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Old December 5 2009, 07:50 PM   #91
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

Oh that is a nice design! I like the arrangement of components in the engineering section and wished I'd laid things out like that. Please pass my praise along to Arkady.

I'm glad you're taking this to your blog, Christopher. One of the things that annoys me about TrekBBS is the impermanence of the posts. There's no record of the artwork presented here, it just comes and goes and so much work is lost in the shifting sands of purges and moderations.
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Old December 5 2009, 08:22 PM   #92
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

^Thanks, guys!

EDIT: The post is now up:

http://christopherlbennett.wordpress...patras-needle/
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Old December 6 2009, 05:32 AM   #93
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

While I haven't been as productive on this project as I'd like, Christopher's mention on his blog has spurred me to post what I've done since October.



I've been playing around with hull details. These tend to be ephemeral, appearing and disappearing with my moods. I'll sketch out a new arrangement, save it, then come back days later and rip out the new stuff and start over.

The warp nacelles are also in a bit of flux. I've been trying to come up with a civilian look for the engines that reminds one of the Federation while looking distinct from Starfleet.

I think I'm getting warm with this nacelle. It's intended to evoke a locomotive, especially the front where the bussard blends into the nacelle. More detail is needed for this nacelle design ... the bussard blends directly into the rest of the mesh without any seams, for example. There are also no navigation lights, and the sides remain largely unfinished. I'm thinking of putting a translucent cylindrical structure into the recess at the bottom of the nacelle to represent the warp coils. Part of my reasoning for that is that a civilian vessel is less likely to see combat and thus, components that aren't serviceable from the inside anyway can be exposed directly to space where they might radiate heat better and come in at a lower mass. As this idea progresses, more and more of the warp drive might be opened up. I just have to balance that function against Christopher's desire for a streamlined ship.

I'm giving up on internal layouts for now. The work I've done to date convinces me I have enough room for everything important, and if I add a few doo-dads here and there, I have even more room to stick stuff.

Finally, with apologies to DEWLine, I've removed his name from the credits since this project is now distinct from his in everything but inspiration. I remain grateful for his early work and gracious invitation for competing designs.
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Old December 6 2009, 04:19 PM   #94
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

Interesting work, Psion. I like the nacelle fronts, and the idea of having exposed components is interesting and based on sound reasoning. Keep in mind, though, that we're pretty much assuming the craft is capable of atmospheric entry and planetfall, which would require some degree of shielding and structural bracing. Although there's no certainty on that point; the book never really specifies. I'd be fine with it if you chose to take yours in the direction of a strictly spacegoing design while others went with landing-capable approaches. The variety in the designs is really cool.

I'll update my blog entry to include this new image.
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Old December 7 2009, 02:24 AM   #95
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

No worries, Psion! I've been having some rethinking over the last little while myself. Not necessarily going to chuck any of the stuff done to date, but there will be tweaks here and there.

Take that cockpit-as-lifeboat idea earlier on. I may want to...appropriate that one. Also, wondering about how and where to place the stairs, turbolift(for cargo "dumbwaiter"-style, maybe? Or crew accessibility?), and so on.
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Old December 7 2009, 08:37 AM   #96
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

DEWLine wrote: View Post
No worries, Psion! I've been having some rethinking over the last little while myself. Not necessarily going to chuck any of the stuff done to date, but there will be tweaks here and there.

Take that cockpit-as-lifeboat idea earlier on. I may want to...appropriate that one. Also, wondering about how and where to place the stairs, turbolift(for cargo "dumbwaiter"-style, maybe? Or crew accessibility?), and so on.
Thanks, DEWLine. And I know exactly what you mean about Arkady's cockpit. Unfortunately, there's little I can do with that idea on my design, so I just need to charge ahead on full impulse and hope the end result is good enough.

Christopher wrote: View Post
Interesting work, Psion. I like the nacelle fronts, and the idea of having exposed components is interesting and based on sound reasoning. Keep in mind, though, that we're pretty much assuming the craft is capable of atmospheric entry and planetfall, which would require some degree of shielding and structural bracing. Although there's no certainty on that point; the book never really specifies. I'd be fine with it if you chose to take yours in the direction of a strictly spacegoing design while others went with landing-capable approaches. The variety in the designs is really cool.

I'll update my blog entry to include this new image.
She doesn't know it, but when I hand my wife a story I've written and ask her what she thinks, if her first words are something like, "Well, it was interesting", I put that story back into the heap and work on something else.

In this case, though, I'll take it as a compliment and ... well, let me show you:


I'm gonna say we're done with big changes to the overall shape of the vessel. Saying that gives me the ability to finalize the mesh and start removing "modifiers" that do things like mirroring one half to the other. I'm now in the process of separating the major sections of the ship from each other so I can begin building a more believable skin.

