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.
Disassembling the Battle Section Neck
The Neck Panels
To get started on modifying my Battle Section Neck assembly, I had to take it almost entirely apart. I removed all of the covers and screws from the Battle Section Floor and the two Neck Panels and pulled these parts away. Keep all of the screws as we will reuse them – it may also be helpful to track which screws are which to make reassembly easier:
Next, I removed the wiring, reflectors, and window panels from the Neck Panels:
In the same way, I removed the screws holding the two Ventral Neck Panels in place:
Then, I removed the Ventral Neck Panel reflectors, disconnected the LEDs, and set these parts aside:
I will no longer need the neck PCB, so the wiring plugs were all disconnected and the PCB was removed:
The Battle Section Rear Neck
The three screws holding the Battle Section Rear Neck to the skeleton frames were then removed:
As I pulled the Battle Section Rear Neck away from the skeleton frames, I carefully pulled the wiring for the two Formation Lights (with the little ‘blinker’ module) out of the skeleton assembly:
Next, I detached the upper Reflector Panels of the Rear Neck, removed the LEDs, and set these Reflector Panels aside:
Then, I detached the lower Reflector Panels and window panels of the Rear Neck and removed those LEDs. I flipped the Rear Neck over and popped out of the individual upper window pieces as well:
The Main Impulse Engine assembly was not removed as we will still use it. However, take care with these tiny wiring connections – they are delicate!
The Photon Torpedo LED
I removed the small screw (circled below) at the front of the skeleton frames and slid the stock LED/wire out towards the rear of the neck.
My Photon Torpedo LED slid out at this point, but you may have to remove the entire Left Neck Bracket first to get this LED out (see next step):
The Battery Box
In order to remove the stock Battery Box and Switch, I needed to remove the three bottom screws and one rear screw holding the Left Ventral Bracket in place:
With the last of the stock components pulled out, I reinstalled the Left Neck Bracket:
The end result of this disassembly process was this big pile of various parts:
Most of the stock electrical parts will not be reused, so they were put in storage, leaving us with these various bits:
Creating UV Resin Windows in the Battle Section Neck
Preparing the Window and Reflector Panels
We have done this before with the Saucer Windows, so I will only briefly recap the process.
First, I soaked all of the window panels and reflector panels overnight in Isopropyl Alcohol:
Using an old toothbrush, I wiped away all of the paint from these panels. After a fresh water rinse and allowing them to dry, these panels should be nice and transparent. This picture is missing the two Rear Neck window panels, but they were ‘cleared’ as well:
Since we will be creating UV resin windows, any ‘window tabs’ on these panels needed to be removed first. Using my sprue cutters and some 120 grit sandpaper, I cut all of these tabs off and sanded the remaining surface smooth:
Finally, the inside surfaces of these window and reflector panels were airbrushed with a light dusting of Vallejo Model Air White 71.001 acrylic paint. This will help diffuse the light and creating a opaque background for each of the resin windows:
Creating the UV Resin Windows on the Battle Section Rear Neck
The upper surface windows of the Battle Section Rear Neck are on a flat surface so we can use our normal UV Resin Tape here. I did this section in two parts:
Following the same resin process as we used for the saucer Deck Panels, these windows turned out great:
When we moved on to the windows in the lower part of the Battle Section Rear Neck, we needed to change our process a little. Sadly, the green UV Resin Tape is quite stiff so it does not like to stick to curved surfaces or narrow edges. Therefore, I used a small vertical strip of 12mm Tamiya Masking Tape for Curves to cover the column of windows nearest to the neck spine before adding the resin, as shown.
IMPORTANT: After you add UV resin to this column of windows and BEFORE you expose them to UV light, I want to mention how differently this white Tamiya Curve tape reacts to UV light. Since this tape is basically made of flexible resin, it can get hot enough to melt your plastic. It is really important to only expose the outside surface to short 2 second bursts of UV at a time and let it cool down for at least 15 seconds between bursts. The outside surface of the resin should set after 2-3 of these short bursts. Then, remove the Tamiya Curves tape before finishing the curing process from the inside surface. I learned this painfully valuable lesson later on, as you will see farther below.
