I didn’t get as much done this week as I wanted. The holidays tend to do that. But there was progress.
I assembled the 10 spine parts. These each consisted of 5 pieces. There were no locator pins since there needed to be room to run the metal tube through them. They did have an over lapping lip that helped the parts go together. Once the two halves were set, then the three reinforcing ribs were added. Then I just needed to do that 9 more times. I also then assembled the cargo/fuel containers. You have to build 60 containers of 5 different types. The fit was pretty good. Some Tenax and a bit of pressure glued them together with very few seam lines. The parts are all keyed so there is very little chance of putting them together incorrectly, but some organization will speed the process. There are some seams on the back sides that may not be hidden. I may not fill the seams if they can’t be seen. But, they are all done and ready for primer.
I also took the time to glue some sheet styrene pieces into the reactor section to hold the battery holder in place. They should keep the batteries from moving around when the model is moved.
Now that all the parts are primed, it is time to start masking the larger parts and painting the dark panels. I’ve started with the command sphere. I’ve masked off the areas to remain light gray. I’ve started painting on the two darker shades of gray. You can see that on the command sphere half on the right in the photo. When I get all the darker gray areas painted I’ll mask over them and spray on some Vallejo White Gray for the base color. After that will come some detail painting on the spine and reactor sections. One that is complete the whole thing will get a mist coat of White Gray to tone down the dark panels.
The cockpit light boxes were a bit more difficult than the pod bay. They had to fit around some complicated shapes. This time I made some patterns out of index cards. I then trimmed the patterns until they fix nicely around the cockpit. I then used this as a pattern to cut out the shape in styrene sheet. I then slightly scored the sheet at the fold lines to make bending simpler. The boxes were then glued together with Tenax cement. I then checked them against the cockpit and made whatever final trims were needed to make them fit fairly well. Any small irregularities would be covered up with JB Weld epoxy when they were permanently attached.
With the light boxes installed, I decided to light them up and see what they looked like. They look pretty good. The photos are a little bluer than what they actually look like. The different colored panels and buttons in the cockpit light up really well. Too bad most of it will be unseen when the whole model is complete.
With the lighting complete for now, I moved on to the antenna array. I followed the order of construction for the array, and found out that I should have done more test fitting first. The main antenna went on fine, as well as the cross piece and the spike. But the lower portion of the antenna mount does not fit that well and required some sanding, filling and more sanding. All of that would have been a lot simpler if I had installed those pieces before adding the main antenna. I think what I have done will look OK but it would have been a lot easier if I had done some checking first. (Normally I do, but I got a case of “go fever”.)
The connector tube that is in the base of the antenna mount required a bit of adjustment to line up with the hole properly on both ends. This tube connects the forward and rear tubes that run the length of the spine. Also in the third picture above, notice the small antennas. I did not use the small spikes in the kit. Instead I cut thin sections of plastic runner and glued them to the center. If you look carefully at the small antennas in the movie, you can see that they do not have spikes. Instead they have flat plates with some small rectangular details on them. At this small scale, I couldn’t get the small rectangles right so I left them as just flat plates.
Next I moved on to the back of the command sphere and the reactor/engine section. First I took the back of the command sphere and drilled a hole to allow the wires to pass from the sphere, through the spine back to the reactor section where the batteries and switch will be. I made sure that the hole is not so large that the tube will pass through. I then moved on to the forward neck section. I left it in three pieces to make painting easier.
The reactor section also needed modification. In order to get access to the inside where the batteries will be, I needed to lengthen the slots that hold the detail panels. I then applied the detail panels to the top and bottom of the reactor section. The lengthened slots and not gluing the two halves together will allow the top section to be removed and provide access to the inside. I then added the rear neck pieces. Finally, I assembled the three main engines.
With the main sections complete, the next thing up is the extremely repetitious spine and cargo pods. I’ve got them removed from their runners and organized in numbered cups. I still need to clean up the edges and then start putting them all together. Hopefully I can get them done soon since next week’s weather is favorable for painting.
