Nuking from orbit is the only way to be sure

One of my all time favorite movies is Aliens. And what is more iconic from the movie than the M41a pulse rifle. The movie was such low budget that they couldn’t afford VFx for muzzle flashes so the gun is an actual working Thompson 0.45 SMG with the barrel sawed down and a sawed off Remington 870 12ga shotgun as the “grenade launcher” and the grenades Riley loads are 12ga blanks. And around this was an aluminum frame. To avoid this seeming as janky as it sounds the set is super dark and the guns are weathered to the point to absurdity. So I built a 3D printed version that a prop maker had posted. The display runs off an adafruit feather m4 (I know absurd to drive 2 digits). I heavily modified the guts to get that inside. There is a reed switch in the lower where a magnet in the magazine tells the feather to activate the display). Fun fact: a congressman asked after seeing the movie if the M-16 could have one and the military declined as glowing red LEDs are a poor idea on the battlefield. Additionally fun fact in aliens 3 you note the rifles are totally black which was because the frames were lost between the movies and the plastic replacements didn’t look right but solid black hides all sins!

Finally getting to the Glowforge part. I wanted to wall mount it so of course needed mounts and a sign. This is Rowmark brushed aluminum 2-color acrylic from Johnson plastics. This stuff is THIN (I used a paper cutter to crop it to fit the GF). The weathering is silver rubnbuff with burnt umber oil paint to add that greasy grime and Vajjelo rust pigment. And yes the M3 screws are real and functionally cosmetic. If you use this stuff you need to drop the power waaaay down and speed way up or your engrave cuts. Did I mention it was thin?


love that movie !!



[1986 spoiler]: For those wondering about the logo above the text, that is the evil “Weyland-Yutani” company “Building Better Worlds” called “the company” during the movies, who are trying to aquire the “xenomorph” as a weapon.


Oh and in the spirit of sharing, here is the link to the awesome free design by Andrew Williams (he has a fancier one he sells which REALLY looks real, but that you pay for assembled, rather than make yourself:


I’m taken a back. Listen to the smart lady and her cat and you will be okay.


LOL - accurate! Still made me laugh :stuck_out_tongue:


Oh here i the video of the electronics during testing (the display is covered with a dark purple gel to make it look like the movie (purple shows the LED perfectly but the black is really black). It’s a specific color purple from Lee Gels:

And yes using an entire ARM M4 is absurd for something the 6502 in an Apple 2 could have easily handled is absurd, but it was on the shelf…


I look at that rifle and I say, “I don’t need that… but I really kinda want it.” :slight_smile:


The movie is from 1986, was it commonplace at that time to use VFX instead of blanks? I thought that came much later.

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Not especially, but of course knowing what the movie would become it would probably have been in the budget, but it was a really low budget movie! Probably the best financial return on a modern sci fi movie.


Final update project photo with it all mounted:


Oh and those grenades were from an Etsy vendor in Singapore. They are really high quality, turned in solid aluminum with a brass primer cap and the plastic cap feels injection molded (could be SLA printed in colored resin?) The feel really nice.