These windows turned out pretty good! The same process can be completed on the other side:
The rest of the lower windows have enough surface area for the UV Resin Tape to hold onto, so they were created in the normal way:
Blacking Out the Battle Section Rear Neck
Once the resin windows were finished, I took a moment to seal both Shuttlebay Doors with lots of black electrical tape to prevent any light from leaking out:
Next, using a few coats of Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black acrylic paint and a small paint brush, I painted all of the ‘dark’ windows from the inside.
UPDATE: I have since created shareable digital versions of my 4-foot studio model Dark Window window lighting pattern in a single PATTERN GUIDE!
I have a collected a huge library of screenshots from the television series that show the 4-foot studio model from various angles. I have been using these shots to determine which windows of my model will be ‘dark’, among other details. I then created images from the stock parts list and marked the ‘dark’ windows according to examining these screenshots. Here is my dark window layout for the back of the neck:
Creating the UV Resin Windows on the Neck Panels
I originally thought the curves of the Ventral Neck Panels would be mild enough to use the UV Resin Tape:
Well, the normal UV Resin Tape does not work well on even the slightest curved surfaces. I had a resin leak around the edge of the windows into the nearby groove. Luckily, it was a very small area. Therefore, I recommend using the Tamiya Curves tape on these panels and only doing one small row or section of windows at a a time. You can seal the tape tightly against the window openings and even use a fingernail to press the tape down into the panel grooves.
REMEMBER! Do not expose this Tamiya Curves tape to UV light for too long as it gets hot really fast.
This process produced much nicer windows:
The side Neck Panel windows can be filled with UV resin in the same way. Using small pieces of Tamiya Curves tape, I completed a few windows at a time. I split the panel up front and back and did a row at a time. Seal each piece of tape as close to the panel as possible:
Moving up a row, I did the next forward section of windows in resin:
As I was completing my first side Neck Panel windows, this is where I learned about the heat generated by the Tamiya Curves tape when exposed to UV light. After too much UV exposure time, I barely touched the outside surface of a section I was working on. The tape had become so hot it nearly burned my finger and I ended up creating this small depression in the plastic. ACK! Don’t do this!
Determined to live with my mistake, I continued on and completed the resin windows for both Neck Panels:
I missed taking pictures of it, but all of the ‘dark’ windows in the Neck Panels were also painted according to the 4-foot model lighting pattern. However, I will share the window diagrams I created to paint the windows:
Wiring the Battle Section Neck
The first things I wanted to create were new Formation Lights for the top of the Battle Section Neck. Using red and green 2x3x4mm Square LEDs I found on eBay, I soldered the wires of a 2- wire red/black 26 AWG cable onto one red LED and one green LED. The red (positive +) wire of the cable was connected to the longer anode lead of the LEDs and the black (negative -) wire was connected to the shorter cathode lead of the LEDs. Small pieces of heat-shrink tubing were used to insulate the connections:
As I did the first time around, I also wanted to prevent any light from leaking out around these new LEDs. Therefore, I fit the end of each LED to the appropriate Formation Light part and wrapped them up in black electrical tape as shown. Red LED to red Formation Light, green LED to green Formation Light:
Next, we soldered a ¼ Watt 150Ω resistor inline with the red LED and a ¼ Watt 330Ω resistor inline with the green LED. While the green LED can handle more Forward Voltage (using a 100Ω resistor with 5VDC supply), I wanted both of these LEDs to be about the same brightness. Therefore, I brought the current down on the green LED using a resistor with more Ohms.
Then, both positive leads were soldered together and both negative leads were soldered together to another length of 2-wire cable:
Torpedo Launcher Light
Using an orange 2x3x4mm Square LED with another inline ¼ Watt 150Ω resistor, we created the torpedo launcher light and installed it back into the Neck skeleton. These connections were wrapped in black electrical tape to help keep the light from the LED Strip from leaking out through this LED:
Adding the Forward Nav Beacon Light
Similar to the custom Beacon Light we added to the Bridge assembly, I wanted to add one under the lip of the ‘Cobra Head’ as it is seen blinking on the 4-foot studio model. After figuring out where it should be positioned, I grabbed the two Ventral Neck Panels and the Transporter Emitter Pad that fits at the forward center of these panels.
