Project Bob Marley: Posey Gets a Better Joint

I hoped you like the previous Kestrel posts – always exciting when I can add a mark to the bird list.  It is also exciting when I can talk about a new revision in the Posey project.  The last time we delved into this addiction.. I mean project we were discussing the desire to add flexibility to the PVC structure (link here).  That resulted in revision V2.0 of the PVC Halloween Decoration Project.  If you recall, we leveraged eye bolts to create the joints in V2.0.  That achieved the desired ability to move the arms and legs into just about any position I wanted.  The issue is the structural stability of the eye bolts .. as in .. not that stable.  One long night on Pinterest (yeah, I said it) looking through board after board on the home haunting groups I discovered an excellent idea from someone that goes by Beelce on the Haunt Forums website (link here).  That idea looked like the perfect answer to my stability problem and immediately rushed out to Menards the next day.  Sure enough, they had 1″ chain link fence caps that matched the ones shown on the forum so bought every one they had – like 30 of them. After some trials and errors I am proud to present V3.0 of Posey!

NOTE: I did make some late updates to this model which I added to the end – please check that out since the modification uses less materials – that version is now being referred to as V3.1
Posey 3.0

This version is 100% more stable than the eye bolt approach and the joints work exactly the way I was hoping.  As with all my projects, let’s give some details.  Again, thanks to Beelce for providing the catalyst and the basis for even more versions – my  motto: embrace and extend.  First off, the hardware list.   Note, this version was built with chain link fence caps from Menards.  They hold a much better tolerance on their 1″ dimension but their connecting hole is 1/2″.  I recommend getting the fence caps from Home Depot instead.  They are a penny cheaper and have 3/8″ connecting holes instead so you save on hardware.  They do have a lot of variance in their 1″ dimension which oddly enough turns out to be an advantage in upcoming versions (more later on that).

  • Drill Press (technically optional, but highly recommended) if not, can uses a standard drill)
  • 1/8″ Drill Bit or whatever size fits the screws you are going to use to affix the chain link cap to the PVC
  • Pilot hole drill bit – smaller the better
  • Screwdriver – manual or electric to put the caps in
  • (16) Chain link fence cross bar caps w/ 3/8″ hole ($0.88)
  • (8) 3/8″ Large Washers ($3.78 – 100)
  • (8) 3/8″ x 1″ Bolts ($4.21)
  • (8) 3/8″ Nuts ($2.28)
  • (8) 3/8″ Split Washers ($2.00)
  • (32) 1″ cabinet, drywall or round head screws (use whatever you laying around that is in the 1″ long range)
  • Two Socket Sets
  • PVC Cement (optional)
  • Duct tape – preferably white
  • Hand PVC Cutter (optional, but highly recommended)

Next the materials list:

  • (3) 1″ PVC Cross ($2.15)
  • (4) 1″ PVC Caps  ($0.45)
  • (9) 1″ PVC T’s ($0.59)
  • (4) 1″ PVC Couplers ($0.41)
  • (10) 1″ PVC Elbows ($0.50)
  • (1)  3/4″ PVC Cross  ($2.37)
  • (1) 3/4″ PVC T’s ($0.45)
  • (5) 3/4″ PVC Elbows ($0.25)
  • (1) 3/4″ PVC Cap ($0.19)
  • (1) 1″ to 3/4″ Reducer  ($0.77)
  • (1) 10′ x 1″ PVC Pipe (depends on size but by two, if you are like me you’ll be making a lot of them) ($2.48)
  • (1) 3′ 3/4″ PVC Pipe (basically just enough to build the head) ($1.50)

Hit the jump to see how to build this version of Posey!

Step #1 Prep the Joints

As mentioned, I bought everything Menards had for chain link rail ends.  I also bought all Home Depot had.  That is when I realized that this is considered a seasonal item in our parts.  Apparently there are not a lot of chain link fences bought in the Winter months.   However, I am building a lot of Halloween decorations at the moment which have this feature at the core, so this seasonal thingy is a big pain in the ass!  They do not restock seasonal items which means those bare shelves are going to stay like that until Spring.  In a panic, I jumped on Home Depot’s website and ordered 200 hehehehe.

