Caste marks and iPhone skins

Like a lot of people, I customize the appearance of my phone. Every solstice and equinox, I crack open my transparent case with a separator and slap a new vinyl decal on the back. Lately, I haven’t found a decal I liked at the usual places like GelaSkins or Decal Girl, so I experimented with Unique Skins, where you can upload an image and they will custom print a vinyl decal. Since you need to have the rights to the image that you upload, I decided to do my test using one of the caste mark graphics I made several years ago. Even though the vinyl used is a bit thinner than, say, Decal Girl uses, the result isn’t bad:

Eclipse iPhone skin

At 700×700 pixels, the source graphic (which you can reach by clicking on the smaller versions on the caste mark page) have just barely enough resolution to look decent on the decal. Slightly higher resolution might look a bit better.

Most of the output I’ve published on this blog was started because I didn’t initially know how to do it. These caste mark graphics started because I wanted to see if I could get the visual effect I wanted entirely within Bryce. I succeeded with most of them, though the sidereal marks required cheating with Photoshop to get the glow to look right. In making this test decal, I realized that I’ve never released the Bryce sources for these caste marks, until now. You can get the zip file with all the original sources here (16.1MB).

Feel free to use these sources to make higher resolution versions of these caste marks. Also, you have my permission to use the resulting caste mark images (or any that I’ve posted) to make your own device skins. Just don’t sell them.

LDraw files for popular Mechaton models

As you might have noticed from my other Mechaton posts, I’m still pretty new to building giant fighty robots out of Lego. Part of learning more about this includes looking at some of the popular Mechaton frames others have made and figuring out how they work.

I haven’t found this easy, as often all you have to go on are some low resolution photos that never seem to include the angle you need. To spare would-be frame builders some of the irritation I went through, I created some LDraw files detailing step-by-step instructions on how to make some of these frames. (You may need to right-click on the .ldr files and “Save Link As…”.)

Classic by D. Vincent Baker The “Classic”
by D. Vincent Baker
Source: Mechaton rules
LDraw file: vincentbaker-classic.ldr
Chucker by D. Vincent Baker Chucker
by D. Vincent Baker
Source: ptimanya designs
LDraw file: vincentbaker-chucker.ldr
5gen by D. Vincent Baker 5gen
by D. Vincent Baker
Source: ptimanya designs
LDraw file: vincentbaker-5gen.ldr
AIn-11 by Joshua A. C. Newman AIn-11
by Joshua A. C. Newman
Source: the glyphpress
LDraw file: joshuanewman-AIn-11.ldr
Radial bot by David Laurence Radial
by David Laurence
Source: Brickshelf
LDraw file: davidlaurence-radial.ldr
Conscript by Soren Conscript
by Soren
Source: Flickr
LDraw file: soren-conscript.ldr
MgN-302 by Malcolm Craig MgN-302
by Malcolm Craig
Source: Mechatonic
LDraw file: malcolmcraig-MgN-302.ldr
Mini-frame by Squieu Mini-frame
by Squieu
Source: Brickshelf
LDraw file: squieu-mini-frame.ldr

To view these files, you’ll need some kind of .ldr viewer. I use Bricksmith, but there are others. Note that a number of viewers can also generate part lists from a model automatically.

There may be part mistakes, as I pretty much just guessed on a lot of things. If you find an error, please drop a comment about it below. It would help if you used the LDraw part numbers to identify both what part is wrong and with what it should be replaced.

Lastly, a plea to all you frame builders out there: when you come up with the next great frame, please give the world an LDraw file for it, so we can marvel at your genius from any angle we like. Heck, post a link to it in a comment below. I’d love to see it.

Mechaton: Shorty chassis

My two previous mechs for Mechaton stood a little too tall. The Shorty chassis aimed for a smaller and more solid design. The result works fairly well. The basic body works like so:

Shorty Chassis

One key connection in the torso (where the 4733 stud fits into the center hole of the 4032 plate above it) holds much more strongly than you might guess. Stressing the model (dropping it five feet onto a hard surface, for example) usually knocks an arm off, but very rarely comes apart at that torso join.

