GrendelFish (gfish) wrote,

2015 Hugo Base

I can finally share what they look like!


Last Saturday 27 Hugo rockets mounted on my base were awarded at the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane. I still can't believe it really happened. This was definitely one of the biggest things I've ever done, or ever been part of.

Timeline of the entire ridiculous thing:

9-1-2013: Watched the Hugo ceremony, joked that I should have a base design in mind, just in case anyone ever asked me to make it. Haha, yeah right.

9-3-2013: Was struck with a real idea, looked into the process to discover they were usually selected by open competition. (The final product is more or less exactly this idea, though constructed through an entirely different process from what I was thinking then.)

Next 13 months: Spent thinking about how to make the damn thing.

10-6-2014: Started experimenting with design tools to craft the shape I saw in my head.

10-27-2014: Had the design finalized, tested it in paper.

11-6-2014: First attempt in steel, utter disaster.

11-23-2014: Figured out how to use a 3D printed prototype as a guide for bending metal pieces accurately.

12-12-2014: Solved the problem of how to align the pieces during welding with a 3D printed jig, with holes for press-fit magnets. One of the more clever ideas I've ever had.

12-17-2014: Hugo base competition officially announced.

1-4-2015: Decided to go with an aluminum base plate instead of wood.

1-27-2015: Finish first complete prototype base, including careful gun bluing and lacquer.

1-31-2015: Hand delivered my competition entry, including 3D printed rocket for proper comparison.

2-18-2015: Informed I had won the competition.

3-24-2015: Placed order for waterjet cutting of 40 complete base sets. These arrive in several batches, so bending and welding overlap for the next month.

5-10-2015: Finished bending the steel.

5-17-2015: Finished welding the bases.

6-5-2015: Got all the bases sandblasted using a commercial service, after much frustration (and many hundreds of dollars) trying to do it myself and realizing it was going to take a ridiculous amount of time.

7-1-2015: Finished surface treatment (carefully painting with gun bluing, scrubbing and buffing it a day later, then applying 3 coats of lacquer).

7-10-2015: Finished applying felt inside the bases (to cover over gaps) and mounting them on the plates. Done!

8-16-2015: Packed them into boxes, complete with care instructions and a small toolkit.

8-18-2015: Drove them to Spokane.

8-19-2015: Got the laser etched nameplates, which I had overnighted from LA to my parents' place.

8-21-2015: Spent 2 hours attaching nameplates and bolting on the rockets.

8-22-2015: Hugo Awards ceremony.
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