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Author Topic: Foam Terrain board - the hub  (Read 1773 times)

john blackwell

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Foam Terrain board - the hub
« on: 13 July 2017, 14:01:01 »
I've been off the boards for several years for a few reasons: most importantly, life happens. Secondly though, the Heroscape terrain I worked on for so long (http://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=7543.0) ended up not being as long-term-effective as I had hoped.

Unfortunately, while I tried to keep the PVA glue / water to the surface, invariably it got to the sides. This made interlocking the tiles together very difficult, and it never got any easier - to the point where I would spend an entire evening working on a board that was only 20 X 30 hexes. Prior to that I was able to set up a 24 square foot game board in less time. Disassembling it was even more difficult.

The plastic also got brittle over time, and I found I was breaking tiles while trying to disassemble a terrain.

All that gets demoralizing after a bit. So with life happening and a loss of lots of invested time (and $) I took some time away. But that did not mean I wasn't actively looking for a hex-based alternative.

I think I have an answer, and I have to give this site credit for inspiring me: specifically 'Terrain Boards' parts 1-3
http://6mm.wargaming.info/page3.shtml

Someone here linked it, and it got the mental ball rolling. Then it was simply time to begin working out the 'how's before finally beginning to rebuild my terrain.

I'm going to call this thread the 'Hub' as it will be the thread with the general ideas for building with this medium. I will create more threads with specific elements and link them back here so each can be accessed on its own or (as time passes and threads spread out across several pages) from this thread.

===================================================================

Palm trees: http://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=58028.0

===================================================================

I started with 12" X 12" tiles. The 6-mm site author used 24" X 24", and while fewer tiles makes for quicker setup, it also reduced the ability to vary terrain as much. In order to keep the hexes as close to Heroscape size as I could (I still like the amount of room they occupy), I worked out how many hexes would fit on a 12" X 12" tile. The hexes were not perfect hexagons, but tenths of a millimeter here or there would not be an issue.
« Last Edit: 08 August 2017, 10:33:57 by john blackwell »
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #1 on: 13 July 2017, 14:04:06 »
I was wondering how to delineate the hexes. Ableman33 did wonders using styrofoam plate hexes and differing the adjoining hexes to provide clear hexes without making it so obvious. I got some plates, cut hexes, and built a proof of concept.

I flocked them (ignoring the white under-base) to get an idea of how it would look.
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #2 on: 13 July 2017, 14:05:39 »
In the end I was leaning toward the every-hex-different instead of doing the occasional hex even though the occasional hex used fewer styrofoam bits and had a slightly flatter profile.
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #3 on: 13 July 2017, 14:10:04 »
The next issue was the tile's teeth. From the 6-mm terrain site I learned that an abundance of interlocking teeth made for more friction and led to more damage of terrain due to basic handling. I figured if I could cut and move teeth, I could reduce their number and help reduce the problem.

Along with that came the challenge of making sure sides were different. Hexes could only line up two ways, and if the teeth along each side were identical you could end up with adjacent tiles with hexes that did not line up.

I fixed that by assigning different teeth configurations to the top / bottom than to the left / right. For identification I referred to the tiles as North-South and East-West.
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #4 on: 13 July 2017, 14:11:31 »
Knowing the glued teeth might be a bit weaker than the others, I cut the tops off of straight pins and drove them deep into the cut teeth at angles ensuring the teeth won't move.
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #5 on: 13 July 2017, 14:14:38 »
Now came time to mark the top of the terrain. It required measuring and marking to create a hex-template that I could use to mark up a piece of foam-core.

Because the teeth and the hexes had to keep aligned, I cut edges that helped keep the foam tile in the correct orientation knowing that the tile could not be placed sideways and fit snugly into the hex-template.
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #6 on: 13 July 2017, 14:17:38 »
I also wanted to put a panel on the underside of the foam tile for two reasons:

1) added weight and rigidity

2) when I do -1 elevation, I can cut the foam tile to the panel underneath and not have a hole to fill.

