Hogan’s Heroes Coffee Pot – Prop Replica

Hogan’s Heroes is one of the television shows that dominated my childhood viewing, and I still enjoy it immensely today. Making and repurposing objects figured prominently in the show, and the most iconic prop is the coffee pot.

The coffee pot contained a speaker connected to a microphone in Col. Klink’s office that allowed the prisoners to eavesdrop on the Germans. It’s a simple prop made from a few common items:

  1. A Universal Model D655 coffee pot made by Landers, Frary &Clark
  2. Altec Lansing grill cloth
  3. Dialco 1/2″ pilot light
  4. a length of wire

I found a model E956 coffee pot on Etsy that is indistinguishable from the original prop, and set about my build. I wanted the replica to actually play audio clips from the show, so I added a small bluetooth speaker in the basket. As I cannot find the correct grill cloth, I was pleasantly surprised to see the speaker’s face formed a reasonable approximation.

After drilling the hole for the pilot light, I needed to replace the bulb with a LED but did not have the right materials here. I found a pen in my desk that had a small LED torch in it, and dismantled it to recover the needed parts. The entire torch unit fitted into the pilot light perfectly and is held in place with a little hot glue. The back end of the pilot light was removed to allow access to the LED switch.

This is a great temporary solution but I plan to rewire it so the light comes on when the power cord is connected to the coffee pot. I also need to fix the light into the base with JB Weld to replicate the original look of the prop but I’ll leave that until I complete the rewire.

I waited almost a year to start this build and yet it was relatively simple one to complete. I often find myself intimidated by the thought of cutting into expensive material or rare items crucial to a successful outcome. Once completed they are amongst my favourite items in my collection, and this one will have a place of honour in my Curiosity Cabinet.

Sound check

My Art Assignment #1

In 2014, Sarah Urist Green and John Green created The Art Assignment to explore art and art history. The channel initially featured established and emerging artists who created art assignments for anyone to complete as a path to understanding their art practice. The site expanded to explore art through a variety of different forms but it is the Art Assignments that inspire me to dig into my tool boxes and make something.

I plan to complete each of the 68 assignments, in no particular order, and I started with this one.

Become Someone Else

That’s Me on the left, and Him on the right. Me, I’m the creative type, I just want to make things and travel. I’m drawn to the weird and strange things in life, and care very little about other people’s opinion.

Not Him, he’s punctual, dependable, hard-working and just a little old-fashioned in his views and opinions. He’s also the bloke who finances Me in my life.

Thing is, six years ago I was Him and he was Me. I enjoyed his life, and the unique experiences and opportunities his career provided me. But now I prefer to just be Me, I earn less money but I’m richer for time and freedom I have to be Me. Oh, occasionally I pull on the old uniform and head off to be Him again and raise a few extra dollars. He’s good like that, self-sacrificing to fund my travel dreams.

I like Him, I’d just rather be Me these days.


Making Indy’s Satchel

Indiana Jones' Satchel
My replica of Indiana Jones’ satchel.

Scrolling through Market Place listings on Facebook I found two old army bags that looked similar to Indiana Jones’ satchel in the films. Without further research I grabbed them both for $20 (Australian dollars), and drove across town to pick them up.

Although similar neither matched the Mark VII screen used prop, one is a Mark V and the other a Mark VI (pictured above). A Mark VI is used in one scene in Temple of Doom but both are similar enough to use for cosplay or display purposes.

I removed the original shoulder strap, and replaced it with a 25mm (one inch) leather bridle strap cut to a length of 1625mm (65 inches). Each end is secured by a Chicago screw (also known as screw or binding posts). A slide, in this case an altered buckle, is used to adjust the strap length to get the bag sitting right on the wearer’s body.

That’s it, I will probably weather the strap to match the well-worn bag and I am looking a for a more screen accurate slide. A quick but satisfying build to get me back into making stuff after a few months of procrastination.

I gifted the Mark V satchel to my Replica Prop Forum Secret Santa recipient, and the Mark VI is for my personal collection. Now what items do I need to put in it?


FG8 Tiger Moth: Paper craft Model

Procrastination is a beast to master, and this project has been hiding in a drawer for nearly four years. I bought several model kits in Tokyo but I had only completed one small kit before this week.

Miyazaki’s film, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, is a classic and this model of the Red Pirates ship captures the beauty of his art and cinematography. 

