Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 18 "Five Easy Pieces."

What follows below is the construction of a basic vacuum table for use in thermal vacuum forming of poly styrene. In the first photo you see the basic supplies used to create a simple vac box, or table. You need to plan ahead and decide what size box you need, make measurements and compensate for the thickness of your material. In the display below I used 2" X 6" studs left over from a construction project.

Photo 2 shows the basic box form. Always have a flat, level place to work and keep your form square.

Photo 3, measure and cut a piece of pegboard to your frame.

Photo 4, measure and cut plant stakes, or 1" X 2" framing in place to support the pegboard.

Photo 5, Use a hole saw to cut the appropriate sized hole for your vacuum hose and fitting. At this point you may want to epoxy a PVC fitting in place to get a good fit. Nail a piece of plywood, or MDF to the back (Not Shown) and make sure to caulk around every crack, or seam.

Easy peasy, you've made a simple vac table. See the links for video.

Here's a nice little video that always makes me laugh. You've got to love it, it's really so simple.... ;)

There are literally dozens of videos on YouTube showing this process from the simple to the sublime.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


These photos are temporary reference and will be deleted and reorganized into a new blog post.







Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 17 "Compare Contrast Construct."

While finishing up the actual blueprints for the TOS Enterprise I want to shift the focus of this blog toward the actual construction of the new model and a few ancillary topics relative to construction. Additionally, I'll be comparing some of the existing prints with what I've been working on as well as comparing some of the differences between the physical models. After studying the screen captures, photos of the physical model, the Smithsonian dimensions etc... I came up with a profile the I feel confident is wholly accurate to the engineering hull, I then went back and compared that profile to the Sinclair and Casimiro profiles. I overlayed a section of Sinclair's cutaway to highlight the differences. I sized that profile up to the scale I'm working in and used it in the last post to come up with a conical form to create the primary section of the engineering hull using the same methods that I developed to create the 1/350th scale ship. This time around I used a finer, more flexible, higher quality mesh to begin construction. Using the simple compass that I discussed in the last post I cut out a flat for building up the upper and lower halves of the primary hull, this too is the same method I used to build the 1/350th, but again with higher quality, more substantial materials. When I built my first scratch built project I wanted to use the cheapest, easily affordable materials available to virtually anyone. I wanted to show that you don't have to have an entire facility full of high dollar, precision equipment to be able to come up with a reasonable representation of the Enterprise. The last time I used paper, tape, glue, fiberglass and Bondo. I'm essentially using the very same method with only slightly higher quality materials, this is in part due to time constraints and the size of the project involved. "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Albert Einstein. I feel the opposite is also true, if something works the first time then there's no reason not to do it the same way, with the caveat that you learn from your mistakes and refine your process.

I'll come back and show more of this process later, however I will have to refer back to the construction of the original 1/350th ship. Unfortunately I was making progress and didn't have the time to take stage by stage photos.

I want to move into construction of a basic vacuum table and some basic electronics in the next couple of posts. In the mean time I've uploaded some more reference shots of the various incarnations of the ship.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 16 "Phasors on Maximum."

I should note that the Day 1-16 designation only represents days of actual work and do not reflect running days on a calender.

Before I move onto to a basic explanation of phasors and how they applicable to this discussion I need to take the time to make a couple of corrections. In a previous post I stated that there were 16 ribs on the *exhaust vents" on the sides of each nacelle. In fact there are 17 ribs on these vents and the pattern is actually a corrugated pattern, this same pattern is reflected on the "S-Curve" at the rear of each nacelle. See applicable photos. I also stated earlier that I had not seen anyone correctly represent the lower sensor dome. I stand corrected. After looking over the Casimiro blueprints I find that he did indeed present an accurate profile for this parts. My apologies to Charles.

Onto to phasors... Essentially phasors are straight lines that follow along a center point of origin and point out to a point at highest amplitude of a sinusoidal waveform. This may not seem to be applicable to our discussion of transforming from 2 dimensions into three, but it is. Another way of thinking of phasors as one line in a right triangle. How we use phasors is really very simple. Earlier I said that we had to follow back down both angles on the engineering hull to a point of convergence. When these lines meet, or converge we establish the point of origin for our phasor. When we took our separate measurements for each section of the engineering hull cutaway and used the diameters to establish each circumference and finally used that as a linear measurement for each section we established the outer parameters for each conical, or tubular part. Now that we have our measurements we can use our phasor as a compass to get the arc for each conical. We don't need to do this for the tubular components.

Follow along with the pictures below and it will all become clear.

