Project Hako: The Keys to Happiness

I always felt like jumping in any car for a cruise should be about the experience, no matter the occasion. Using that freedom as merely a mode to get from point A to B seems like such a waste. That time seems so much better spent when all those tactile, aural and visual experiences bring a smile to your face.

One area of modification that I never really explored in the past was the simple key. Fancy key chains are nice to look at but they just fall to the side when it comes time to interact with the vehicle and bring it to life. That left me in search for more, so I decided to try out a few ideas for the Hakosuka Skyline project.

Below are the two iterations I came up with and accompanying animations showing them in action.

The results of my tinkering. A toy Hako with a switchblade style key and my Gundam that I now use. Animations below.

The results of my tinkering. A toy Hako with a switchblade style key and my Gundam that I now use.

It all started when I got my hands on a few of these promotional 1:72 scale models that came attached to Japanese Coffee cans.

It all started when I got my hands on a few of these promotional 1:72 scale models that came attached to Japanese Coffee cans.

After modifying the internals and building some guides for a cut-down key, I had the switchblade style and a toy that can still be rolled around. I was concerned with the durability of the painted finish and the lack of spots for my other keys, so the experimentation continued.

After modifying the internals and building some guides for a cut-down key, I had the switchblade style and a toy that can still be rolled around. I was concerned with the durability of the painted finish and the lack of spots for my other keys, so the experimentation continued.

I'm a huge Gundam fan. So when I thought about Exia's flip out swords, a plan immediately formed.

I’m a huge Gundam fan. So when I thought about Exia’s flip out swords, a plan immediately formed.

The second step to bringing  my idea into reality was creating the 3D model to send off for printing. I would change a few things if I did it again but I didn't want to push the limits of the printing capability on my first test piece.

The second step to bringing my idea into reality was creating the 3D model to send off for printing. I would change a few things if I did it again but I didn’t want to push the limits of the printing capability on my first test piece.

A few weeks later, this is the stainless steel Gundam as it arrived. A little rough from the infusion process but still crazy cool.

A few weeks later, this is the stainless steel Gundam as it arrived. A little rough from the infusion process but still crazy cool.

I pondered the strength of the key blades and mounting screws I planned for a while, then finally threw the Gundam on my CNC mill to make any necessary clearance and finishing cuts. Anything I couldn't get the proper mounting angle for was done by hand with jeweler's files.

I pondered the strength of the key blades and mounting screws I planned for a while, then finally threw the Gundam on my CNC mill to make any necessary clearance and finishing cuts. Anything I couldn’t get the proper mounting angle for was done by hand with jeweler’s files.

Speaking of doing things by hand, drilling and tapping the 2mm x.04 threads had me terrified since I didn't want to mess up the piece. The various surface angles made the Gundam difficult to mount flat on its sides, so I had to drill the 1.7mm holes perpendicular to its upright centerline by eye.

Speaking of doing things by hand, drilling and tapping the 2mm x.04 threads had me terrified since I didn’t want to mess up the piece. The various surface angles made the Gundam difficult to mount flat on its sides, so I had to drill the 1.7mm holes perpendicular to its upright centerline by eye.

After drilling successfully, I ordered some HSS 2mm serial taps. These worked flawlessly but it was still nerve-wracking making sure the mini taps started straight and didn't snap off in the holes.

After drilling successfully, I ordered some HSS 2mm serial taps. These worked flawlessly but it was still nerve-wracking making sure the mini taps started straight and didn’t snap off in the holes.

I just thought I'd post how cool it is that hardware stores here in Japan stock bolts like this.

I just thought I’d post how cool it is that hardware stores here in Japan stock bolts like this.

The mill was called upon again for key trimming duties since I don't have a band saw at my house.

The mill was called upon again for key trimming duties since I don’t have a band saw at my house.

The result of all the planning and hard work! The key blades act as Exia's swords.

The result of all the planning and hard work! The key blades act as Exia’s swords.

A fun "keychain" that holds all the keys needed for my Skyline and makes me laugh inside every time I use it. Doesn't get much better than that.

A fun “keychain” that holds all the keys needed for my Skyline and makes me laugh inside every time I use it. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Gundam is unstoppable. He is seen here breezing through my steering lock.

Gundam is unstoppable. He is seen here breezing through my steering lock.

And using his GN blade to bring the Hako to life.

And using his GN blade to bring the Hako to life.

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