Posey 3.0

Pretty much set for awhile now.   I sure hope these are not used for something bad like pipe bombs or something similar or I’m going to be getting a visit.   No problems, I’ll just bring out my growing army of Poseys.  Once the caps are acquired you can get to work on building the joint components.  First thing to do is drill holes in the caps so you can lock them down on the PVC.  In the first iteration I only put one screw in but that left some play in the joint.  Since then I use two screws per fence cap 180 degrees from each other and at different planes so the screws don’t collide in the middle.  A drill press works perfect for the cap drilling, but like the PVC recommendation you might consider using something to keep your fingers back.  Drill these pilot holes just big enough for your screws to pass through.

Posey 3.0

Something I learned really quick was that the Home Depot versions drift from the 1″ diagonal opening on the fence (or PVC) end.  To address this I simply used white duct tape and cut half strips to put on the pipe that inserts into the cap.  The deepest diameter is generally okay so consider using skinny strips and placing them a few 16ths from the end.  Depending on how far off you may have to add multiple layers.  Once that is prepped insert the pipe as far as possible – should lock in nicely if you got the thickness right.

Posey 3.0

Drill a pilot hole through the hole you put in the fence and use the screws to tighten it down to the PVC

Posey 3.0

For the the shoulders I cut the PVC on the fence cap to about 3/4 so they would insert flush into the T’s as well as a coupler.

Posey 3.0

Go ahead and make 8 of these cap configurations with the cap attached to a 1″ piece of straight PVC that extends about 7/8 to 3/4 inch depending on how deep your Ts and couplers are (how far in the PVC pipe will go in).  You want the fence cap to be flush with the edge of the connectors as shown above. Note, this PVC cutter is very handy when it comes to Posey creation.

PVC Cutter

After you have those fence caps done, insert 4 of them into T’s and another 4 of them into couplers.  Note, the purpose of the couplers is to allow you to spin the inner joints to any angle you want.  They are pretty tight and they seem to hold well without any additional glue or screws.

Step #2: Create shoulder and hip joints.

Take one fence cap connected to a T and a fence cap connected to a coupler.  Align the 3/8″ holes and lock them together with a 3/8″x 1″ bolt a 3/8″ split washer and a 3/8″ nut as shown below.  There is a slight bend in the tab with the 3/8″ hole on the fence caps.  Line up the curves so the joint stays in a straight line – as in both curves going up or down so they offset each other for a net zero bend.

Posey 3.0

Step #3: build shoulders and hips

The picture above is actually the shoulder identified by the cross in the middle.  I do not have detailed shots of how this is put together but it is pretty simple to figure out.  On the 1″ front,  you will need 4 elbows, 1 cross, 2 regular T’s and two of the T/connector combinations you just made in order to build the shoulders.  It will also help to have the costume you plan to put on this structure so you can set the sizes for the straight PVCs.  Connect  90 degree elbows to each end of the T’s with the fence caps.  The connectors should be flush.  Here is where you need to check the costume.  Figure out how long you need to make the shoulders and subtract the size of a T and the length of 2 elbow ends.  Take the difference, divide by two and then add the depth of a T and an elbow back to it to compensate for depth the straight PVC will be inserted into the connector.  This calculated length needs to be cut from straight PVC 4 times.  Now take the 2 regular T’s and connect them flush to opposite ends of a cross.  Line the T’s up perpendicular to the holes on the cross openings not being used.  Okay, now simply insert each of the 4 straight PVC sections you cut to size previously into each of the 4 elbows connected to the T’s with the fence caps on it (those elbows should also be perpendicular to the fence cap.  Lastly, hook 4 straight PVCs to the T’s connected to the cross… or more simply put … just build the structure you see in the picture above and know that the middle connector is a cross and not a T.

