The USS Enterprise (Refit) from Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Build Log – Part 11

It’s been a while since I’ve written this log, so my apologies go out to anyone who’s been waiting…hope it wasn’t too long.

When last we were here, the nacelles had just been wired, all the internals were light-blocked and fixed in place, and the nacelles were finally sealed up.  This episode, we’re going to clean up the gaps in the model, and paint a few details here and there, along with sanding sections that need it.

A little dab here...

A little dab here…

...and a few dabs up here

…and a few dabs up here

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wiring needs protection too, so some improv paper envelopes help keep them covered.

The wiring needs protection too, so some improv paper envelopes help keep them covered.

First, before getting into the nitty-gritty, I protect the exposed lights (the front floodlamps and the rear anticollision strobe) and the wiring that connects all that lighting work.  A nice bubble of Humbrol Maskol (or whatever your favorite masking product might be) over the small lights covers that.  A little bit of masking tape around the warp crystal assembly on top protects that one.  For the wiring itself, I made a small paper envelope just by folding some regular Xerox paper and taping it shut.  I want to make sure those wires retain their labels and colors, so that envelope is pretty crucial.

The nacelles don't go together altogether cleanly, and it'll take some sand-fill-sand to get them flush.

The nacelles don’t go together altogether cleanly, and it’ll take some sand-fill-sand to get them flush.

At the front of the nacelles where the bussard collector mates with the two side halves there are some fairly significant ridges and gaps, and these require a bit of elbow grease to sand down into shape.  Those were my first goals here, and with a bit of time and work they settled in.  I puttied the gaps up with Tamiya fine putty, and re-sanded till smooth.

The rears were a bit gappy too, though less so than the tops and bottoms.

The rears were a bit gappy too, though less so than the tops and bottoms.

The PE was probably the cleanest fit of all the parts here, ironically.

The PE was probably the cleanest fit of all the parts here, ironically.

Next, the rear of the nacelles also had some rather ugly gaps, and the PE rear cover had a little teensy gap line all the

way around that needed addressing.  I filled the gaps with Tamiya, scraping the excess away with the edge of a razor, and went at it with some 600-grit sandpaper to clean up the remnants.  The outboard fins also needed some help, so I treated those the same way.  Getting putty into that tight little angled corner on the top was probably hardest, and getting it cleaned and flush with the surface was a bit of a challenge, but a good razor knife can work wonders in this regard.

An example of 'masking lines' - these shown are pretty minor, bad ones can build up a significant height and be a pain to get rid of.

An example of ‘masking lines’ – these shown are pretty minor, bad ones can build up a significant height and be a pain to get rid of.

The tops of the nacelles were next, and these had some really serious ledging issues – not gaps, but places where the two parts simply don’t fit flush with one another.  I used 120-grit sandpaper at first to get them as level as I could, then 600-grit to fine out the scratches from the prior sanding.  Feeling for the ledge with fingertips generally reveals if you’ve done a good job here, and later when the hull coat is reapplied any fine ledging will be shown as the paint dries.  As you’re doing this, it’s likely that you’ll end up sanding away your light-blocking if you did it on the outside, so mask off the clear parts and reapply as needed.  It’s also good to remove the masks once you’ve done one or two coats and reapply masking afterwards, in order to avoid paint buildup in “mask lines” on particularly long-used masks.

After all the sanding, a fresh topcoat of white was added.  Looking nice!

After all the sanding, a fresh topcoat of white was added. Looking nice!

Once I was satisfied that all the parts were smooth and matching their partners, I re-masked all the black areas and hit the whole thing with a fresh coat of white.  Came out looking good, and what few spots remained that still needed smoothing became very evident. A little more sandpaper and another quick blast of white, and everything looked fine.

On the front of the engines to either side of the Bussards there is a marking in duck-egg blue that extends under the “chin” of each nacelle.  On the kit parts, this is demarcated with a very shallow trench in the plastic (you can see it in the above pic).  This trench didn’t exist in the film version, and although I left the trench on the thruster corner of the fin (that trench didn’t exist in the film either, but it’s so small that it won’t be noticeable), I decided to fill this trench in.  I used “Perfect Plastic Putty” to do this job – it’s a water-soluble polymer putty that goes on white and dries pretty quickly.  I roughed up the inside of the trenches with some folded sandpaper (to give the putty more surface to grip to) and applied with a fingertip, then cleaned off the excess with the back of a knife.  Once it was dry, a little sanding and everything was totally smooth.

The forward blues and silver line were added here, some black and white cleanup followed.

The forward blues and silver line were added here, some black and white cleanup followed.

I then masked it up and airbrushed the duck-egg blue on the front, and also on the inside of the forward sections of the inboard and outboard chillers.  I used shining silver on the band that stretches from inboard to outboard across the face of each nacelle.  Once these were cleaned up and dried, I reversed my masking and went back to check the black chillers on both sides (masks are not always 100%, and some white did bleed through).

The fin tips where the thruster ports are got painted with some signal yellow by hand.  I also tried to fill in the holes with gloss clear acrylic, but they refused to fill – the paint just kept draining away into the interior.  I’ll try again later once everything is dry again.

In the instructions for the kit, those forward rounded sections of the chillers are supposedly copper, but in TMP they’re quite clearly black.  I hand-painted them with matt black while doing my corrections on the regular chillers.

Finally, once everything was dry and clean, I applied a light gloss coat to the entire nacelle, all around.  I’m not going to do the decals on these just yet.  Decals will have to wait until all my subassemblies are done, because I have some special paints I want to use on the decals themselves before application, and it’ll require me to do the entire set to make sure I don’t miss any spots.

Meanwhile, once dry, I sanded away any discolorations, and went back to reapply a few spots where the duck-egg blue came out a little funky (something about Testors’ version of that color just doesn’t seem to want to go on evenly).  A second zap with gloss coat, and then I’ll bag them and move on to the next parts.

That’s it for this episode – next go around we’ll start on the officers’ lounge and the recreation deck!

USS Enterprise – Build Log Part 10

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AMT’s “Cadet Series” – Star Trek: The Motion Picture Set – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2, where I’ll cover the decaling and painting of the AMT Cadet Series of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  For those of you just tuning in, take a few moments and have a look at what I put up on the kit itself and its assembly, because there’s a lot of good to be said for this kit…and it’s best to approach this from the beginning.  For those of you who already saw part 1, please accept my apologies for not getting this up sooner – life is a bit hectic, and I kept procrastinating.  However, regardless of which way you arrived, glad to have you and let’s get on with the build and review!

Decals

The decals for this kit, as I mentioned previously, are really pretty – extreme levels of detail, they got my anticipation up to some extreme levels.

AMT CS TMP Fig 6

On paper, they look beautiful, and I’m really excited to get to working with them.

And much like Star Trek V, my hopes got raised to unhappy levels.

It’s not all bad news here, let’s get that straight – I’ve developed a very definitive love-hate relationship with these decals.  I am amazed at the detail and the prettiness.  I am severely disappointed in the film material that AMT chose to use for them.

 

Sadly, real life rarely looks as good as things did on paper.

Sadly, real life rarely looks as good as things did on paper.

Waterslides should be soft and flexible, and these are just way too stiff and brittle to be easy to work with.  Based on the behavior of these decals, I’d have to push the “difficulty level” listed on the front of the kit from “2” to “3+” – basically at this point I consider every decal to be a separate part, and of particularly delicate nature.

TEENYJust so you know, some of these decals are tiny – the kind of tiny one usually associates with photo-etch parts or nightmares of insects crawling into your ears….that’s a regular-sized toothpick, by the way.

Cutting the backing is easy, and they absorb water quick, so within 30-60 seconds even the biggest of them can be slid off without a hassle.

Once off the backing, though, is where your trouble starts.

If you breathe on these the wrong way, they rip.  Once they’re on the model, they don’t conform to surfaces that aren’t very flat.  Both of these would be forgivable, because normally one could use solvents like Micro-Sol or Solvaset to soften them up and get them to lay flat.

Except these decals don’t respond to either Micro-Set or Solvaset.  Gaaaarrrrr!

The instructions recommend slicing the larger ones into more manageable sizes, but I suspect someone in marketing at AMT realized what a tragedy these were and tried to cover their butts this way.

First, some how-tos…and by the way, if you’ve never done waterslides, then you might want to shelf this kit until you’ve done one or two others and feel comfortable dealing with difficult models.

Stuff You’ll need to Apply Waterslide Decals

In case you’re new to decals, here’s what you’ll need and/or want:

  1. A pan, bowl, or large mug with some clean warm water in it – this is your “bath”
  2. A large dish or plate with a paper towel on it – place your container from 1 on this and keep that paper towel damp
  3. A pair of stainless-steel tweezers to hold the decals while they soak
  4. A couple of soft paintbrushes (you’ll use these to push decals around and lift them up for repositioning)
  5. A few toothpicks/cocktail sticks (because the paintbrushes in 2 are likely to be too big for a few of these decals)
  6. A decal-setting solution like the Micro-Scale set (Micro-Set and Micro-Sol), Solvaset, or similar
  7. (optional) a spritz-bottle with some clean or distilled water
  8. …and specifically for this kit, you’re going to need canopy glue, or perhaps some white school glue watered down, and a very sharp hobby razor (preferably brand new blade).

How to Apply Waterslide Decals

The process is as follows – cut the decal you want free, grip it by the paper backing with the tweezers (make sure not to grip over the decal itself), and immerse the decal in the water tub from (1), above.  If it’s large, the paper will “roll up” around your tweezers.  It’s okay, this is normal.

While the decal is soaking, sprinkle a little water on the surface of the model (or spray with the bottle from (7)).  Follow the instructions for your decal setting solution (some have you apply to the model before the decal, some have you do it afterwards, some both).

