Old 09-01-2014, 03:48 AM   #1
Scotophor
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Default "Gummi Bear" Handlink Info

(WARNING: long post, links to old topics)

Hi all,

Here's what I hope will be a most unusual first post. I'm a long-time model builder and prop replica maker, and I also have a few screen-used props, but none from QL yet. I've been lurking here while doing web research on the handlink for several weeks.

Ever since QL was in first-run broadcast, I've wanted my own "Gummi Bear" handlink. Although this website is probably the best source of info on the original props currently to be found on the web, there is some erroneous info here too. Since most of it is found in very old topics, rather than resurrecting a bunch of them, I thought it might be better to post a new one and put all of my corrections in one place. I'm also adding a couple of things I've discovered on my own (though I'm probably not the first), which I couldn't find online anywhere.


Topics with posts about handlink sounds:
Ziggy noises
A Long Shot
Need some help with Handlink audio files
Need some sounds for fanvids

Though technically the sounds weren't part of the prop, since replica builders often want their props to make sounds, and clips from the show are invariably noisy or contain unwanted sounds, I've included info relating to the handlink sounds here. I have found clear and mostly-clean copies of several of the exact sound effects that were dubbed in for the handlink, in some CD collections of cartoon sound effects from Hanna-Barbera. These sounds were used in many of the classic cartoons from the 1960s through the '80s, such as The Flintstones; Scooby Doo, Where Are You?; The Jetsons; Super Friends; etc. I first recognized a brief montage containing several of the handlink sounds when I channel-surfed into an episode of Scooby Doo where he hides in a barrel, pokes his tail out the top and bends it then pivots it around like a periscope, then peeks out through a knot hole in the side. I haven't listened to all of the Hanna-Barbera collections CDs yet but I would not be surprised if all of the HL sounds are in there. The collection CDs are not cheap, but they and some of the individual tracks containing HL sounds (and even some shorter clips edited from those tracks) can be found online if you search enough. Even if the HL sounds are not all found in the H-B CD collections, I'm fairly sure the missing ones can be found somewhere in the H-B library of cartoons. I haven't been able to find or identify the handlink "Ziggy squeals" yet, but I believe they may be the voice of some cute unintelligible cartoon creature, and are probably not included in the sound effects library. They may have been altered in pitch for the handlink by filtering and/or being played at a different speed than in the original cartoon.


Topic with posts about LED colors, plastic names, colors and colors changing, gluing:
My Handlink Replica

The LED colors used in the hero props were green, red and yellow (in all prop versions), plus a few orange in at least two versions. The green LEDs often appeared yellow (especially in the era of VHS tapes and pre-HD TV), and the orange and red may appear the same also, so if you don't have the highest quality of source material and screen, you might think the LEDs used were only red and yellow.

Regarding the different names of plastics that have been mentioned as being used-- Lucite, Perspex and Plexiglas are all trade names for the same thing: poly(methyl methacrylate), also known as PMMA, and usually referred to generically as "acrylic", though in reality "acrylic" more correctly refers to a family of chemically-related plastics, of which PMMA is only one member.

The original transparent plastic colors used were: clear, fluorescent pink (sometimes appears orangeish), fluorescent green (often looks more like yellow), light blue, dark blue and amber (a medium yellow/orange shade). The epoxy bodies of the LEDs were the following transparent colors: yellow, pale green, pink, red and orange. Some versions of the prop had a small area in a darker shade of green near the upper left corner of the front side, which was sometimes one of the LED blocks and sometimes just plastic or resin with no LEDs. Additional false colors (such as various purple/lavender shades) were often formed when light came through the prop, mixing different colors from its front and back sides. In some screenshots and photos of the real prop now owned by Deborah Pratt, you can see that repairs or modifications were made replacing some of the transparent acrylic tiles with new tiles of different, opaque yellow and orange colors.

Regarding the gluing of acrylic without fogging or cracking it, you can get glues made for this purpose from suppliers of raw plastics. Some that I have used are SciGrip 4SC and SciGrip 16, both made by Weld-On. They work much better on acrylics than "super glue" or "krazy glue" type adhesives. However, per the Wikipedia article, acrylic that has been laser-cut will usually crack when glued unless it has been properly annealed, a procedure which requires hours of processing in a special precisely temperature-controlled oven. For that reason, it's usually better to cut acrylic that will later be glued by either the score-and-snap method or by careful use of a saw with finely-pitched teeth.


