Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Some LaserFire fun….and nacelles.

November 16, 2014

Back again.  I thought I might share a little of what goes into making the display bases I offer.  This one is a little unique, as it was intended to support one of the 8″ by 14″ Shields Up display panels that I manufacture.  The customer is also utilizing a Trekmodeler lighting kit for his model, as well as the electronics to drive the shields up board.  The customer will be wiring the Shield’s electronics, as well as the backlighting for the graphics himself.

First off, all the parts are laser cut from 1/4″ mdf, glued together, clamped and allowed to dry..


The finger jointed construction makes for a very sturdy box structure.  The fingers are designed to be slightly raised and sanded down flush with the surface.


Ave’s is applied to the joints to seal up any cracks and crevices.


Some sanding ensues, along with a few coats of shellac to seal up the wood.


Now it’s time to cover it all up with some primer and check for flaws.


In the meantime, a fixture is created that houses the model’s support rod.  I’m actually rather proud of this little gizmo.  It’s simple, yet effective.  The double box structure holds the rod nicely, while allowing any wires to pass through freely underneath.  The rod fits snugly, but can still turn inside the fixture allowing  the model to be rotated however the customer likes.  Well….within reason anyway 🙂


The interior of the base and bottom was painted white to help diffuse and spread light around, while the exterior was painted black.  Felt strips are applied to the lip where the upper display sits.  I also supplied mounting for the Shields Up circuit board.  Speaking of the Shields Up kit, it came with a little speaker that makes “beep beep” noises when the circuit is activated.  I had previously cut grill slits in the base’s bottom, but the speaker itself has no mounting holes.  My inner audiophile emerged and convinced me that every speaker should be mounted in an enclosure anyway.  So, I made a little box to house it, and mounted to to the bases bottom.  The speaker itself is held into the enclosure with a bit of silicone adhesive.


Using a standard Shield display with a centered post arrangement results in the post protruding from the Enterprise’s secondary hull on the graphic.  The customer and I decided to cut a new display with the ship graphic moved back…that way the ship graphic could remain un-obscured.  This, in turn, freed up a bit of real estate at the front of the display, which allowed some extra graphics to be added.  The picture below shows the back side of the display with white diffusion over the ship graphic, and blue acrylic over the “extra” graphics.  The white acrylic makes gluing the LEDs and wiring in place much easier as it prevents damage to the display’s back painting.  Oh, I see the front display with holes for the various buttons is shown in the picture as well.


Flip it over and place it on the base and this is what you get.  The final product.


The front display can be glued in place with some silicone, or epoxy once the customer completes the wiring of the various switches.

I don’t have any pictures of the illuminated base since the customer is taking care of that aspect himself, but they usually end up looking a little like this.


Now.  Where did I leave off on that darned Refit?  Oh yes!  The nacelles.  Once they were finally assembled, I went through the  “oh so lovely” process of sealing off light leaks.  This consisted of spraying, and a bit of brushing, black paint in all the offending areas.  Once this was complete, they looked damned ugly.  Thus, no picture in this spot…….

However, spray some primer on them and they look much better. 🙂


Check ’em for light leaks again, and hit them a couple coats of white, and Voila!  Pristine white nacelles, ready to be detailed!


Oh.  I’ve built a Pulse Rifle base as well.  But, that’s another story.  😛



The Future

November 4, 2014

A graphical representation of the direction this blog will take once the current 1/350 Refit project is complete.

Finally, a Real Post!

November 1, 2014

Ok.  First things first, let’s get up to speed on the 1/350 refit.  I believe I had cut things off at the neck, so to speak..haha.  So I’ll start out by tossing up a couple of pictures of the secondary hull being painted.  First in gray primer, then in white.





Now, at this point I had a sexy looking white secondary hull pretty much ready for detail painting.  But, there was a sinister little problem lurking beneath that layer of virgin white lacquer, just biding its time in order to rear its ugly head at the most inopportune moment, and that moment was when I peeled off the masks and tested the lighting.  That’s right, you guessed it.  There was an LED out…and not just one of the internal illumination LEDs.  No, it was one of the external pylon spotlights!

I spent some time pounding my head against the wall and crying myself to sleep at night before setting about fixing the problem.  You gotta do what you gotta do, and what I had to do was cut the damn thing open and replace the stupid LED.  Luckily I had done a fairly decent job of documenting where everything was located on the inside, so I was able to find a safe place to make the cut.



The old one was cut out, and the new one lined up in its place.  Then the patching job began.


And finally after filling, sanding, and painting, I was back to this.



There’s still a little unevenness in the patched area that I’ll continue to work on a bit, but I think it’s safe to say that that little disaster has been rectified.