Wet

Don’t be bashful about getting your model wet.  You want the decal to “swim” into place with no bubbles underneath.

Once the decal is about ready the paper will “unroll” a bit (small ones won’t have rolled up, so ignore this for those).  Take them out of the water and shake off the excess, or tap it lightly on the paper towel to draw away the extra water.

Test the ‘slide’ of the decal with a finger by gently giving it a tiny push and see if it moves easily on the paper.  If it doesn’t, back in the bath with it for another 15-30 sec, then try again.

Oh, if it comes off in the bath, just fish it out on the paper backing, it’s ready.

Slide the decal off the backing and onto the model, where it should “float” freely on the already-wet surface.  Once it’s in the right place, tear off a piece of your paper towel and use it to wick away excess fluid.  As the fluid gets pulled away the decal will lock itself in place.  If it locks in the wrong place, you can always put some more water back down on it and under it, which should loosen it up and let you move it a bit to get it back into position.

Get the decal into position while it's wet.

Slide it around until it’s in the right spot, then wick away the extra water and let it dry.

After it’s in the right place and locked, apply the last of your solvents according to their instructions, and let the model dry for a few hours, preferably overnight.  After that, use a clear varnish or laquer (I use rattle-cans for this, but if you prefer an airbrush that’s perfectly fine too) to seal the model and protect the decals.

 

 

 

And now, back to the kit…

Under normal circumstances, I apply the decals for a model after painting it, but in this case, the paint for the Federation ships was purely detail work, so I did them decals-first.  The Klingon I did as paint first like traditional models.

Since Reliant and Enterprise are very similar to one another on the decal front, let’s cover those together.

The big saucer decals were probably among the easiest to apply, as the saucer sections are almost flat – but due to the decals’ brittleness and stiff nature, you can still get rips and you’re likely to get a lot of ‘silvering’ in the applied decals. You’ll also get some overhang, and because of the stiffness of the decal material this overhang won’t lay flat at all.  Just leave it there until it dries, and then use your hobby knife, dragging the blade backwards along the model edge (if you tried to carve it away you’d end up with a bunch of little cuts along the saucer – doing the backwards drag will strip away the overhang and not damage the model surface).

Overhang on the saucer - let it dry then come back and scrape it off.

Overhang on the saucer – let it dry then come back and scrape it off.

Quite a few places had this overhang problem, but the same tactic worked for them all.

Quite a few places had this overhang problem, but the same tactic worked for them all.

I’d ask that if anyone out there has found a decal solvent that works on these, I’d appreciate it if you got word to me about what you used.

I found it best to leave a section of the lower hull unapplied to give me a gripping place (because if I grabbed a spot where decals had been recently applied, I’d likely shred them or just pull them off with my fingers), and gave the decals a day or so before putting decals on the empty spots.  In the case of Enterprise, that was the engineering hull, while Reliant’s engines made perfect handles.

Once the big plates were on, I went to the smaller detail decals – and this was where it paid off that I’d done a big version of both ships before, so I knew where most of the details belonged.  For those of you who haven’t had such experience, this is where the box from the kit comes in very helpful.

Not terribly helpful, those little decal callouts.

Not terribly helpful, those little decal callouts.

 

The instructions, unfortunately, are not very helpful at all.  You get an idea of which decals go onto what part of the model, but they don’t point to specifically where they belong.  The film material becomes a real problem here, now, because most of the parts the small ones go on are curved and the small ones just sit flat on them rather than conforming.

 

It’s the little things in life that really irritate you sometimes.

It’s the little things in life that really irritate you sometimes.

This is where a few strategic cuts with the hobby knife (don’t drag the point, but rather position the knife on the decal and “roll” the blade over it if you can) can release the tension / pressure on the decal.  If that’s not a suitable method, you will have to resort to a different method – in my case, I used canopy glue.  The glue made the inner surface of the decal ‘tacky’ and when dry it would be clear as glass.

 

 

Even being careful like this, rips will still happen…and unfortunately, some of these decals are so small that a rip becomes almost impossible to repair.

Like the shuttle bay on the Reliant. Grr. By the way, that’s the end of a toothpick in the shot for scale – it’s closer to the camera than the model is.

Like the shuttle bay on the Reliant. Grr. By the way, that’s the end of a toothpick in the shot for scale – it’s closer to the camera than the model is.

The engine nacelle decals were also particularly challenging, because they were made to “wrap” the nacelles up.  Unfortunately, this material is not soft enough to “wrap” anything, and rather prefers to stand out straight.  Again, I applied canopy glue to the interior of them and then pressed them down onto the surface until it held fast.

I think I heard one of the model gremlins mutter “Wrap this!” right about here.

I think I heard one of the model gremlins mutter “Wrap this!” right about here.

Fig 42 These little sections were harder to deal with than the large ones – larger ones held themselves in place with glue more easily, these little buggers kept popping up.

These little sections were harder to deal with than the large ones – larger ones held themselves in place with glue more easily, these little buggers kept popping up.

These little sections were harder to deal with than the large ones – larger ones held themselves in place with glue more easily, these little buggers kept popping up.

The Klingon’s decals were almost all very small and easy to apply, with the exception of the large belly insignia and the forward torpedo launcher decoration – these are going onto very curved surfaces, and they don’t settle flat.  In both cases, some canopy glue convinced the edges to settle and hold into place.

 

This ends the most challenging aspect of this kit…and a challenge it certainly was.  In spite of these issues, once they’re done the models look really nice.  I usually judge this from the perspective of a 1-meter distance view, and at a meter, most of the detail can be seen, but not entirely resolved.  Because of this, some of the ripping fades away and the slight angular deficiencies also don’t appear.

The belly insignia always looked cool to me.  A little glue on this one made sure it wasn’t going anywhere.

The belly insignia always looked cool to me.  A little glue on this one made sure it wasn’t going anywhere.

At one meter it’s hard to make out the fault, but the silvering is quite obvious when you look close up. Decal solvent products are supposed to fix this, but this material just ignored every attempt I made.

At one meter it’s hard to make out the fault, but the silvering is quite obvious when you look close up. Decal solvent products are supposed to fix this, but this material just ignored every attempt I made.

Painting

Painting on the Federation ships was quite simple – a bit of duck-egg blue at the front of the engine nacelles, flat black slits for their “bussard collectors” also at the front of the nacelles.  Touches of clear red and clear green on the sides of the saucers for navigation lights (red right, green left).  Reliant also required some intermediate blue for the faces of its weapons modules, and some medium gray for the engineering trenches on top of the hull and the semi-triangular rear section beneath the hull (the instructions are pretty clear on these, at least).

Enterprise looking ready to launch here.

Enterprise looking ready to launch here.

The forward inboard and outboard ‘rounded’ sections of the intercoolers on the engine nacelles also got a dose of paint – for Enterprise I used flat black (which is a correction to the instructions, which wrongly say copper here), and copper for Reliant (which is correct in the instructions).  Touch ups were done with flat white, even over the decals, since tiny bits of white there are already expected.  I also used a dab of crystal clear blue where the warp crystal mounts appear (on top of the nacelles, just above the beginnings of the intercoolers).

Reliant ready

Reliant is hot on her tail.

The Klingon was more interesting to paint.  To start with, I need to post a correction of myself here:

In part 1 of this review, I stated “The Amar from TMP and Kronos 1 from ST6 both were more of a metallic grey on-screen” – that was flatly wrong.  I went back and reviewed the Klingon scene from TMP and The Undiscovered Country…in TMP, the Klingons are clearly a dark green with black and almost dusty-looking finish.  Kronos in TUC was a lighter grey with brownish and possibly a very faint hint of green (and I blame this for the contamination of my memory of TMP J).

Klingon Cruiser in ST:TMP

I stand corrected.  They were quite green in TMP.

Also note the “dusty” look of the ship here – they were very well weathered.

Also note the “dusty” look of the ship here – they were very well weathered.

Since this is a TMP Klingon, I went back and ‘greened it up’.  I re-sprayed the hull with a lighter green (what you use won’t matter in the details, so long as it’s a very light green with a little more brown than yellow you’re fine).  I then highlighted the rear hull’s raised sections with olive drab (same stuff I use for allied armor WW2 models) by hand with a very fine brush, using the kit instructions as a general guideline of where to apply the darker color.  I also used it on random partial bits of the ‘head’.  After the olive, I used crystal clear green to highlight a very few spaces on top of the rear hull, the top ‘nubs’ along the neck of the ship, the cooling grids on the engineering rear hull, the cooling grids above the engine nacelles on each wing, and the collector grids on the leading edges of the wings.

Some dark grey then went into the grid at the bottom base of the neck, and the same color applied to the disruptor ‘bumps’ (there are two under the bridge housing on the head, two on the underside of the forward corners of the wings, and two just beneath the engineering section on top of the rear of the hull).  A lighter grey went onto the forward grid ahead of the engineering section (top of the hull just behind the neck), leaving the two squarish raised portions in the original hull color.  Next, a dab of crystal clear red went where the upper and lower strobes on the neck are, and I filled in the forward impulse manifold (the part that you see glowing red), and a little line of it for the bridge windows.

After these were done, the ship looked particularly garish and ugly – but I was expecting that.  To blend the whole thing together I prepped a wash using 15 parts Vallejo dark grey wash, 10 parts water, three parts US Olive Drab, seven parts Gunship Green, and three parts crystal clear green.  I didn’t concoct this recipe ahead of mixing it, by the way, that’s just what I ended up using.  The idea was to make a nice wash that was a deep muddy green, and that mix is how I achieved it.

You can probably do it with a different mix.  I hit the entire model with this mix, and that blended all the colors in very well – took away the stark contrast and gave the ship a really nice “used” look.  I always felt Klingons weren’t afraid to dig in and fight, and their ships should show the look of that attitude.