I have complete installing the pod bay doors. They required some filling and sanding as they are just slightly smaller than the opening in the command sphere. I cemented the doors in and made the frames flush with the bottom of the opening. The kept the gap at the top of the opening. I inserted narrow strips of sheet styrene to fill as much of the gap as possible. This was then cemented in with Tenax 7R. The tiny bit of gap that was left was filled in with some small dabs of gap filling CA.
Next came masking of the command sphere halves. The lower half only needed to have its glue tab masked to give a better bonding surface later on. The upper half needed to also have its glue tab masked, but also the cockpit window opening.
I also started work on the light boxes for the pod bay section. I started by using some .010 sytrene sheet cut to form the shape and size of light box I needed. The sides of the pod bay used rectangular boxes and the top needed a pie shaped piece. I then sprayed the inside with gloss black paint and then checked for light leaks. I had touched up any light leaks and then painted the inside chrome silver. After that had dried for a day, I cut out small rectangles for the LED’s to be installed. I tacked them in place with some white glue.
When the white glue dried, I mixed some 5-minute epoxy and then put a dab over each LED and also a spot on the wire leads for each LED. The extra spot of epoxy will act as a strain relief so that when twisting and moving the wires around it won’t put as much pressure on the LED’s. After the epoxy set, I painted the backside of the LED’s with some chrome silver and when that was dry, I applied some gloss black to keep any light from escaping. After that I, tacked the boxes in place on the pod bay with some Plasti-Zap CA glue.
The next thing to do was to mix up some JB Weld epoxy to permanently attach the light boxes.
That’s it for now. Next up should be building the light boxes for the cockpit. Thanks for looking.
This update will show the completion of the pods, the painted pod platforms and some work on the rest of the command sphere. The pod platforms were painted flat black. I glued a pod base to the right hand pod platform to place the unlit pod. I also glued the pod base in place for the lighted pod. I put the pod platforms into the pod bay and did a test fit. I then noticed that the extended pod was resting on the pod bay door frame and would not allow the pod bay to get a proper fit into the command sphere. I had heard that before on a YouTube video a few week ago. Sure enough it didn’t fit quite right.
After some careful moving and fitting I decided that if I could remove a bit of the frame near the bottom I could get the pod bay to seat well. It would also mean that I would need to shim the back of the pod bay where it meets the sphere at the bottom. I then started sanding the pod door frame along just the bottom third of the frame. When I had enough removed I did another test fit and found that it should work fine. When everything is in place it will be hardly noticeable.
Painting the details on the pods was tricky. They are very small. The stationary pod was completed first. I added the black accents and a small red square on the back. I then put some Tamiya clear gloss where the window should be to simulate glass. Then I put some Micro Kristal Kleer where the headlights were to go. When that had dried I painted them silver, and when that was dry I painted on some Tamiya Clear Gloss. Next went on the arms. They were CA’d into place and then painted flat white. The lighted pod had a few more steps. I made sure the complete inner surface was painted chrome silver. Next, I carefully pushed the 1mm fiber optic fibers into the four headlight holes that were 3D printed in place as part of the pod. I pushed them in until about 1/4 inch was inside the pod. The fiber tunnels force the fibers to slightly bend toward the lower center of the pod so they can catch the most light from the LED. I left some extra sticking out in front to make it easier to use the Plasti-Zap to glue them in without fogging them up. After the CA set I trimmed off the extra. I then hooked up the LED to see how they looked when lit. It looks like they pickup the light well.
Next, I’ll be starting to mask the sphere in preparation to paint the interior for light blocking. Thanks for looking.
Time for another update. I have been making slow but steady progress. As I mentioned last time, I moved on to the pod platforms. One of them will have to have a hole drilled in the middle to pass the LED wires through to light the pod. I put a bit in my pin vise and carefully drilled a hole in the round pod base. I then glued that to one of the pod platforms. Next I got the pin vice back out and drilled through the platform. It worked out well. I used a small file and smoothed the edges so they wouldn’t cut through the thin insulation on the LED wires.
Next up was to start folding the platforms and gluing them together. They were a bit fiddly because of their size, but they went together quicker than I expected. Next, I glued the platform tops to the two platforms that would not be extended. The last part to add to complete the platforms was three tiny brackets under the front lip of the platform. I lost one in the process of cleaning them up. Fortunately ParaGrafix included an extra one. I then glued the short 1.6mm brass rods to them. Now those two are ready for filling and paint.
