1/144 Saturn I Block I Build Update 2

I’ve had other things going on, so it has taken me longer than I planned to get back to the build.  But I now have made some progress.  First I trimmed the outboard engine fairings.  They have an angled edge rather than straight.  The angle needs to somewhat match the subtle angle on the boat tail.  The next thing to do was to complete the turbo pump exhausts. I cut out some brackets from 0.010 styrene sheet and attached them to the pipes.

I then drilled some small holes in the first stage boattail to accept the exhaust pipes.  I’ll attach them later in the build.  I also drilled holes at the base of the fuel and LOX tanks to match photos of SA-1.

Finally, for this post are a couple of pictures of the continuing filling and sanding of the model to cover some of the blemishes in the castings.  You can also see that I’ve added some tunnel covers to the fuel tanks and a vent pipe on the fuel tank of Position 4.

That’s it for now.

1/144 Saturn I Block I Build Update 1

I finally made some new progress on the SA-1 model.  I glued the top section of the first stage in place.  I then also glued the second and third stages plus the nose cone together.  The first stage needs more clean up and filling.  I started where the tanks meet the boat tail.  I thought about using my Dremel to get rid of some of the junk in between the tanks on the first stage, but it is such a confined area that I’m afraid that I’ll mess up the tanks on either side.  I think I’ll be adding filler between the tanks to cover up the lumps an bumps there. The dummy upper stage assembly also requires some filling and sanding.

While waiting for some filler to dry I started scribing the panel lines into the base of the boat tail.  I also drilled some holes to insert locator pins for the engine bells to be added later.  Next I drilled a hole in the base of each engine bell.  I also glued some 3/64 inch styrene rod into each of the locator holes in the boat tail.

The outboard engine fairings that come in the kit are too small and do not fit well on the boat tail.  I instead used some 0.010 inch sheet styrene to make some replacements.  I glued them on with Plasti-Zap CA glue.  Since each curve on the boat tail is a bit different on this kit I numbered the edges of each fairing so I could get them in the right place.  Plus I continue to add filler to the tanks on the first stage.

I also started making the inboard engine turbopump exhaust ports.  I’m not that great at bending styrene rod, so when I can, I adapt other parts.  I had some piping left from a Walthers Piping kit that I used on a steampunk rocket a while back.  I pulled out the runners to see if there were some parts there that I could use as a turbopump exhaust.  Sure enough I found some.  I only had four pieces that I could use, so I had to make sure not to mess them up.  After cutting them from the runner I carefully trimmed off the ends that I didn’t need.  I then drilled out the ends that will be seen so they look more like pipes instead of rods.

That’s it for now.  I have to make some brackets for the turbopump exhausts before they can be attached.  I also have some more detail items that need to go on the first stage tanks, but first I have to finish the filling and sanding.

More to come.

New PC Build

After running my current PC for 11 years I decided that it was time to build a new computer.  The old one was powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 processor.  I had to change the graphics card twice during that time.  The current one is an ASUS Radeon RX560 and it works pretty well.  The hard drives had been replaced once to upgrade them to 1tb drives.   It also survived a couple of hard drive failures.  The drives were set up in two RAID 1 arrays, so the drive failures were relatively easy to fix.  But this PC had gone from XP to Windows 7 and now Windows 10 so there was a lot of baggage that it was lugging around from those upgrades.  Plus the old RAID user interface was not supported on Windows 10.  It was time to build a new PC.

I decided that I’d like the new PC to last at least 5 years if not more so I decided to over build it a bit.  The processor would be a Ryzen 5 3600X processor.  It has 6 cores and 12 threads so I should have to problem in the compute area.  I originally was going to use the Ryzen 5 3600 but there was a sale and the 3600X was the same price as then 3600 so I figured that I might as well get the slightly higher clock of the 3600X.  I put in 16GB of memory in two 8GB sticks clocked at 3200MHz.

The motherboard was a difficult choice.  I really wanted an X570 board but they were all pretty pricey.  I thought about an MSI Tomahawk B450 board, but I would probably have to flash the BIOS just to get it running and I didn’t have spare processor around.  I was looking at a couple of MSI X570 boards and an ASUS X570 board.  I ended up getting the ASUS TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi) board.  It went on sale and had most of the features I wanted.

For hard drives I went with the 1TB Western Digital Black SN750 NVMe SSD for my system drive and I pulled one of the 1TB hard drives out of my old PC that had all my data files on it as my storage drive.

I decided that I also wanted a small bit of RGB in this build.  For that I got a three pack of Rosewill RGB 120mm case fans that came with a control box and were also compatible with the ASUS Aura system.  The downside of the Rosewill fans is that they are not PWM so the motherboard could not control the fan speed.  I would have to set their speed with the included remote.  The G.Skill Trident Z Neo memory also was RGB.

