This page is part of my Model Remodel series of articles.
DISCLAIMER: If you choose to attempt any of these modifications, you assume all risks thereof. I just wanted to share my experiences here. Neither Fanhome, nor myself, are responsible for any damages that may occur.
TIP: If you are just here for the STL files, jump down to that Section!
Once Stage 87 of our 1:900 scale U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D partwork build arrives, we are instructed to finish assembling and install the Main Deflector Dish. Last year, my plan was to only swap out the stock white LEDs for blue ones as part of my Model Remodel changes. But more recently, we have had a chance to make it even better!
NOTE: I highly recommend reading through this entire page before attempting anything here as things changed as I went along.
LED Color Swap
During the downtime between the death of Eaglemoss and the rise of Fanhome, I had replaced my stock white Main Deflector Light LEDs with clear blue ones (3VDC 20mA 2x3x4mm rectangular LEDs from eBay). These were soldered with inline 1/4 watt 100 Ohm resistors on each LED and then a short ‘pigtail’ of 26AWG 2-wire cable was connected to both LEDs:
Then, I simply installed these new LEDs in place of the stock bulbs.
If you want to attach these LEDs to the stock Battle Section PCB, you would need to add a 4-pin 1.25mm JST female plug on the end. My plan at the time was to wire these directly to my Battle Section Arduino as part of the remodel:
To light block these LEDs, I tried a new type of adhesive putty – PROtastic TackBlack out of the UK. This is similar to the UHU Tac PROPower and Blu Tack putties, but it is much ‘stickier’. This choice is entirely up to you, choose the putty you prefer:
The result was a nice cool blue glow from the Dish assembly. This is what I had ready and waiting for more than a year until the build resumed:
However, after shipments of our Enterprise D build resumed and we received the last piece of the Deflector Dish in Stage 87, I realized we could make our Dish assembly look even more accurate to what we frequently saw on the studio models.
For example, these are screenshot captures of the 4-foot studio model’s dish in both an active and a powered down state:
Repaint/Jon Bassi Mod
The Main Deflector Dish Outer
The most important thing that I felt needed to be corrected was the color of the inner dish walls. On all of the studio models, the area behind the dish appears to be the same yellow used for the warp nacelle necks, RCS thrusters, etc. To accomplish this look, I first masked off center ‘oval’ of our Main Deflector Dish Outer with Tamiya 6mm Masking Tape and painter’s tape. This was so the lighting could pass through and around the edges of the custom dish we were going to install soon:
For the grey painted ends, I used cut strips of Tamiya Tape for Curves to mask off the curved edges:
The Dish interior area was then airbrushed with Vallejo Game Air 72.707 Gold Yellow acrylic paint (a match to the Citadel Yriel Yellow I used on the nacelle necks, but easier to spray). Unfortunately, I should have painted this area with a white primer first, such as Vallejo Surface Primer 73.600 White. Because I did not use a primer, I had to make my yellow coat quite thick to cover the blue plastic and not look as if it had a green tint. Well, lesson learned!
To help keep any light from showing through the yellow (and because I did not prime it), I masked off the center section on the back of the Dish Outer and airbrushed the exterior surface with Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black acrylic paint:
The Main Deflector Dish Center
The glowing ring at the center of the studio model’s fiberglass dish was just an unpainted section, so I soaked my Main Deflector Dish Center (from Stage 3) for an hour or so in Isopropyl Alcohol to remove the existing blue paint. An old toothbrush helped get down in the crevices:
Next, I lightly sprayed this Dish Center with Krylon Frosted Glass Finish spray to make it less clear and more ‘cloudy’. This is the same spray I used on my modified nacelle Bussard Collectors:
The Main Deflector Dish Inner
Much of what I wanted to do with my Deflector Dish depended on designing and 3D printing an new ‘dish’ that our stock partwork model does not have. Ironically, as I was measuring and designing my own ‘dish’, a member on one of the Enterprise D partwork Facebook groups I frequent shared a dish he was already working on. Enter Jon Bassi!
As Jon was not as far into his build as I was, I reached out to him and we teamed up to perfect the size and shape of his dish to best match the Dish Outer. We went through a few iterations before we reached a point where we felt we could move forward. I then resin 3D printed this dish you see here. It is specifically designed to simply slip onto the Dish Center and even includes some fancy surface details:
Learning from my previous mistake, I did prime this dish (and the emitter end of my Main Deflector Dish Inner). As I planned on painting these a copper color, I airbrushed them with a metallic Vallejo Surface Primer 70.628 Plate Mail Metal, but any light primer should work fine.
It had been so long since I built my Reflector/Dish Inner assembly, I forgot they could be detached from each other. Instead, I masked off my Dish Inner to prime it. Taking them apart would have made the painting of the Inner much easier:
Once the primer dried, I airbrushed both parts with Tamiya XF-6 Copper acrylic paint:
Assembling the Deflector Dish
I test fit my Dish Center over the Dish Inner to make sure it would not be affected by the new paint. No problems here – it fit just fine:
As the rear pins of the Dish Outer pass through this Dish Center and hold it in place, I decided to fit the Center to the Outer first:
It should sit down evenly onto the cross-shaped posts, leaving the thinner pins exposed, as shown:
When the Dish Outer was fitted to the Reflector casing, it came out looking like this. Not bad so far!
