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.

Lighting the Saucer Section

Now that the upper saucer has been tested for light leaks, we can begin installing the lighting inside the saucer. This includes the LED Strip, the Bridge/Deck Two lights, the Impulse Engine lights, and the Formation lights.

The LED Strip

To light the windows, I bought a Two-Pack of 1 meter 5V DC USB LED Light Strips in Daylight White (6000K). I cut the USB plug off each one leaving about 12″ (30cm) of cable left connected to the strip. This strip has an adhesive on the back that is exposed by removing the backing paper. Starting with the end of the strip where the cable is attached, I started securing the strip at the midpoint of this Skeletal Support:

As I began to secure the LED Strip around the outer surface of these smaller Skeletal Supports, I made sure to leave a little extra slack in this rear center section of the Saucer. This is where the Battle Section Neck will need to fit and I do not yet know how much space there will be at this area. Just in case, I wanted to allow this part of the strip to be folded towards the upper saucer surface (to be able to light the rear saucer windows and Arboretum):

Then, I ran the LED Strip all the way around the outside of the smaller Skeletal Supports until I reached my starting point:

Next, I routed the LED Strip inward towards the larger Skeletal Supports:

In the same way as before, I secured the LED Strip around the outer surface of the larger Skeletal Supports:

Once I made it all the way around again, I folded the LED Strip back on itself so it could be attached to the inner surfaces of the same Skeletal Supports and light the center of the Saucer:

To keep things neater at the front end of the saucer, I also pressed the adhesive of these two sections of LED Strip together:

I was not able to cover the entire saucer with a single LED Strip, so I grabbed the second LED Strip and soldered it to the end of the first one with short wires. I covered these short wires in liquid electrical tape to allow for flexibility at this joint:

I could then finish securing this last 7.5″ of extra LED Strip to the inside of the Skeletal Supports. I cut off any extra LED Strip once I completed this inner ‘circle’ of the Saucer (at the stop symbol below):

The Bridge

My new Nav Beacon Light was installed back in my Bridge article, but we still needed to hookup the Bridge Window lights to the LED Strip.

At the end of the LED Strip, I soldered a pre-wired 2-Pin JST PH female connector plug. This will attach to the mating connector you can see coming up out of the Bridge in the pictures above. The connector runs to a 2x3x4mm Warm White LED with an inline 1KΩ resistor that I used to dim and warm the color of the rear Observation Lounge windows. I ended up removing the forward LED from the Bridge assembly as the LED Strip will shine up into those windows/bridge dome and keep them from spilling too much light out onto the upper Saucer hull:

Deck Two

I re-used the stock LEDs from the Deck Two lights by creating an extension wire from a pre-wired 4-pin JST PH plug with 150Ω resistors inline to each LED (circled below). The leads of this extension were then connected to each other – positive to positive, negative to negative:

These wires were then soldered directly to the positive and negative copper contacts of the nearby LED Strip, as shown:

Impulse Engines

I never liked how the stock white LEDs looked inside the Saucer’s Impulse Engines. So, I took the original wires and replaced the stock LEDs with red 2x3x4mm Square LEDs (found on eBay) and inline 220Ω resistors. I used higher resistance values than normal here to keep this circuit’s total current draw under 30mA (each Arduino output pin can deliver at most 40mA max, but I didn’t want to push it). These wires were then run through the skeleton back to the Impulse Engine housings and the LEDs secured into the stock locations. Again, the matching positive/negative leads of these two wires were soldered together to single points.

TIP: To help diffuse the LED light inside these Impulse Engines, I pulled some cotton off a cotton swab and tucked it inside each housing. I also sealed the back of the Impulse Engines with black electrical tape to keep them from leaking any light into the nearby windows:

The wires from the Impulse Engine LEDs were also matched and connected together. The resistors on the ground (-) wires are visible here:

Rear Formation Lights

Since I only want the Saucer’s Rear Formation Lights to come on when the two sections are separated, I made a new circuit for these two LEDs. Again, I used some leftover stock wiring with new red and green 2x3x4mm Square LEDs . Similar to the Formation Lights on top of the Battle Section Neck, I put a 150Ω resistor inline with the red LED and a 330Ω resistor inline with the green LED to keep the brightness of the two LEDs about the same. These wires were then run through the skeleton back to their appropriate locations (arrows below) and the matching positive/negative leads soldered together to single points.