Klingon, after wash applied

By darkening up the light base color of the hull with a common wash, all the heavier colors come together and blend better.

Finally, I used some streaking grime enamel to put some weathering marks on the hull and head, streaking back from the leading edges.  For those who haven’t used this sort of thing, it goes on as brownish lines where you want the “streaks” to be, and then with a clean brush dipped in thinner you lift away most of the streak, leaving behind a perceptible ‘streak’ of color that doesn’t overwhelm the paint scheme beneath it.

Once the paint was on, the decals followed, and it was all set!

Klingon - decals applied

The decals work really well on this color base – note the Klingon text is hard to see when it’s on paper, but is very clear on the model.

Basing

This kit comes with no base for any of these models, which I think is something of a mistake.  AMT didn’t have to go out on any big limbs to throw in a few simple bases for the ships, but they omitted them in the end.  So you, the builder, get to decide how to mount them.  The might make a good hanging display with some 2lb-test fishing line or magnet wire.

No bases, and though that’s an omission that the factory should have avoided, it’s easy enough to come up with some solutions.

No bases, and though that’s an omission that the factory should have avoided, it’s easy enough to come up with some solutions.

Personally, I’m going to pick up some cheap black picture frames from Ikea or somewhere and mount these on 2mm clear acrylic rods.  I’ll print some background scenes from the films and perhaps backlight the pictures with a 9V battery and an LED, and have the ships extended “out of the picture” mounted on the acrylic rods.

And my Klingon will be perpetually chased by V’Ger’s big plasma ball.

And my Klingon will be perpetually chased by V’Ger’s big plasma ball.

 

In Summary

Now that all three models in the kit are done, I have to say that they came out looking really, really good.  I was very concerned with the quality of the decals when I started applying them, that they would be ruinous to the finish of the models, but the mistakes made at the factory were fixable, if not easily so.  Compared to the time consumed in assembly / gluing / putty / primer, which was about 90 minutes, the decal work took about seven hours split into two sessions.  Painting was about another hour.

All three done!

About ten hours of fun putting this all together, and a really nice outcome!  I’m very much looking forward to putting these on frames.

Would I buy this kit, knowing what I know now?  Yep, I think so.  My daughter already asked me if she could have Reliant when I’m done, so I’d say it made an impression, and when I’m done with the picture-frame basing they’ll look really nice hanging on a wall (which is a nice change from a model kit that would otherwise have taken up more shelf-space).  They’d also make really nice game pieces if you play Firestorm Armada or Star Fleet Battles, or some other tabletop space game.

Would I give this kit to a kid to build?  Probably not, since the kid would be weeping after the decals fell apart.  I’d probably lean more towards the 1:600 Enterprise or Klingon D-7.  Pricing on those is similar to this, and those kits are more forgiving of error and mishandling.  Fortunately, given the subject matter for this kit is almost forty years old (yeah, I know, don’t we feel freaking ancient now?), I don’t imagine children are going to be lining up and asking for this for Christmas.

Let’s finish this with a numeric scale judgment on how this kit worked out, and give it a judgment based on the combined aspect score.  I’ll give each aspect a 1-10 (10 being best):

INSTRUCTIONS (clearly written, easy to follow?):  7

I would have given this an 8 or 9, but the instructions on the small decals were very insufficient, and the manufacturer’s claim that this was a snap-together kit on the box front was, I think misleading.

PARTS FIT AND ASSEMBLY (Were the parts cast well?  Not a ton of flash?  Not so many gaps?):  9

Parts in this kit were generally very well fitted, there was almost no flash to deal with, and what gaps did exist were easily dealt with.

DECALS or ORNAMENTATION (What decals were in the box?  Were they complete for finish of the model?  Did they fit well and were they easy to work with?):  7

For all of my bitching about the material, they were very complete, and extremely well designed.  The material they were made of, however, knocked the score to seven from what would have been a solid TEN.  AMT, take note of that.

So…a total score of 23 out of 30, not bad!  Average score is 7.66 out of 10, which is respectable, and I’d say definitely worth the cash.

Thanks for tuning in – and I’m looking forward to hearing your experiences in constructing these three little gems.  Send your comments in!

Once again I’d like to extend my thanks to Models4Hobby for providing the kit that was the subject of this build – check them out on Facebook too, they’re always posting updates!

Update

I mounted the Klingon on an inexpensive 5×7 picture frame today – she looks really good, but I’ll have to re-update the photo once I get some sunlight tomorrow.  Decided to forgo the lighting, this works just fine.  Here’s what I did:

  • Printed out a pic of the V’ger plasma weapon in flight, screenshot from TMP, set it in the frame.
  • Drilled a 2mm hole in the Klingon’s wing to accomodate the mount.
  • Drilled a matching 2mm hole in the frame side to accept the mount.
Use a manual pin vice, not an electric - you want to be very careful not to overdrill or get your angle wrong.

Use a manual pin vice, not an electric – you want to be very careful not to overdrill or get your angle wrong.

  • Using 2mm acrylic rod, I cut a piece to the right length and stuck them together on it.
  • I then softened the rod with a heat gun (use the fine emitter to avoid heating up the model) and bent it to about the right angle to position the ship.

 

 

 

 

Ta-Da!

The battlecruiser Amar caught in an eternal "Oh shit!" moment.

The battlecruiser Amar caught in an eternal “Oh shit!” moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update 2

Did the same thing using an 8×10 photo frame for Reliant and Enterprise to set them up at the beginning of the battle in the Mutara Nebula…at some point it might be worthwhile to go back and re-jigger the pictures in the background to make them more pronounced, but for now this will do :).

Full impulse power!  Damn you!

Full impulse power! Damn you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Part 1 of Cadet Series: TMP review can be found here)

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“Brexit” – my thoughts on the matter

I think economics can often be viewed best through the lens of biology (blame the undergrad degree) – particularly ecological studies.  Money is the element upon which we all feed – upon which companies, countries, and all of human society feeds, for that matter.

And many want far more than they can reasonably consume.

This is particularly valid at this period in time, where many companies have grown to be larger than most nation-states, and have appetites to match.

Countries, nation-states, previously had habits of unifying into larger collectives in order to facilitate trade and better defend against or avoid wars entirely – the United States, for example, was formed for these reasons.  The EU was formed for these reasons.  This behavior has had the fortunate side effect of providing a useful defense against predatory corporations whose goal is to extract as much money from the system as they possibly can in order to benefit their (extremely few) stakeholders.  It’s quite obvious when one looks at the predatory and in fact quite lethal practices that large companies have put on parade in countries such as:

  • India (where Dow managed to kill 25,000+ with unsafe practices)
  • USA (where BP’s oil leak has ruined the entire Gulf fishing industry, Wal-Mart abuses their workers and refuses to pay them a living wage)
  • China and Bangladesh (where slave labor and child labor are endemic)
  • the Ivory Coast (where Nestle uses slave labor to harvest cocoa)
  • Nigeria (where various oil companies have ruined the Niger delta)
  • Indonesia (where ExxonMobil employs a private army to protect its pipelines, said army also rapes, murders, and pillages the countryside, using Exxon equipment to dig mass graves for its victims)
  • …and the list goes on.

Reviewing these travesties, it is quite clear that corporate interests are not human interests.

Which brings us to “Brexit,” the referendum on whether the UK should exit the EU.

Promoters of the exit strategy who focus on the economic factors say things like “It hasn’t helped us” or “they need us more than we need them”, that it “puts the UK at the mercy of Germany,” or that it is “destroying national sovereignty”.  All of these are weak, at best – and stupid at worst.

  1. “It hasn’t helped us.” Yeah, as a matter of fact it has.  The lack of tariffs across the board in the EU has opened the entire continent up for british goods, enabling companies like Marks & Spencer, Mothercare, and others to expand into new markets.  Mom and Pop shops benefit too, as internet sales are enabled to ship without tariff to an enormous quantity of new buyers.  Trade within Europe has risen by 55 percent since joining the EU.
  2. “They need us more than we need them” – this is just stupid.  The UK’s manufacturing strength is a fraction of what it once was.  Its workforce is dominated by unskilled labor, what IT workforce it has is underpaid and underskilled (and the best members of it end up working for banks, where they aren’t innovating anything but instead helping to cripple the UK economy further).  The countries that trade their goods to the UK now will continue to do so long after an exit, and the tariff costs will simply be passed on to the consumer.
  3. “The UK is at the mercy of Germany” – The EU is not the solitary purview of Germany.  There are a great many states here, and political unity is hard to come by.  Germany in particular is in a weak leadership position as it stands, weaker still since its idiotic austerity measures have been demonstrated to have injured recovery efforts from the 2008 crash rather than helped.  Furthermore, as an individual who has lived in both countries, even if this protest were true, the UK could get a great deal of benefit from following Germany’s lead for a while.  Notice that this argument is in direct conflict with #2, above.  This is usually a good sign that conspiracy theory bullshit is afoot.
  4. It “destroys national sovereignty” – this is just bullshit.  This argument is so farcical and ephemeral that it can simply be dismissed out of hand.  It literally has zero evidence behind it, no facts at all – and hence, there is nothing to refute.  It’s just tinfoil-hat batshittery.

Other reasons, not tied directly to economics:  there are as many of these as there are Brexit supporters.  However, they are largely driven by demagoguery similar to that espoused by Donald Trump in the United States – fear and hatred of people not from the UK.  It always boils down to some various flavor of “we don’t have a choice, we have to accept any murderer rapist or child molester from the EU,” mixed with a foment of anti-Muslim bullshit that’s frothed up since the Syrian refugee crisis.