Topics with posts about the battery used in the hero props:
Just a small thing i noticed
Handlink/PQL Technology Shots
Handlink Replica's!!!
3D/CG Handlink

In the first topic linked just above, there is a claim of the actual prop using 4 dime-sized "coin cell" type batteries. I don't have a clue where that info comes from; I've never seen images or read about such an arrangement anywhere else, so I consider it as most likely false. Several other posts mention a 9-volt battery. The actual battery type used (and visible) in the hero props was a "Type J" 6-volt battery, used primarily in Polaroid instant cameras. Different brands were used at various times, as can be seen in some of the high-resolution screenshots posted in the Handlink/PQL Technology Shots link above: Duracell, and Radio Shack. Though I'm thankful they didn't, I often wonder why the prop makers didn't use the standard method of "hiding" things in transparent items: wrap the battery in chrome! Cover the thing you want to hide in Pop-Tarts wrappers and it will be practically invisible.

If anyone reading this has ever opened up a standard 9-volt battery, you have seen that they contain 6 skinny "AAAA" size cells. The J battery has 4 of the exact same cells inside it. These cells are slightly unusual though, at least in the batteries I've opened, because they are negative (-) polarity at the "pin" end and positive (+) on the flat end, the opposite of normal AAAA cells. This info could be useful in case J batteries become difficult to obtain, because if you split one open carefully along the seam, you can simply use it as a holder for AAAA cells, as long as you get the polarity right when you install them. If AAAA cells become hard to get too, you can still get them by cutting open 9 volt batteries.


It's a shame about the scammers who posted here. I'm glad to see that preventive action was taken apparently before "MrDashbo" was able to con anyone with his bogus lightless replica, and I am sorry for those who were robbed by Brad "NeuroMason" Bowlin. That episode is especially distasteful considering his seemingly genuine talent -- in analyzing his images posted here and elsewhere I see that he constructed no less than six different reasonably faithful "gummi bear" handlink replicas (possibly more), so I have to wonder, just why didn't he deliver them as promised?

Anyway, sorry for the long-windedness but I hope this post helps out others like me who are trying to research this fascinating prop to find what they want to know and make sense of the conflicting information that is available.
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Old 09-07-2014, 03:59 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotophor View Post
...there is a claim of the actual prop using 4 dime-sized "coin cell" type batteries. I don't have a clue where that info comes from; I've never seen images or read about such an arrangement anywhere else, so I consider it as most likely false.
It seems that I can't edit the original post anymore (edit deadline on this site?), so here's an update:

Apparently at least some versions of the prop, which member "cyland props" called "less-than-hero" versions, used craft-store prepackaged LED "T-shirt flasher" lighting circuit kits to blink their LEDs. The kit circuits, sold as "Fashion Lites" by "Darice", and "Lightables" by "Paintables", do indeed run on 4 button-cell batteries of type AG13, LR44 or 357 (are all equivalent and there are several other less-used alternate numbers for the same type too). It seems odd to me though, that there are no photos of such a version of the original props online, except perhaps the weird prototype auctioned by Profiles in History that has no red-colored parts at all and no external LED blocks.
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Old 09-12-2014, 06:56 PM   #3
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Update to the above update: Even the prototype prop auctioned by Profiles in History did not actually use the 4 coin or button cells, if it indeed used a t-shirt flasher kit at all; at least one "Energizer" brand cell similar to an AAA or AAAA cell is visible inside it. So there is still no evidence to support any version of the "gummi bear" handlink running on 4 coin cells.
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Old 11-14-2014, 08:35 PM   #4
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Interesting post. I didn't realize they used vintage Hanna Barbera sound effects for Al's handlink. So have you actually built a screen accurate prop replica? What would you charge to do so? The only member here that once offered them turned out to be a crook.
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Old 11-15-2014, 04:29 AM   #5
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I'm in preliminary stages of working on one nearly screen-accurate replica for myself, and being a stickler for accuracy (in some respects) I'm trying to get all the correct vintage obsolete LEDs. I was able to get more than half of what the prop needs very quickly, but I seem to have depleted the world's entire internet-accessible supply -- from a total of just two people who actually delivered, and three who seem only to be stringing me along. I'm sure there are more of the LEDs out there, but finding and getting them is going to take a while.