Fitting attachments requires a little variation in some key places, replacing a piece with one more conducive to holding the attachment. There are only a few places where this can be done, but you can get a lot of flexibility out of those areas. In this exploded drawing of the Shorty, any of the pink pieces can replace the red one. Likewise, the yellow piece can be replaced by the light yellow and blue bits.

Shorty exploded

Here are some samples showing some of these replacements (as well as some other part swapping). Each is pictured with a plate containing an indication of how many of each type of dice the mech would use in a Mechaton game. If you’ve seen the game, this should be relatively straightforward. For the red dice, shorter ranges are closer to you, and the optional rules are used in some cases. Transparent pips are d6′s, solid pips are d8′s.

JumperArctic riflemanArtilleryShoulder cannonDesert brawlerArboreal hopper

The LDraw file is here. To build the basic shorty, you’ll need these parts:

Part Color Quantity Description
This parts list generated by LDView. Part images provided by Peeron.
View on 2429 72:
Dark Bluish Gray
2 Hinge Plate 1 x 4 Base
View on 2430 72:
Dark Bluish Gray
2 Hinge Plate 1 x 4 Top
View on 2540 71:
Light Bluish Gray
2 Plate 1 x 2 with Handle
View on 2555 72:
Dark Bluish Gray
2 Tile 1 x 1 with Clip
View on 3022 72:
Dark Bluish Gray
1 Plate 2 x 2
View on 3023 72:
Dark Bluish Gray
2 Plate 1 x 2
View on 3024 72:
Dark Bluish Gray
1 Plate 1 x 1
View on 4032 72:
Dark Bluish Gray
1 Plate 2 x 2 Round
View on 4070 71:
Light Bluish Gray
1 Brick 1 x 1 with Headlight
View on 4081b 72:
Dark Bluish Gray
2 Plate 1 x 1 with Clip Light Type 2
View on 4590 72:
Dark Bluish Gray
2 Plate 1 x 4 Offset
View on 4697b 71:
Light Bluish Gray
1 Technic Pneumatic T-Piece – Type 2
View on 4733 71:
Light Bluish Gray
1 Brick 1 x 1 with Studs on Four Sides
View on 6019 71:
Light Bluish Gray
2 Plate 1 x 1 with Clip Horizontal
View on 6141 43:
Trans Light Blue
1 Plate 1 x 1 Round
View on 6141 71:
Light Bluish Gray
1 Plate 1 x 1 Round

A DivNull Lark (#03): Indie gaming gift, late 2010

A year ago, the first DivNull lark helped bring Blowback to market. It’s October, so let’s do it again…

The next DivNull lark will match the first: a gift of $1000 to help bring an independently published story game to release within a year. That is, pitch me your idea for how you would use $1000 to either make a new game or improve an existing one that hasn’t been released, and I’ll donate $1000 to the idea I like best to help make it happen.


  • Only pitches made as responses to this post, publicly, will be considered.
  • No pitch made after 15 October 2010 will be considered.
  • The donation will be made on or before 31 October 2010.
  • If your pitch is selected, you have until the last minute of 31 October 2011 to make good on the idea. At that point, the world will know if you are person of your word, or a failure.
  • This donation in no way affects any rights you have to your work. Nor does the donation create any liabilities from your work for the donator. Succeed or fail, you’re on your own.
  • Payment will be made via PayPal, in United States currency. No exceptions.

The winner will be decided solely based on my learned deliberation capricious whim; however, I do take advice. If you see an entry you really like, feel free to lobby for it in a response below.

All responses to this blog are vetted manually before appearing. Historically, I am a bit slow at doing this. I will try to be more prompt for the next few weeks, but if your comment doesn’t show up right away, don’t panic.

Update: This contest is now closed to new submissions. I will, however, leave the comments open for people to give advice on the entries they like.