Finally, I slipped Bassi’s custom dish mod onto the Dish Center to complete the Deflector Dish assembly!
At this point, however, I noticed a few things I think Jon and I could improve upon. After looking at the studio model images, I asked if he would remove the added details on the custom dish and only leave the raised edges. And, as the dish sat about a millimeter higher than the center emitter, I asked if perhaps we could make the dish face thinner:
Updating the Dish Lighting
While Jon worked on a new version of his custom dish, I took some time to try upgrading the lighting behind my Dish. While the blue LEDs I added earlier were an improvement over the stock cool white LEDs, I wanted my Dish to have an even brighter glow. Therefore, I decided to try using two small pieces of the same Blue COB LED Strip I used inside my modified Warp Nacelles:
To allow these wires into our Dish assembly, I drilled a 2mm hole in the back of my stock Reflector:
I quickly realized my Dish Center would cover this hole, so I used my Dremel with a sanding tip to cut a small notch out of it:
With this notch created, our wiring hole was now clear of the Dish Center:
Then, I fed the wires of the LED Strips down through the hole and secured the strips to the interior of the Reflector, as shown:
While this lighting works and is much brighter than the two rectangular LEDs, it does make assembly of the Deflector Dish more difficult. The COB LED Strips are fairly wide (5mm) and required squeezing the Dish Outer into place to be able to install the CP screws:
But, even with the wider COB LED Strips, the end result still looks great from the outside!
To help fit the custom lighting inside my dish better and not required squeezing the parts together, I searched around online and was able to find some very narrow blue 2.7 mm 5VDC COB LED Strip at AliExpress. These strips are half the width of my previous strip and better fit inside the Deflector Dish housing.
I found a 6″ length of this LED Strip would work and soldered a short pair of my 26AWG wires to it:
At the same time, Jon released the final version of his dish mod. Not only did he make the dish surface smooth and thinner, he also created a replacement Dish Inner (emitter) with the missing oval and dot details:
To help close the gap between the dish and the emitter, I asked Jon if he could add a 1mm tall spacer ‘ledge’ around the bottom of his emitter and he quickly created this new emitter as well:
With utter excitement, I quickly resin 3D printed these new parts. Using this new emitter means I needed to remove the stock Dish Inner:
I primed and painted the new dish and the new emitter (with the spacer ledge) and installed the narrower COB LED Strip into my reflector. Using this thinner strip, I was able to wrap the housing in a full 360 degree circle of light!
NOTE: The small dents seen here on the bottom lip of the emitter are due to where I put my print supports and are not indicative of the part’s quality:
To make room for the new LED Strip, I did need to trim the ends of my Dish Center inwards even further. I did not worry about the holes on either end as this piece is held into place by the Dish Inner (emitter) anyway:
With these changes, my Deflector Dish housing fit together perfectly. And, with the latest Bassi dish installed, everything lined up!
NOTE: The lines seen here on the left side of the dish are a printing fault and are not indicative of the part’s quality. I printed these quickly to test them and will be re-printing both parts in high quality soon:
Ah, the moment we have all been waiting for: I turned off my studio lights and powered up the LED Strip. What we got was an even blue glow around the dish and a stronger light around the emitter – exactly what I was trying to achieve with this mod. I love it!
As the FEP sheet on my resin printer needs to be replaced and the prints were not coming out perfect, I ordered the Bassi parts from Shapeways before I went on vacation. I returned to find the parts waiting for me. I airbrushed them with the same treatment as before: a base coat of Vallejo Surface Primer 70.628 Plate Mail Metal and a top coat of Tamiya XF-6 Copper acrylic paints:
At the same time, I decided to clean up the work I did on the Main Deflector Dish Outer. I sanded off any grit and defects from the first attempt and then airbrushed it again with Vallejo Game Air 72.707 Gold Yellow. I had some overspray on the grey ends, so I used my thumb as a paint mask and airbrushed the ends with Citadel Air Administratum Grey:
I reassembled all of the parts, and I was blown away – I think it looks amazing!
A quick test of the lighting circuit and we are done. Excellent!
The Jon Bassi Parts
Jon Bassi graciously created these parts for our community for free. If you have your own 3D printer, here are the STL files:
- Deflector Dish (screen accurate smooth) STL – used on this page
- Emitter with Details (and spacer) STL – used on this page
- Deflector Dish (with surface details) STL
- Emitter with Details STL
If you do not have a 3D printer, Jon has also uploaded the files to Shapeways (with zero profit markup) to have printed and shipped to you for a few dollars each: https://www.shapeways.com/designer/jon_bassi710/creations
As an added bonus, Jon has been working on other parts as well. For instance, he has a replacement Main Shuttlebay Door that is more screen accurate to the studio models and replaces the original part. Here is the STL file, but it is also on his Shapeways site:
I am extremely happy with how our modified Deflector Dish turned out! Not only does the exterior look much more accurate to the dish we saw on screen, but the lighting has been updated to be brighter and more evenly distributed.
The Bassi parts and the paintwork I did here can easily be used on a stock build, even with the original rectangular LEDs (or new blue ones). However, my intention was always to do this mod on my Model Remodel version of the Enterprise D. That is why I switched over to the COB LED Strip. This LED Strip will be connected to the same circuit as my nacelle Bussard Collectors so it comes alive with the warp engines.