Let me say this – of all the countries in the EU that I’ve visited, and those in which I’ve lived (four of them now), the UK, surprisingly, has been the most vividly racist nation of them all.  It’s remarkable, and strange.  When I first opened a bank account on moving to the UK, I counted nine different languages in use in the bank office.  But in dealing with the people there, everyone was intensely concerned with what nationality or race everyone else belonged to – and if you weren’t of the chosen special few, you were an outsider.  Each race had its place above the other.

And this built-in trigger is very easy to play on – particularly by less-than-scrupulous “news” organizations, such as FOX News.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think the UK gets its treatment of Muslims insanely wrong.  However, it does so in the context of getting EVERY dumbass religion in the pipeline insanely wrong – and this is largely due to the UK’s fear of “offending” someone.  The UK would rather shut down free speech and freedom of dialogue, would rather see people injured, would rather see children brought up intellectually and emotionally crippled, than to see someone get their fee-fees hurt.  Well fuck you, MPs and Lords, you’re all a bunch of panty-twisted oxygen-wasters on that front.

This treatment of oddball religions only fuels the right-wing nutters, racists, and other undesirables’ fears.

Which makes FOX News – Rupert Murdoch’s media empire – very happy.

So what we have here is a series of easily-played-upon fears and catch-phrases that stir up irrational racism and fear, being used by media tools in the hands of corporations that would like nothing better than to have the UK exit the EU and revert to being a small, easily-managed nation with an easily-bribed leadership.

Once the exit is complete, and the UK is no longer protected by the umbrella of the EU, prices on consumer goods – everything from food to televisions – go up.  Access to EU employment markets becomes harder – as will the ability to move cross-borders when one retires.  All those geriatrics living in Spain?  Guess what, they won’t have rights to live there any longer – and they’ll be coming home to live off their days on the NHS rather than on Spain’s buck.  I won’t even speculate on what sort of retaliatory actions the EU may impose on the UK if things don’t end cheerfully (and divorces rarely do).

All these things spell a weak UK (weaker still once Scotland says “go f*** yourself” and leaves the UK to join the EU).  A vulnerable, alone UK.  And of course the news agencies will blame immigrants.  Blame the EU.  They’ll keep the population focused on each other, ripping each other down; focused on outsiders; focused on anything that isn’t the blade they’re twisting in the UK’s ribs.

Back to the biological metaphor…Komodo Dragons are especially insidious – they’ll single out a target, bite it, and then follow it for days as infection and venom sink in, making it easier to take.  When lions hunt, they will tease out a single animal from the herd.

Because when an animal is alone, weak, and not defended by its herd, it’s far easier to kill.

And when the UK leaves the protection of its herd…

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Kit Review: AMT’s “Cadet Series” – Star Trek: The Motion Picture Set

Hello everyone!  This entry is a first for me – a sponsored kit review on behalf of a hobby vendor.  I’m doing periodic reviews for the company Models4Hobby.co.uk, and they’ve sent me this kit for review and build.  A copy of this review will also appear on their site.  I’m adding this note here in the interest of full disclosure, and in the future as I add other reviews that are from their lineup, I’ll include a similar header.  Meanwhile, on with the review!

Nice cover art here, makes a good painting reference. Save the box!

Nice cover art here, makes a good painting reference. Save the box!

AMT’s Cadet Series of Star Trek: The Motion Picture…this kit is actually three separate kits in one, each a 1:2500 scale model of the refitted USS Enterprise, the USS Reliant (from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan), and the Klingon K’Tinga-class battlecruiser that appears in both films.

For starters, each ship is supplied on its own sprue, while the decals for all three are on a single unified waterslide sheet.  The decals are die-cut, which reduces the work of separating them when you need them.

All the components of the kit

All the components of the kit

Once assembled, these are also pretty small – very convenient if you live with limited shelf space, and actually if you play tabletop games that need a Star Trek theme, these would make some amazing game pieces.  I do a little Flames of War from time to time, and if I had a spaceship game I played often I’d really consider using these as units on the board.  They look that good, really.

Size comparison of the largest of the models (Enterprise) against a standard 3.5” hard drive and a bank-card

Size comparison of the largest of the models (Enterprise) against a standard 3.5” hard drive and a bank-card

Accessories

Unlike many Star Trek models, these teeny models don’t really have a lot of aftermarket accessories – for instance, there’s no photo-etch available for these, to my knowledge.  It would be possible to light these (though difficult), but you’d have to run your own wiring harness as there isn’t any 3rd-party option available.

Media Included

The box itself is worth a little mention, as it has plenty of nice artwork both front and back along with some basic information on each ship.  Pics on the box are useful for painting guidelines, as well as image references for how the kits should look when completed.

Inside the box you’ll find a one-sheet instruction set, some marketing flyers, and a one-page decal sheet.

The assembly instructions are quite simple (which really should be expected, as these tiny kits only have nine to eleven pieces each (9 for the Klingon, 10 for Enterprise, and 11 for Reliant), while the decal and painting instructions are considerably more complex.

AMT CS TMP Fig 4AMT CS TMP Fig 5

AMT CS TMP Fig 6

Instructions front and back, decal sheet – this looks pretty straightforward.

The Klingon will be the easiest of the bunch to both assemble and decorate, since its exterior is mostly uniform in nature and the decals are more of an accent.

AMT CS TMP Fig 7

The decals are die-cut, making them easy to work with

The Enterprise and Reliant, on the other hand, in the end will be almost entirely wrapped in decals, and as a result will be a bit more complex to handle.

The decal sheet is given to extreme detail, including full multi-tone Aztec patterning for both Reliant and Enterprise, so despite their final size they are going to look really hot.

 

 

AMT CS TMP Fig 8

Notice the multiple colors in the Aztec patterning – these look really good

The Parts

The sprues of the kits are easy to handle, even for myself (I am six feet tall, with correspondingly large hands, and I had no discomfort dealing with the parts in this kit).  They were laid out cleanly, with plenty of space between parts and very little crowding.  This is pretty important given the size of these parts, as they are fairly fragile.

AMT CS TMP Fig 9AMT CS TMP Fig 10

 

 

 

 

 

The Enterprise sprue had quite a bit of flash on it (possibly the mold has aged a bit), but none of it was any great challenge to remove – dragging a razor across the part and then a quick brush with some 600-grit sandpaper took care of it all very quickly.  The Klingon sprue had just a little flash, barely noticeable, and the Reliant was completely clean.

Enterprise had some flash on the parts, but nothing overly difficult to clean off

Enterprise had some flash on the parts, but nothing overly difficult to clean off

Check out the detailing on this hull!

Check out the detailing on this hull!

And the details on the Reliant – these are gorgeous!

And the details on the Reliant – these are gorgeous!

All that said, I think it really deserves note that the amount of detail on these tiny kits is just spectacular – even though the saucer sections of the Federation hulls are smooth, everywhere else the detail on these is just amazing.  I was really psyched to see how good these looked.

It’s also worth mentioning that all three have printed copyright text on the inside of the hulls.  It wouldn’t be anything to talk about except for the two white models (the Federation ships) – the text shows through to the outside.  I’m concerned that this will also show through the decals, so my decision here will be to prime and paint these before decaling.

The text inside the model shows through – not ideal without painting

The text inside the model shows through – not ideal without painting

Tools Needed

Technically, this is a “snap-together” kit, with no tools necessary – and yes, if you have no tools around, you could probably get this done with perhaps just your hands and a pair of scissors to deal with the flash and the decals.

The text

Snap together?  Sure, and Falls Apart too.  Get some glue.

However, as with all things, you’ll get better results by using proper tools.  That said, you won’t need a lot of them.  Here’s my list of what you will need, and what you will want (I will link each one to example products on this site where available):

 

 

 

 

Snippers and a knife – make sure your snippers can reach into small spaces

Snippers and a knife – make sure your snippers can reach into small spaces

Necessary:

A razor knife of some kind (Xacto or other)

Wire cutters or sprue snips

Poly cement (I’m using Humbrol here, but Revell and probably dozens of others

make good model glues)

Model clamps (many different varieties are available)

Make sure your cement has a good long, thin applicator tip

Make sure your cement has a good long, thin applicator tip

(several model tool sets are also available that contain many of the items mentioned)

Optional:

Gap-filling putty (like Plasto or Tamiya’s, Milliput can work, but it’s a little too thick for this)

Primer paint.  A rattle-can style is fine, or if you already have an airbrush that works too.

You can get hold of clamps in many places, I use 3.5” and 5” sizes here

You can get hold of clamps in many places, I use 3.5” and 5” sizes here

Gloss-coat in a rattle-can or for an airbrush

Paints (instructions indicate need for Pearl Wihte, Light Grey, Medium Gray, Copper, Medium Blue, Light Cream, Dark Olive, and Olive Green, if you want to go precisely by the book here).

Decal-setting solution (I use Micro-Set and Micro-Sol, but there are other vendor versions, like Revell Decalsoft and so on that also do a good job)

AMT CS TMP Fig 22

A standard file and a putty-working tool

A good flat-sided file

White PVA glue (same kind kids use in school)

Round toothpicks (called “cocktail sticks” in the UK)

Metal putty tool(s) – you can usually get some cheap dentist’s tools to work with this, but the back side of a razer knife will suffice for this kit.

Additional:

Beer, coffee, or whatever your favorite beverage for working may be.  Probably not hard liquor, since you’re going to be working with sharp tools!

A standard file and a putty-working tool

Never model without appropriate beverages!

Assembly

The assembly of this set of ships is very straightforward, as evidenced by each one getting about a third of a page of instructions to accomplish.  Each one has a few small quirks, so I’ll detail them as we go.  First, however, the overall nature of the kit needs to be examined.