Once I've made my replica, offering additional replicas to others is a real possibility. There was a member on another forum who offered replicas a while back, but apparently they didn't sell well and he's stopped making them. IMO his replicas weren't very good. Instead of casting individual LED light bars in the correct colors, he laser-cut replica "blocks" to represent entire LED clusters on the prop, using readily available plastic materials in incorrect colors, and he drilled them and mounted individual LEDs into the drilled holes. Whatever filler/adhesive he used (if any) did not match the optical qualities of the plastic, so the drill cavities were clearly visible in the finished replicas.

The handlink is among the most complex and exacting props to make for its size, especially considering that to make them in quantity greater than one unit demands that a builder concerned about accuracy will have to replicate the individual LED light bars. That task alone is considerably demanding. In view of the amount of labor involved to make and assemble the literally hundreds of parts required, I doubt that I could offer a reasonably accurate lighted replica for less than USD $1000. A reasonable target price would probably be in the $1500 to $2000 range, unless by some miracle I'm able to obtain a large quantity of the correct LEDs.

Oh, as long as I'm posting, another minor correction to my first post above: The "instant" film cameras which used type "J" batteries were Kodak brand, not Polaroid. The Polaroid system incorporated the battery into the film pack. Unfortunately, Polaroid sued Kodak for patent infringement, and the Kodak cameras and film were pulled from the market, leading to reduced demand for the J batteries. Although they are still available and being made today, their applications are dwindling and I expect they'll probably be obsolete in the next decade or two.
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Old 06-27-2015, 12:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
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...unless by some miracle I'm able to obtain a large quantity of the correct LEDs.
A couple of partial miracles have happened over the past two weeks or so:
  1. I have obtained a significant quantity of the large 2-chip LED light bars used in the handlink, but only the yellow color. This is still great news, because the prop used almost twice as many of those in yellow, as red and green. Also, my research indicates that yellow may be rarer than red and green. So, finding a bunch of yellow ones may be a double win.
  2. By coincidence, while waiting for those yellow light bars to arrive, I have discovered the original manufacturer and all three part numbers of the large 2-chip LED light bars. I have also found about a half-dozen websites of companies claiming to have stock of them, and contacted them by email or their web forms. So far one of these possible suppliers has responded saying they don't have them, and telling me what I already knew, that they are obsolete and no longer made. Just what I needed... more frustration, from a company basically lying online about what they can provide.

So, I'm still searching for the large 2-chip light bars in red and green, and the 3-chip light bars in green. I'm also working toward replicating them, in case I'm unable to locate originals (or trade some of my yellow light bars for them).

EDIT: The thumbnail photo below looks like a broken image on my system, but clicking on it brings up the full-size image just fine.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Proof2.jpg (247.4 KB, 19 views)
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Old 06-28-2015, 02:53 PM   #7
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Thanks for this very interesting thread, Scotophor. I know the forum has very little activity these days (it's been 25 years and there seems zero chance that we'll have a reunion film or continued series due to Dean's age, Scott committed to NCIS:NO, and Bellisario being too busy counting his money).

As for the handlink, I've been trying to confirm the battery type from all the visual evidence available to us. Now that Quantum Leap episodes are out there in High Definition, I took two screenshots of the handlink at what I believe to be the highest resolution we'll ever have access to:
http://www.quantumleap-alsplace.com/...1727#post61727

The battery does seem to have a different shape than a 9V, and it's hard to tell, but the lower right corner does seem to have a 45 cut which would confirm the 6V battery. However I've been unable to find a photo of the exact Radio Shack Alkaline Enercell 6V that would have been pictured.
http://leapback2009.com/photos/main.php?g2_itemId=1123

Thanks again for doing all this research. It looks like you have been digging for quite a while, as after about 20 minutes of searching, I found your thread here:
http://www.electronicspoint.com/thre...t-bars.270687/

Also, I'm happy to glue the acrylic myself, but I haven't been able to source the correct colors and thickness of acrylic, and the aforementioned clouding problem. But if you have the solutions to both problems, I'd be interested!
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Old 06-28-2015, 03:13 PM   #8
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So all this time, I thought those were clear acrylic blocks with LEDs mounted inside them. Now it looks like the surface is made up of different packages of LEDs molded into two and three LED blocks?
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Old 06-29-2015, 02:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feldon30 View Post
Thanks for this very interesting thread, Scotophor. I know the forum has very little activity these days (it's been 25 years and there seems zero chance that we'll have a reunion film or continued series due to Dean's age, Scott committed to NCIS:NO, and Bellisario being too busy counting his money).

