Surplustronics Power Pack

After Ben’s suggestion and some pricing on the web I went with Surplustronics after all. Picked up a 9v/1000ma AC adaptor for $20. They had some dodgy looking old Sega 10v/1000ma adaptors for half that price but I thought I’d splash out. At least the $20 adaptor came in a snappy blue and white box.

The gruntier adaptor does the trick. The wire heats up quickly and easily melts through polystyrene. After some experimentation I realised I hadn’t quite made my first wire cutter large enough. So I jigsawed up some more 5mm MDF and created the mark II which has a much wider armature. Here’s the mark I and mark II with a 25mm Zombie for scale.

Hot wire cutter mark I Hot wire cutter mark II

Then I took to some old packing polystyrene and experimented. I carved a kind of half height hill and megalith then a little cliff face before I fled the garage and the stink of melted polystyrene.

Hill and megalith Mini-cliff

So for the grand total of $22.95 I have a useable cutter – want one Griff? That’s:

I’ve discovered a couple of things:

  1. Melted polystyrene sure stinks. Will crack open the garage door a bit next time I think.
  2. The heat cures the rough surface of even cheap polystyrene quite nicely. Gives it a smooth finish that hopefully will be resistant to chipping.
  3. I see why most store-bought cutters are based around a metal arm. This is to keep tension on the wire as it naturally expands with heat. This leads to a bit of slack in my crude home made cutter, but it’s not a big problem. Possibly a mark III built around a coat hanger?
  4. I wonder how long it’ll take before the AC adaptor dies? It certainly seems to warm up rather quickly. Possibly best to keep cutting times as short as possible.

Right I suspect a trip to Plastic Box this weekend might be in order. I think they’ve even marked down their big sheets of thick polystyrene recently.

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