Do the same exact thing for the hips except use a with the open end pointed up (away from fence caps) and shorten the PVC straight pieces at least a 1/2″ so the shoulders are bigger than the hips.

Step #4″ Build the Arms

Now that the shoulders are built you should lay out the top/shirt of your costume to figure out how long to make the arms.  I find it best to lay the arm straight out from the body and lay the shoulder structure on the neck area.   In the same manner as above, put a fence cap onto the end of a 1″ straight PVC but don’t cut the pipe yet.  You are free to place the elbow connection wherever you choose, but from my crude measurements, it appears the upper arm is slightly shorter than the forearm.  Place the newly affixed fence cap on the shirt sleeve where you want the elbow to be (be sure and put the center of the 3/8″ hole at the elbow point).  Mark the point on the straight PVC where it meets to the end of the straight coupler of the shoulder joint.  Make sure the T on the shoulder with the fence cap is pointed out towards the sleeve when you do this.  Add whatever depth the PVC goes into the connector to the mark you put on the straight PVC and then cut it at that new mark.  Now insert that straight PVC with the new fence cap on it into the straight connector on the shoulder.  Repeat this procedure for the other side.

Put another fence cap on a straight PVC section and line up the 3/8″ hole with the 3/8″ hole on the connector now at the arm’s elbow (again, make sure the offsets are lined up to keep the bones in line).  Mark the end of the straight PVC pipe about 1/2 inch from the end of the shirt sleeve.  Cut the PVC pipe at the marked location and then repeat for the other side.  Using a 3/8″x1″ bolt, 3/8″ split washer and a 3/8″ nut go ahead and hook the joints together – snug them up enough that they hold their positions but still moveable – the split washers help provide the required tension – the image below has a good shot of the right arm you can use for reference.

Posey 3.0

Step #5 – Add the Spine.

You will need to determine the size of the body now since the legs are impacted by this dimension.  With the shoulders laid out on the neck of your costume’s shirt, lay out the pants or bottom of the costume so the top covers them by a couple of inches.  Place the hips at this point.  Measure the distance between the bottom of the cross in the middle of the shoulders and the top of the T on the hips.  Add the insertion depth of the T and the cross and cut a piece of straight PVC to that length.  Insert this backbone into the cross and the T on the shoulders and hips.

Step #6 – Build the legs.

Align the joint on the hips with the pants legs.  As with the arm, determine where you want the knee to be.  In contrast to the arms, I found the upper legs to be slightly longer than the lower leg.  As with the arms put a fence cap on a straight PVC section and line up the hole on the cap with your knee placement.  Mark where it comes in contact with coupler.  Add the depth of the PVC insertion into the coupler and cut the PVC.  Duplicate for the other leg.  Put another fence cap on a straight PVC section and line up the fence cap hole with the connector now at the knee.  Place a regular PVC T so the bottom (side closest to the straight section) of the 90 degree connector is at the bottom of your costume’s pants/robe.  Mark the distance on the lower leg where it comes in contact with the top of the T.  Add the insertion depth and cut the straight pipe.  Do the same for the other leg.

Using a 3/8″x1″ bolt, 3/8″ split washer and a 3/8″ nut go ahead and hook the joints together – snug the up enough that they hold their positions but still moveable –  the images below have a good shot of the leg you can use for reference.

Posey 3.0

and the back…

Posey 3.0

Step #7: The Feet

The feet on this one are similar to V2.0 but without a moveable joint – I was mixing things up to see what I liked and what I didn’t like – the plan is to take the best features from each and make an uber Posey that I’ll use as the pattern for my army. Simply put a cross flush with the T at the bottom of the leg.  Add about a 5″ straight PVC on the end of the cross opposite the T and then put a cap on it so the leg sits flat.

Your Posey should stand on its’ own now – loosen/tighten the joints as necessary.

Step #8: The Head.

