x48" - x2 32"x2"  - x2 44"x2"
K-rail - x4 48" - x4 32"

K-rail flat mount brackets - 2 per seat/expansion shelf
MDF - 18" x 12" per seat/expansion shelf     x1 8'by4' MDF board cut down into segments