As for the handlink, I've been trying to confirm the battery type from all the visual evidence available to us. Now that Quantum Leap episodes are out there in High Definition, I took two screenshots of the handlink at what I believe to be the highest resolution we'll ever have access to:
http://www.quantumleap-alsplace.com/...1727#post61727

The battery does seem to have a different shape than a 9V, and it's hard to tell, but the lower right corner does seem to have a 45 cut which would confirm the 6V battery. However I've been unable to find a photo of the exact Radio Shack Alkaline Enercell 6V that would have been pictured.
http://leapback2009.com/photos/main.php?g2_itemId=1123
Thanks for those screenshots! I have similar ones already but these new ones might be a little higher resolution, and the LED lights certainly appear enhanced compared to the older screenshots, as I remember them. One thing I see now in your Liberation screenshot, that I somehow missed before, is that there's a chunk of clear acrylic missing, wrapping from the top edge of the battery around and partway down the left edge of the prop toward the switch. One broken edge is clearly visible below the lower right corner of the six-chip red LED light bar.

Regarding the batteries, I've managed to find both exact versions included with Zenith TV remote controls sold on eBay. See my thread at The Replica Prop Forum for photos. I believe it's usually one of the upper corners that has the 45 angle. In different reference images it's on different sides, though. IMO this indicates one of two possibilities: A) Different versions of the prop had different orientations of battery contacts, or B) the batteries were hard-wired by soldering every time they had to be changed (what a pain in the butt that would be!), so the prop person could just drop them in any which way; it really didn't matter as long as the correct wire was soldered to each terminal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by feldon30 View Post
Thanks again for doing all this research. It looks like you have been digging for quite a while, as after about 20 minutes of searching, I found your thread here:
http://www.electronicspoint.com/thre...t-bars.270687/
I have a lot of threads out in internet land on this subject.

Quote:
Originally Posted by feldon30 View Post
Also, I'm happy to glue the acrylic myself, but I haven't been able to source the correct colors and thickness of acrylic, and the aforementioned clouding problem. But if you have the solutions to both problems, I'd be interested!
The colors are easy: Light Blue Transparent #2069, Dark Blue Trans. #2424, "Amber" (orange) Trans. #2422, "Red" (Pink) Fluorescent #2085, "Green" (Chartreuse) Fluorescent #2154, Yellow #2037 (not present in all GB HL versions), Orange #2119 (not present in all GB HL versions), Orange Fluorescent #2086 (not present in all GB HL versions). Most of these you need in 1/8" nominal thickness, but the fluorescent pink is needed in both 1/8" and 1/4" nominal thicknesses. And of course, clear for the main body (1/2" nom.) and the left side & over the top part of the battery (1/16" nom.) The pink on the back is all 1/8" and on the front is all 1/4". The only place that appears to be 1/4" dark blue is the switch slider cap on the lower left angle (contrary to what you may have read on a certain erroneous reverse-engineered "blueprint"), but I now see in the new Liberation screenshot that this was faked by laminating two pieces of 1/8" dark blue together before carving the switch cap to shape. About half of what appears yellow onscreen is really the "green" fluorescent. These are all easily found on eBay in small quantities; in fact, that's where I got my supply.

As I mentioned in the first post above, a company called Weld-On makes many different glues suitable for acrylic. Beware, though, that using any solvent glue on acrylic that has been laser-cut may cause cracking if the plastic is not annealed first. Acrylic should be annealed (softened or stress-relieved) after laser cutting by a specific time/temperature profile process before gluing. I haven't checked yet whether an ordinary kitchen oven or toaster oven can hold temperature closely enough to be used for this purpose. However, there are instructions online to mod a toaster oven for finer temperature control for use in surface-mount "reflow" soldering. Such a modified oven should work fine for annealing small acrylic parts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by feldon30 View Post
So all this time, I thought those were clear acrylic blocks with LEDs mounted inside them. Now it looks like the surface is made up of different packages of LEDs molded into two and three LED blocks?
The LED "light bars" used to make the props were manufactured in many sizes and styles, from single-chip 5 mm x 5 mm squares up to six-chip 16 mm x 10 mm rectangular blocks. On the props there are clusters of as many as five of the same style and color of these light bars, such as five large 2-chip green ones in a row at the lower left, and five 3-chip green ones at the top center. There's even one cluster of three, 2-chip 10 mm x 5 mm light bars that are not all the same color; the middle one is orange and the outer two are red. Places where there aren't any LEDs are generally covered with the colored transparent acrylic tiles. All the LEDs visible as lights from the back of the prop are glued on the inside rather than the outside, though. There's also a sneaky green LED on the inside of the front, at about the middle and just inboard from the right edge. All the rest of the front LEDs/blocks are these "light bars" of various styles attached on the outside of the prop.
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Old 06-30-2015, 02:00 PM   #10
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To say you have done your homework on the Handlink is an understatement analogous to saying someone in the line of a hurricane might experience moisture. You could probably write a doctoral thesis on the subject.