The instructions are super-easy, as the parts count is very small for these

The instructions are super-easy, as the parts count is very small for these

It is labeled a “snap-together” kit, as I said earlier.  This, while technically true, will result in ships that fall apart at the slightest nudge, and you will not be happy with them if you treat this as a glue-free model.  Specifically, the Klingon’s impulse cooling manifolds will pop off, as will the Reliant’s roll-bar, and the Enterprise’s engine nacelles simply do not enjoy a solid fit.  If you look at them funny, they will pop off.

So that said, pick up a vial/tube/whatever of good poly cement.  I’d recommend one with one of those thin metal applicator tubes (I use Humbrol and Revell brands here, but there are other manufacturers who make stuff just as good, and you can find them here).

For each one, remove the parts (carefully!) from the sprues and trim away any excess flast or bits.  Before you use the glue, put the kit together friction-fit first to get a feel for how the parts fit with one another and to make sure you get it right.  After that you can disassemble the kit and reassemble it while gluing.  Some recommend giving parts a bath in soapy water to remove mold-release agents, but I didn’t bother, and didn’t notice any trouble with this.

The Klingon

I can almost feel Mark Lenard scowling at me from the bridge here

I can almost feel Mark Lenard scowling at me from the bridge here

Probably the easiest of the builds, this one goes together very simply.  Assemble the forward “neck” and then attach the command deck to it.  Press the upper and lower sections of the rear hull together, and then attach the neck to the front.  To avoid using excessive force (which leads to broken parts), trim down the tab that inserts into the rear hull a little bit.  Once attached, the engine nacelles and impulse manifolds can be attached.  You’ll probably need to clamp the hull pieces together while the glue dries in order to avoid excessive gaps (it will still have a couple of small ones, but a clamp while drying will prevent it from being unmanageable).

Enterprise

Am I the only one who hears Alexander Courage’s symphony pieces when I see this ship?

Am I the only one who hears Alexander Courage’s symphony pieces when I see this ship?

Press the two saucer halves together and set aside.  Next take the engineering hull halves and lay them out next to one another.  Set the engine pylons into their slot on one of the halves and then press the other half over it to lock it in place.  The deflector dish can now go on.  For each engine nacelle, press the two halves together and then slip over the tab on the appropriate pylon.  Lastly, the saucer can be pressed onto the neck (might take a little wiggling).  The engineering hull required a clamp while it dried to avoid a large gap.

Reliant

…or James Horner’s fantastic soundtrack from Wrath of Khan when I see this one?

…or James Horner’s fantastic soundtrack from Wrath of Khan when I see this one?

This one is the most complex of the three, with several three-part subassemblies to deal with.  First, attach the rear face of the main hull to the lower hull and then press the upper half down to fix them in place.  Determine the correct engines for each side (the ‘fin’ at the rear of the nacelle faces outward) and the correct pylon for each side and lay them out to either side of the model.  Notice that each pylon has a small injection-mold stub on the flat space where the pylon will need to snug up against the hull – make sure to carefully trim those off before assembling.  The engines clamp shut over the angled tab at the bottom of the pylon, you can’t just slip the engines on like you did with the Enterprise or the Klingon.  The main hull required a pair of clamps while it dried to keep it together.

Be careful removing the injection marks here, or you might gouge it like I did

Be careful removing the injection marks here, or you might gouge it like I did

Once the engines/pylons are assembled, set them aside and press the top of the roll bar into the main piece to assemble it.  Next, the final and hardest part of this assembly is up – the pylons each go onto their respective side of the ship, and while the glue is still soft, the roll-bar needs to be placed into the sockets on top of the two pylons and positioned correctly.  Hold it steady for a few minutes to let the glue set.

Once the three are put together, set them aside for an hour or so to let the glue cure.

Let your models rest for several hours after gluing, priming, or painting

Let your models rest for several hours after gluing, priming, or painting

Gaps

Despite using clamps, a few gaps still resulted in the build of these little buggers – the Klingon had a fair-sized gap in the top of its rear hull as well as a few smaller ones around; Reliant had a bit in the roll bar and on the rear of the main hull, and Enterprise’s neck and rear hull both had some minor gaps.

 

The Klingon had the worst of the gaps, but glue and resting time with strong clamps reduced to this to a much more manageable level

The Klingon had the worst of the gaps, but glue and resting time with strong clamps reduced to this to a much more manageable level

Enterprise had a few hairline gaps on the neck and rear hull, some PVA glue sorted that out

Enterprise had a few hairline gaps on the neck and rear hull, some PVA glue sorted that out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The smaller ones were easily dealt with using PVA glue – just get a few drops and mix with water (4 parts glue to 1 water), then apply a little on a toothpick to fill in the small gaps.  For the larger ones (top of the Klingon hull, Reliant’s engine pylons where they meet the hull) use Plasto or something similar.

Prime-putty-sand-prime-putty-sand, my least favorite part of building

Prime-putty-sand-prime-putty-sand, my least favorite part of building

Once dry, the fillers should be sanded where they appear rough.  This will probably require two putty-sand-prime cycles to make them clean enough.

Priming

Before doing any painting/priming, make sure to wash your hands and wipe off any excess stuff on the surface of the models.

I primed all three models – the Klingon in a deep green and the Federation ships in a dark grey.  The green I was hoping would ‘bleed through’ a bit to show up in the light grey I would use as a base coat.  The grey was there to blend out the show-through of the printed text inside the parts of the Fed models.  In hindsight I should have just hit them all with dark grey and been done with it, but whatever.  Primer serves two main functions here – first to give the final paint a better grip on the model, and second to show you places that need sanding/filling.

Most of the time you see Klingons referred to as being green for their hulls – this was from the studio model of the Original Series D-7, which had a metallic/pearl green hull.  The Amar from TMP and Kronos 1 from ST6 both were more of a metallic grey on-screen, and even on screen the Original Series ship didn’t show off as all that green in hue.  I’ll do a little greenish wash on the hull coat later to give it a little hue, but not so much that it veers dramatically away from the screen appearance.

It’s almost like my own little sci-fi Christmas tree here

It’s almost like my own little sci-fi Christmas tree here

I used some spare sprue lengths and a bit of blue-tack (mine isn’t blue, it’s white, but that seems to be the prevailing name – any sort of sticky gum will do the job) to make something I could hold them with while I sprayed.  Once one side was dry, flip it and do the other (making sure none of the tacky stuff stayed on the ship).

 

 

Notice the ball of tacky gum – this stuff can be found in office-supply sections of your local supermarket, Uhu was the manufacturer of mine, you can also use “blue tack”

Notice the ball of tacky gum – this stuff can be found in office-supply sections of your local supermarket, Uhu was the manufacturer of mine, you can also use “blue tack”

After the primer was dry, I hit the two Federation ships with some Tamiya Fine White primer as a base coat for the hull, and the Klingon got a light grey coat.

A note on the use of paints – you need to have patience when waiting for them to dry.  It’s not just drying that’s needed – it’s curing, too.  Paint may feel dry to the touch, and even be easy to handle, but extended pressure or handling can reveal that the paint isn’t quite done yet, and you can give yourself a real headache by handling them too soon.  Give Tamiya paints at least two or three hours to set before extended handling, preferably let them sit overnight.  I made a mistake with the Reliant and it messed up some of my hull coat.  Took a lot of sanding and repainting to get it to look right again.

Here they are, all gloss-coated and ready for decals (Reliant was repaired after the accident below)

Here they are, all gloss-coated and ready for decals (Reliant was repaired after the accident below)

I jumped the gun a little on applying the hull coat, this is what happened when I detached the tacky gum after painting the underside

I jumped the gun a little on applying the hull coat, this is what happened when I detached the tacky gum after painting the underside

Once the hull coats were dried and fully cured, I applied a gloss-coat over all the surfaces to prep them for decals (decals go on best against a glossy surface – matte or even satin finishes can grab and rip decals).  I have some automotive clear coat I use, but in hindsight I don’t recommend this for these models – it works fine for big stuff 1/35 scale, but for these little guys it just goes on a little too thick.  Rattle-can gloss coat from Tamiya or Vallejo would probably be just fine.

While I let the gloss-coat dry, I’ll take a break here.  Next installment, I’ll cover painting and decals on these kits, which is probably going to be a bit harder than the few minutes it took to assemble them.

(Go to AMT’s “Cadet Series” – Star Trek: The Motion Picture Set – Part 2)

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Graf Spee Update

Quick update on the Graf Spee build – after many days of working on the photo etch rails and the general building got things to a point I was ready to finish the model.  Have to say that this trumpeter kit was amazing.  Most of my experience was from 25+ years ago and the quality of the kit is outstanding compared to the old Matchbox days!  I added some standard photo etch KM rails and rather than having a set made it much less pressure on “needing” to complete them so I have only done a few on this model.  A few rails later and I have a good idea how to stick them best and enjoying it on my next model the Prinz Eugen.

 

Here are a selection of pics – IMG_0742 IMG_0743 IMG_0744 IMG_0746 IMG_0747 IMG_0748

The last pic is with the base hull of the Prinz Eugen and amazed how much bigger it is!  So small – no wonder they ran from a the 3 British cruisers as it cant be much bigger than our lights were….   until I get the white ensign British cruisers at 1/700 wont be sure:)

Next posts will be all Prinz Eugen in 1940/1941 “Baltic camo” – roughly like this!

http://www.bismarck-class.dk/naval/prinz_eugen/pictures/page_131_prinz_eugen_40_41.jpg

 

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The Z Plan

FLEET BUILD LOG 1

I have recently joined Theo here to post about all things gaming and modeling.  my main focus will be on the modeling side for now though.  So I thought I would put up my first post with an intro to a series of projects that I have kicked off to build German warships from WWII.  following the same process as the Germans did I have started small to re-learn the basics and will then move onto heavier units once I more comfortable with modelling at this scale.

