1/600 Revell USS Enterprise – Star Trek the Original Series – Build Log

1st January 2014

So this is the final build log post, and with heavy heart I have no more work to do on the Enterprise. It’s been an intense build due to the self imposed deadline I put on it and I’ve enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. When we first picked the kit out in Hobbycraft a couple of months ago I thought “One rabbit stew coming right up!” (to quote Monty Python and the holy grail). How wrong was I? Fitting DIY lighting was a much bigger task than I first envisioned, not so much in terms of complexity, but in the sheer amount of preparation and tweaking that goes into getting a convincing lighting effect. Lighting is a very dynamic (almost organic) thing and doesn’t always turn out how you expect – hence it takes quite a bit of tweaking and titivating to get it looking just right.

I’ll post the final stages of the build here, and then will upload the reveal post with final photos and video later on today…

With the paintwork completed it was time to move onto decaling…

From past experience (AKA the Academy Stuka Decal Fiasco) I’ve found it best to test the decals with setting solutions before using them for real in case the decals react differently with different solutions. For this build I tested Micro-Sol, Tamiya X-20a and Solvaset using some scrap decals from the Enterprise on my trusty old MI-24 test pig.

[1]

3 sections of decal were applied (with Micro-set in the water), and then from left to right I applied a good coat of Micro-sol, X-20a and Solvaset…

[2]

Micro-sol had the mildest action, X-20a had a bigger effect and the Solvaset was blatantly belligerent towards the decals. As you can see in the above photos the Solvaset heavily wrinkled the decal almost immediately – in the photo the various solutions have been on there for about 20 seconds.

After about an hour the decals looked as below:

[3]

Micro-sol had the least effect, X-20a was in the middle and the Solvaset really sucked the decal down. In fact you can see that the Solvaset did such as ferocious job on the decal that the texture of the paint is showing through the decal.

Also of note is that the Micro-sol kept working for a lot longer than the X-20a, the X-20a stopped working after about 20-30 minutes but the Micro-sol kept on improving after that.

Though the Solvaset gave the strongest results, I was wary of it being so strong so opted to use Micro-sol to apply the decals to the Enterprise (I later changed my mind and went over the decals with SolvaSet)…

Here you can see the decals applied to the underside…

[4]

As it turned out, the Micro-sol wasn’t quite aggressive enough on the decals. They didn’t sink down into the panel lines as deep as I’d hoped and the NCC-1701 decals to the right of shot ended up very silver.

So a quick change of plan was needed and I gave the decals a good coat of Solvaset and muttered a silent prayer to the chemical gods.

One thing of note with Solvaset is that you need to apply a good coat of it  – but only one coat at a time. Do it in one pass and don’t go back when the decal is wet and dabble with it. This stuff is so aggressive that the decal will soften almost immediately and if you go back and brush it again you stand a good chance of damaging the decal.

With all the decals on, a few coats of Klear were applied (Pledge wax) and left to dry for 24 hours…

Then on with the final light tweakage and wire-age…

[6]

Before I leave the realms of traditional modelling (filler and paint) I’ll just mention a few things about the hull colour…

When I first started researching this build I found a few people that swore by Tamiya XF-12 (J.N Grey) with 10% flat white added for the hull colour. it looked good to me, though I always thought the Enterprise was white – so I went along with XF-12 with 10% white.

This turned out to be a love-hate relationship, when first sprayed XF-12 looks like a light grey with a slight hint of green. When you sand the paint it looks more like a 1980’s bathroom if you remember the Avocado style colours that were popular back then? So the Greeny-grey turns into a Greyee-green.

A few other builds I’ve seen people do, they’ve gone as far as re-spraying with another colour completely, opting for a grey with no tint to it. I must say after I assembled the Enterprise I suddenly decided I no longer liked XF-12 and was close to masking the whole thing and re-spraying it with a tint free grey. However I stuck with it, and found that as I completed the decaling and final clear coats the whole effect started coming together and now the green tinge is hardly noticeable.

As you will see in the following photos (and in the final reveal) the hull colour varies greatly with ambient lighting and I think it looks great now! If I ever built another I would probably not use XF-12 again, but I reckon if you use a tint free grey i.e. just black lightened with white it would look too plain, a bit of a tint helps to give the model more dimension.

Here’s a good picture to illustrate the difficulty of painting with shades of grey:

[synvilla]

Squares A and B are exactly the same colour – I found this phenomena really kicked in with building the Enterprise, as a colour that looked one way when painted on its own looked totally different when alongside another colour.