Now that I've seen your photo of the actual Radio Shack Alkaline Enercell battery, it perfectly lines up with what's inside the Handlink props we've seen.

You've certainly opened up some ideas about what could be done to make an equivalent handlink. $1,000+ is certainly out of my budget, and the LED light bars seem to be out-of-production and impossible to acquire these days. But I sure appreciate the legwork and research you've done.
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Old 07-01-2015, 01:10 AM   #11
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Thank you for the words of praise. My educated guess is that the large 2-chip light bars were discontinued about 1985 or earlier, so they were already obsolete when QL began, and have been out of production for right around 30 years now. But previous reports that they were first made in the 1970s seem to be in error. I hope to soon have more of them in hand and after I do, or after I give up on trying to get them (which may take several more months), I'll post more of the info I've discovered so someone else can have a try. Of course, everything I know about them (and some info that I'm still seeking) is publicly available, so anyone else is welcome to pick up the trail before I reveal what I've found.
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Old 07-15-2015, 06:32 PM   #12
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I've continued to dig and have gotten some interesting advice from a model train forum. It would require some effort, but one possible approach would be 2mm flat post LEDs suspended in hardened acrylic...
Obviously not a fast process to make these, and it involves some pretty nasty chemicals, but these rectangular LEDs seem crucial to making a realistic handlink.
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Old 07-16-2015, 04:13 AM   #13
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You've found the same resin and tint products that I've been planning to use. However, Crystal Clear 202 might be a little too fast-setting for this kind of fiddly work, so I was thinking of using #200 and post-curing it with a heat treatment if needed.

For the LEDs, you can use any shape of regular through-hole component LED, because the epoxy encapsulation is not critical to their operation. You can grind it away to any shape/size within reason, as long as you don't damage the metal or semiconductor parts inside... especially the spiderweb-thin bond wire that connects from the top of the side post (usually the positive or anode lead) to the top contact of the diode chip. So I would start by finding LEDs of the correct pale transparent tints and emitted colors, and not worry about what shape they are.

The hard part for me is making the master patterns from which the mold will be made. There are several reasons not to use original LEDs for the master patterns:
  1. The RTV silicone from which the mold will be poured shrinks slightly as it cures.
  2. The clear resin with which the replica LEDs will be cast also shrinks slightly as it cures. Together, these shrinkages mean that the master pattern should be in the range of about 0.3-1.5% oversized, depending upon the actual products used, and may take some iteration to get right. I know that percentage range doesn't seem like much, but remember there will be several clusters of several LEDs each in the prop and differences add up.
  3. Because the original LEDs were cast in metal molds, they were made with what is known as a "draft angle" of about 1 on their sides to allow them to be removed easily from the molds. This is almost unnoticeable in single LEDs, but when you put several of them together in a cluster, they either don't butt up together flush, or don't conform to a flat surface on their tops and bottoms. While I'm not sure how the original prop makers dealt with this issue (mainly due to lack of a high-resolution, close up image of one of the original props from a particular angle), my guess is that they used a belt or disc sander with fine grit to "square up" many of the prop's LEDs before assembly. To avoid this step, I'll make master patterns without any draft angles. The flexibility of the silicone mold will allow for easy removal of the patterns and castings.
To make the casting process efficient, I would make a multi-cavity open-top block mold in a jig so the LEDs can be accurately held in proper position as the resin cures. I have already designed and acquired the materials for the jig, as well as a supply of the LEDs I intend to use. What I don't have is a means to easily make a bunch of small rectangular-prism shapes of identical precise dimensions, with optically flat surfaces.

I've thought about these issues and the solution I've come up with is to first use a milling machine to make a flat plate of acrylic the same thickness as one of the dimensions. Toward this end I've taken a basic mill operation class at one of my local maker spaces. Then the plate will be cut into the individual master pattern blocks, possibly by a laser cutter. Once milled and cut, the blocks will be drilled to hold common 3 mm round-top LEDs glued in with leads in the same positions as the cast replica LEDs' leads will eventually be, for precise alignment in the casting jig. Then the pattern blocks may need to be annealed (if a laser cutter was used), and finally if the surfaces are smooth enough, the blocks can be quickly vapor-polished.