So to give you the summary I have bought –

Z-39 DD

Graf Spee

Prinz Eugen

Bismarck

So far i have kicked off with the Z-39 and Graf Spee, completing the Graf Spee recently (more pics to follow) and moving on to the Prinz Eugen.  Having a lot of fun but I have to tell you photo etch in 1/700 scale is crazy to use.  Hand rail in particular are the bane of my modelling but getting better ship by ship.

IMG_1391 IMG_1392 IMG_1393 IMG_1394 IMG_1395 IMG_1396 IMG_1397 IMG_1398

Order of construction is

Spee – Eugen – Bismarck with bits of the DD along the way

I will keep you upto date with lots of pic as I go!

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A little bit of “World of Warships”…

I’ve been playing WoWs for about a year now, it has really eclipsed “World of Tanks” for me (I still enjoy WoT a lot, but until Wargaming actually does something about the aimbots there, I’m not going back).  You can find me in WoWs under the name “Azrael_Ashemdion” (surprise).  There are two playstyles now in WoWs that are really fun for me, Ranked and Team Battles.  For the sake of my clan and my own sanity, I put together a guide on how to fight these battles and not be a donkey :).

For your enjoyment, then:

Azrael’s Guide to Ranked and Team Battles

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A Bit of an Introduction…

Hi all –

I’d like to welcome a guest author here, Hugo Whicher – he’s a friend from the UK who also enjoys model-building and has done a really nice job on some 19th- and 20th-century warship models.  He’ll be contributing a few posts regarding his experience in building these in the near future.

So – welcome aboard, Hugo, and anchors aweigh :).

T

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The USS Enterprise (Refit) from Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Build Log – Part 10

The 1mm masking tape I found

The 1mm masking tape I found

Before I begin – Post-note to the prior bit on painting the grilles:  somewhere along the line, I seem to have acquired a roll of 1mm masking tape, which works great on the inboard grille trenches (assuming it can go on straight, which is a bit of a challenge).

Now it’s time to finish fixing the lights in place and to seal up the nacelles.  For this, I’m going to use three different glues – cyanoacrylate (CA or “super-glue”), a general-purpose polymer (comes out clear and rubbery when dry), and a hot-glue.  You can get a cheap-ass hot glue gun from eBay for under $10, and it’ll probably come with enough sticks to last you through the entire build of the Enterprise, but if you run out you can get refills easily.  (When it’s turned on, make sure to put a paper towel or a sheet of paper or something under it, because it will drip a little.)

DSC_0028

The various glues which I'll be using today.

The various glues which I’ll be using today.

I’ll also have some milliput two-part epoxy putty, which I used in only a couple of places as a light block.  “Fine white” is what I’m using, but given that it won’t be visible you can use any variety you like.

First off, I already had the SMDs fixed in place and their wires fixed with masking tape from last time.  The glue there has had time to cure, but I’m still pretty paranoid about handling those because the solder connection between the SMD and its lead is fairly fragile.  I haven’t yet mastered the skill of soldering directly to an SMD chip without burning the chip, so losing one of the leads means replacing the thing.

Start by fixing the strips in place using their own adhesive backing.

Start by fixing the strips in place using their own adhesive backing.  Also note how the different lights wiring tends to fall in line.

The big elephant here is the strip-lighting, so I did that next.  It’d be too difficult to work it around the other stuff, so putting it in ahead of those lets me run wires freely.  The back of this tape has an adhesive on it, which helps to keep it in place where you want it to be finally positioned.  Don’t rely on this adhesive for long-term use – over a year or more it will probably dry out and your strips will fall off, resulting in a crappy look.  Just use it to place the strips and then you can reinforce with additional glue.  When you’re putting them in, make sure the leads are on the forward side, so the warp crystal can reach where it belongs (it should be on the same circuit as the strips).

Once I had them where I wanted, I dabbed CA every few centimeters and spritzed it with Zip Kicker (which I strongly suspect is just WD-40, as it smells identical to the stuff) to make the CA activate faster.

Milliput is a very strong adhesive, and a great gap-filler. Just try to avoid getting it onto your clothes.

Milliput is a very strong adhesive, and a great gap-filler. Just try to avoid getting it onto your clothes.

While the CA was settling, I mixed up a tiny little bit of Milliput and rolled some teensy little ropes of it, which I then pressed into the gaps of the forward bussard collectors ahead of the warp crystal (see the fuzzy photo – sorry for the crap focus, didn’t realize it was unclear at the time).  This will both reinforce the part in its place, and will also light-block the gap here.  The side that isn’t covered by putty (when I put the two halves together) will probably have a gap or two there too, but I’ll rely on some liquid PVA glue or something to fill and then paint over it with black & white.

Once the putty was in, I glued the warp crystal (which was on the same circuit as the strips) into place with CA.  I then fixed the wiring in place with a little masking tape to hold it out of the way.

Raytheons - you can see the bends in the legs here (this is after hot-gluing on the outboard, the inboard isn't fixed yet).

Raytheons – you can see the bends in the legs here (this is after hot-gluing on the outboard, the inboard isn’t fixed yet).

The Raytheons were next.  Outboard sides first, I used some flat-face pliers to put two 90-degree (approximately) bends in the legs of the Raytheons, about 3mm apart.  This way I could glue the legs flat to the wall and the light would be raised a little off the surface and spread its glow around a bit.  I’m still going to get a small ‘hot spot’ I think, but it shouldn’t be too bad.  CA and a little blitz of Zip-Kicker and it’s done.  Masking tape to hold the wires in place.

Both the Raytheons and the floods are on the same circuit, but they won’t have the same leads since they are on opposite ends of the nacelle.  I did make the leads a little too short between where they join and the lights, which meant that the two nacelle halves needed to be very close to each other while I worked these double-lights in.  In hindsight I should have given something closer to 15cm of magnet wire lead on these, instead of the 10cm I originally went with.  Leave the inboard loose (or fix it with masking tape to keep it from wandering) while you do the rest.

Horizontal thruster fin leaves plenty of room for the endcap and vertical.

Horizontal thruster fin leaves plenty of room for the endcap and vertical.

After the Raytheon outboard was dry it was time to attach the thruster fin – you can do this before the vertical fin without any trouble, the vertical will slide in under it without too much hassle when the two halves are together (don’t do the vertical first here, it might inhibit a more clean mating of the two halves).  Run the wire through the extra hole drilled and glue the fin in place.  Both of my fins needed sanding with rough grit to thin them down enough to fit in their trenches, since I’d painted them multiple times (and the light in one of them turned out to have been thick enough to distend the middle of the fin a bit).  There’s about 1.5 to 2mm of depth on the trench the fin goes into, so sanding these down to fit was an easy matter, and they went in without too much trouble.  Glued with standard model glue to fix in place, bit of masking tape to hold the wires out of the way, done.

While it was drying in place, rather than hold it there with my hands I used a few modeling clamps to park it and went to do some other stuff for a while.  Clamps are absolutely great tools, as simple as they are, they really save me a lot of boring manual steps.

Holding the thruster fin in place while it dries with a couple of clamps.

Holding the thruster fin in place while it dries with a couple of clamps.

View from the exterior side.

View from the exterior side.

At this point, all the wiring is falling into roughly the same places along the bottom of the engine part, so the natural thing is to start gluing them into place (see the image at the beginning of this post).  I started by testing the in-place wiring with a 9V battery to make sure nothing was askew, then removing the masking tape while, holding the wiring in place, and replacing the multiple pieces of masking tape with a single application of CA glue.  Some Zip-Kicker to make sure it cured fast, and then some polymer all-purpose glue a little bit offset from it.

Light-blocking "bulkhead" separating the warp grilles from the rear Raytheons.

Light-blocking “bulkhead” separating the warp grilles from the rear Raytheons.

Next I cut down a couple of oval sections of styrene to block off the back of the engines from the warp strips.  Since the Raytheon lights in the back won’t be chained to the same circuit as the warps, if the model is on “impulse” mode then there’s a good chance that without a blocker the bright-white of those two LEDs will bleed through the interior grilles.  So a couple of ‘bulkheads’ fixes that problem right away.  I painted both bulkheads black and then silver on one side to make sure they did the job right.  They won’t fit perfectly, but they will block enough light that I suspect the Raytheons won’t shine through.

The tower LEDs for the forward-facing floodlamps were next.  The holes in the nacelles were just slightly tight, so I loosened them up with a needle sander (basically a round stick of plastic textured on the outside with 600-grit) until they could fit easily.  Push these lights through until they extend out of the face, and then use a fingertip to press them back into the hole, and then CA with a spritz of Zip-Kicker to fix them in place.  After the CA dried I hit it with a little all-purpose polymer glue, and while I had the tube open, I then dabbed some on the warp strips every few centimeters, a little on the warp crystal, and a little on the Raytheons’ legs.

The hole for the forward floods - made to take a clear part from the kit, we're subbing in tower LEDs.

The hole for the forward floods – made to take a clear part from the kit, we’re subbing in tower LEDs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First push the LED through the hole...

First push the LED through the hole…

...then use a finger to push it back in flush before securing with glue.

…then use a finger to push it back in flush before securing with glue.

These lights now had both CA and polymer glue, so I’m double-covered against whichever one ages out first.  I then fired up the hot glue gun, and put a glob wherever it seemed like a light could use it – dabs all along the warp strips, a plop on the Raytheon, a plop on the tower LED.  Dabs of it along the wiring to give them a third type of glue to hold them in place.

To guarantee that the floodlights wouldn’t overspill into the interior, I then used Black Seal all over it to completely cover it and prevent light leakage.

Black Seal is a very fluid gel out of the tube, so it's hard to be clean with it. It looks like crap here, but it does the job.

