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Not much progress recently due to having been away on holiday, but the first batch of PCBs for the lighting modules have just arrived.
Looks like a good fit!
Modules assembled with surface mount components. An Atmel ATTiny84 microcontroller drives the flickering for the engine LEDs plus a pulsed laser gun effect.
All wired up to the battery, static headlights and single LED for laser (this will be piped to the guns via fibre optic).
Finally a quick test in the dark with the modules inside the Raider body.
Part 4 >>
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Work started in earnest at the back end – you could see a bit of grey plastic through the louvered engine farings so I decided to give the body underneath a quick dust of black, and also on the inside of the farings too.
I started mocking up a 4 LED arrangement for the engines to test for alignment and dispersal and it was only then it actually clicked that the top half of the engine ‘tube’ does not continue into the body as it does on the Monogram kit. It’s screamingly obvious when you look at it, but I just failed to notice. Because the lights are to be mounted deeper inside the fuselage, this needs some modification to prevent the light being blocked. So it was out with the razor saw to remove a section of the moulding and then a new inner cover was made from sheet styrene – you don’t see this bit, it’s just to prevent light from leaking out of the louvered covers. This was also painted black for completeness. The mounting peg at the read of each faring also had to be removed, but the remaining one is more than adequate for locating the pieces when the are glued down.
The position of the LEDs and the shape of the PCB were finalised and send off for production.
The inside of the engine tubes were given a coat of primer to help with light blocking – another coat may be needed, but the majority of the light is focussed straight out so that may be good enough.
Moving round to the front, 3mm holes were drilled into the corners of the front bulkhead detail (29) to accommodate 3mm LEDs for the headlights. In addition, the area directly behind these holes in the corresponding forward cabin part (10) was opened up to allow space for the back of the LEDs. Finally another hole in the back of each arm of part 10 was made for the headlight wiring to exit and be connected to the electronics.
For the cockpit hatch, a small 3x3x12 magnet (I just happened to have lying around) was glued in under the front louver. Two 3mm dia x 2mm round magnets were recessed into the top of part 10 so that they lined up with the magnet in the hatch. This combination holds the hatch in place securely yet it can still be removed.
Moebius have just released their 1/32nd ‘Studio Scale’ Cylon Raider kit from the original BGS series. For some reason this pancake has always been one of my favourite sci-fi ships. I still have a built-up Monogram version that was released in 1979 – one of the very few models that remains intact from my childhood that didn’t get blown up, burnt, broken or bashed into something else many many years ago!
The first and obvious thing to note is the kit’s size! it’s about double that of the Monogram kit and looks very imposing. It’s much more accurate to the studio miniature, featuring recessed panel lines and more detail particularly around the nose, tail & engines.
You get 49 pieces, including 2 clear engine inserts and a clear stand – a scaled up version of the regular Moebius BSG stand. Parts are generally moulded well although the detail is somewhat soft by modern standards – it’s certainly not up to Fine Molds standards, and even a Revell re-pop of the Monogram kit looks crisper.
There are a couple of small sinkholes at the front of the top fuselage that need filling but that’s it. Fit of the parts is pretty good with a few issues:
- Many of the larger parts are secured by peg and socket arrangements – these are tight enough to hold the model together without glue but can actually prevent some of the parts mating together completely unless squeezed hard. Using a 4mm end mill in my Dremel, I enlarged the inside of each socket slightly and shortened the length of each peg. The pieces are now a looser fit but the seams are now flush without requiring force and ready for gluing.
- There are also some ejector pin defects on the back of some parts (eg the underside bottom plate that the stand fits into (part 12)) that can also prevent parts aligning correctly. These are easy to remove with the Dremel again or a bit of light sanding.
- There are 2 areas where a part socket actually fouls the location of the underside intake roof covers (parts 17 and 19) – these need to be carefully sanded down for a correct fit. The long slots in these parts also need extending by a few mm to aid positioning.
It’s really worth dry fitting each part to ensure everything is as it should be before applying glue.
The engines each come with a clear backing piece with 2 5mm sockets moulded in that look like they are designed to allow a couple of 5mm LEDs to be dropped right in for a quick & easy lighting option. However a bit of experimentation shows that the design and position of the sockets (directly behind the exhaust vanes of the engine) mean that a large majority of the light is blocked or deflected.
I had already started work developing a custom lighting set for the kit before it arrived – seeing the above implementation made me waver in my conviction for a short while before deciding to carry on with my original design which uses 4 LEDs per engine, one in each quadrant. They will also be microprocessor driven to provide a realistic flicker effect much like the module I did for the new series Raider.
Additional laser gun effects will be provided as well as hook-ups for the static headlights and underbelly lights (neither of which are featured in the kit but can be added easily).
Thankfully this kit has plenty of space inside for a change! A 3AA battery pack will easily sit under the cockpit cover, which will be attached via magnets to make it removable for access.
>> Part 2