Since we are multiplying each diameter by pie (3.14), we're going to need a larger surface area than our original print profile. To keep things simple I used basic poster board available at any craft store. The first thing to do is to establish a center line mid way through the poster board. This gives us room to scale out our parts to whatever scale we choose to work with. After establishing our center line we over lay our profile and start plotting out straight lines to with reference to the original. As you can see I separated only the first three sections of the hull to keep things simple, the additional lines are referencing the pylon position. Upon establishing the points for each measurement on the rear most section of the hull use a rule to connect the points and draw a straight line, then us a compass from the point of origin following our phasor out to the next measurement and draw each arc. Now we have the shape of our cone that matches our profile and we've brought that section out into the 3rd dimension. In the following photo you can see that I created a simple compass using what I had at hand. Since I didn't have a large enough compass for the job at hand I took a 1"X2" strip of pine and used a drill bit and a drywall screw to plot out my arcs, this is the same compass that I used to create parts for the upper and lower saucer section. What you see is a piece of scrap poly styrene used to illustrate the method. The drywall screw made a nice scribe for cutting the styrene. There are a few that mock my methods, however, quoting Albert Einstein..... "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." ;)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

No posts for awhile.

I've got to get caught up on other things and have several projects in the works, so updates will be few, however I will pick up right where I laft off.

Keep on Trekkin! =/\=

Day 15 "Constituent Parts"

Before we can get into explaining phasors and creating actual parts we have to break everything down into constituent components. Below is an example of breaking down parts of the whole into individual components. I've broken up the base engineering hull, into three separate parts, for the sake of this discussion. Note; though the center section is not a perfect cylinder it will suffice for this discussion. If we were going to machine this part we would use measurements directly from the profile.

We will come back later and add the addition cylinders inside the deflector cowl as referenced by Charles Casimiro's prints and other data.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 14 "Revenge of the Arc Phasors"

.... Or, "Return of the 3rd Plane."

In a previous post I explained how to turn a two dimensional conical shape into a three dimensional cone, however, we have to build on that information and remember that we are no longer dealing with just a 2d object. when we are taking a 2d object and transferring it into a 3d object we have to consider the z axis and how that effects our shape. Since we are using the diameters of the different sections of the profile of the engineering section we have to think about how we are going to compensate for the additional dimension. In advanced mathematics, especially math that deal with expressing electrical sine waves we work with phasors. This discussion is not going to get into the depth of phasor math, but we can learn a simple lesson involving phasors and use them along with trig and a simple compass to modify our previous discussion, expand on it and create the entire engineering section. Don't get to bogged down with the terminology and don't let it intimidate you. I'll explain graphically what I mean here.

I've some up with a final engineering profile, see below. We are going to use this for the rest of this blog. I'm confident that it's accurate.

In the second photo below I've divided the engineering hull into additional sections so the we can recreate the entire hull. We'll be splitting the hull up into sections, building each section with card stock and assembling them into a whole. Before we move on to that part we need to follow along the top and bottom of the hull and take those lines back to the point of convergence. From the point of convergence we could use a really big compass to cut an arc between certain points after we do the math for each diameter from the previous post.

In the next post I'll show show what I mean graphically.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 13 "Expect Results"

If you follow along with this blog and put these thoeries into application, if you take the time to work through the tutorials, You can produce whatever you like. Expect results!

Here is a link to a video of a model that I worked on with a good friend, Big Jim Slade. We used many of these techniques and Jim did all of the TurboCAD work and this is what we came up with.

Neither of us had ever tackled anything like this before, but the over all project looks absolutely fantastic.

The reason for this blog is to insprie people, to teach and to share. I also intend to do all of the work myself. After we have a complete set of prints finished we will go onto the card model software and then to the LightWave portion.

Check out movie two as well.

Day 13 "Coordinates, Circumference, CAD and CG"

Drafting is an art unto itself and has been around for many a millennia. For the most part, I've focused on drafting things out by hand. We've used various methods to get our points of intersection, plotted out points along a curve and have used pantographing and rotoscoping to get our basic shapes for the profile of the Enterprise. Adding to this let's move onto more advanced methods and increase what we have and build upon it. The Cartesian Plane, or coordinate system has been used in mathematics for a very long time and is the basis for AutoCAD and computer graphics. We can use this plane to plot our points and lines, plot out hemispheres and for scaling the ship. For further edification on the subject, go here.

I stated earlier that the Enterprise was not much more than a collection of cones and spheres, with the exception of the primary hull, of course. However, when broken down, the primary hull can be expressed as conical and hemispherical shapes as well. I've focused on the Engineering hull thus far, because it is the place where everything begins and is what everything is attached to. The Engineering hull of the Enterprise consists primarily as a cone. Going back to one of the early photos posted here I cleaned up my plot lines to get a more accurate outline in reference to the center line.
Referring back to one of Alan Sinclair's prints we can see his engineering hull with plotted cutaways. We can use this an as example of how to take this profile in two dimensions, plot it out on a coordinate plane and turn that into a 3 dimensional cone. Each one of his cutaways are essentially diameters, these diameters can be turned into linear measurements, layed out on a sheet, cut and rolled into a cone.