First, I drilled a 1mm hole through the Transporter Emitter Pad. This required the use of my Dremel drill press to create enough force to puncture the metal. Then, I used a flat file to cut notches into the plastic of the Ventral Neck Panels at the same location:
Next, I cut the backing paper along the length of the Transport Emitter Pad and removed a bit more than half of the backing paper:
This allowed me to attach the Transporter Emitter Pad to one of the Ventral Neck Panels to keep things aligned:
I created another ‘bulb’ using UV resin mixed with white paint on the end of a piece of fiber optic (see the Bridge page). After feeding this fiber up through the hole in the Transport Emitter Pad and through the notch of the Ventral Panel, I glued the fiber optic in place and cut off the excess fiber optic above the inner panel surface:
To help keep the delicate wires of the micro LED from breaking off, we used a piece of electrical tape to secure the wires nearby:
Using two lengths of the Daylight White LED Light Strip, we created a vertical loop of LEDs facing inward as well as a shorter horizontal loop around the Battery Box opening. These lengths were connected together using 2 (red/green) of the 4 wires of some RGB Ribbon Cable and a ‘tail’ of cable soldered to one end towards the Stardrive area to supply the power.
We tried many different lighting configurations before settling on this one. That is why you will see some of the neck reassembled here. We wanted the main strip to be hidden behind the ‘spine’ of the neck so we ran it vertically down the middle. The smaller loop around the Battery Box was create to better light the ventral neck windows. The adhesive on the LED Strip was secured into place along the inside of the skeleton, but we left the backing paper in place where the strip will contact the bottom of the neck so it would not adhere to it (in case of later disassembly):
Magnetic Reed Switch
Typically the two Formation Lights on the ‘Cobra Head’ would not be lit while the Saucer is connected to the Stardrive. To be able to use our newly created LEDs accurately, I wanted to see if we could find a way to have the Arduinos automatically detect when the Saucer was detached and only light these lights when it is separated.
Since the metal of our model is mostly made of non-ferrous zinc, I decided to test using a Magnetic Reed Switch to close an electrical circuit the Arduino could then detect. I placed two metal pieces of hull over the switch and then brought a magnet nearby. It worked perfectly!
Therefore, I attached one of these switches to a length of the 2-wire cable and glued it to the inside of the hull at this location in the front of the skeleton frame. These wires were then routed up through the neck:
Rear Neck and Top Panel
First, I reinstalled all of the window panels and Reflector Panels into the Battle Section Rear Neck:
You may notice in the picture above that the wires broke off from the Main Impulse Engine. That is why I mentioned being careful with them earlier. I had to resolder these wires back onto the PCB:
With the Battle Section Rear Neck now ready for installation, I wanted to take a moment to try and seal the top ‘gap’ most builders discover when attaching it. First, I removed the Battle Section Panel A (the top of the ‘Cobra Head’) from the skeleton frames. I then added small strips of black electrical tape along the rear edge of the panel:
I then reattached the Battle Section Panel A to the skeleton and brought the Battle Section Rear Neck into place. Be sure to route the wires of the Main Impulse Engine through an opening at the rear of the frames and into the neck. This is also when I routed the new Formation Lights to their correct locations (red on the left, green on the right). Secure the Battle Section Rear neck into place.
This picture was taken during test fitting before the other wiring was installed, but it shows how my Formation Lights were routed:
Without all the stock wiring in there, the Battle Section Rear Neck fits much better – the top gap is almost non-existent. To make an even better attempt at sealing this gap, I ran a small bead of super glue down into the gap and clamped the parts together to dry:
This is the result of closing the ‘gap’. Not only does it look fantastic, but it the light leak is practically zero!