I used the exact same head as V2.0.  Using 3/4″ PVC, attach a 3/4″ T to the 1″ to 3/4″ Reducer – I left about an inch between them for the neck.  Attach a 3/4″ elbow directly to the short side of the T.  Add the 3/4″ cross directly to the elbow along with two more elbows directly attached to the left and right sides of the cross.  At the top you will need to add another elbow – measure the height of the mask to determine how much room to leave between the cross and elbow – think for me this was like 2″s.  Add another elbow to the end of that again using the dimensions of the mask to determine what length of pipe to leave between the two elbows  Lastly, I just added an end cap leaving a half inch gap to put the elastic strap on the sides of the mask onto something that would not allow it to slip off.  Here is a close up of the V2.0 head – the only difference is the reducer will sit directly onto the top of the PVC cross in the middle of the shoulders instead of the cap.

Posey 2.0

Here is a quick shot of my costume on this version of Posey.

K

From the back….

Posey 3.0

and of course with the head lit up (awesome).  Note, I did not go into detail on how to do the hands.  I use the same approach as in V1.0 of Posey which you can read on that post (link here).

Posey 3.0

That’s it!

Now for a quick assessment on the overall design

Pros:

  • Definitely more solid that V2.0 and much easier to pose
  • Met the articulation requirements since any angle can be created buy simply locking the joint to any position or rotating the couplers to reorient the position
  • Joints are really easy to stay aligned due to the perfect 3/8″ holes in the fence caps
  • You can rock the T on the hips to give a side bend without tools
  • Can rotate the head around the neck.

Cons:

  • Depending on your costume, the shoulders and hips can look a little bulky
  • The joints take a bit of work to prep and get snug on the 1″ PVC
  • This version doesn’t allow for bending the back or the neck
  • ~$10 more than V2.0 but in my opinion worth it!
  • I didn’t put ankles on this version – I’ll add that back in for future models.
  • Depending on the season could be difficult to get the fence caps

Total Cost Estimate at: $55.82 (and that includes left over hardware) $49.68 with Menards 11% sale and you could probably get other sales to bring that down to around $45.00

Total Time Estimate at: 3 hrs

 Design Update: Posey V3.1

As pointed out to me by a couple of friends, the shoulders and hips look a little bulky on the base V3.0 model.  While building the next model V4.0 I found a different hip and shoulder configuration which addressed this issue.  Since it was easy to retrofit back to this version I went ahead and did it.  Note, this removes some cost as well so it is a win win!

Basically you just need to remove the outer portion of the shoulders and hips.  The ends of the shoulders will supply the needed bulk without having to add the extra connector length created by the elbows.  So on the shoulder, remove the the two outer elbows, and the outer middle T.  It will look like the letter ‘E” from the top.  Everything should still hold together nicely just on the tightness of the connectors.

Posey 3.0

Same thing with the hips.  Knock off the front two elbows and the T.  The side view gives a pretty good look at the new model.  It still has the JLo butt but the front looks a lot more natural.

Posey 3.0

This takes about $3 off the cost (every bit helps when you plan to make bunch of them – shhhhhh don’t tell Linda).

There you have it, V3.0 and V3.1 of Posey.  Stay tuned for V4.0, V5.0 and V6.0 (I’ve been busy)

2 thoughts on “Project Bob Marley: Posey Gets a Better Joint”

  1. V4.0, V5.0 and V6.0?? These are like Terminator models, and in fact you might want to consider that naming convention.

    So, like, how many do you have in this Clone Army?

    Ron

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  2. These are all prototype versions – once I get to army building I’ll switch to a more intimidating name hehehe. The somewhat bittersweet of all this is once on the trail the engineering behind these soldiers will basically be hidden under the costumes. The fact I can put them in unique and different poses each time will be the benefit … and of course when I get in the later versions we’ll be working on incorporating your motors to up the scare factor.

    I soon as I send the plans to the sweat shops I should start seeing them come off the line at a record pace. Figure the dogs can produce one or two a week if they try hard.

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