Then it's simply a matter of putting ~20 or however many of the master patterns into the jig, pouring the mold, letting it cure, and removing the patterns from the mold and jig. For casting, I assemble a bunch of prepared LEDs into the jig, pour or inject the color-matched resin into the mold and let it cure in a pressure pot.

I welcome any input of alternatives to or improvements upon these ideas.
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Old 07-16-2015, 01:54 PM   #14
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So I talked to an acrylic distributor who I have been friends with for over 15 years now. Once I made it clear that we would not have access to million dollar equipment, he provided some useful info.

Based on our conversation, I'd say annealing is something to avoid if at all possible. It requires precise temperature control and meticulous cooling while producing flammable gases. It also does not help with clouding, only with crazing which is stress fractures caused by laser-cutting acrylic. Acrylic cut by cnc or a triple diamond blade does not have these problems.

I showed him the High Definition screenshot of the Handlink and he pointed out areas that have some clouding and small bubbles due to the use of adhesive. He did not notice any crazing which means that the pieces were not laser-cut. My friend said if you have years of practice and use extreme care, you can minimize clouding and bubbles but there will always be some as the CA, MEK, or other adhesive evaporates and leaves voids behind. He also warned that the clouding/bubbling gets worse over time. If we were to look at the original Handlink prop today (25 years later) the clouding and bubbles would be much more prominent.

He said mention a ridiculously expensive adhesive (over $1,000 for a bottle) with a shelf life of only a few months that does not have this problem as it is essentially molten acrylic. It does not leave voids as it does not evaporate like CA/MEK/etc. but it has an extremely short set time. Did I mention it's a potent carcinogen and requires a professional ventilation setup to use?

It sounds like you've done all the research and making wise choices between all the various troublesome choices presented to us. My money is on using cnc or similar to cut the handful of clear acrylic sheets needed for the non-LED surfaces, plus the framework, plus the back pieces. Then with a milling machine, make a smooth metal mold to produce two-bay rectangular LEDs. Such a mold would take care of 95% of the LEDs on the face of the Handlink. I'm not sure it's worth the time and expense to make another mold just for the one or two triple-bay LEDs. Let's remember we still have to drill holes to add momentary touch switches (the beads of metal), plus the wiring, plus hiding a circuit board in there somewhere. I'd be tempted to use the low-profile Raspberry Pi model A+. It will run for several hours on four AA batteries or the power cell the original Handlink used, as long as it outputs 5V. Then we'd be able to do sound and lighting patterns without fighting with a PIC or a bunch of 555 timer chips.
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Old 07-17-2015, 05:03 AM   #15
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I'd say annealing is something to avoid if at all possible. It requires precise temperature control and meticulous cooling while producing flammable gases. It also does not help with clouding, only with crazing which is stress fractures caused by laser-cutting acrylic. Acrylic cut by cnc or a triple diamond blade does not have these problems.
Well, I can only use what I can afford and have access to, and laser cutting is available at two nearby maker spaces. Internal clouding will not be a problem, but surface crazing might because laser cutting introduces stresses which become small cracks (crazing) over time, or when the stressed plastic is weakened such as by a solvent when gluing or vapor-polishing. I've done some research on annealing and there won't be a serious outgassing issue other than perhaps some odor, from a handful of such small parts. Remember these are only the master patterns I'm talking about here, not the final parts. The patterns get used once then discarded (or archived) and shouldn't be needed again, unless the product is so popular that the silicone mold wears out and needs to be re-made. I estimate I should be able to make over 50 handlinks from LEDs cast from one silicone mold. I wasn't expecting to make more than about 10.


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I showed him the High Definition screenshot of the Handlink and he pointed out areas that have some clouding and small bubbles due to the use of adhesive. He did not notice any crazing which means that the pieces were not laser-cut. My friend said if you have years of practice and use extreme care, you can minimize clouding and bubbles but there will always be some as the CA, MEK, or other adhesive evaporates and leaves voids behind. He also warned that the clouding/bubbling gets worse over time. If we were to look at the original Handlink prop today (25 years later) the clouding and bubbles would be much more prominent.
I didn't expect that the prop was laser-cut, since it first appeared in 1990, before such technology was widely available. I was planning to minimize bubbling by minimizing gluing acrylic to acrylic, except for the power switch and edge-to-edge between the tiles.


