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Old December 15 2012, 11:48 AM   #1
Psion
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Psion's 1:350 TOS Enterprise -- The Long Haul

Please forgive me for shattering any hopes for a fast, exciting build in this thread. This will not be a weekly build. I will be greatly impressed with myself if it's done by Christmas, 2013. But I hope by then to have at least made the decisions and acquired the parts I need to build this kit my way.

Oh yeah, that reminds me, this will not be a perfect representation of one of the studio models. I intend for it to be the best I can do with the kit and my own strained imagination. It will look like the TOS Enterprise until you notice that I've retained many of the grid lines (though not all). And that I've shifted the exterior turboshaft clockwise a bit so it now lines up with the set's turbolift.

I've taped the major pieces of the kit together to test their fit a couple weeks ago, and it looks like this:



I hope to have a finished product that I can mount proudly in my home office as a centerpiece over the fireplace mantle where visitors will praise the magnificence of my artistic skills and attention to detail. Whether things actually play out that way remains to be seen ... it's been fifteen years since I've built a model. All my paints and sticky things have dried up and I forget how to put my airbrush together. Still, I remember the basics: take your time and 'good enough' is never good enough.

I rejected the recommended lighting kit. I have my own ideas and want the lighting to be functional as a status indicator for ... something. Maybe it'll tell me at a glance that I have mail or that the barometer is falling. That means it'll also be networked and I'll be able to send commands to do things like light up, turn on the warp engines, etc. I also want to add some new strobes on the rear of the bridge, the aft ends of the nacelles, and the underside of the engineering hull. I may borrow other lighting ideas from the Motion Picture Enterprise as well, but that remains undecided.

Another reason I rejected the official lighting kit is that I don't want any damned motor noises distracting me while I'm browsing por-- er, working at my computer. Even the quietest motors eventually wear out their bearings, and I don't want to deal with that. I want a solid state starship, and I want it to be lit all day and all night long. Remember, it might have status lights lit that tell me stuff as soon as I see it. That's useless if I have to turn it on first. I might as well just turn on the computer.

The nacelles will, thus, be the biggest challenge. How do I replicate that wonderful spinning fan effect without having a spinning fan? Well, I have a few thoughts about that.

My favorite idea is one I've been sitting on for a few years. I kept toying with the notion of building a six-foot Enterprise, and I'd long ago decided I wanted to light the nacelles using a combination of LEDs and a pico projector in each hull. These would be tied to a small computer programmed to play special, pre-developed animations pre-warped to account for the curvature of the inside surface of the nacelle domes. Animations might include the familiar fan and sparkling effect, a swirling plasma, a slow cold start or shutdown, and combinations of these ideas or others. For a 72-inch starship, this is an easy thing ... the nacelles are sufficiently roomy to accommodate a variety of products to accomplish this goal, although some modification of the components would be needed. For a 33-inch version, however, things become tight. I haven't yet found a product I can modify for this purpose.

My next idea is quite a step down. An array of RGB LEDs feeding light through fiberoptics into the nacelle housing. With enough fibers, the effect might work well. It won't precisely mimic the original, but it still might look good. I started playing around tonight with a proposed 8x8 array of fibers fed by 16 LEDs with four fibers to each LED in so I can conserve space in the nacelle. Each of the four fibers from each LED would lead to a different quadrant in the dome so that the lighting effects in one quadrant are replicated and mirrored in the other three. Controlling sixteen LEDS should be child's play compared to running a video. I took that 8x8 array and messed around in Blender, arranging the fibers into a domed shape. As you can see from this rendering, if the inside of the dome is too transparent, the effect will breakdown quickly.



Another idea I'm toying with combines that fiber optic array with turning the inside of each dome into a sealed compartment filled with a viscous liquid. That liquid might be mixed with something like pearlescent paint or shampoo, iron filings, and maybe even glitter. I don't want moving parts, but with four or five weak electromagnets behind the "snowglobes", I think I can coax the iron filings to move from electromagnet to electromagnet in a steady, circular motion. And as they move, they'll drag the fluid with them and eventually sweep up any glitter or pearlescent paint I've included in the mix. Eventually, each nacelle could be capped with something that looks like a swirling vortex of plasma. With LEDs flashing in sequence in the middle of this vortex, the effect should be both chaotic and organic and rather unique.

Naturally, I'll have to experiment with these ideas. I'm leaning towards the blinking snowglobe at the moment if no one comes out with pen-style projectors in the next few months. I'll post results on my fluid tests when I conduct them.

In the meantime, I'll update this thread with block diagrams and then schematics for the wiring system I'm planning, photos of modifications I make to the model as I build it, etc.
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Old December 15 2012, 07:09 PM   #2
Albertese
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Re: Psion's 1:350 TOS Enterprise -- The Long Haul

Cool! I'm eventually gonna get one of these (probably not til Spring 2013) but i look forward to watching this go together!

--Alex
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Old December 16 2012, 09:18 PM   #3
Patrickivan
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Re: Psion's 1:350 TOS Enterprise -- The Long Haul

I'm looking forward to seeing your wiring, and especially your nacelle cap approach!
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