TIP: You may notice that I used small pieces of colored electrical tape to identify each group of wires so I could tell which was which. For example here, the orange tape is the Impulse Engine LEDs and the green tape is the Rear Formation LEDs. You can also see how I tried to keep things organized by bundling groups of similar wires together with small pieces of electrical tape or heat-shrink tubing:

Next, I collected the ground (negative -) wires of the Impulse Engines, Rear Formation Lights, and my custom Nav Beacon, and soldered them all together:

Because my Arduino Uno will be mounted inside the saucer in a specific location, I arranged all of the lighting wires so the positive (+) leads were towards the rear of the center saucer. The negative (-) leads were all brought to the front area of the center saucer. I temporarily set my Uno into place so I can show what I mean by this:

Forward/Side Formation Lights

The remaining forward and side Formation Lights were also placed on their own circuit. We attached a new red, warm white, and green 2x3x4mm Square LEDs to three long lengths of the leftover stock wiring. It is better to use longer wire than you think you need, it can always be cut shorter.

Similar to the Deck Two Lights above, each LED had an inline resistor added. To keep these LEDs at about the same brightness, and to keep the total circuit current draw under 30 mA, I tested different resistor values and ended up using these:

  • Red (Port/Left) = 150Ω

  • Warm White (Forward) = 1KΩ

  • Green (Starboard/Right) = 1KΩ + 560Ω in series (one feeds into the next)

These wires were run through the skeleton to the correct edge points of the saucer, then all of the matching positive/negative leads from these wires were brought together and soldered to single connection points. I used white electrical tape to identify these wires:

I did a quick test by powering all of the LEDs with 5V to see if the lights were working correctly, but I did not hook up the LED Strip here. Looking good so far! In the next two articles, I will go into how I designed the custom mounts for the Saucer electronics and finished up the Saucer wiring:

UPDATE July 2023:

When I started to install the lower Deck Panels starting in Stage 59, I found that the LED Strips l installed had a hard time getting light past where the upper/lower Skeleton Frames came together. This affects the lighting of our outer edge of upper Deck Panel windows. Because this space is very tight, I chose to use a line of LED Filaments around the perimeter and tied them into the main LED Strip circuit.

LED Filaments are very small and flexible strips of LEDs typically used in antique light fixtures. I found these 3VDC 6500K LED Filaments on AliExpress and ordered one pack of each length:

130mm 3VDC 30mA 6500K (10 Pieces) – $11.38

300mm 3VDC 50mA 6500K (10 Pieces) – $15.73

I then soldered lengths of some 26AWG Servo Wire to the ends of three (3) 300mm filaments and two (2) 130mm filaments. These need to be wired in parallel to carry the required current to each filament and maintain brightness. Therefore, we cannot daisy-chain them together.

I then began securing these filaments around the edge of my Skeleton Frames with drops of my UV Resin, as seen here. I started at the back near the Impulse Engine with a 130mm filament, then the 300mm lengths, and finished with the other 130mm filament behind the other Impulse Engine:

Where I could, I routed the wires through existing gaps in the Skeleton, as seen here:

In a few areas, I used my rounded needle file to grind down a recess in the Skeleton frame to make room for the wires to pass through:

Using a separate length of the 26AWG wire for the power cable, I attached five resistors to the negative wire. These are required to limit the current to the correct values and drop our 5V source voltage to the 3V these filaments are designed for.

  • Three (3) x 68Ω 1/4 Watt Resistors, one for each 130mm LED Filament
  • Two (2) x 47Ω 1/4 Watt Resistors, one for each 300mm LED Filament

Next, I soldered the negative leads from the various LED Filaments to their appropriate resistor and heat-shrinked everything:

Then, I soldered all the positive leads from the LED filaments to my positive lead of the power cable, again heat-shrinking everything:

Once supplied with 5VDC, this is the result. A nice, even bright light to illuminate the outer saucer windows:

From above, you can see how this will work perfectly to make up for impaired reach of the main LED Strips:

Finally, the power cable for these LED Filaments was then connected to the same Transistor output I use for the main LED Strip.

Next Section

SAUCER MOUNTS – Designing and 3D-printing custom saucer electronics mounts

6 thoughts on “LIGHTING – SAUCER”

  1. Instead of using the LED strips and the filaments. Could done one just use the LED filaments for the whole model? Also if I wanted to use the “stock” LEDs for the bridge section only and use the filament/LED for the rest of the saucer. Is there a way to use the circuit board that comes with the model to distribute the power?

    1. Long lengths of flexible LED filaments were not available when I did the LED Strips. Also, the filaments are not nearly as bright as the strips. As for the stock bridge LEDs, you could just splice the wires of those LEDs into your 5v power source using an appropriate resistor (the resistors on the stock PCBs are roughly 50 Ohms). To make this even easier, I recommend using a pre-wired 1.25mm pitch JST male connector to simply attach to the existing plug.

  2. I thought I ordered clear LEDs which would light the appropriate colors (red, green, etc.), turns out I ordered colored LEDs. Would there be much of a difference (brightness, etc), or would these work? Is it a personal preference that you went with the clear? Trying to decide if I want to wait even longer for the clear ones or not. Thanks!

    1. The solid colored LEDs should work fine, they are just diffused and therefore a bit dimmer. I just went with clear for the best starting brightness (which in many cases dimmed down with bigger resistors).

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