To reduce light from leaking out from the Docking Latch openings, I created small ‘tents’ of electrical tape around them. We don’t want the sticky side of the tape holding these latches inside the neck, so I placed a small piece of tape upside down (sticky side away from the latch) over the latches themselves and then covered it with the other pieces of tape until I could not see any light from above:
Neck Ventral Panels
I used a piece of tape to cover the hole left behind by removing the Switch:
Next, I reinstalled the modified Ventral Neck Reflector Panels to each Neck Ventral Panel:
On my model, the LED holder at the outer corner of these Ventral Neck Reflector Panels was touching my Docking Latch light blocking ‘tents’. To be sure the Docking Latches were able to fall free when the neck is turned upside down, I cut off this LED holder. You may not need to do this step and it will not affect the lighting of the window in this panel either way.
You may notice the piece of black electrical tape here. That was a first attempt at sealing the joints between the panels. We found a better way later on, so it was removed after this picture was taken:
The two Ventral Neck Panels were then reattached to the neck using the same screws we removed earlier. We made sure the wiring from the forward Beacon Light and Magnetic Reed Switch was run up inside the neck skeleton:
Preparing the Battle Section Floor
Since all of the wiring we added to the neck needs to be able to get into the main Stardrive section to reach the Arduino, I needed to create holes in the Battle Section Floor. First, I fit the Battle Section Floor to the bottom of the neck skeleton. Then, I fit the Battle Section Upper Bracket from Stage 62 onto it, aligning it as shown:
I traced the forward two openings of the Battle Section Upper Bracket onto the Battle Section Floor and then removed it from the skeleton:
Giving myself space for the LED Light Strip to run between the holes (the small tick marks seen on the panel below), I drilled two 1/4″ holes through the Battle Section Floor. Afterwards, I used a rounded needle file to smooth out any sharp edges around the holes:
Finally, we used a piece of aluminum tape on the inside of the Battle Section Floor to reflect extra light back into the neck:
Side Ventral Panels
Like before, I reattached the window panels and Reflector Panels to each Neck Panel:
Along the top edge of these Neck Panels, we used thin strips of electrical tape to seal the panel joint as it is re-installed:
I retrieved the clear Photon Torpedo Launcher part I skipped back in Stage 41. To keep it from possibly pushing the Neck Panels apart and creating a gap that light can leak through, I sanded the sides down a bit. I also sanded down the end of the post so it would be flush with the Neck Panels once installed:
Then, the side Ventral Panels were reattached to the skeleton. Again, we made sure all of the wiring is routed through the base of the neck:
Attaching the Battle Section Floor
Before I reinstalled the Battle Section Floor, I wanted to add a Power Cable that will power the Saucer section when it is attached to the Stardrive. I found these pre-wired 18 AWG 5.5mm Barrel Plug connector pairs on Amazon that should do the trick.
I wanted this cable to be hidden inside the neck when the Saucer is separated. Therefore, I secured a short length of clear wire to one of the female Barrel Plugs so I can pull it up through the battery opening when needed. This attachment can be done with super glue or even some UV resin. I just wanted to ensure the wire (and glue) is low and flat so it will fit under the Battle Bridge plate:
Doing it this way ensures the Barrel Plug wiring can be routed down through the neck and the Battle Bridge can be popped back into place:
Now, we can route all of the new neck wiring through the two holes in the Battle Bridge Floor and secure the floor back into place. I routed the thicker wires of the Barrel Plug and Window Lights through one hole and the other wiring through the other hole.
NOTE: As I was fitting this plate, I used various colored pieces of electrical tape to mark each wire so I would know what these wires are later on:
Powering It Up
I applied 5VDC to everything and it all works! It took a while to get here, but I feel it will look great once it is attached to the Stardrive:
It seemed appropriate to create another test video of the neck in action, so here we go! We even get a sneak preview of the LCARS Mobile Control App I am working on to control my model via Bluetooth connectivity:
SAUCER LIGHTING – Creating all new lighting for the Saucer section