I had set everything up to film the whole build but a focus error left me with a few hours of unusable footage. So I’ll just leave at this short fly-around of the finished model.


Quarterly Maker Box curated by Adam Savage

1:48 Scale Model of Adam Savage's Cave

1:48 Scale Model of Adam Savage’s Cave

I recently received the Quarterly Maker Box 08 curated by Adam Savage (Mythbusters,, and spent a couple of hours building this 1:48 scale model of Adam’s Cave adding a few creative touches to enliven the space.

Tested reached out a few days ago for permission to use my photo in the video for the next Quarterly Maker box curated by Adam, and I am very happy to share it with you today. The first box was the best curated box I have ever received, and I am looking forward to the new one arriving next month. Check out the video.


Christmas Tree Torture Test

Maker’s Muse Christmas Tree Torture Test

Over at Maker’s Muse, Angus designed a Christmas Tree Torture Test for us to test our 3D printers. I successfully printed it on my Cetus Extended at 90% size (to fit on the bed), 0.2 layer heights in fine detail. The print took 13 hours, and I think it did an outstanding job. [Read more…]


Photoautomat Berlin – A new book


Colleen (my best friend and wife) and I recently spent three months in Berlin, exploring the nooks and crannies and living like Berliners. We discovered Berlin’s love for the old passport photo booths, and decided to create a series of portraits.

Photoautomat Berlin is the collected portraits matched with photographs and locations of each of the booths. Click on the link below to purchase a copy.


Awakening the Dark Side

Repilica Prop Darth Vader Lightsaber

Tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens went on sale yesterday, so I thought it was time to build my Darth Vader lightsaber prop replica.

The original prop is built from a MPP flash but they are rare and expensive so I substituted the similar Heiland flash as the base for this build. The T-tracks forming the grips are attached with double-sided tape after experimenting unsuccessfully with Super Glue.

A replica MPP shroud and clamp from WannaWanga and The Custom Saber Shop respectively created the basic look and feel of the original Star Wars prop. I still require a replacement bulb release to complete it to my satisfaction but it looks great sitting next to my Luke Skywalker lightsaber.

There are several companies selling good quality replica props but it is immensely more fulfilling to build one yourself like a true Jedi.

May the Force be with you always.

Darth Vader Lightsaber


Leather Belt Pouch

Leather Pouch1

My son has a set of mini-cables he carries for work and wanted a small leather pouch to carry them on his belt. So I pulled out the sewing machine and fashioned the little pouch you see in the photo.

It’s a little rough around the edges but I kind of like the rough-made aesthetic, and it fits with the pen case I made him a few months ago. Making something useful from leather scraps, a couple of clasps and thread from Colleen’s sewing drawer is very satisfying even if it looks a little rough.

By making a few simple items I have opened myself up to many more possibilities when I have a need for something. My first instinct is to make it or re-purpose something I already have into a new use. It saves us money, and it just feels good to make a thing rather than buy it.

Leather Pouch2


Making a simple lampshade.


My desk started life as an industrial sewing machine table, and bares the scars of a long working days in this guise. Local artisan, Lloyd Kellett of One Man’s Trash, turned it into a kick ass desk lit by a beautiful Edison light bulb. It creates a wonderfully warm glow for my workspace but I always felt it needed a lampshade.

When I bought a couple of 1940s vintage flash units to replicate the lightsaber props from Star Wars, I thought one of the reflectors was a perfect solution to my lampshade dilemma. I pulled it apart, cut off the stem and used the Dremel to smooth out the rough surfaces. Then I slipped it over the socket and screwed it into place. Job done.

Making something new out of old stuff does not have to be difficult, a simple job like this can take less than an hour with basic tools (hacksaw, screwdriver and a file). In the past, most people kept their things working or created the new things they needed to live a good life. Consumerism and mass production led to a rapid loss of those skills but the maker movement is starting to revive old skills and develop new ones modern technologies.

Search the Web for makers and you find a massive community building everything from stools to small houses, from massive mechanical sculptures to miniature dioramas. Makers come in all shapes and sizes but all share a passion developed by picking up some tools and building something simple. Starting with something simple allowed them to make mistakes, develop new skills and find satisfaction in making things.

As their skills grow they move on to more complex projects but it is often the simple ones that provide us the most satisfaction. It took longer to write this post than make the lampshade, yet it makes me immensely happy to see it sitting above my desk.

Anyone can do it, so what will be your first simple project?