Black Seal is a very fluid gel out of the tube, so it’s hard to be clean with it. It looks like crap here, but it does the job.

At this point, the only thing left was to fix the second Raytheon and tower LED on the inboard side, and to attach the diffuser shield I’d made over the warp strips (basically a piece of clear styrene cut to size and sprayed with dull-coat).  In went the two inboard lights (same process as the outboards – CA, then polymer glue, then hot-glue, and finally Black Seal on the tower).  On went the diffuser, then I ran all the pairs of leads from the various wiring harnesses through the hole that would take the engine pylon.  Then a fast dry-fit to make sure everything went in right.  This was really useful, since it helped me spot which wires needed attention to keep them from getting caught between the two halves when putting them together.

Diffuser over the warp strips, and second tower LED in and blocked...only the outboard Raytheon remains.

Diffuser over the warp strips, and second tower LED in and blocked…only the outboard Raytheon remains.

Tested the wiring with a 9V battery again here, just to be sure.

After about an hour to let the Black Seal get a skin, letting the last Zip Kicker and other glues dry up, it was time to seal the whole thing up.  Fixing the two halves meant applying polystyrene model glue around the seam, and into the receiving holes for the stabilizing posts.  I try never to put glue on the posts themselves, because it’s too easy to brush them against something while jockeying the parts into place and get glue on something that doesn’t like it.  Because of their length and the thin metal applicator, this meant that some of the glue was already getting tacky by the time I came around and finished making sure the whole seam got a line of it.  I put a little extra on these areas and then pushed the two together, being careful to make sure no wires escaped from the wrong place.

The halves fit reasonably well, but you can see there are definite gaps to be dealt with later when we get to the putty/sanding stages.

The halves fit reasonably well, but you can see there are definite gaps to be dealt with later when we get to the putty/sanding stages.

Once the parts were together, to make sure no spread of them while the glue dried I used various modeling clamps and vices (sets of these are available on eBay for under ten bucks) to hold the halves together and just let it sit for the glue to cure for a couple of hours.  For reference, those are 5-inch (25cm) clamps.  A note on these clamps – most of them are damned cheap for a reason.  I used to have six of these big ones, but the pressure of the spring has broken three of them in the past year.  It’s a bit of a heart-stopper when that happens, but it seems generally not harmful to the model itself.  Just check the space where it was, and attach a new one or a vice to the spot.  Regardless, a set of clamps are really super-useful when doing builds like this.

Clamps attached - helps to reduce gaps, and saves your hands a lot of cramping.

Clamps attached – helps to reduce gaps, and saves your hands a lot of cramping.

When I returned, the glue had dried nicely, leaving a noticeable but very manageable seam on the parts.  I tested the electrics again to make sure nothing went wrong, and then got to work filling the pylon space.  When it attaches, the pylon will have three posts that fit into the nacelle, and there’s a wide hole to accommodate part of the pylon there too.

Cotton wadding, Black Seal, and a little acrylic paint to fill the big gap here and light-block the assembly.

Cotton wadding, Black Seal, and a little acrylic paint to fill the big gap here and light-block the assembly.

I’ve seen Boyd at TrekWorks use black seal to fill this entirely, but I’m not such a

giant fan of that.  I feel it’ll be a little too easy to get too messy with it, despite its easy wipe-off nature.  Instead, I did some black seal, and then a big hunk of cotton wadding (the stuff in the makeup section of the drugstore, comes in a long package and you just rip off a hunk of the size you need) got pressed up into the gap there.  Once I was sure that stuff would stay put I hit it with some black acrylic paint mixed 50/50 with water and left it to dry.  The reason for this is to light-block the hole, preventing the warp strips from bleeding blue light into the pylon.  Wouldn’t be good to have the pylon glowing blue from inside.

Generic cotton wadding, used for removing makeup and such.

Generic cotton wadding, used for removing makeup and such.

Paragrafix endcap installed - fits like a glove.

Paragrafix endcap installed – fits like a glove.

After the gap was filled to satisfaction, I primed and attached the photo-etch endcaps for the engines.  These replace the plastic parts completely and fit almost flush if you have managed to keep them flat.  A line of CA glue on them and they slid right into perfect position with only a tiny seam around the edge.  Then, an application of glue to the plastic showing, and I slid the vertical fin into place where it was received with a satisfying ‘snap.’  Left it to dry a while, and ta-da!  Engine nacelles assembled!

Vertical slides right in and sits perfectly (sorry about the out-of-focus there).

Vertical slides right in and sits perfectly (sorry about the out-of-focus there).

A bit of clear gloss on the exposed LED surface will prep it for masking fluid and protect it from the sanding stage.

A bit of clear gloss on the exposed LED surface will prep it for masking fluid and protect it from the sanding stage.

As a prep for the sanding effort to come, I applied a big dab of gloss clear acrylic to the forward floods and the rear anti-collision strobe.  This dries to a hard bump on the strobe and fills in around the cracks of the floods.  I’ll be putting a liquid latex mask (Humbrol “Maskol”) on these, and the gloss coat will prevent it from sinking into spots where it couldn’t be removed.  As well, it also makes it really easy to remove the mask when it’s no longer needed.  I’ll use regular masking tape on the warp crystal and various grilles.  I’ve applied gloss coat to the thruster ports, and while the top and bottom took that without a sweat, the sides and rears pulled the clear-coat in and left me with a hole again.  I’ll figure something out there later.

The gap you see here is before gluing - it's much reduced after gluing, but still pretty obvious. Needs some work.

The gap you see here is before gluing – it’s much reduced after gluing, but still pretty obvious. Needs some work.

Next go-round I’ll be working with putty and sanders to clean up the few Black Seal stains that remain, eliminate all the seams and sand them down to nothing.  Then a re-application of white and perhaps some cleanup of the inner grilles.  There are some pretty serious ga

ps (between the horizontal fin and the rear of the engine, for example) and a few very subtle ones (where I might get away with clear coat paint or something to fill), so that’s going to be a separate post of its own.

 

 

 

 

These engines are the first really “recognizable” part of the ship which you’d know to look at when seeing it from the outside – the other interior parts were fun, but in all honesty they felt like they could be part of any ship.  With these engines done, I can look at them and see now that what I’m making is really going to be the Enterprise.  Feels good to see her start to take form here.

It really is going to be the Enterprise!

It really is going to be the Enterprise!

See you next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

USS Enterprise – Build Log Part 9

USS Enterprise – Build Log Part 11

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The USS Enterprise (Refit) from Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Build Log – Part 9

All righty!  More work on the engine nacelles – and their internal wiring.

First off I want to sing the praises of that Vallejo surface primer again – it’s been really excellent to work with.  Dries extremely smooth, lays flat, and is rather forgiving of when I “overdo” it.  I highly recommend it.  I used a lot of it on these parts, and will probably need to get another can or two soon.

The Lights

On to the wiring.  I first established how many and what kinds of lights needed using:

LED tape – two strips for each engine, in blue.  I thought about going violet (the studio model was actually done up in violet), but I’m aiming to replicate what we saw on-screen, and those are distinctly blue.  Each strip is about 20cm long, and I’ll fix them with staggered lighting so I avoid the worst of the “stepped” lights.

LED tape cut and ready, with styrene diffusers.

LED tape cut and ready, with styrene diffusers.

Blue LEDs – two, one for each “warp crystal” at the top of each nacelle.

3mm white LEDs – four.  Two for each nacelle, one to each side, for use in the Raytheon floodlamp effects.

2mm white “tower” LEDs – four.  One for each of the two spotlight ports at the front of each nacelle.

2mm yellow LED – two, one for each thruster section in the fins.

SMD white LEDs – two.  One for each of the anticollision strobes on the rear roof of the nacelles.

With the exception of the tapes, each of these LEDs required a resistor…and since I’m aiming to make this a 9-volt setup, a 470 ohm did the job.

A word about resistors and LEDs – when they ship from the factory, the standard for LEDs is to have one leg shorter than the other.  That’s the “cathode”, or negatively charged lead.  The positive is referred to as the “anode”, and all LEDs are polarized this way…they only work if you connect the correct leads to the correct charge.    For bare, unwired LEDs, the resistor attaches to the cathode, the shorter arm.

In my models, I use a lot of “magnet wire,” which is extremely thin (36 gauge or smaller) and insulated using a laquer coating rather than a plastic sheath.  Some of it comes colored from the factory in a variety of different shades, and although I do use those sometimes, I tend to stick with this stuff which is really really fine (thinner than a hair), and that stuff doesn’t have color.  It’s just bare copper (insulated with laquer).  It’s a little fragile and sometimes can be hard to work with, but I find that it fits into the smallest little spaces and doesn’t “spring back” like a lot of other wires can, so the pros outweigh the cons a little for me.

An LED with resistor already attached, note the winding of the magnet wire

An LED with resistor already attached, note the winding of the magnet wire

Under normal circumstances, the wires to be connected can be held together and solder applied, which then works both as an electrical connection as well as a “glue” – but with magnet wire, it’s so thin that you just can’t hold it steadily in place and convince solder to stick it properly.  It’s also so thin that it doesn’t accept ‘tinning’ like regular wire or cable does.

In my previous logs I’ve mentioned this, but it does bear repeating, so forgive me for my redundancy.  To get magnet wire to behave, first you have to get the laquer insulation off the ends.  To accomplish this, the best way I have so far (and this is different from before) is to take some 600+ grit sandpaper, fold it in half, and then pull the section of wire you want to strip through the folded paper while applying gentle pressure.  Too much and you’ll just break the wire, too little and you won’t pull any laquer off.  You’ll figure it out after a few tries.  Once you’ve done this a few times, you can then run a hot iron over the cleaned section to burn off any remnant laquer.