In the view above, I've decided to start with the antimatter pod. Since it's jettisonable, it has natural demarcation lines separating it from the rest of the hull.


So here we see Cleo's Needle (this version at least) missing that "smudge pod". The opening is a suggestion for a small hatch that connects the ship to the pod. During normal operation, the hatch is open and feeds from the pod's antimatter supply fit through it on a retracting umbilical and connect to the reactor. During an emergency, the umbilical retracts, the hatch closes, and the entire pod unlatches and accelerates away on small thrusters.

Perhaps normally on this class of ship, a small shuttle pod is docked to this spot. Or maybe that's an opening for supplies. Or maybe the manufacturer intended this to be a convenient location for job-specific modules depending on the customer's requirements.

That would make this type of ship a natural choice for Picard when he spec'd out the mission; make some changes to the blueprints for an existing design and then have the ship built to spec. The manufacturer then only has to figure out how to fit the extra antimatter supply into a custom mission module.

Anyway, now that I've pulled the module off from the rest of the ship, it's easier for me to start adding details without cluttering up the mesh.



There's a rear hatch on the pod that's about 1.5 meters high and wide. This is to allow a refueling arm to enter and also allows access for people. The pod is broken down into several distinct sections now, visible from the panel lines. I find modeling in these details makes a mesh look much more realistic than painting them in as textures ... and since we aren't talking about a model intended for television or movies where rendering times might require cutting corners, we're free to go crazy on the details. A few hand/footholds and an access keypad finish the accents. Maybe before we're finished, we'll put some lights on it and lifting hooks, but this looks good to me so far.


Re-attached to the Cleopatra's Needle, the pod gives a hint as to how to proceed with the rest of the ship. A similar paneling technique will separate the top and bottom halves of the ship. The nose will have its own panel, and the dorsal teardrop will have seams as well. This spoils the smooth finish of the ship, but not too severely, and will be implemented on a scale that will be hardly noticeable from a distance. Think of it like the paneling on an automobile. That, after all, is where I'm borrowing the technique.

The detail under the fantail is temporary, but good enough to leave for a while, and the impulse engines clearly need work. So do the warp nacelles, they're so sloppy that there are rendering glitches at this distance, but I'll save them for last.


EDIT TO ADD:

I just rendered this image and thought I'd share for purposes of this discussion:


If you squint, you can just make out the panel separation lines on the smudge pod. I don't think they'll do much to mar the finish of the Needle. Someday, I'm going to build the original Enterprise this way.
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Old December 7 2009, 03:59 PM   #97
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

Psion wrote: View Post
She doesn't know it, but when I hand my wife a story I've written and ask her what she thinks, if her first words are something like, "Well, it was interesting", I put that story back into the heap and work on something else.

In this case, though, I'll take it as a compliment...
Yeah, sorry, I don't mean to imply anything other than a compliment. I'm just not the sort to gush.

and ... well, let me show you:

For some reason, your images aren't showing up in the thread proper, but I'm able to see them by copy-and-pasting the addresses.


So here we see Cleo's Needle (this version at least) missing that "smudge pod". The opening is a suggestion for a small hatch that connects the ship to the pod. During normal operation, the hatch is open and feeds from the pod's antimatter supply fit through it on a retracting umbilical and connect to the reactor. During an emergency, the umbilical retracts, the hatch closes, and the entire pod unlatches and accelerates away on small thrusters.

Perhaps normally on this class of ship, a small shuttle pod is docked to this spot. Or maybe that's an opening for supplies. Or maybe the manufacturer intended this to be a convenient location for job-specific modules depending on the customer's requirements.

That would make this type of ship a natural choice for Picard when he spec'd out the mission; make some changes to the blueprints for an existing design and then have the ship built to spec. The manufacturer then only has to figure out how to fit the extra antimatter supply into a custom mission module.
Nice ideas. And good work on the detailing.
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Old December 7 2009, 06:51 PM   #98
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

I'm going to blame Google for this. They migrated the account I use to store images to a new service and the link format changed. Of course, I should have caught that too, but it obviously worked on my end.

It should be working now.

As for the ideas, they're just rationalizations for that weird little wart on the buttocks of the vessel. But that's half the fun, and history is full of weird-looking ships, planes, and automobiles; I doubt that's going to stop between now and the 24th 1/2 century.
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Old December 9 2009, 06:23 AM   #99
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

A minor update:



I've separated the teardrop, muddled about a bit with the impulse engines, and created a humanoid figure who's about my size, build, and hair color. His name is Adam. Adam and his twin brother, Adam stand on invisible platforms approximating the locations of decks one and two. Adam and Adam are to scale with the ship, and I'll rig one for posing, kill the other in a gruesome fashion, then clone the first as many times as I need to so that he and his relatives can show us various parts of the Needle in human-scale terms.
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Old December 10 2009, 12:59 PM   #100
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

The "I'm the king of the world" update.



