No Blink Mod

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.

While building the Fanhome/Eaglemoss 1:900 scale U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D partwork build-up, you will quickly discover that the red and green formation/navigation LEDs scattered around the model assembly blink. Not only that, but those LEDs on the saucer, neck, battle section, and each warp nacelle blink quickly and at different times to each other. While the ‘beacons’ on top and bottom of the television show’s studio models did blink, the formation lights typically did not.

As I replaced all of the stock electronics in my Model Remodel build, this blinking does not happen. However, on my ‘stock’ second build, the formation lights do blink. Well, I was working on my stock build recently and thought it would be interesting to see if I could figure out what made these lights blink. Therefore, I broke out my multimeter and began tracking the various electrical pathways (traces) on the model’s different Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) to see what did what. What I found was not only how the tiny Integrated Circuit (IC) chips operated, but also how to bypass them and keep the connected formation LEDs on all the time.

If you are using the stock electronics in your Enterprise and are interested in disabling (bypassing) the blinking feature of your formation lights while still using the existing PCB sockets, read on. Do note, trying this process requires some semi-permanent soldering work that will modify your partwork’s circuit boards. The changes can be undone if needed and should not cause any permanent harm, but with any electronics work weird things can happen. I recommend only attempting this if you feel comfortable with the steps.

Saucer PCB 1

The first PCB we receive is Saucer PCB 1 in Stage 31. The port/starboard saucer edge Formation Lights as well as the rear saucer Formation Lights connect to the ‘W’ and ‘G/R’ sockets of this PCB. The area of this PCB that makes them blink is marked below:

Zooming in a bit, we can see the two sockets ‘W’ and the two ‘G/R’ sockets (boxed below) – these are the blinking sockets. Nearby, we can also see a small 8-pin IC chip (circled) – this IC flashes anything connected to the four sockets by quickly switching the negative pins in these sockets on and off.

NOTE: You may notice the tiny SMD resistors marked ‘510’ scattered around the saucer PCBs – these are 51Ω resistors needed to drop the 4.5v battery input voltage down to the ~3v forward voltage of the connected LEDs:

During my investigation, I found that the top three IC pins closest to the sockets (on the left side in this picture) connect to the negative pins of the ‘blinking’ sockets. The bottom pin on that same side of the IC is the negative power input to the IC itself.

Therefore, if we were to bridge (short/connect) these four IC pins together, the negative socket pins will be directly connected to negative power and would stay energized without any blinking. This should not harm the IC at all, it basically just bypasses its functionality:

Neck PCB

The second PCB we encounter during the Enterprise partwork build arrives with Stage 22 and is ultimately installed into the starship’s ‘neck’. It is pre-connected to a set of Battle Section Lights (22L) and might be covered by heat-shrink tubing. To bypass the ‘blinker’ IC chip on this PCB, the red (positive) input and output leads on this PCB should be bridged together with an insulated conductor (wire):

Nacelle Light Strips

We receive the first Nacelle Light Strip in Stage 46 as we are completing the port Warp Nacelle. The tiny IC on this circuit board controls the blinking effect of the LEDs that will be installed into the rear end of the upper and lower nacelle housings. Using the picture below to orient the board, if the middle pin on the left is bridged to the bottom pin on the right with an insulated conductor (wire), it will make these LEDs burn steadily and stop blinking. The same process could be applied to the starboard Nacelle Light Strip that arrives near the end of the build.

NOTE: Different to the saucer PCBs, you may notice tiny SMD resistors marked ‘820’ on the Nacelle Light Strips (and the Battle Section PCB) – these are 82Ω resistors needed to drop the 6v battery input voltage (two stacked CR2032s) down to the required forward voltage of the connected LEDs:

Battle Section PCB

Finally, the Battle Section PCB found in Stage 61 also has a built-in ‘blinking’ circuit. It controls the two formation LEDs at the back of the Battle Section assembly that are eventually connected to the socket marked ‘D’:

If we turn this PCB over, there is a small 3-pin IC chip. Based on my findings, if we bridge the pins shown below with an insulated conductor (wire), the LEDs connected into the socket marked ‘D’ will no longer blink and will stay lit constantly:

That’s it! I know this may be a lot to consider, but I just wanted to share how I found it could be done if anyone was interested. As I mentioned before, if you have never soldered before or do not feel comfortable doing this kind of thing, don’t. I would rather my visitors ask someone else for help and advice before possibly damaging their models as Fanhome will not replace any parts altered by modification.

5 thoughts on “No Blink Mod”

  1. to be honst – you’re awesome!
    Thank you so much for your great documentation in all these details and explaination.

    I tought you were ready with this model, but I’m impressed that you’re still able to make it better in any way futher!

    once more, great work !!

    1. Very welcome! This is just one of those situations where my curiosity got the better of me and we all get to learn something.

  2. Would it be possible to use FO for the blinking lights and just put one end under a reflector panel? I am not at that point in the build. I am hoping this will solve the blinking issue since I have never done any soldering.
    ps. Your site is awesome.

    1. I suppose you could run Fiber Optic to the navigation light lenses and feed the other end to a nearby window LED, sure. I don’t think they will be very bright though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.