So, now I was ready to play with the nacelles.  The first order of business was to install the spotlight LEDs that illuminate the starfleet pennant on the secondary hull, and the saucer rim.  Some would just glue the LEDs in place and hope to get some light in the right general area when the model is assembled.  But, I wanted to be a little more scientific in my approach.  So, I decided to pull out my assembly jig (remember that?) and mock up the assembled model.  Even though the saucer was assembled and ready to go, I decided to use one from a spare kit.  That way, I didn’t have to fuss with its wires, and I could feed the wires protruding from the neck into the spare saucer.



So, in essence, all of that was done in order to achieve this:


It took several tries, and several LEDs to get the effect I wanted.  But, I think it was all worth it in the end.  I ended up using a 5mm white for the pennant spot, and a 3mm for the saucer rim.  With those secured in place, the rest of the wiring and nacelle assembly could begin.

Grills with a nice purple glow and no hot spots was the goal here.  Easy, right?  Well,no…not exactly.  I had procured some special acrylic made for diffusing LEDs in backlighting applications.  I thought “PERFECT!  I’ll use white LED strips, along with a layer of the the 1/8” diffusion acrylic, and translucent purple acrylic.  That ought to work great!  What did I get?


Hot pink……

My next attempt was to order some UV purple LEDs and try that.  The day they arrived, I connected them up to my power supply, and they looked perfect.  So, I installed them in a nacelle, put the diffusion acrylic in place, and what did I get?

Brilliant blue.

Apparently, something about the uv light from the LEDs reacted with the diffusion acrylic creating the blue glow.  Actually, it was a pretty cool effect.  I could slide the panel in and out from in front of the LEDs and watch the light change from purple to blue.  The brightness would increase significantly as well.  Not the effect I was after, but nifty nevertheless. I’ll file that knowledge away for some future project.

I did some further digging around and finally located some LEDs that were simply purple without a uv component.  I ordered up a reel and waited anxiously for them to arrive.  When they did, I installed them and got



I also discovered that I could use the translucent purple acrylic as a diffuser by itself with out having to resort to the special diffusion material.  But, before I could start wiring everything up and making it permanent, I needed to mask and paint the grills.  Some laser cut Tamiya tape strips were in order here.


After the masking was applied, the girlls were first painted black for light blocking purposes, then a nice purplish color.


They were then installed into the nacelles and tested.


I know.  Looks bluish. But, trust me it’s very obviously purple in person!  I think either my camera, or some color management setting on my computer is playing tricks on me here!

Here’s the completed wiring and lighting setup for the nacelles.  Note the rcs thruster lighting, strobe, and blue crystal thingie lights are installed as well.



I also installed a pieces of 1/32″ black plastic to help block some of the light that inevitably leak from the pylon/nacelle connection point.  The nacelles halves were then finally glued together.

Next up was to add these little photo-etch jobbies on the back of each nacelle.


With those in place, I started the sand-putty-prime-repeat process on all the seams.  In doing so, I intentionally destroyed some of the raised panel areas on the bottom of the nacelles.  Not to worry.  I cut new ones and glued them in place when I was happy the seam lines were no longer an issue.



The top nacelle is a spare used as reference when replacing the missing detail.

And finally, here is were things stand at this moment.


I’ll be putting the finishing touches on the seam work and getting things masked off for painting next. All of the internal wiring and lighting for the model is now complete.  From here on out everything will be either assembly, or paint work.  Well…until I get to the display base anyway.

Which, speaking of display bases.  I mentioned a while back (ok, a long time ago) that I intended to start blogging about all of my activity in the shop.  I’m not sure anyone remembers, or cares that I said that.  But, I still intend to make good on that promise.  As Laserfire Creations, I build a variety of custom display bases, plaques, and acrylic awards, so expect to see a variety of new posts popping up here on (hopefully) a more regular basis.

October 27, 2014

Holy smokes!  It’s been forever since I’ve posted anything here!  There’s so much to show.  A completed secondary hull, and now nacelles lit, assembled, and ready to paint!  Not to mention something really big, and umm…round.


Pay no attention to the moron, or the mess surrounding him. Look at the girls on the wall. Yes, look at the girls……Do you see the girls?

Let’s Neck!

September 9, 2013

Well, not literally neck… at least not with any of you…..ewww.

Ok, I admit it. I’m pathetic.  I have once again managed to neglect this little blog thingie in a super colossal kind of way.  In fact, judging by my lack of activity, it’s easy to assume I haven’t been doing a damn thing.  Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not quite the case.  I’ve been doing lots of things…just not updating  this blog like I said I was going to.  My apologies…again.