The power supply is a fully modular EVGA 650 G5 650W 80-Plus Gold.  I went with the Fractal Meshify C case.  It has great airflow, a glass side panel, easily cleaned filters, a PSU shroud, and room in the back for cable management.  It was a bit more that I had originally planed to spend but it is a well reviewed case.

I also stole the Radeon RX560 from my old PC.  I will replace it when I save up some for a newer more powerful card.

I started the build by installing the CPU and heatsink/Fan.  Then I inserted the memory and the NVMe SSD.  With that complete I installed it in my case.

I then installed the PSU and the required power cables.  Next I connected the front panel cables to their proper places on the mother board.  Then the SATA cable from the data drive.  The 3.5 inch hard drive is in a small drive cage at the opposite end of the PSU shroud from the power supply.   Then I started hooking up the power to the motherboard.  Then the graphics card went in.  I also routed the VGA power cable to the graphics card.

The fan cables got routed into the back where they attached to the controller board.  Then the control cable got routed to the one and only ARGB header on the motherboard.  This would allow the fan RGB to be controlled by the ASUS Aura software. The only problem was that the power cable would not connect to the controller.  I could only push it slightly on the pins and then it would stop.  I tried several times and it was just not going to happen.  I then went and got an old LED from my stash and tried to push one of the legs into the control cable.  It would only go in a small way and then stop, like there was some obstruction inside the socket.  I looked and looked even under a magnifying glass, but I could not see any obstruction.  Finally, I decided to get a straight pin from my wife’s sewing room and see if I could stick that into the hole.  Yes, it did go in.  I then took the pin and moved it around in a circular pattern to see if that would open the hole up.  I then tried putting in into the controller and it went in.  It was securely in place and wasn’t too loose.

The cable management in the back is a bit messy but at least it can’t be seen.  One of these days I’ll learn to properly run cables.

At this point I checked the back panel and noticed that the USB sockets didn’t quite line up with the the openings in the back panel cover.  I really missed that one.  To fix it I had to remove the rear facing case fan, then disconnect the power cables from the motherboard.  Next, disconnect the SATA and the RGB cables and unscrew the motherboard.  Then carefully pull the motherboard forward to get it away from the back panel cover.  Then carefully put it back into place and this time make sure that the USB sockets cleared the back panel openings.  Finally, hook everything back up.

I plugged it in and everything works.  I’ve installed Windows 10 Pro and most of my software applications.  I can access all my data.  So far so good.  Below is what it looks like when it is on.  I need to play with the Aura software some, but I have lots of time for that.

‘Till next time…

1/144 Saturn I Block I Build

I’m starting a new build.  This will be the first for the year.  Last year I completed three models.  That is a record for me.  I’ll see if I can do better this year.

First on the table this year is an all resin kit of the Saturn I Block I (SA-1) from Martin’s Models.  I purchased this kit directly from Martin in the UK at least 4 years ago.  Some people say that the castings are pretty good.  I’m not quite in that camp.  Maybe over the years his casting process has gotten better.  The castings in my kit are not quite up there with New-Ware or RealSpace Models.  There are some casting flaws and some parts are a bit out of round, but it should still build up to a nice model.  I’ll just have to do more cleaning than usual and do a little scratch building.

First thing I did was to gather everything together to see what I had to work with.  A number of the parts will require some clean up and filling.  On some of the parts it is hard to tell where the the pour plug ends and the part itself begins.  I also don’t think I’ll be using the included display base.  I’ll display it like I’ve been doing with my 1/144 manned launchers.  The included decals are not bad, but I might be doing some custom ones before it’s all over.

I cleaned up the parts and removed the pour plugs as best I could tell.  Many of the parts will require more work to look good.

I sanded the bases of the major sections and then started stacking them to see how far off from square I was.  It is really difficult to sand them exactly square, so I rotated the parts until I got what looked like a straight rocket from the bottom to the top.  I also made some alignment marks so that as I stack them later for gluing I can be sure that the alignment remains in the original orientation.

Next, I made some marks on the first stage boat tail.  This will allow me to drill a hole in the center for the rod that will hold the model in place on the base.  I also made a diagram to assist me when I scribe the lines on the base heat shield.

Then I glued the first stage tanks to the boat tail.  I had to use a couple of shims to get a vertical stage.  I attached them with CA.  Then I started the process of filling the areas where the tanks meet the boat tail.  This is still a work in progress.  You can also see from the pictures that there is some clean up to be done between the tanks as well.  I also filled  a major divot on the boilerplate second stage.

That’s all for now.

2001 Discovery XD-1 Build Complete

Well construction is done on the Discovery XD-1.  I made my goal of finishing it before Christmas (if you don’t count the stand).  I’m still working on how I want to display it.  I don’t know if I’ll use the stands that are included in the in kit or if I’ll try to find something else.  It is quite a long model and takes up a fair amount of space.  I may try to find a solution that allows me to hang it from the wall.  Anyway, when I come up with something I’ll probably post an epilogue on it.

