Tag Archives: Prop building

Upgrading Derek

You may be familiar with Derek the dalek from earlier posts – he’s a project I embarked on thanks to my eldest kid, who has always been the chief Whovian of the family. We built Derek for a Vancouver Fan Expo, and he nearly worked. Then we rebuilt him for the last Fan Expo before the Great Pandemic, and he was something of a triumph.

But, like a lot of the things I have built over the years, he has his issues. Assembled from scrap wood and bondo and papier mache and more bondo and lots and lots and lots of paint, he’s really HEAVY. He’s hard to pack into the car, even though he comes to pieces, and he’s hard to wheel around. Mrs Dim has been suggesting for ages that we make him lighter, but I simply didn’t know how.

But then, the other day, we were talking about how to store Derek somewhere less obtrusive than the basement. Maybe he could go out in a shed? I immediately designed a TARDIS that would accommodate him, and would cost a couple hundred bucks less than the cheapest shed, but Mrs Dim said no. So I went to the Project Dalek Forum to look for alternatives.

I didn’t find any. I find a complete set of files for a life-size 3D printed Dalek, the same model as Derek.

WHAT IF WE REPLACED SOME OF THE HEAVIER PARTS WITH 3D PRINTS?

See, I have TWO 3D printers, thanks to an accident of fate.

Neither has a particularly large print bed, and I’m stingy with buying PLA, so I rearely have more than one full roll at a time, but still…

I decided to start with the dome, printing a new bottom edge to sharpen up the lines on Derek’s dome.

This looked like it was going to take ages! But once I had a few of those blue edge pieces printed, I couldn’t resist printing the next part up, just to see what it would look like. The red part in the picture took 8 hours to print, and wiped out the last of the PLA I had for that printer. But it looks great!

So I restrung that printer with an old quarter-reel of PLA and churned out another two blue pieces, then got that printer working on a bigger blue piece while the first one turned out a yellow.

Which is where I am now. That hole you can see should be filled tonight, and then I need to order more PLA so I can continue. Two more edge pieces and one more curved piece, and I am halfway round the dome! Slow going, yes, but faster than the way we built the original dome, and way, way, waaaaaay lighter!

I want to complete the dome, print a new neck section, and preferably a new set of shoulders too. All of those are heavy elements, and none are weight bearing. If we can trade them for 3d printed versions, they’ll make Derek lighter and easier to move, as well as being more accurate and having cleaner lines.

3D printing a life-size dalek sounds crazy, but so did building one when I didn’t have access to a 3D printer. We did a great job with Derek Mark 1, and a better job with Derek Mk 2. This is just Derek Mk 3, the same axe with perhaps a new handle and a new head, but the same axe nonetheless.