I trimmed down the arms and the ends of the resistors to avoid extra-long connectors, and tinned the ends of each.

Example of the wiring harness for the LEDs - I also insulated the connections with masking fluid and black acrylic paint.

Example of the wiring harness for the LEDs – I also insulated the connections with masking fluid and black acrylic paint.

Since these LEDs have lots of breathing space inside the nacelles, and since I’ll be wiring them all up in parallel, I connected the resistors directly to the short arms.  (Had I been using series circuits, I would only need one resistor for an entire string of LEDs, but I don’t want one burnout or short to result in a “Christmas tree outage.”)  I then connected a short (5-10cm) length of magnet wire to each, and then a longer (25cm) length of plastic-sheathed cable colored in black and white for polarity.

Negative should always be black, by the way.

To connect the magnet wire to the heavier leads and wires, I physically wrapped the magnet wire around the subject four or five times so that it would hold itself in place without me touching it.  Once this was done, I could then go to town with the soldering iron and some clean solder – once the wires heat up properly, the solder’s surface tension pulls amounts of it into the twined magnet wire, resulting in a really good connection and a very strong solder point, with the added benefit of remaining very thin and easy to work with.

Using a 9V battery I ran tests of the harnesses almost every time I handled them, just because I'm paranoid about breaking connections.

Using a 9V battery I ran tests of the harnesses almost every time I handled them, just because I’m paranoid about breaking connections.

Lastly, in order to avoid shorts inside the model, I applied a latex coating to each soldered connection and painted them with an acrylic paint.  This completed the wiring harnesses and provided their exposed wires some extra insulation against shorts.

The Inner / Outer Grilles

After getting all the lights ready, I set them aside and started masking up the inner grilles for painting.  These two parts are completely clear in the kit.  The portion which is internal to the engine I left masked off initially to avoid getting it contaminated with the paint I was using on the exterior.

These parts pose a rather interesting challenge – they have a series of raised ridges and “trenches” between them, and the only section that is supposed to transmit light is a portion of the “trenches”.  These gaps are only about a millimeter wide, but they are about 20cm long…and the lit portion is about 15cm-17cm long, gently differing at the rear to produce a “curved” look to the lighting.  See the reference photo and look at where the blue light in the engine grille is coming from to see what I mean.

Originally I wanted to use some very thin plastic masking tape in 1.6mm width, but when I tried this, the edges protruded in a really unwieldy fashion.  After a half hour of frustration working this way, I gave up on the skinny masking tape and switched to a liquid masking solution from Humbrol called “Maskol”.  This is a liquid product that dries into a rubbery latex that is easy to pull off a surface.  Brushing it directly into the trenches was not a good option, as bleed over to the tops of the grilles wouldn’t come free without dragging a chunk of the mask out of the trench as well.

The grilles before painting

The grilles before painting

In the end I used a 1mm syringe needle to inject the stuff into the trenches where it needed to go, and this worked out fantastically.  (If you have any diabetic friends, or know a veterinarian or doctor, you can probably arrange to get a couple of these from them, so long as you aren’t a likely candidate to be using injectable drugs.)  However, I tried to clean the syringe using warm water, and that

After painting the grilles

After painting the grilles

caused the latex to set…inside the needle.  So, scratch one good syringe needle.

Once the mask was on, I sprayed the parts with Army Painter Matte Black primer, which gave me a nice clean black finish.  Some folks go for a deep violet almost indistinguishable from black (which is more studio accurate), but looking at it from a meter away with the lighting up, I don’t think there’ll be anything notably different.  I also hand-painted the grilles on the collector parts that go into the front of the engines.

I have noticed since then that the grilles are a little bit transparent on the painted sections still, so I might have to go back and apply another coat of black on them if they look bad when the lights are on.

Using masking tape, I then set out to mask off most of the external nacelle surfaces, leaving only the outer grilles available for view, and sprayed those up nicely too.  A little hand-painting of the spots missed, and cleanup around the edges, and problem solved.

The Fins

At the rear of each nacelle is a horizontal and a vertical fin.  The vertical was painted in a ‘duck egg blue’ for the film, so I went ahead in advance and painted it appropriately.  It’s worth noting that duck-egg blue is a very light color that can be easily transparent if it isn’t thin enough, and it needs two coats at least if you are using a regular brush.  I think with an airbrush this would be a little different.

Horizontal fin, wired up - notice the broken magnet wire. Easy to fix, but this is why I'm always checking my lights.

Horizontal fin, wired up – notice the broken magnet wire. Easy to fix, but this is why I’m always checking my lights.

The horizontal fin will house a thruster lamp, so after positioning the LEDs in the right spots, I then glued them in place.  I sealed up the fins and puttied the cracks (which were rather pronounced), and after sanding re-whited the fins.  One of them needed a little more sanding after the white was reapplied, and a little more putty to fill in the gaps.  Just to be sure, once this was done I re-masked the thruster section and did a second black light-block on the remainder before reapplying white.  I also drilled a 3mm hole in the section of the nacelle where the fin would mount, so the wiring would have an escape route.

Black Seal. No animals were harmed in the making of this product. I hope.

Black Seal. No animals were harmed in the making of this product. I hope.

Note that when handling these parts with magnet wire attached, you do have to be very careful not to bend or pull the wires quickly – always be gentle.  I made one error (happy to say it was easily recoverable, see image above), and snapped the wire off the resistor.  Really easy to do if you aren’t paying a little attention to it.

Once these were done, I wanted to make sure that no light leakage from the thruster made it into the main body of the engine (because when the warp lights are off, those interior grilles are still clear and need to avoid having bleed-through).  I also wanted to practice with a new product I’m using on this model – “Black Seal”.  It’s a silicon gel that hardens up into a stiff material, completely black in color, so it makes a great gap-filler for spaces that need to block light.  I pushed a little of this into the fin so as to get zero light bleed from the yellow thruster light.

A few dabs of Black Seal on a toothpick fit right in.

A few dabs of Black Seal on a toothpick fit right in.

Working with Black Seal, it is almost inevitable that you will get some on your hands, and as a result you will probably leave a smear on the model exterior parts.  Don’t panic.  This stuff wipes right off with a paper towel, and even after it cures it is just silicon – it should rub right off.  I had more than my share of black smears on my engines here before this was done, and they all came off without a hitch.

The Warp Strips and Crystal

At the nose end of each nacelle, on the top, there is a circular clear part that is supposed to

LED glued onto the warp crystal - using an under-prop and 'helping hands' to hold it while it dries.

LED glued onto the warp crystal – using an under-prop and ‘helping hands’ to hold it while it dries.

glow blue when the warp drive is engaged.  After I retrieved each of these parts, I drilled into them with a 2mm drill bit from the bottom, and glued the blue LED to each one.  Once the glue was dry, I hit the outside of them each with some silver paint, and then black to prevent leakage.  These LEDs were then connected to the same leads as the LED tape, since they’ll all power on simultaneously.

The strips each got a lead, and I cut some clear styrene sheet to act as a diffusion cover, which was sprayed with dull coat to give it a frosted appearance.  Once I fix the strips in place, I’ll cover them with this to further avoid ‘hot spots’ showing from the outside.

In addition, it’s worth pointing out that the external grille has a small window at the front which is intended to light up along with the warp drive.  To help direct some of the right light to it, I cut a couple of styrene strips and painted them silver to act as a mirror effect from the blue strips, then mounted them ahead of the windows with a severe angle to direct light out the little windows.

Exterior grille light window with styrene reflectors in place.

Exterior grille light window with styrene reflectors in place.

Forward Floodlights

Each of the forward floods is going to receive a tower LED, and unfortunately the sections that will receive these LEDs are only light-blocked from the interior…which means that the tower sections may cause some bleed-through of their light if I’m not careful.  To avoid this, I painted each tower black all over except the emitter end.

"Tower" style LEDs, painted silver and then black over the entire surface except for the light-emitting top of the tower.

“Tower” style LEDs, painted silver and then black over the entire surface except for the light-emitting top of the tower.

Anticollision Strobes

Each of the four halves has a round port that will accept the plastic part, but we're putting an SMD in here, so it needed to be enlarged a little to fit.

Each of the four halves has a round port that will accept the plastic part, but we’re putting an SMD in here, so it needed to be enlarged a little to fit.

The section at the rear of the engine for the anticollision strobes are very small ports designed for a clear part to be added here.  This port is smaller than the SMD lighting that I’ll be using to provide the electrical effects, so each one had to be widened out a bit to fit.  Once they were opened up, I fitted the SMDs to the interior half of the nacelles and glued them in place using canopy glue.

For all of these lighting harnesses, Once the lights are fixed in their places, I’ll then glue the wiring in place in several places using CA and hot glue, bringing the leads all to the connector site where the nacelles mount on their pylons.  I also use a bit of masking tape at the ends of their leads to keep the appropriate leads together and to give me a place to label them so I’ll know which is which.

Close-up of the SMD mounted in place.

Close-up of the SMD mounted in place.

SMD mounted - note masking tape holding the wiring steady to avoid accidentally pulling the chip free.

SMD mounted – note masking tape holding the wiring steady to avoid accidentally pulling the chip free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, for all of these lights, I secured the wiring inside the nacelles with masking tape until I glue them in place (which I’ll show in the next installment).  Additionally, I used masking tape to secure the positive and negative leads for each light harness separately, and labeled each one so they wouldn’t get confused.  Once this thing is sealed up, if I get those wires confused, the only way to check them is to do a process-of-elimination test with each one to see what lights up with what wires.  Don’t want that hassle, so on go the names.

The proverbial 'ounce of prevention' here.

The proverbial ‘ounce of prevention’ here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USS Enterprise – Build Log Part 10USS Enterprise – Build Log Part 8

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