Build Log: Part 7
All right! Today we’re going through a few different items – the DLM resin cargo containers / travel pods / work bees, the clear tube columns at the back of the bay, the shuttlecraft, and connecting the fiber optic we built in the last installment.
DLM ships their parts in clear and grey resin, depending on whether your part is intended to be lit or not (and most of the parts they offer in clear are avaible in grey if you aren’t lighting your kit). The mobile units are in grey, which is fine.
First off, decide what you’re going to use and about where you want them. That way you don’t end up making too many. DLM ships its kit with eight cargo pods, six work bees, and four travel pods – which is really more than you need, unless you intend to do some kind of diorama with a swarm of the little buggers floating all around. Since I’m only including them in the shuttle bay, I don’t really need that many – I’ll use two bees, one travel pod, and a few cargo boxes on the floor, and I might use a cargo train (in TMP, you get a glimpse of a cargo train arriving, which is basically a work bee with a long attached frame that holds four cargo pods – the Paragrafix PE set includes a piece to make this).
Do NOT remove the units from their sprues yet. Those sprues make them massively easier to paint.
Decide on a hull color for the units. In TMP the travel pods were something very close to or precisely white. I stuck with Tamiya fine white primer for those. The work bees were a light grey in TMP, but I think they look a little better as something like a “hard-hat” yellow, so I went with signal yellow for them. The shuttlecraft got a base of Tamiya fine white too, after I’d assembled it.
Paint the base color onto the pieces while they are still on the sprue. Gloss-coat them once dry, and apply the DLM decals there once the gloss coat is dry and cured. Finally apply a finishing clear-coat to protect the decals. Once that’s dry, use a fine-tooth modeling saw to separate them from the sprue (leave some sprue attached, don’t get that saw too close to the piece), and file off the excess with a flat-sided file.
Paragrafix also includes work-bee arm pieces on its PE sheet, which are a bit of a pain to fold properly. Can be done, but it’s hard if you have big fingers and rough eyes like I do. Worth it in the end, but not 100% necessary.
Once the pieces are filed to your satisfaction, you can paint their bellies with the appropriate hull color if you think they’ll be visible (mine will sit on the floor of the bay, so I left off the paint – the rough resin surface will actually glue better bare than a painted one, anyhow).
Dry-fit the bay walls to the floor now, so you get a feel for where everything will be able to
sit. With the walls attached, position the pieces you want where you want them, and put a small pencil mark there as a reference point. You can also simply glue them in place now if you feel comfortable doing so (I did). Carefully remove the walls again once the glue has had a chance to dry.
With the cargo pods, I put on the decals once they were fixed in place, so the showing faces would look right. The DLM decals are pretty fragile (I think they are inkjet-printed), so you need to be very gentle with them, because the markings can flake off fairly easily. After the decals were dry, I applied an enamel filter (a very thin wash) that was made as a brown tone for German yellow armor. This gave the pods a beige tint that fits with what was in the film. The color scaling works well, and it looks nicer than bare white. There’s a PE part for the travel pods, but since the one I will use won’t be showing its rear I didn’t use it. I did attach the decals there, just because it looks neat.
The shuttlecraft, once assembled and base coated, I did a little detailing with miscellaneous colors on the machinery on top. The base of it got brass along its landing skids (the shuttle you see in TMP brings Spock aboard, and has a nice shot of its lower section showing this too). A little yellow on the corners for the thruster ports, and a black ring around the docking port. The rear of the shuttle won’t be visible, so no PE part there and no decals. I applied decals to the rest of the shuttle, and once they were dry applied a blue filter made for German panzer grey to give it a streaky, metallic look to match what you see in TMP.
Now for a little secret sauce – I used my .5mm drill to poke a hole from the bottom of the shuttle and up out of its “forehead” about where the grey square is on the face of it (top left as you look straight at it). I also drilled through the floor of the shuttle bay just ahead of the risen elevator. Remember that extra piece of fiber optic I made? I’ve attached that to one of the middle lights of the chaser board, and it will be trimmed flush with the face of the shuttle to give it a blinking navigation light. Shuttle is finished, let’s move on.
The rear columns were a real problem for me, because it was hard to see which parts were recessed and needed to remain clear, versus which parts needed painting. With some magnification (reading glasses) and the light angled just right, I found the recesses and filled them with clear crystal blue paint. Once that was on, it was a lot easier to see which parts needed regular paint, which I then applied. The result was exactly what I wanted – the columns when lit from the top will show lights out of the clear blue, and will remain dark on the rest. Boom.