 

Anyway, on with the wiring…

At this stage of the build, the microcontroller (Arduino Nano) is still outside the model on a temporary breadboard.

[5]

The breadboard allows you to simply plug components and wires in and out without soldering allowing you to rapidly prototype your circuits.

Here you can see I’ve got the Enterprise fully lit – the 12 volt hull LEDs are all on, and the engine LEDs and Nav LEDs are also on. For this build I have mounted all the LED current limiting resistors outside the kit so that I can change their values individually. Changing the value of a current limiting resistor has the effect of making the LED(s) that are attached to it brighter or dimmer. For a build like this it’s important to tweak the brightness of the LEDs as a whole – you have to see how they look all lit together and can’t just set them to a brightness and hope it works.

Lighting is such as dynamic thing to work with, and it’s also additive – in other words an LED on its own might look fine, but put another LED next to it and the light from the second LED will add to the light of the first changing the overall effect.

This was evident on the engine nacelle LEDs. Each engine has 16 LEDs in it, so if they were all run at full current (20mA) the effect would have been like having a couple of torches mounted on the model. In the end most of the LEDs were tweaked down to under 1mA to get them to dim down to a suitable intensity. To give you an example, the yellow blinking LEDs in the nacelles are run at 5V via an 8k2 resistor (which we in the trade refer to as “bugger all current”).

The hull lighting has already been tweaked (most of this was done with light baffles and positioning of the LED strips)…

[7]

And here’s a different shade of grey for you 😉

[8]

And here’s a view of the engine lighting….

[91]

The camera happened to snap this on a green phase so in reality it doesn’t look like that – you can see how it actually looks when I post the reveal video later on…

And an atmospheric of the XF-12 looking decidedly blue lol 😉

[10]

The above shot gives a much better impression of how the engine LEDs look – a pretty accurate rendition there!

With all the LED resistors tweaked it was time to hard wire the microcontroller in place, for this I used Veroboard to allow a means of connecting to the microcontroller and also to mount the resistors themselves….

[11]

I don’t have much vertical space in the base of the Enterprise so I nipped all the unused pins off the Arduino and bent the remaining pins through 90 degrees so they could be soldered to the veroboard.

Where the resistors will go it was necessary to cut the tracks on the veroboard, the easiest way to do this is with a 3mm drill – countersink the hole until the copper track has been cut.

Here’s the bottom view with the Arduino and resistors soldered in place:

[12]

And the view from above showing the variety of resistors that have been used:

[13]

The two pins on the left are for the 12 Volt DC power supply. The beauty of the Arduino is that you can feed it 12V (which is needed to separately run the LED strips), and it will regulate the voltage down for it’s own needs and will give 5V on the output pins. Always good for reducing component count.

The finished assembly was hot-glued into the base and wired in permanently.

[14]

I used a 3.5 mm jack socket to get power into the base, the limitation here was height and traditional type DC jacks were all too high to fit.

Top right in the base you can see the SPST slide switch that switched the 12V DC on and off.

Also the wiring loom has been hot glued in place to keep it neatly tucked away. Hot glue is brilliant for this application as it sticks like Gorilla snot, is very strong, is very malleable so won’t crack when flexed and you can also remove it later if needs be. To be honest I wouldn’t mess around using jack posts and screws to mount components in a kit such as this, hot glue is your friend here!

Thanks for visiting!

I write this blog for fun, to share what I've learned, and to share my builds with you. If you like what you see here please leave a comment, and head over to facebook and like my page!

Cheers - Rich



59 comments on “1/600 Revell USS Enterprise – Star Trek the Original Series – Build Log
  1. Keith says:

    Hi Richard!
    My name is Keith & I live in Louisiana, USA. I have been studying your awesome build of the Original Series Revell Enterprise. Know you have heard this many times, but….WOW! You did such an amazing job on the building AND the documentation of this model project. My hat is off to you, sir!!! I have purchased the same kit & have rounded up most of what I will need to put her together. I am planning on having the engine nacelle fans rotate via some small DC motors. Also will have LEDs in them of course, though I’m probably only going to have about 8 or so in each. Anyway, I’ll get to the point, (if there is one!😁). Do you think I can drive all the LEDs & the motors with a single Arduino Nano or such? Or would it require two? Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks so much for your time!

    • Richard says:

      Hi Keith, thanks for posting here – much appreciated 🙂

      A single Arduino could handle 8 LEDs no problem at all. Regarding the motors it would depend on what current the motors will draw.

