Friday, June 6, 2014

Starbase 1 (also known as Spacedock) FINISHED!!!!!

 And Viola! She is done! I apologize for the yellow tungsten lighting in my bedroom, but at least it gives all these photos a nice warm feel.

I printed out decals for the bay doors. They're movie accurate to color and numerical order.

Damn. This is exactly the look I was going for! I'm very happy with how this turned out.

The runway lights are white (hard to tell in this photo) but more importantly THEY BLINK! Yes, that's right! These little fiber optics blink. Wanna know what's even cooler? The Red side door lights blink too!

All the lights out. 

I'm not mailing this off. I made a custom box with foam so that I can hand this off to my brother in 4 months and be relatively sure the circuits will stay intact. 

 I've rigged it so that the adaptor cord will effortlessly plug into the bottom of the base.

I'm actually very excited that this project worked. I combined two different voltages with multiple LEDs and integrated them into a VERY small space with fiber optics and the whole thing actually works! So many doors have opened up for me with this!!!

Starbase 1. A Second Try.

All the way back in January, I posted about my 'great experiment', a custom build of Star Trek's Starbase 1. (apparently the cannon name is simply 'Spacedock'). I intended to make a mold of an existing space dock model, cast it in clear resin with a hollow inner tube for light and an integrated brass tube. All of this worked perfectly. I found blue neon strip lights from Wal-Mart for $19 and a stupid Hulk wand toy with the perfect LED slow blinking light circuit for $5. I spray painted my star base, drilled out hundreds of windows and hooked up all the lighting inside.

Everything was going according to plan. There were a few bumps in the road, but that was to be expected. I was dealing with two different voltages inside this one piece. A 9v wall adaptor supplied power to the blue neon light strip just fine, but the Hulk circuit was only a 3 volt, so I needed to find the right resistor. This first design also had an additional white LED light, that I believe was 6 volts, so that complicated things. I was unable to learn about resistors online. There aren't any really clear tutorials, just color code deciphering. I had no choice but to buy a bunch of random small resistors from Skycraft. 

I originally bought two Hulk circuits. The first one I instantly blew out when I hooked it up to the wrong resistor, the second was installed successfully in Spacedock. I tested everything multiple times between steps, just to be safe. I wanted everything to be JB welded into place   inside the model to make sure nothing would break. My great oversight was overestimating how much room I had inside the upper dome. When everything was finished and I only had ONE step left, to close up the dome and glue it all together, that's when everything went wrong. 

I closed the upper and lower dome pieces with all the lights plugged in and glowing, and everything turned off. I froze with the pieces in my hand. I pulled them apart just slightly and jiggled the wires. Nothing ever came back on. I still don't know what happened. The blue neon light strip came back to life when I put power to it individually, but the hulk circuit, and the 6v LED never worked again. In hindsight I had an overly complicated design. The blue light strip was inches longer than it needed to be and the metal ring I installed to stop the light to the top was choking off space when it closed up.

Until recently the failed model had just sat behind my desk space. I was too angry to start on it again. It was looking like a completely failed project...... until recently....

Three days ago, I worked up the courage to start this project again. I stripped out and cleaned everything from the inside of space dock. I had a plan this time: simplify and reduce space consumption. The bottom lights would have to go. The upper city uplighting would have to go. I still wanted to get the effect of blinking runway lights and blinking red door lights achieved through fiber optics. The blue light was proven and easy. Simply glue it in and apply power to it. The above photo is the improved light sealed room I built for the runway floor. It allowed more stability and clearly defined the height I had for the rest of the inner dome. 

I went out and bought a new Hulk circuit. This time I only changed two of the lights, not all six.

As you can see, the inner metal circle has been cut, the layout simplified. Everything is glued to the ceiling, allowing as much room as possible between both halves. 

I had a secret weapon this time. Something that would allow me to finish this project in only three days. Reynolds 'insta-cure' gap filling glue. It's industrial strength super glue that cures in 15 seconds and is as strong and durable as epoxy glue. We use it at the Universal Prop Shop all the time! 
This was the final layout before I closed everything up for good. Notice the white rectangles on the top piece. These allowed for even more room and made sure nothing would be crushed when everything was sealed up.