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It sounds like you've done all the research and making wise choices between all the various troublesome choices presented to us. My money is on using cnc or similar to cut the handful of clear acrylic sheets needed for the non-LED surfaces, plus the framework, plus the back pieces. Then with a milling machine, make a smooth metal mold to produce two-bay rectangular LEDs. Such a mold would take care of 95% of the LEDs on the face of the Handlink. I'm not sure it's worth the time and expense to make another mold just for the one or two triple-bay LEDs.
If you have access to CNC, then go for it! I was going to make the tiles pretty much by hand using such tools as a bandsaw, bench grinder, and files. I don't have a clue how to make a sharp-edged tiny cavity mold on a milling machine other than by making it in multiple parts. I was planning to make the main frame mostly by hand and eyeball on the mill. There are at least five of the 3-chip LEDs in the props (possibly 7 or 9, though I have already acquired modern 6-chip LEDs to use in those additional positions), so for a run of 10 props I think it would be marginally worthwhile to set up the mold with something like ~15 of the 2-chip LEDs and ~5 of the 3-chip. If I end up with too many of one size toward the end of the run I can just not fill every cavity each time I do a casting.


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Let's remember we still have to drill holes to add momentary touch switches (the beads of metal), plus the wiring, plus hiding a circuit board in there somewhere. I'd be tempted to use the low-profile Raspberry Pi model A+. It will run for several hours on four AA batteries or the power cell the original Handlink used, as long as it outputs 5V. Then we'd be able to do sound and lighting patterns without fighting with a PIC or a bunch of 555 timer chips.
The original props didn't fully hide the circuitry. A PCB and something that looks like an EPROM, along with some other unidentifiable components, are visible in at least some of them, especially from the back. Power is likely to be a problem, as I expect the original props probably had rather short battery life. There are approximately 110 LED dice in the props (varies slightly by version). Each prop had some that didn't work either because they were duds to start with, burned out during use, were never connected, or became disconnected. Of those that remained, it seems that on average about half of them were lit at any given time. So figure about 50 LEDs lit at a time on average and probably run at their rated maximum of 30 mA gives an average of 1.5 amps, assuming none of the LEDs are in series. If something like a switching regulator is used to provide a stable supply regardless of battery level, it may be practical to wire the LEDs in series pairs, which would reduce the average LED demand to a more reasonable 750 mA. Then you have to add the load from the control circuitry and sound effects... still quite a lot to pull from a 500 mAh alkaline "J" battery. One factor that may help is brightness matching. Run all the LEDs at their rated maximum current, then decide which ones appear dimmest, and increase the series resistance of the others until they all look the same brightness. This may save some 10-20% or so. Anyway, I expect that I'd be lucky to get 30 minutes of run time from a battery, assuming I don't do something exotic like hide a LiPo cell in the J case (or elsewhere).

Although I'm fairly well-versed in basic analog and digital electronics (self-taught), I never got into any kind of programmable microcontrollers or similar. I was thinking of using a handful of CMOS ICs to set up an 8-bit linear feedback shift register outputting into a 16-bit serial-in, parallel out latching register then into an 8 x 8 matrix, for 64 LED channels with 255 states. Stepping the LFSR by 17 steps then latching for display would give no discernible correlation from one display period to the next. At a fast rate of 30 cycles per second this would give 8.5 seconds before the pattern repeats, but the handlink usually flashed much slower than that. At a sedate 2 Hz rate it would be over 2 minutes between repetitions. I haven't finished studying the episodes for all the handlink light patterns yet but so far it seems like the props used much fewer than 64 channels, so eventually I'll probably be able to simplify this further.
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Old 07-20-2015, 11:48 AM   #16
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I don't have access to CNC so we go with what we can get access to. I will certainly be following your progress on this. Not sure what else I can add. Yes, when you add up the LEDs, it may draw one heck of a lot of power, so easy replacement of the battery will be a necessity. Thank you again for digging into all these details.
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Old 10-31-2015, 03:25 AM   #17
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I've posted a synopsis of what I believe to be accurate details of the different "gummi bear" handlink versions at Dewback Wing - A.S.A.P.

