I am as millions of other people are; a HUGE fan of the Blade Runner films. I had not really thought of making an actual prop from the film until I watched a you tube video made by a personal hero of mine: Adam Savage. In the video he describes that he will be making a pair of binoculars that he had downloaded and 3D printed from instructables.com I immediately jumped on the site and looked up the original designer of the binoculars by the username "jon-a-tron" and there they were in all of their glory!! I should point out at this time that in the video Adam mentions that the design is actually reversed and missing some details. Adam switched the design around in a CAD software and then added additional details once it had been printed out. I also intended on going down that route but while I was on the intructables website I decided to type "bladerunner" in the search bar to see what else was there?
I was really glad that I did that as another pair of the same binoculars popped up in the search! The author of these files took Jon-a trons's original design, flipped the orientation and then added the missing details into the print files! I downloaded these new files and started to print them in PLA. If you're interested in making a pair of these, here are the links to the Adam Savage video and both pages on instructables where the binoculars I made are from:
Adam Savage video
Jon-a-tron original binocular files
Remixed optical viewer (the files I used)
In terms of essential parts to the build you will also have to source a monocular to fit the kit. I looked on the link provided the website which takes you to the American Amazon website. As expected they are completely sold out, however I decided to look on the UK Amazon website and found what looked like an identical item. I decided to take a chance and ordered it and was pleasantly surprised to find that they were either the exact pair used or a pair remarkably similar. Won't put the link to the binoculars on my site as there were not many left and a few more sellers had them in stock. (best of luck in your search if you decide to build a pair).
These are the parts printed, test fitted and ready to begin what I hope will be a successful project:
Preparation of the partsWhile I normally don't have a problem with the layer lines left from FDM printing; Adam had his printed using an SLA printer which leaves no discernible layer lines. I decided that for this particular 3D build I would try and get rid of the layer lines on mine. Let me first say that I extensively searched online for ways to "smooth" PLA and every test of the various methods I found does not work particularly well. The option I chose was good old fashioned elbow grease with copious amounts of sand paper and filler!
I won't lie to you; this was a long and laborious task to ensure that each part was a smooth as possible. I personally found that the best filler for PLA was squadron white putty followed by a layer of Halfords filler primer. At this point I had also decided to go down the "functionality" route that Adam Savage had and install some LED's and a switch. I also opted for a mount pint under the binoculars however I also found a small foldable camera mount on thingiverse that would be ideal for the project! I purchased a small battery compartment and button cell holders from Ali express for a couple of pounds and scrounged some small coloured LED's from a friend and then began to drill, cut and file the various holes needed to modify the parts:
Happy with the modifications and parts fit; the whole binocular assembly was sprayed in grey undercoat and test fitted once more. For the base colours I bought some off the shelf acrylic rattle cans from a local hardware store that closely matched the colours shown in the film. In all honesty you can use some artistic licence here as one could argue that the particular pair that you have is faded/not faded by the sun or worn as much etc. In any case an evening spent carefully coating the parts and I was very happy with the final SMOOTH finish of my binocular frame!
I had originally intended to go the same route as Adam S did and buy some Kydex sheet for the eye cover of the binoculars however when I looked through my "stash" of rattle can paints I found a can of grey car bumper spray that was designed to give a silk finish and colour similar to car bumpers when supplied. I had also printed the eye cover to use as a base for the Kydex. I decided to rub this piece down and fill as the other parts and then spray it to see how it turned out. If it didn't work out I would still have the part to use as a template for the Kydex sheet. I was extremely happy with my decision to do this as it turned out better than I had expected it to! to my mind it looks every bit as good as a sheet of Kydex would have looked but without the additional cost of the materials and extra work!
I was now ready to start the final assembly of the binoculars. The first order of business was attaching the LED's into their final positions and running the wires to their various locations in the body. these were then wired into the now fitted switch and battery and then tested. Following that I then used the glass templates to cut and file some thin perspex to fit the windows of the binoculars and then I began assembling the binoculars with some bolts from my spares box. The added bonus in the zip file download for these binoculars is a PDF file for the screen makings, bezel graduations and makers label! I printed these onto a sheet of clear decal paper and fitted the window markings directly over the perspex sheet that I had cut:
At this stage I had finished printing the DSLR stand that I mentioned earlier and gave it the same treatment as the other parts:
The final part of the build was probably the most terrifying; after careful assembly of the parts and completing the application of the decals I then grabbed my dremmel with a grinding bit fitted and began to "rough up" edges and create what I hoped would be "realistic" looking damage to the case. I then painted the damaged areas in some aluminium coloured acrylic paint, followed by lots of pin washes and various washes of browns and blacks to get that "used" look.
And that's it! the binoculars are complete save for a suitable strap and D ring which I will hopefully source at some point in the future. The finished photos are below and as always I'd love to hear what you think of my Blade runner 2049 binoculars:
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