The extended platform had to be done in a slightly different order because of the wiring. First I needed to drill a hole into one of the long 1.6mm brass rods so that the LED wires could go from the platform into the rod and out the back of the pod bay. I drilled the hole at a very shallow angle to make it easier to thread the wires through. The wiring path is from the LED through the base of the pod. Then into the top of the pod platform. From there the wires have to thread their way into the brass rod at the base of the platform. I had to take care not to scrape any of the insulation off the wires in the process. Now with everything threaded together in the proper order, I started pulling the wire through while guiding the platform table into its proper position. To take some of the pressure off the wires I left a loop of wire in the lower pod base before the wire disappeared into the brass rod. I was then able to glue the platform table to the base. Then slowly push the bit of excess wire from the pod base down into the pod platform. Then I glued the pod base to the platform table. Finally the extended platform was ready for paint.
Next was to tackle the 2.4mm brass rods that would accept the 1.6mm rods from the platforms. ParaGrafix suggest cutting an extra set of the 2.4mm brass rods and use them as temporary guides to position the short 2.4mm rods used by the static platforms. I also cut some styrene rods to use as spacers for the static rods as suggested by ParaGrafix. You can just make out the spacers under the static brass rods. I used CA to attach the spacers to the rods and the pod bay floor. The extended platform did not need spacers since it travels completely from the front of the pod bay to the back wall. Once all that was done I painted the exposed ends of the large brass rods to blend in with the rest of the lower pod bay wall.
That’s it for now, more to come. Thanks for looking.
Time for another update. I’m continuing with the photoetch for the most part.
I folded the pod bay into shape and CA’d it together. I would have installed the floor but I was waiting on another set of LED’s to arrive. The first set were fine but they had a slight green cast to them. I ordered another set from a different source and I’m hoping that these are more white.
Anyway, in the meantime I moved on to the cockpit photoetch. I started with the hallway behind the cockpit. I filled the openings with Micro Kristal Kleer, except the ceiling. The openings are way too big to fill. I will apply a piece of clear styrene that I will sand on one side to make it more opaque. The part itself is a simple rectangular cube when folded. The main thing to be careful of is the ceiling. It is mostly open to allow the lights to shine through. As such it is very easy to bend the wrong way, but with a bit of care it went together just fine. After bending, I painted the backside of the openings with various Tamiya clear colors to enhance the color of the decals when lit from behind.
Next came the cockpit itself. I filled all the small lights and openings with Kristal Kleer as before. Then I applied the decals. When they were dry, I turned it over and started painting the back with the clear colors to match the colors of the decals. I also folded and painted the seats that will be installed later. When the paint was dry I started folding the cockpit section. There are a number of small pieces to bend but I had little trouble. ParaGrafix really does make it pretty easy to get a good bend without special tools. The lights look good, too bad you will be able to see so little of it after it is installed.
When the new LED’s came in I tested them and they were much more white that the others. I glued one to the pod bay floor to illuminate the workbench. I also bent and installed the PE cockpit window frame.
I decided I could wait no longer. I had to cut one of the pod bay doors out. I was dreading doing this, but it really needed to be done. In the film you can see that when the pod bay doors are open the notched frame remains in place. This meant that I had to cut out the doors and leave only the frame to be installed. I used a brand new #11 blade and slowly and carefully cut around the door inside the frame. After what seemed like forever the door finally came out. After sanding the inside edge of the frame, it looks pretty good.
Now it was time to install the suit rack and workbench on the pod bay floor. I CA’d them into place. I then CA’d the floor into the pod bay walls. I turned on the LED and found a little light leak that I’ll paint over with some black. Otherwise it looks pretty good. The photo is a little blown out, but with just your eye it looks good. I placed the bay in the sphere and it looks pretty good. With the other two doors closed you can’t see much, but it does look great.
I then folded the PE pod bay sub-floor and installed it on the bottom side of the pod bay floor. I also went back and light blocked the cockpit and then glued it to the window opening and painted it black for light blocking.