I glued the forward neck sections together and added the spine connecting piece to the reactor section.

With painting complete I removed the remaining masking and started installing the interior of the command sphere.  I first installed the window shelf before using CA glue to place the cockpit in the upper half of the sphere.  I then applied some JB Weld epoxy around the edges as an additional light blocking and to permanently attach the cockpit.

Next came the pod bay installation into the lower sphere half.  Here I needed to make an adjustment.  If i tried to place the pod bay in where it fit then the extended pod platform wouldn’t fit since I had included the door frame.  If I had left off the door frame then it would have been fine.  To fix it. I installed the pod bay just a bit higher in the sphere half.  This meant that the bottom of the interior would not rest in the bottom of the sphere.  This would lead to a very weak attachment at just a couple of points at the top of the pod bay.  To sturdy it up, I added some styrene extensions to the bottom of the pod bay.  They were at first attached with CA then after the pod bay was properly glued in, I used some JB Weld to more permanently attach them.  It is now installed very firmly to the sphere.

Next I glued the two sphere halves together with some Tenax.  With the sphere together I, soldered the cockpit and pod bay wires together and then added the long wires that will travel the length of the spine back to the batteries in the reactor section.  I then threaded that wire through the command sphere back plate and glued it to the command sphere.

I then turned my attention to the steel rod that went into the reactor section.  I needed to create an opening in it to allow the wires to exit the spine and get attached to the battery switch.  I used my Dremel tool to grind of a section and then used a file to remove the sharp bits.

Now I could start building the spine to put the rest of the model together.  I used a bit of JB Weld epoxy in the back of the command sphere where the forward rod was to go.  Then I threaded the wire through the rod and put the rod in the command sphere back.  Next I glued the neck section to the command sphere back.  This would also help center the rod in the command sphere back since there was a bit of play at that joint.

I was then able to start adding the spine sections with CA.  The forward section was finished with the addition of the antenna complex.  The antenna complex also contains the rod connecting sleeve.  I glued the sleeve to the forward rod with a bit of CA trying my best to get the antenna section lined up properly with the command sphere.

Then I moved on to the the rear section of the spine.  First was to thread the wire through the rear rod.  I had to slide on the spine sections and reactor section even though I would not be gluing them at this time.  This was necessary to make it easier to get the wire through the small hole in the rod.  I then applied CA to the rod and sleeve in the antenna array.  Now I could start gluing the spine sections as earlier for the forward section.  Finally the reactor section was glued in place.

Next came adding the containers.  This required special attention to the instructions to be sure that they were glued on in the proper order  Some of the sections were a bit trickier that others since they had only one attachment point and a large over hang on one side.  But it all went well and surprisingly enough I didn’t have to redo any containers.

Once the containers were on I used some black wash on the engine exhausts, glued then in place in the engine stalks and then glued the completed engines to the reactor section.  Unfortunately the engines do not touch each other as they do in the film.  I couldn’t come up with a satisfactory fix so I just left them with a small gap between each other.  I also soldered the wires together in the reactor section which completed the wiring process.  The pictures show the lighting bluer than it actually looks.

I epoxied the stand sections to their steel rods and sprayed them with primer.  I believe I will paint base and rod matte black and the top piece I’ll paint with the base color of the model.  Like I said at the beginning I’m still not sure exactly how I will finally mount it.

That was a fun build and I really like the final product.  Thanks for following along.

2001 Discovery XD-1 Build Part 9

Progress has finally made it to the color coat stage.  After hand brushing the darker gray colors and then masking them I painted everything in my base color using Vallejo Model Color White Gray.  To my eye it makes the perfect base color.  It is almost white with just a hint of gray.  I sprayed all the parts with the base color.  Model Color is primarily intended for brush painting but I was able to airbrush it by thinning it 50/50 with a custom thinner I made that was 66% distilled water and 33% isopropyl alcohol with a few drops of Model Color Flow Improver added.  This worked very well and gave me pretty even coverage.

After painting the base color I removed all the masking, except for the open pod bay door and the cockpit window area.  I let the paint set for a day and then mixed a batch of 25/75 base color/thinner and applied a mist coat over the command sphere and neck parts that had the darker gray areas.  This toned down the difference in shade from the base color and looks pretty good to my eye.  Sorry I didn’t get any before pictures.  I’ll apply a clear flat overcoat to protect the paint.  It is rather fragile and can be damaged if not handled carefully.  The clear coat should give a tougher surface.

Next up will be to start installing the interior parts into the command sphere and continuing the assembly.

Thanks for looking.

2001 Discovery XD-1 Build Part 8

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.

That’s it for now.