I originally got my cutaway when it first came out. Immediately, I had the intention to build it whole, since the accuracy was far superior to the smaller, 18″ version. I finished joining the cutaway pieces, and filling and sanding. But then it went on the shelf for some time, since I wasn’t quite sure how to light it.
It was a good thing I shelved that project until now, otherwise, I’d have to start all over. I was totally blown away at the parts Don Matthys made, and all the accurizing information contained in his assembly manual. The only thing I had in mind before seeing his material was drilling out the windows for lighting, and trying some lighting accurization for the warp pods.
I knew the kit was flawed in places, but I couldn’t put my finger on all the details. After I saw Don’s parts and manual, it all seemed to come together. Thanks also to Andy’s Stars workbench, for pointing out how to accurize the secondary hull length by adding 1/8″ to the front, the deflector rings, and the curvature below the shuttlebay. Those inaccuracies were bothering me on a very subliminal level.
One of the new things I tried to do in addition to the other published fixes was using the clear window resin to cast a sharper angled, build out of the saucer edge. After opening large saucer rim windows, filling them with resin, and completing the lighting wiring inside the saucer, I closed the saucer lid. Then, I glued a .035″ styrene rod around the top rim to define the outer edge. Then, I taped a stiff, cellophane plastic rim around the saucer edge. This ring was sealed by the tape to the bottom edge of the saucer at a sharper angle, thus forming a trough around the saucer rim. I used a syringe to inject the resin mix into this trough between the cellophane and the styrene rod. When it set, the cellophane detached cleanly, and I sanded the top surface flat.
I tried to design the lighting system on my own. Window lighting was done using traditional incandescent light bulbs. For the warp pod lighting, nothing seems to simulate the spinning globe effect better than a spinning globe. I added the standard blinking LEDs in a ring formation, but not in a chaser circuit. The LEDs just blink in three sets of four at random times. I added three incandescent red lights toward the center, since it was actually possible for the LEDs to be dark at the same time.
I used a 6V animation motor from IHC (about $30 each at a model train store) to get a good spin rate, and centered this motor shaft through the middle of the LED disk. These motors are compact enough to fit in the nacelles, and have build in gear reduction. They seem to spin at about the right rate at 3V, but maybe it’s one volt/warp speed!
I then created a striped inner globe by taking the hemispheres from a cellophane package of a toy jacks set. I used silver racing stripe tape for the stripes (12), and used thin, clear, styrene rod for the shaft, superglued to the sphere. This was then attached to the shaft of the motor by using styrene tubing as a union joint.
After making the inner globe translucent with dulling spray, I used another of the same cellophane dome for the outer dome, and glued it in place. This dome was also sprayed with dullcote. At this point, I had the blinking ring of LEDs, the inner red bulbs for color balance, and the spinning globe over the whole assembly! The hardest part was getting all the LED wiring out of the way of the motor.
At this point, the domes looked reasonably close to the original, but the LEDs still looked rather visible, producing a toy-like appearance. I then used yet another set of the cellophane domes, sprayed dull, then transparent red, then dull again. When I placed this dome over the first cover, I got a look remarkably close to the TV footage! Also note: before painting these cellophane domes, be sure to clean them with soap and water. The paint does not not seem to adhere well without cleaning.
One of the major setbacks I encountered occurred when I used superglue gel to install the motor assembly into the warp nacelles and glue the nacelle halves together. The crazing film from the superglue gel as it was setting got into the contact system and gearing of the motors. This made me rework the nacelle assembly a few times (agony!), and replace one of the motors. I’d probably use regular superglue, or two part epoxy if I had to do it again.
All the electricals ended up running off (2) 9V batteries, a 3V (CR2) camera battery, and a 6V battery source made up of (2) of the 3V batteries. All this and the switch assembly fit in the secondary hull.
All in all, the project was a major, protracted project, but it was worth it to try and create my go at an accurate original Enterprise, as an homage to the ship that started it all. After all, no matter how well Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley acted, it would have been hard to buy into a series whose ship was a cigar with windows…
Here is a video clip which show how the nacelle effect was created. This is what will be shown:
First, the clip shows the front of the nacelle assembly with the styrene union showing, and the blinking LEDs in a circle. Note the three incandescent lights toward the center, painted transparent red.
Then you’ll see the motor assembly with the striped inner globe loosely attached. Note the styrene tube union joint between the motor shaft and the transparent styrene rod for the inner globe. The union tube just barely sticks out of the LED face-plate when in place.
The clip then shows a pan of the model powered up. The port nacelle doesn’t have the inner globe attached yet, so you can see the lighting action. The starboard nacelle has the inner globe attached and spinning, but the two cover domes are not yet attached.
Finally, the clip shows the completed model, with a dull-coted dome glued in place, and another dull-coted/transparent red coated dome attached with small pieces of racing stripe tape to simulate the three little attachment details around the dome edges. When gluing the first dome in place, I cut the dome with three little tabs attached matching the detail locations, and applied a sparing amount of super-glue gel in order to avoid the crazing haze. The final outer red dome was taped in place on top of these tabs. Using the thin cellophane domes from the Jax package allowed me to layer the domes easily, diffusing the LED light.