Anyway, “What about the Enterprise?”, you ask.  Well, things have been moving forward.  I think when I left off before she looked a bit like this.


The secondary hull was  basically assembled without the dorsal or any of the other fiddly parts up front.  The shuttle bay looks pretty cool though, does it not?

So, what I really needed to do now was start getting that darn neck wired up and ready to install.  The first step was to figure out how to rig up my photon torpedo launcher.  I decided to use two LEDs for each tube.  One white, and one red.  These will be programmed so that the red LEDs can ramp up slowly…this should have the effect of mesmerizing the viewer just before  a shockingly bright white pulse sets them off into a epileptic seizure as the tube “fires”.  Ok, maybe that’s a little over dramatic, but you get the idea.  I made a little jig to hold the stacked LEDs and wired them up.



The whole thing was painted black-ish and power tested.


And of course, here comes the white blast!



The next trick was to squeeze this into one of the dorsal halves along with all the other lighting.  I lasered out a diffuser for the portholes and edge lit it with one LED.  Another 5mm LED serves to illuminate the lower ports, along with the docking ring.  The dorsal spotlight is installed as well.


The other half was wired up in a similar fashion, and after a couple nights of continuous testing, the two halves were glued together.



Now, the astute viewer will notice the apparent build-up of Ave’s Apoxie sculpt on the back of the collar at the top of the dorsal.



Why is that?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Way back yonder when the DLM impulse engine was installed on the saucer, it was noted that the replacement engine was a different shape than the original.  That would be because it’s more accurate…otherwise, what other reason would it have to exist, right?  Well, the different profile creates a gap with the neck where it meets, thus explaining my bit of sculpting there.  However, another problem is now created.  The piece of grooved “trim” on each side  needs to extend higher up to match the new shape.  I pondered for a while on how best to accomplish this.  I decided the best way to approach it would be to sand the whole piece down smooth, then replace it with a new one of the right size and shape.  I did a rubbing of the original, then scanned it, and traced it into vector format in CorelDraw making the necessary shape corrections as I went.  Then, you guessed it, I went running to my favorite go-to tool….the laser.  Rather than styrene, I used a special plastic made especially to play nice with lasers.  I engraved them, cut them out, and sprayed ’em with abit of primer and.. VIOLA!  new trim pieces ready to install, grooves and all!



And of course, installed on the dorsal.  Spiffy!



I now turned my attention to the deflector housing.  Specifically, the four LEDs needed for the reaction control thrusters.  Surface mounts were used here.


Yes, I know.  It’s time to replace that nasty looking ESD mat I was working on.

The deflector LEDs were mounted into place as well.


Just add neck and deflector housing, and here’s the result!



What do you think of that test harness I wired up to plug into the bottom?

And of course,  the obligatory “in the dark” shot.



The dish has way more of a hot spot in the picture (of course) than in person.  Different exposures don’t seem to help much.  Maybe a bit of HDR magic would make it look right….hmmmm

Speaking of the dish.  For diffusion, I used a piece of 1/16″ acrylic with a diffusion pattern engraved onto it.  I took some pictures of it, but seem unable to find them at the moment.  When I do, I’ll be sure to include them in a future post.

Ok, that pretty much does it for now.  I’ll be finishing out the sanding and puttying of the secondary hull now in order to get some white primer on it…and, of course, sealing up all the light leaks.  Then it’s on to the nacelles!

Wonderfest Bound!

May 17, 2013


I’ve decided that perhaps I should add updates to this blog regardless of what I’m doing.   That way it won’t look quite so….dead.   That includes working on models…or whatever.  Now both of my regular readers (I think one of them might be my wife) can keep track of my  “oh so exciting” life.  So here goes.  I got sidetracked from modeling the past couple of weeks in order to make a few awards for this year’s Wonderfest.  Most of my other Laserfire activities are currently on hiatus to free up time for the Enterprise build, but Wonderfest is something I have to  make an exception for.  So, here they are.  All ready to be boxed up for this afternoon’s trip down to Lousiville. You might not realize it, but there’s actually quite a bit of work involved in putting these together. After each one is cut, the edges are hand sanded with several grits of sandpaper, then lovingly flame polished with a mini oxy-hydrogen torch, then glued to their bases.  I built a custom wooden base for the illuminated Starship Modeler award to house the battery pack for the LEDs .  Its a lot of work, but well worth it, because it looks oh so cool in a dark room.  OK, I need to get these packed up so I can get to the show.   Once I return, it’s back to the Enterprise!

I’m not quite dead yet…..I’m feeling better….I think I’ll go for a walk.

May 1, 2013