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Titanfall Data Knife

I have been loving Titanfall 2, and I am not a guy who usually likes shooters. I enjoyed Titanfall 1, but 2 just clicks for me. I picked up the Collector’s Edition of the game, which comes with an unbelievably cool helmet and some other greeblies. I assumed it would be just some cheap plastic schlock that would live on my display shelves, but… man oh man, the helmet is basically cosplay-ready out of the box. The quality on this thing is crazy!

I will confess it’s a bit big, but I have a giant head, so it actually works out.

Because I usually like making myself props / trinkets / collectibles from media that I enjoy, I wanted to make something for Titanfall to go with the helmet. One of the stand-out bits of kit in that game to me is the Data Knife, which is a ridiculously impractical but still very cool idea. I quite like the cockpit-joystick design of the handle as a practical nod to the game’s aesthetic, and the GUI interaction in the game is pretty neat.

There are a couple different ‘versions’ of the Data Knife, from what I’ve seen. The paneling on the knife is different between Titanfall 1 and 2, for starters, and the art book for the first game has yet another different looking design. I set about modeling something up that I could 3d print and I’ve made enough progress that I want to show and share.

“Version 1″ of the design was me just trying to get something that looked the part. I scaled it up a tiny bit after that initial print because it felt just a tad off. There are some design compromises here because I was limited by my knowledge of 3d modeling, but I also learned a lot in the course of making this thing that will hopefully improve my future models. As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of different versions of the knife, and this is not a 100% reproduction of any one of them in particular – consider it my personal variant. Overall I think it worked out well, and it would have been totally usable as-is, but I ultimately decided to go for something a bit more ambitious.

After looking it over for a while, I decided I wanted to do something a bit fancier and add lights. Properly-controlled lights means I need a battery, switch, and probably an arduino for some neat effects, so I started trying to divide the interior spaces of the model up to fit everything I needed. It was a bit of trial-and-error, and I had a few false starts because the boolean operations to hollow the inside of the handle out were being a bit cagey. Case in point:

I tried hollowing a chamber out that I could thread the thumbstick onto to function as a battery enclosure, and tried making the arduino accessible from the outside of the knife. I made too many complex modifications and it just got a bit squirrely, so I decided to cut back my goals a little bit and go for something a bit more straightforward. This is the ultimate design I’m going with now:

I modeled and measured this to work with components I basically had lying around, so I certainly can’t guarantee that this would work for everybody. The ‘battery cover’ panel is screwed onto the knife with four M2x20 screws; inside the compartment is a battery holder for an A23 battery, which is a small 12v battery a bit girthier than a AAA but not as long. Basically a bunch of glorified coin cells. The arduino sits in the compartment ‘under’ the battery and will probably be hot glued into place when I’m done. There are channels through the body of the knife for wiring to where the LEDs will eventually end up. The thumbstick has been turned into a push-on, push-off toggle button because it seemed like one of the easiest places on the knife to actually hold, as opposed to the ‘trigger’ on the other side of the handle which is actually a bit high up for my liking. Two holes on the right side of the knife were hollowed out for 3mm red LEDs; the ‘screen’ that sits in the dial has been left empty for now, but I have put insert posts for 5x5mm LEDs behind it. I’m thinking I can get a piece of acrylic, make it frosted with sandpaper or etching, and situate some NeoPixel LEDs behind it to emulate some of the ‘hacking’ lighting effects in the game.

Test parts are printing now; once I’m certain everything works as intended I’ll put the files up for people to grab, but as I said, this is very specific to things I have around my workshop that I measured for the express purpose of a tight fit.

Comments (2)

Would It be possible for me to purchase a prebuilt data knife?

Hey Theo –

I’m actually going to be doing another run of these soon, as I’ve had a lot of requests for them. They’re going to be built and listed on the web store here when they’re available, so check back. 🙂

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