Finishing the Chaser Board
Now that the fiber is connected with CA to the LEDs, I added an extra layer of hot-glue to reinforce them, and then light-blocked the LEDs with black paint (after confirming that the fiber was working as intended).
It needs to be said here that CA is good for fixing the fiber to the LEDs – but that’s all you want to do with it relative to the fiber. CA melts the plastic that the fiber optics are made of, and will basically sever the fibers if they are under any pressure when you glue them. Use hot glue or all-purpose glue elsewhere.
After the paint was dry, I took a small square of foam rubber and glued that with white school glue to the top of the board as padding. I’ve tested the fit of the shuttle bay in the bottom of the engineering hull, and there’s a perfect space for the chaser board under there…after feeding the fiber through the correct holes and confirming that they are indeed in the right place, I glued them with hot glue from underneath to fix them in place. I also glued a wire reinforcement to hold the shuttlecraft in place under the deck, so it’ll have to points of contact and be more stable.
Next, I threaded the shuttle onto its fiber through the hole I drilled in it while assembling it, and secured the end of the fiber with a piece of cellotape to keep it from sliding back off.
I parked the whole thing in a drinking glass and left it for an hour to cure.
Since all the fiber is sticking up like hair,
I’ve swapped in a fresh blade to my razor knife and slice them all flush with the floor. A drop of Micro Crystal Klear on top of each one, and it’s good to go.
The shuttlecraft gets positioned properly and glued from the bottom so it “floats” a millimeter or two off the floor. Once the glue is cured,
shave the excess fiber off the face and a drop of Micro Crystal Klear there, and that’s done too. I then bent the support wire into proper position and glued that to the underside of the shuttle with CA (I put the glue on a toothpick to get it under there more easily). Once the glue is dry, gently push the shuttle into proper position.
See edit below for correction to method
The Final Test
Now that all the parts are in place, I dry-fit the walls again, reposition the shuttle if needed, and connect the power to the chaser board to see how those running lights look. All set!
Once it’s had time to cure I’ll finish trimming the fiber and make a short vid or pic of the assembled flooring w/lights running.
That’s it for this episode…next time I’ll be putting the walls on with real glue, and preparing / attaching the regular lighting for the bay. Once those are on and the power for them connected with the chaser board, the entire bay will be complete and will run on a single circuit, completely isolated and ready to install in the model. Then I’ll have to decide what part gets done next…
After some work and re-work in setting the floor lighting, I have a revision to the above and some updated pics.
There’s a problem with my plan of threading the fibers through the floor and then “shaving” them with a razor knife – even .5mm fiber is tough enough to require significant pressure to cut through, resulting in the fiber pulling free of glue, or the knife getting out of control and cutting the floor or your hand. A better tactic is to snip the fiber cleanly at about the right length for the floor, then threading it through the hole, and using your off-hand to hold the deck push the fiber with one finger back through the hole until it is flush with the deck surface. At that point, hot-glue the fiber in place from underneath. Start with the fibers closest to the board and work your way further away so you run less risk of touching the glue gun to a fiber by accident (the heat of the gun will warp and potentially sever your fiber).
I did something similar with the shuttle, snipping the fiber to the right length and then positioning it flush with the face of the shuttle. I used white PVA glue to fix it in place on the underside, since the hot glue gun would have gouged a divot in the decking. I then CA-glued the wire support to the shuttle and used a heat gun (very sparingly) to soften the fiber enough to position the shuttle properly.
Once the fibers are locked in place with hot glue, you can address any gaps or filling in the holes up top with a small dab of Micro Crystal Clear from the tip of a toothpick or something similar. Coat the whole thing with a matte or satin varnish, and then go back with a little bit of gloss varnish on each light (as well as the front windows of the pod and bees to look “glassy”).
I also went back to the rear tube columns, and light-blocked the grey area with a coat of flat black, and then re-did them with grey again. Didn’t want to risk having light bleeding through the grey once it was all assembled. I then scraped the tops clean and applied gloss varnish to the tops and the ports that will be lit.
Two videos are attached here, one without the roof so you can get a feel for where everything is, and the second with the roof so it shows the restricted view that will be available once the bay is installed in the finished ship.
UPDATE 2 – 13.2.2016:
I completed the overhead and side lighting, as well as the LEDs over the rear tube-columns, and did a dark-room shot of the whole thing, including a short video showing what it looks like when the whole thing is “live”!