Go to this link for a discussion of circumference, diameter, radius...

As you can see for cutaway "C" moving back along the horizontal from left to right we have a cone. If you decide on a size for your ship, or you just want to try and check this, print that photo up, measure each of the lines from C going back and plot that out on a separate piece of paper and roll it into a cone, you should have a conical representation of that section of the engineering hull. It follows that the more lines you plot and the closer you plot them, the more accurate the over all construction will be. Since Circumference equals.... C=(pie)d where C is circumference and pie 3.14 and d is Diameter. Start with a horizontal line, do your math for each section, divide all measurements by two, measure up and down from the horizontal, plot your lines up and down the intersecting points, cut and roll into a cylinder. This is the hard way of creating templates for conical sections of a whole. The easy way is to use the prints that you've established and take them into cad, or some other program and let the software do the work.

In my previous post I linked to a tutorial using a small, but powerful tool for working in CG and for creating card models using blueprints.

Card models, or maquettes are a valid tool for visualizing the project that you want to create and deciding what changes, if any, are required. This same method is used in Hollywood by some Art Directors to "Pre-Visualize" what models they are going to make for a film. A maquette was made of Starbase 1 before the full scale model was made for the Star Trek movie "Search for Spock." I have to laugh at this point, because when I began building my 1/350th TOS Enterprise, I started with a card model and blueprints. Some little girl said it was made of toilet paper rolls. LOL, just shows their ignorance I guess? The model was eventually made from fiberglass and bondo as well as vac formed poly-styrene, but it was visualized with a scale maquette that was made from a card model and that model was eventually resized and the templates used to create the fiberglass hull, neck and nacelles.

Moving forward.... ;)

There is a very good tutorial here, for working in LightWave and building a TOS Enterprise. Again, in CG we are using the Coordinate Plane, or Cartesean Grid.

Thus far you can see that there are many ways to skin an Enterprise and one is just as valid as the other and most are based on old techniques that have been around for centurys. You can machine one, use wood working tools, use drafting techniques, card models... Your imagination is your only limit, that and the willingness to do something more than think about something, or talk about it. I'm fond of saying "Don't talk about it, Do it!" That's because you can think and talk all you want, but you will not get out of the theoretical and into the practical until you actually do something. Anyone can be a critic of someone elses work, but it takes drive and initiative to actually try something and I might add a certain degree of confidence in your own skills. You also have to be willing to make mistakes. Mistakes are not failures, the only one who fails is the one who doesn't even try.

Anyone can be a critic. ;)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 12 "Suggested Reading and Viewing."

I've ammassed quite a library over the years and I thought I would share some of the titles of my favorite books that cover the verious methods used in getting this far in this discussion and share some decent tutorials as well as a couple of videos of my own.

Here's a list of books specific to this blog.

1)Print Reading for Industry by Walter C. Brown
2)Fundamentals of Engineering Drawing by Cecil Jensen and Jay D. Helsel

Specific to Molding Casting and Sculpting:

1) The Prop Builders Molding and Casting Handbook by Thurston James
Check out the section about "Vacuum Forming with Thermal Plastics
I'll cover the build up of my vacuum table at later date.

2) From Clay to Bronze A Studio Guide to Figurative Sculpture

Specific to Styrene Modeling and blueprinting:

1)Model Design and Blueprinting Handbook by Charles Adams
2)Styrene Modeling by Evergreen Scale Models.

CG Specific.

Here is a link to a tutorial using a small, but powerful program that I will be working with while also working in LightWave 9.6.

This is a link to 66 tutorials for various applications in Lightwave.

While I'm finishing up the blueprints I'll be recreating and refining the process that I used to build my 1/350th TOS Enterprise. This link to the video gives some example as to how we will be proceeding. I developed this method three years ago and now I see people all over the net doing the same thing. I think it's great to see people making their own figures, ships and other models.

I'll will come back and edit and update the entire blog soon, my appologies for mispellings and grammer mechincs issues. I usually work on this when I'm half asleep.

More updates soon. Trek On Dudes and Dudettes! =/\=........

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 11 "Details Details Details."

I'm going to take this time to display more of the details of the TOS Enterprise before compling everything into a preliminary draft of the various orthotic views of the ship. I should note that even though I started out with X-rays of the actual ship I seem to have focused on screen caps of what was a pilot version of the ship. This was done because the basic shape of the ship never changed, with few exceptions the overall shape of the ship stayed the same. The main differences were the addition of some details and the shape of the bridge and nacelle end caps. Other wise the ship held its original shape. Though the screens that I used came from the episode "Mirror Mirror" you can clearly see that the ship used here was from one of the first pilots, most likely the version from WNMHGB. I'll get into the two different pilot differences at a later date. Most of that has been covered before and there isn't much need for me to regurgitate that info. My primary focus is creating a set of prints for the Series version, however, I would feel neglectfull if I didn't cover everything.