(I have edge pieces for when -1 elevation goes from one foam tile to another)
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #7 on: 13 July 2017, 14:20:27 »
I got a great deal on a Dremel ( got this one for the price of the next lower model) and used it to take a touch off the edges of the tiles. This would also ensure a slightly looser fit and less wear-and-tear when building or disassembling the surface.
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #8 on: 13 July 2017, 14:23:57 »
Then it was time to mark the hexes. I drilled holes in the foam core and used a sharpie to put a dot on each hex junction. I then drew lines and created the hexes. Hopefully the edge and corner hexes would line up.
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #9 on: 13 July 2017, 14:29:25 »
When I put my 4 tiles together, I could see that they fit together only if they were correctly aligned. I was also excited to see that (for the most part) edges and corners lined up well.

This meant the tiles were reversible and interchangeable. Yea!

I then used the dremel to cut into the foam to delineate the hexes.
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #10 on: 13 July 2017, 14:32:00 »
In the end I decided against using the styrofoam for one simple reason. I could not find a way to evenly to the 0, 1, and 2-plate thicknesses evenly. They're in 3's while the foam tile is 7 X 8. It was not going to work out in a way I liked, so I let the styrofoam go and cut into the foam tile instead.
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #11 on: 13 July 2017, 14:34:27 »
Once finished I used PVA-glue with water, covered the tiles, and flocked them with Fine Turf green, burnt grass, and yellow.

I know the grass pattern does not line up neatly, but that is a detail I'm willing to overlook.

The hexes are easy enough to discern, and I can place the tiles in any order I like.
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #12 on: 13 July 2017, 14:36:09 »
Lessons learned. I will add to this as I learn more what-not-to-do's with future tiles.

1) Use the smooth side of the tile next time. Despite all the flocking the texture of the foam tile is apparent.
« Last Edit: 14 July 2017, 20:13:05 by john blackwell »
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #13 on: 13 July 2017, 14:45:48 »
From here I can take this technique and develop other forms of terrain. They will fit these current tiles allowing me to expand this terrain with any form I want.

Plans:
Next terrain: Shallow ocean (Ableman33 did one like this inspiring me to try a version)
                     Rivers & lakes
                     Ravines
                     Canyons (I have ideas for integrating very deep terrain with otherwise not-deep terrain)
                     Tunnels (like the passages under Solaris)
                     Caves

Other features: Palm trees: http://bg.battletech.com/forums/index.php?topic=58028.0
                         Traditional trees
                         Hills
                         Roads / buildings
                         Rough ground

These projects with have their own threads, each linking to and from this central thread keeping the collection of ideas individual yet connected.

I hope some find these ideas useful.
Happy hunting,
JB
« Last Edit: 13 July 2017, 15:18:10 by john blackwell »
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john blackwell

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #14 on: 13 July 2017, 15:14:51 »
Thoughts?
« Last Edit: 13 July 2017, 15:18:38 by john blackwell »
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NeonKnight

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #15 on: 13 July 2017, 18:11:33 »
I'm following with interest.

I did the same process with an Alpha Strike board, minus the hexes.

I too have been using Heroscape, but, also have been noticing it is getting more brittle with time, and I have not painted any of my tiles.

I've been thinking of moving forward with making new terrain tiles to replace the Heroscpae, but have been thinking of making large HEX BOARDS out of 2x2 Foam sheets.

These would allow me to then have the 6 axis of matching as opposed to the current 4 that a square board would.

The Blue hexes would be 1.75, same as heroscape, as I bought a LOT of laser cut hex bases at 1.75" and find it a good fit.  a 4x6 game table fits 4 standard battletech maps at 1.75" scale.
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SeeM

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Re: Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #16 on: 28 July 2017, 09:05:36 »
I did hexes the same method on my grass templates. :) It's a slow process, but I couldn't think of something faster.

I like the idea with puzzle foam. It's cheap and lightweight.
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Kret69

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Re: Foam Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #17 on: 29 November 2017, 09:37:27 »
Good to read from you again.
I will follow your progress on this.

I am Belch II

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Re: Foam Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #18 on: 01 December 2017, 22:58:31 »
Looks like some good stuff.
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Papabees

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Re: Foam Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #19 on: 09 January 2018, 20:11:12 »
What Dremel bit did you use to cut the foam. Any tips for cutting?

Papabees

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Re: Foam Terrain board - the hub
« Reply #20 on: 09 January 2018, 20:50:50 »
I actually just tried my router bit in the dremel and it worked like a dream.

 

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