I then started working on the pods themselves. I painted black inside the pod that will be lit. After that dries I’ll paint silver inside to aid in bouncing the light around so the fiber optic head lights can pick up as much light as possible. I then primed the pod that will be installed inside the pod bay. It looks a bit rough on the lower half. For some reason the bottom half of the 3D printed pod is a bit rougher than the top half. I’ll have to do some careful sanding to see if the primer can smooth some of that out. It looks like I’ll have to do the same with the pod that I’m going to light up.
That’s it for now. As you can see, I’m saving the pod platforms themselves for last. I have to drill some holes in the PE for one of the pod pads to allow the wires to pass through. I’m hoping that I don’t destroy the part in the process.
I got started on the photoetch parts. I sprayed them with a white primer and then covered that in a clear coat. I decided to start with updating the exterior airlock door. As the kit comes, there is no detail on the door itself and the door controls are just a couple of raised areas next to it. The photoetch has much more detail, but to start, I needed to remove the raised areas and then cut out the kit door. The ParaGrafix instructions indicate to put the door on the outside of the command sphere, but looking at the movie stills it is clear that the door is recessed, hence my need to cut out the door. The plastic is fairly soft so cutting out the door was not too difficult. I tacked the door on with some CA and then used JB Weld to secure it in place and make sure there were no light leaks. Then is was a simple matter to attach the photoetch door controls with a drop of CA.
Next up came the photoetch for the interior airlock passage. It was a simple couple of bends and then some CA to secure it and some JB Weld to make it permanent and cover the joints to prevent light leaks. Then I added the decals from the HDA Modelworx set. In hindsight I should probably have put the decals on before bending the part, but it was fairly easy to cut the decal into three parts and apply them to the airlock passage. These decals are printed with a laser printer. It is the first time I’ve used this type of decal. I do not know if they are all like this, but these are very thick decals. Which is probably a good thing since removing them from the paper backing is rather difficult. I’ve not used decals that were this hard to remove from the decal paper. Even after a long soak and allowing them to sit for a while, they were still very difficult to get off the paper. I had to apply quite a bit of sliding force to get them started. But they did eventually come loose and I applied them to the PE. I made sure to use a good amount of Micro Set and then followed that up with Micro Sol to get them to conform to the details of the PE.
Next came the test bench that goes in the center of the pod bay. It was a much more involved bending process with several small bends that needed to be made. This is the first time that I have used PE that was this involved. I finally got it bent, but I’m not quite satisfied with the final result. I couldn’t get the back of the workbench exactly where it needed to be but it is very close and when it is this small I think it will look fine. Once again the decals were cut into sections and applied individually. It took several applications of Micro Set to get them down smooth, but they look fine now. I needed to apply a bit of black paint at the corners and the inside to stop light leaks. I also needed to add a couple of styrene bits to cover the open end and the bottom overhang where there is no PE. I then also painted the inside silver to aid in bouncing the light around when it gets lit.
Next I bent the climate control vents into shape and touched up the corners with some white paint. They went together easily with just some simple bends. I then applied the decals to the pod bay walls and floor. The windows and lights were filled with Micro Krystal Klear. The pod bay wall decals were cut into sections and applied. The floor was one decal with a couple of holes cut out for the workbench and the space suit rack. I also CA’ed the blue suit and the red helmet to the suit rack and applied the decals.
The ceiling of the pod bay is where the climate control vents go and I took a photo of them placed where they will go when complete. I won’t actually install them until later. There are also some dome shapes that go on the ceiling. You can see them in the movie, but they are not modeled in the PE. But there are three raised areas on the PE where the domes should go. I started wondering what I would do about that. At first I thought I might just leave them off, but my OCD just wouldn’t let me do that. Then I remembered the half pearls that I used on a couple of my steam punk rockets. I pulled them out and they were just the right size to fit. I CA’ed them into place and painted them white.
That is as far as I have gotten so far. Next I need to start working on how to light the pod on the extended platform. My brass rods came in so now I have no excuses left, I have to start working on it. Current plan is to run some very thin wires through one of the rods and up into the platform then into the pod. First things first, I need to get the pod painted to block any light from the interior leaking out.