      If I were you I wouldn’t drive the motors from the Arduino because AFAIK the motors will just need to run at a constant speed and will either be on or off (it’s the LEDs that will flash on and off). So probably best to just wire the motors onto the main power supply and not through the Arduino.

      If you do decide to connect the motors to the Arduino, I’d recommend not directly connecting them to the Arduino outputs but instead connect them via a driver transistor. 2 reasons for this: 1) The driver transistor will be what provides the current to the motor, so you won’t be limited to the maximum output current of an Arduino pin. 2) Since motors are inductive loads they can induce a reverse current into their source (back EMF) – this might damage a micro controller so better to have the motor isolated from the chip via a driver transistor.

      HTH – Rich

  2. Goran says:

    Hi, Richard. I have a favor to ask if you could help me. I am trying to buy a plastic box for the stand of my Enterprise, but I don’t know what are dimension of this included stand ? I won’t be able to get to my model few more days, and I need that info like yesterday 🙂 If you have your model somewhere around you, could you post dimensions of the stand (only vertical part that has shape on star trek logo) thanks 🙂

    • Richard says:

      Hi Goran, the height of the vertical part of the stand is 100mm from the top of the base plate to the top of the highest part of the vertical part of the stand. Does that help?

  3. Manuele says:

    Thank you Rich, very helpful
    we completed the same model with arduino and leds, we just added a pulsating led light on the tail
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qbS6Jo9Wrk

  4. Diego says:

    Hello,

    I found your build log amazing! Please can you share your paint chart for this build? I don’t want to use Revell paint so I want to follow your lead by using Tamiya paint instead.

    Please can you share info?

    Thank you very much

  5. Gordon Duquette says:

    I love the work you did on this build. I know you’re not crazy about the tamiya xf12 with 10% white, but I think it looks great. I was wondering though, you never mentioned whether you added thinner or not. Did you? And how much? And what airbrush did you use? Thanks. Keep up the great work.

    • Richard says:

      Hi Gordon,

      I must admit I’m really happy with the end result but would aim to reduce the green tint if I did one again.

      When I spray Tamiya acrylics I always thin it very heavily probably 30% paint to 70% thinners (X-20a). This way I can build up many coats of paint gradually, and the end result is very smooth and free from orange peel effect.

      My airbrush of choice is the Harder & Steenbeck Evo 2 in 1 with a 0.2mm needle. It’s a great all rounder for modelling and very easy to clean.

      Cheers – Rich

  6. Gordon Duquette says:

    Thanks for the info. I really appreciate it.

  7. Diego says:

    Hi Rich,

    Thank you for your explanation about the paint. Much appreciated.

    I have one more question about the painting. What painting did you use for Engine nachelle’s back end/”exhaust cover” (for want of a better word). It looks like you use same paint on it as intercooler interior (stainless steel paint?). If it is not the case, please can you tell us which grey paint (of Tamiya) did you use on Exhaust cover/back end of nachelle.

    Finally, I was reading Page 7 of Build log and I was a bit unclear on 2nd last paragraph on that page. Shouldn’t it be 32 LEDs and 10 wires running into the microprocessor?

    Thank you again
    Diego

    • Richard says:

      Hi Diego,

      The round domed bit at the back of the nacelles was done in a very light grey, could have been XF-80 Royal Light Grey with a bit of added white. The bit that the round domed bit attaches onto was painted with XF-66 Light grey.

      In the photo on Page 7, there are 16 LEDs per side which is 32 pins. The outer ring has 4 groups of 3 LEDs (4 wires since I connect all 3 of a similar colour using the same wire) and there are 4 separate inner LEDs (4 wires) plus 1 wire for common which equals 9 wires in total per side.

      • Diego says:

        Hi Rich,

        Thank you for the reply and clarifications as those are much appreciated.

        I thought for once that it was stainless steel on the bit that the round domed bit attached onto. I looked again at the photo and I could see that it just got shiny because of your camera’s flashing. Thank you again for correcting me.

        As for wiring. I admit that I don’t have great experience in electronics myself so I am learning here and there.

        1.) I assume that your reference to common wire as for that Red wire/negative wire?

        2.) After looking at photos and explanations, I realised that it could be possible to extend the daisy chain wiring of outer rings of LEDs to include inner rings of LEDS. So that way, you would use 7 wires (6 “positive” wires and 1 “negative” wire). Does that make sense?

        I haven’t reached this stage yet but I wonder though. Hence, in your frank opinion, is it feasible or workable? Or not possible?

        Thank you for your feedback and sharing your thoughts.

        Best,
        Diego

        • Diego says:

          Apolgoises, I made a small mistake in my comment.