Also, another correction: in the list of plastic colors I gave in post #9 above, I've come to the conclusion that these two:
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Yellow #2037 (not present in all GB HL versions), Orange #2119 (not present in all GB HL versions)
are actually never used. These colors were based on a reference photo of the prop taken by a crew member, and a rather inaccurate reverse-engineered "blueprint" made by another prop replica builder. After further study of the photo and some first-hand knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes in TV production, I now believe that these colors are actually pieces of gaffer's tape applied to the prop. The tape may have been there only for that one photo session, or only the scene that was being filmed close to the time the photo was taken, or possibly that entire episode. But the tape doesn't appear to be there for any other episodes that I'm aware of.
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Old 11-01-2015, 12:44 PM   #18
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Reading that post at Dewback Wing requires signing up for a Yuku account.

Interesting info regarding the tape.
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Old 11-02-2015, 04:21 AM   #19
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Reading that post at Dewback Wing requires signing up for a Yuku account.
Sorry, I didn't realize that you had to join Yuku (formerly ezboard) even to view their forums. But what the heck, it doesn't cost anything and they don't spam you, so why not join?
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Old 11-02-2015, 10:46 AM   #20
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Sorry, I didn't realize that you had to join Yuku (formerly ezboard) even to view their forums. But what the heck, it doesn't cost anything and they don't spam you, so why not join?
Because that's how much I hate EZBoard for losing half the posts from this forum in 2006 in their massive data loss for which they never did anything to try to make right. They lost millions of posts from over 9,000 forums and did squat to recover posts.

I do appreciate all your work. Is there any way you can repost that information here?
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Old 11-03-2015, 08:39 PM   #21
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Sure, I could post it here, if that's OK. A major problem is this site's tiny limit of total file uploads per user (less than 1 MB). The original images used in my handlink post at the prop replicas forum total almost 9 MB. On forums which have such very low space allotments as this forum, or only allow remote hosting of images, images tend to disappear very quickly. The topics that are then left with broken image links are often rendered completely pointless.

I also thought this forum wasn't an ideal place for the topic, since this site seems to focus more on the original episodes, actors, characters, stories, the "expanded universe" of other media, fan scripts, conventions and so on. The few series-specific props are hardly mentioned, and those mentions were for the most part widely scattered until I consolidated links to the best of them relating to the GB handlink in this topic.

But since my post on the other forum doesn't seem to be getting much attention there, I'm open to moving it here if the image storage issue can be resolved, unless there are significant objections.
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Old 11-03-2015, 10:31 PM   #22
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The topic is certainly welcome here. Sadly we seem to get just a few visitors per month these days.

And I am horrified to see how restrictive the Attachment settings were configured. I've gone through and increased the limit per user to 100MB and the file size for each JPG/JPEG to 384kb and 1600 x 1200. I hope that is enough for your needs. I absolutely agree that images should be attached rather than remotely hosted as links break quickly over time.
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Old 11-04-2015, 02:17 AM   #23
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The topic is certainly welcome here. Sadly we seem to get just a few visitors per month these days.

And I am horrified to see how restrictive the Attachment settings were configured. I've gone through and increased the limit per user to 100MB and the file size for each JPG/JPEG to 384kb and 1600 x 1200. I hope that is enough for your needs. I absolutely agree that images should be attached rather than remotely hosted as links break quickly over time.
Thank you very much, that should be plenty! Before I get to working on that move though, a teaser-

As it turns out, knowing the true manufacturer and their part numbers for the LEDs really is helpful, though not quite as helpful as I had hoped. Here are some more of my recent acquisitions. The red one is equal to Cal West / CAL-PAK #CP-57, of which I believe a cluster of two was carved into a ramp shape and placed on the props above the top edge of the battery. The green one is equal to CAL-PAK #CP-56, which were installed in a cluster of five at the top center of the props. (Again, the thumbnails appear broken but clicking them brings up the images normally.):
CP-56.jpg CP-57.jpg
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Old 11-04-2015, 04:42 PM   #24
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Those are awesome!

Are they currently in production or are these old stock?
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Old 11-04-2015, 07:33 PM   #25
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Old stock. The red ones were the last on hand from a store in Portugal, whose website happened to come up in a Google search. I'd like to get another 10 or so of them if I can find any more. There are a few more of the green ones for sale, but I can't reveal info about the source without potentially compromising my chances of acquiring the remaining types I still need, so you're on your own to find them. If they're still available after I've found or reproduced all the LEDs I need, and sold a few pieces from my planned production run of about 10 GB handlink replicas, I'll put the word out then.

BTW, what's up with all of my posted images showing up as broken thumbnails? Maybe you can find the solution in this topic on the vBulletin forum: https://www.vbulletin.org/forum/showthread.php?t=284570
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