The mesh has been broken down into major discrete components. The top section port and starboard, port and starboard sides, bottom, nose cone port and starboard, nose cone collar, and fantail have are now broken apart and 'paneled'. Some additional paneling will probably be added, and then I'll start adding windows, sensor alcoves, and RCS thrusters. The docking ring will be eliminated on the starboard side and replaced on the port side with a door similar to that found on a runabout. Then it'll be time to tackle those warp nacelles and finish them off.

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Old December 10 2009, 03:30 PM   #101
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

There's a lot of nice detail. Good stuff.
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Old December 11 2009, 02:44 AM   #102
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

Thanks, Patrickivan! But I'm just getting warmed up. After looking at DEWLine's and Arkady's designs and then studying the DS9 runabout, I've concluded the streamlined look isn't quite TNG-ish enough. This sleek little craft needs a little roughing up. I need to peel back those panels a bit and show more of the guts underneath.

Christopher, does the Needle's cockpit have windows? I'd like to put some forward-facing windows into the nosecone. Something that lets us all see into the ship so a certain poor, masochistic modeler has to put all those interiors into it.

Also, my natural assumption is that this ship's landing gear are pads. But do you think wheels would be too retro?
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Old December 11 2009, 03:52 AM   #103
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

Psion wrote: View Post
Thanks, Patrickivan! But I'm just getting warmed up. After looking at DEWLine's and Arkady's designs and then studying the DS9 runabout, I've concluded the streamlined look isn't quite TNG-ish enough. This sleek little craft needs a little roughing up. I need to peel back those panels a bit and show more of the guts underneath.
Oh, I don't know about that. What I like about yours is that it's so obviously non-Starfleet. It has a distinctive civilian identity to it. The others are somewhat Starfleety, which is plausible given that they're from the same civilization and era. But if Starfleet could have a period where it was doing starship-as-sculpture like the Galaxy Class, then surely there could be civilian ship designers that go for style rather than pure functionality and come up with designs that are really distinctive.


Christopher, does the Needle's cockpit have windows?
I don't think I specified. I have no objection to windows, though.

Also, my natural assumption is that this ship's landing gear are pads. But do you think wheels would be too retro?
I'm not sure what purpose there would be to wheels, since it would presumably get its lift from antigravs (it's got no wings) and wouldn't need to taxi along a runway.
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Old December 11 2009, 05:15 AM   #104
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

Christopher wrote: View Post
Psion wrote: View Post
Thanks, Patrickivan! But I'm just getting warmed up. After looking at DEWLine's and Arkady's designs and then studying the DS9 runabout, I've concluded the streamlined look isn't quite TNG-ish enough. This sleek little craft needs a little roughing up. I need to peel back those panels a bit and show more of the guts underneath.
Oh, I don't know about that. What I like about yours is that it's so obviously non-Starfleet. It has a distinctive civilian identity to it. The others are somewhat Starfleety, which is plausible given that they're from the same civilization and era. But if Starfleet could have a period where it was doing starship-as-sculpture like the Galaxy Class, then surely there could be civilian ship designers that go for style rather than pure functionality and come up with designs that are really distinctive.
That's the first time I've ever heard a screeching tires noise while dragging vertices around. Thank you for that smack across the back of the head, I almost chucked my advantage in favor of conformity!

I do prefer a streamlined look, but I've always planned some additional detail beyond what the ship has right now. Details like a few windows, RCS thrusters, and transporter emitters on the bottom. I've been struggling with sensor placement. A small palette on either side just behind the nose cone and above the docking rings looks natural to me, but it may compromise the streamlining too much; when I get there, I'll do a rendering with and without and let your preferences guide me.


Christopher wrote: View Post
Christopher, does the Needle's cockpit have windows?
I don't think I specified. I have no objection to windows, though.


This is a quick and dirty modification to the mesh to demonstrate my idea for cockpit windows. The only trouble is, this means the room behind those windows is about five to six meters wide. Even allowing for instrumentation, it's more airy than what your description of a cockpit bridge suggests to me.

Christopher wrote: View Post
Also, my natural assumption is that this ship's landing gear are pads. But do you think wheels would be too retro?
I'm not sure what purpose there would be to wheels, since it would presumably get its lift from antigravs (it's got no wings) and wouldn't need to taxi along a runway.
[chuckles] I'm so glad you didn't see the version with wings, then. And I agree about the landing gear, but I thought it would look cool seeing this thing behave like a huge airliner at a spaceport.
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Old December 11 2009, 05:20 AM   #105
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Re: Cleopatra's Needle - Design Proposals

Yeah, I think the windows should be smaller and subtler than that.
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