          Correction: You would use 6 wires (5 “positive” wires and 1 “negative” wire) per side, at the end.

        • Richard says:

          Hi Diego,

          You’re welcome.

          1) Common wire is also known as ground, negative, earth etc…

          2) The inner ring of LEDs – all LEDs in the inner ring have a separate wire so that they can be flickered on and off individually.

          Any more questions just fire away 🙂

          Rich

  8. Diego says:

    Hi Rich,

    I wonder if you have used any Tamiya primer for this model kit or not? Especially when you used Tamiya XF-66 paint?

    The reason I asked this is because when I used XF-66 paint on this model as per your build log, the 1st coat was a bit too runny (as if there is too much thinner in the paint which I never used thinner at all as I used brush-painting for this model (I can’t afford air-brushing kit at the moment)). I left it to be dried for a week (I’m poor time-wise) before I applied 2nd coat of XF-66 which something odd happened – 2nd coat painting was basically removing 1st coat of painting! O_O It seems that the painting was too thinning or too running all along.

    I wonder if I apply primer to the parts of this model where XF-66 paint is on, it may stop this problem happening? But then I don’t see anywhere on this build log that you used primer which made me wondering otherwise.

    Thank you again for your insight and helps.

    Best,
    Diego

    • Richard says:

      Hi Diego, the problem is that Tamiya paint is not good for hand brushing.

      Tamiya is alcohol based acrylic, and when you brush on a second coat, the alcohol in the paint will eat into the first coat and will turn it back into wet paint.

      For hand brushing you should use a water based acrylic such as Vallejo Model Color. This is excellent paint for hand brushing because once a coat is dry, subsequent coats will not affect the dried coats. Also where it is water based it won’t dry as fast as Tamiya paint so you’ll get a smoother finish.

  9. Gordon Duquette says:

    Hi Richard. Well I’m halfway through my model and I love the color. The green tint doesn’t bother me at all. But I made the mistake of painting the model first before putting it together and puttying and sanding the lines out. It was a nightmare to say the least. I ended up with a less perfect paint job because of it. The reason I went this route was because I was worried about messing the windows up. Did you mask your windows before painting? And if so, what did you use? I’ve watched dozens of videos of people building this model and the 1:350 scale from round 2, but none of them explained how they painted it. I still have the saucer to build, and I’ve heard about this stuff called liquid mask. Is that something I could use to cover up the windows before I paint? I’m sorry this is my first model. I’m still learning. lol

    • Richard says:

      Hi Gordon, I opted for painting the kit first, then fitting the glass, and then gluing it together and sorting out the seams last.

      The reason for this is that to fit it all together and then mask the windows before painting would be a huge job, and it would be difficult to get it looking neat.

      There are several approaches you can take with the windows…

      1. Build the whole kit and paint it at the end. Problem is masking the windows. You can use a masking fluid (Humbrol Maskol) but this will tend to flow right into the seams around the windows and be difficult to remove. Also masking fluid tends to crack the paint around it when removed so you’d end up with a poor finish around the windows. Masking using tape would be very fiddly and time consuming.

      2. Build the whole kit without the glass and paint it at the end. Then use PVA glue to create the windows. With this technique you leave out the glass, paint the model and then put a dab of PVA glue in each window hole to create a window. It will dry clear and look like glass. See page 2 of the build where I tried this but wasn’t satisfied with the result – http://www.makingmodels.co.uk/builds-in-progress/1600-revell-uss-enterprise-star-trek-the-original-series-build-log/3/ good thing is this technique doesn’t require masking.

      3. Paint the kit first, then fit the windows and assemble, taking care of the seams afterwards. This is the approach I chose and it worked for me, though sorting out and re-touching the seams is challenging.

      HTH – Rich

  10. Diego says:

    Hello Richard,

    I was reading this build log – particularly page 4 – concerning the petal lense (the one behind the orange/outer nacelle lense.

    I can’t tell from the pictures on this page 4 – whether you actually painted petal lense or not. If you did paint the petal lense, please could you tell us what paint did you use? It looks like silver paint?

    Although the official revell instruction says that the petal lense to be painted as clear orange and those sticking out bits of lense to be painted as silver, your picture suggested the otherwise.

    Thank you very much for letting us know whether you painted petal lense or not.

    Diego

    • Richard says:

      The outer petal lens was sanded on the inside to make it opaque, and then sprayed on the inside with Tamiya Clear Orange. This is so that you can’t see through it to see the LEDs.

      The inner clear lens was left clear.

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